Anyone that has heard me talk about art education knows I don’t love hearing my subject area called “Arts and Crafts.” Putting together a “craft” project step-by-step so that every child’s work looks the same will eventually undermine the development of problem-solving skills and creativity that a fine art education can provide.
That said, I must admit that I love making crafts myself – I am a total Martha Stewart junkie- and I recognize that crafts have their place and can be a pretty great activity when used intentionally. When carefully crafting, children develop fine motor skills and are exposed to new design ideas. With the right materials available, children can also craft creatively, as we did in Grade 2 last week.
Whole Class Independent Activity:
I’m going to call creative crafting “craft exploration”.
In a way, this class structure is a little bit like choice-based art education, which I have been reading a little about lately. It intrigues me. The management style is similar to choice-based art ed in that children are working independently, which allows the teacher to spend a little more time teaching a trickier technique to a smaller group of students. This means that the materials made available for the craft exploration must be simple, safe, and familiar to the students.
Our Craft: Construction Paper Flowers
Materials made available:
- All the scrap construction paper, ever.
- All the scrap tissue paper, ever.
- Green pipecleaners
For each flower you will need at least two pieces of construction paper cut into different sized flower shapes, and one pipecleaner. Put glue only in the very middle so that the petals on the smaller flower shape can move around and stick up.
I drew a shape on the board at their height with an arrow that said “no bigger than this!” so they could compare their shapes as they cut them out.
This is basically all I gave them. I let them work out the shapes and colours and structure of the flower for the most part.
Small Group Instruction Activity:
I called up students four at a time to sit with me at the round table and do a painting for their mother’s day card. I had them wet their piece of watercolour paper with clear water as I told them roughly this: We are making paintings of a flower using a watercolour paint technique called “wet on wet”.
All the steps should be talked through and demonstrated as the activity progresses for best results. That is why I taught this in a small group.
- Watercolour paper (9″ x 12″)
- Watercolour paints
- Watercolour brushes
- Water (in a cup)
Get your paper wet using clear water.
Swiggle the shape of a flower with wet paint on your wet paper (wet on wet!). See how it spreads out? In art this is called “bleeding”, and this is what happens when we put wet paint on a wet surface. Fill in your flower a little with light paint.
I told students I didn’t want to see any gerber daisies.
I had a quick painting of a flower with petals and a yellow middle
with a big red X through it to drive home my point.
Dip your brush in the paint again and layer some darker swiggles on top of the flower, especially near the bottom. This will make shadows and make your flower look more 3D!
Add a stem, and maybe another flower. Use the whole space!
Here are some of the results…I left it pretty open ended so some of them were all over the map, but they were very beautiful!