Friday, August 24

The last week of summer

last week's cheesesteak giant greeted visitors to our "gallery"
  NLArts summer camp visual arts week was a lot of fun. We've worked for years to get a good plan of schedule/teachers/lessons, and this year just felt so EASY (to me anyway).One major change was that during visual arts week kids only chose one morning elective- 2D art, 3D art or public art, instead of 2 of them, and we gave them a longer period of time to work in. This allowed us to have much more time for generating ideas, working, and reflecting.

"Problemsolvers" created a geodesic dome
 In the afternoon we gave kids a choice among "ProblemSolvers" (math-based art), "Photoplay" (working with digital images), "Explorers" (short walking field trips around the community), and "Comics" (self-explanatory, right?). Kids chose their first 2 electives to keep all week, but then we gave them a daily choice of afternoon play elective- gym sports, park visit, or indoor board games/play. It's brilliant allowing kids to choose their activities- they're doing things they want, and end up hanging out with kids that share their interests. Gym and Explorers was popular among the more energetic ones. Painting and board games was a common choice for the quieter sorts of kids. I wish real school had this much opportunity for choice. You can still teach all sorts of concepts in these formats, even if at first glance they seem quite different.

3D artists made papier mache masks
On the last day of camp we set up a "Gallery" of kids art and have popsicles for everybody.Parents come and see everybody's work. This year instead of arranging art by project, each child had a spot to show off their collection of artwork.
my daughter created a circular hanging poem about the Frankford neighborhood
 Our junior counselors (middle schoolers) worked in the morning on projects related to various communities around the city, and made collage and digital artwork reflecting what they'd discovered.

cityscape with windmill
  I taught the 2D elective with a great group of 7-11 year olds. We focused on a project to show background/middleground/foreground. First we went to the park and traced the skyline around us with our fingers. In the studio we did a crayon city drawing, and then pulled india ink over it with a popsicle stick to create skyscraper silhouettes. Afterwards we painted the skies in various colors. It was fun to try to arrange them in order from morning to night based on the sky colors when our background step was done. On the next day we made our middlegrounds to start a community garden in our cities. First we did a soft watercolor painting in yellow and blue to make a mottled green wash. Then we made sketchbooks and went on a neighborhood walk to collect leaves and sketch. Finally we printed our leaves over the watercolors. On the third day we cut a curvy line across the leaf prints to make a nice tree line effect, and collaged them onto our city backgrounds. Some students chose to extend their picture longer, and others added layers of greenery in a 3D effect. Then we went on a walk to our local community garden. I pulled out some carpet sit-upons and we stopped to look at a book of Georgia O'Keefe flowers and then spent the morning sketching flowers from the garden.

I love Julia's tilting buildings in contrast with her straight flowers
  On the fourth day we painted our flowers with tempera, and then cut them out to collage into the gardens as foreground. And finally this morning we made "Bug Boxes". We received a fabulous donation of tins and boxes from a bead artist in the community. One of the box types was an aluminum cylinder with a window lid- perfect for a little specimen container. I asked the kids to imagine a bug they might have found in their community garden. We reviewed bug parts (head, thorax, abdomen, antennae, wings, stingers, legs, pincers, etc.) and then they drew, colored, and cut out their creatures. By folding the legs in a step-like manner, they were able to make their bugs pop up and look a little more realistic.

an ant hill started as a circle with a cut center and then overlapped
  Sorry the pictures are so fuzzy- I forgot that distance matters on my flipcam. For our exhibit I asked my kids to write about their pictures and bugs. I told them they could write about their process, a description of the work, or be imaginative. Most of them took the imaginative route! "Librdy lands" above is 2nd grader writing for "Liberty Lands", the park we go to for free play in the afternoons.

Patatoglasses bug had no legs to make it 3D, so we made a paper spring
Our photoplay class teacher came up with this awesome project:
 A silly face photo was printed out, and each kid had 3 color copies to cut and manipulate... collaging them onto a larger piece of colored cardstock gave them a bold and instant frame.
 It was a wonderful week of making art with some of my favorite kids. I love watching them grow. My daughter has been a part of the camp since it first started 6 years ago, and we've made good friends with people in the community by participating. It even led us to selecting Frankford Friends as her middle school, since many of our campers are also students at FFS.

AS one of our Jr Counselors says here- Northern Liberties is a diverse community!
Although it would have been nice to have more time to set up my school classroom this week, or have a bit more relaxing time before school starts, I'm so glad I was able to run this camp this summer. They're continuing with a week of field trips next week, but I'm starting school next week instead!

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