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Arts & Activities - Page 14

by Debi West LEARNING OBJECTIVES Grade 2 students will . • • • learn about ochre colors, warm colors, and positive and negative space. look at the art of prehistoric man. learn pertinent vocabulary and assess their finished product. MATERIALS • • • • • • • • • 12" x 18" orange and/or brown construction paper Neutral-colored spray paints Ochre-colored chalks Watercolor paint Moss and sticks 9" x 12" Bristol board Pencils and scissors Images of cave art A large canvas or sheet The following lesson plans are available on Grade K–1: D ~ Drawing with da Vinci Grade 2: C ~ Cave Art Etchings Grade 3: C ~ Clay Tools Grade 4–5: B ~ Beverly Buchanan Shack Art B - C - D LESSONS S ince our entire school enjoyed watching our “All About Me” tile mural wall go up, I thought it would be fun to create an installation in our main atrium as I continued to teach the Alpha Art curriculum. My kindergarteners and first-graders were working on the letter “D” and my fourth- and fifth-graders were working on the letter “B” (lessons are available at, so I found that working with my second- and thirdgraders on several cave art lessons would make for an exciting installation involving the letter “C”! The best part is that while the art itself was made individually, it all came together in a collaborative installation—another fun “C” word! I began the unit with a fun discussion about what prehistoric actually means. Go to for the link to additional “Alpha Art” lesson plans for other grade levels. It’s wonderful to see children realize that art was literally the first language as cavemen “wrote” their stories on the cave walls to leave their mark. Students compared leaving their own marks with that of man thousands of years ago! My negative/positive handprint lesson is one of my most successful lessons. The students LOVE it, the results are outstanding and important art vocabulary is learned. The objective of this lesson is to have students think about the art of prehistoric man, specifically the paintings found on the cave walls and the tools used for survival. To begin the lesson, I give them samples of art prints from the Lascaux caves and several caves in Australia, as well as artifacts from this time period. I also think it’s fun to have the room set up in a cave-like atmosphere. For example, I turn the lights out, have overhead images projected onto all of the walls depicting cave wall images, and perhaps even have some environmental music playing lightly in the background, such as birds chirping and water running. The kids get so excited to be immersed into the “world” of prehistoric man! The procedure for this lesson is really quite simple: Students are taught to trace their hands onto a piece of Bristol paper or other sturdy paper, and then cut it out. I always remind my kiddos to cut neatly and stay on the line “track” as you don’t want their fingers to be too thin. Once all of the hands are cut out and their trash is thrown away, they take their cut-out hand outside and lay it on top of their construction paper. (All of this is on top of a large piece of canvas or a large sheet.) I then come around with various neutral-colored spray paints, and spray their paper hands! This creates a negative/positive image that makes the kids say “ohhhh!” They absolutely love to see this negative space appear! I do this three times as students move their hand around the paper for a balanced composition, creating the illusion of the hand prints found on cave walls around the world. When all of the students have looked at their compositions and found them to be “done,” they bring “C”~ Cave Art Creations In this lesson, every child’s piece is truly successful. their artworks back to the art room, and begin adding ochre-colored chalks and symbols to their piece, careful not to color over their hands. These are then embellished with moss and sticks. The best thing about this lesson is that every child’s piece is truly successful! I have my students aid me in creating a cave-like installation where we display all of the cave art. When all of the cave art lessons are complete, I love to have my students write short essays or stories about their art, and how they think it would have been to live thousands of years ago in such a primitive time. Assessment is always tricky in the elementary art environment, but if you start your kids thinking deeply about the art they create, they will be thinking about how they are creating it. My students know that all of their art gets displayed in the school and the community, so this reminds them to take their time and to be proud of their completed pieces! Students are assessed on their creativity, technique in handling the various medium, as well as their written stories about their cave tools. Several vocabulary words were used and put onto our art Word Wall: prehistoric art, ochre colors, neutral colors and positive/negative space. I consistently compile vocabulary words throughout the year and display them on the Word Wall for review. n Debi West, Ed.S., NBCT, is the Lead Art Educator at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Ga., and an Arts & Activities Contributing Editor. x 16 november 2009

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