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  • New Colors and Different Sizes
    By Iris Bildstein

    Grade Level: 1

    Students will create a painting exploring different sized shapes and combining colors that are both mixed and unmixed.

    This lesson plan recognizes that at the time when students enter 1st grade, some may just be starting to make representational drawings and paintings, while others are already representational in their work and yet there might be a few students who still work non-representationally -- making designs. It provides the students with the opportunity to explore the different properties of paint and discover how different colors are made and change through mixing. Students will decide how to arrange and organize shapes of various sizes on their paper. Some students might make shapes that are organized and used for a representational painting while others may not -- either response at this point developmentally is appropriate. Students should be encouraged to choose the size of paper that bests fits the size of their idea.

    Prior learning: Students should have had an earlier experience with paint and painting.

    Philosophy of the Lesson Plan

    These lesson plans follow the format designed and used by Dr. Judith M. Burton, in the "lesson planning" component of her Child/Adolescent development classes, in the Art and Art Education program at Teachers College Columbia University. This format is meant to instigate dialogue between, teacher and student(s) as well as between student(s) and student(s). Additionally, these lessons are meant to guide students into awareness of their own thinking and art-making possibilities. They provide a chance for students to engage in a "deeper" learning that comes out of the experience of talking about, looking at and making art. Activities, featured within lesson plans, are meant to accommodate the abilities and developmental stages of specific age groups based upon theories of Piaget, Lowenfeld, Hurwitz and Day, Arnheim, and Burton.

    It is critical to students' learning and growth that teachers recognize these lesson plans are not meant to be free-standing, but are to be seen as one lesson in a sequence of many, therefore allowing learning to expand exponentially. In building sequential lessons, prior learning is called upon so that new learning can occur. Furthermore, this style of lesson planning does not make the assumption that all students have the same cognitive and physical abilities. Often times teachers, as adults, take for granted our understanding of material and we assume that our students may be equally as capable. However, children, young adolescents, and adolescents need to understand and know what they are doing so that they may own the experience and utilize that knowledge in the future. Finally, this lesson plan format allows for the (art) teacher to guide the student towards realizing his/her work in meaningful and thoughtful ways. It also gives opportunity to the student to reflect and re-reflect on how they come to make their own art.

    These lesson plans have been designed and are suggested for specific grades and age groups. Stages of developmental growth approximates the ranges of change that occur as children grow. Since it is not static, its fluidity allows for these lesson plans to be tweaked to accommodate (possibly) a grade lower and a grade higher than indicated. That determination will have to rely on the art teachers knowledge of her students and understanding of their needs and development.

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    Components of a Lesson Plan

    This lesson plan is written as a discussion between teacher and students. It is formatted in such a way so that the teacher can guide the students into thinking about how they will engage in their art making. The "T's" that appear represent things that a teacher might say to his/her class while the "S's" represent the anticipated responses of students. Of course, theses are not the only possible responses, nor are they exhaustive. Writing anticipated student responses provides the teacher with the opportunity to reflect upon the questions that (s)he intends to ask while accessing if they will lead the students towards the objective.

    • OPENING STATEMENT - is what the teacher says in the beginning of the class to set the tone and focus towards a specific idea.

    • TOPIC QUESTION - is the first question that the teacher asks the class in a way that will incorporate the idea of the opening statement in a way that will connect to students and their experiences.

    • ASSOCIATION - is a discussion that explores various aspects and ideas that arise from the Topic question, which guide students to reflect and focus on multiple perspectives and possibilities.

    • RECAP - is the teacher's verbal review of the answers and ideas that were put forth by the students during the Association.

    • TRANSITION - is when the teacher reveals to the class the specifics of the day's activity and begins to navigate the students towards thinking about their own work with the materials.

    • VISUALIZATION - is a series of questions and responses that help students focus on the specifics of their individual work. It helps the student organize ideas, and visualize what they need to do to create the desired outcome. Through well-directed prompts, the teacher can guide the students through a cognitive layout of their artwork.

    • RECAP - is the verbal review of ideas and notions that were discovered during the Visualization.

    • TRANSITION - moving from talking about ideas to actually making art, the teacher provides the students with some questions and ideas, which will help them, begin their art making process.

    • CLOSURE - is an opportunity to look at and discuss students' work while reinforcing the learning that the activity provided.

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    Students will learn that primary color such as red, yellow and blue can be mixed in different combinations and amounts creating new colors and that both the mixed and unmixed colors can be arranged in a painting composed of different sized shapes (that change the appearance of the surface of the paper).

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    Necessary Materials

    • Paint - red, blue, yellow and white.

    • Paper - white (heavy enough for painting), two sizes 11"x 17" and 11"x 8 1/2"

    • Paint brushes - various sizes to assist in the making of different sized shapes

    • Sponges - dampened to wipe brushes on

    • Aluminum cookie sheet - used for students to mix paints on

    • Water containers - for cleaning brushes

    • Paper towels - always need for when painting

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    Teaching Procedure

    T: Last time we were all together, you all made interesting and exciting paintings filled with lots of color. I noticed that some of you were upset because you felt that you did not have all the colors you needed while other of you were upset because you felt that some of your colors ran into the color it was next to and caused it to change.
    T: Who can tell me what the three colors we used were?
    S: I can. They were red, yellow and blue.

    T: What were some of the colors that we didn't have to work with last week?
    S: I wanted to use pink but there wasn't any
    S: We had no purple and that's my favorite color.
    S: We also were missing green and orange.

    T: That's right we were missing purple, green, orange (and pink, but let's not focus on pink quite yet.) Suppose we only have red, yellow and blue paint, but you want to use green paint, but we had no green paint, what might you do?
    S: Maybe you could make green paint from the colors you have.
    S: You could mix other colors together to try to get them to look green.

    T: That's right you could mix two colors together and make green. What colors could you mix together to make green?
    S: I think you need to mix yellow and blue. (At this point allow for a student to demonstrate what mixing yellow and blue would look like, on a tray with the rest of the class looking on.)

    T: Right again, who has an idea about what two colors might make the color orange?
    S: I think one of the colors would be yellow because if you ever saw the sun set sometimes you see orangey colors besides just yellow.
    S: I know -- you would mix yellow and red together, they are like fire colors- all hot and everything.

    T: Yes, yellow and red together make orange. What happens to that orange color if I put a lot of yellow with only a little red? How about if I put a lot of red and a little orange? Suppose I put equal amounts of yellow and red? (Choose another student to mix red and yellow paint together-on a tray- to show that orange can be made this way. It's important that the colors are mixed based upon the suggestions of the students and not prior to their responses. Continue the mixing based upon student responses.)
    S: If you put a lot of yellow your orange we end up more like a yellowy-orange, kind of bright and light.
    S: When you use even amounts of yellow and red, I bet you'd have a real medium regular orange.

    S: Yeah but if you put a whole lot of red in with only a little yellow, you'd have a darker reddish-orange color.

    T: Wow, everyone came-up with such great answers. We now know that if you mix (two or more) colors together you can make other colors. We also learned that you can vary those colors depending on the amount of colors that you mix together.

    T: Today you are going to have a chance to explore and experiment with mixing different colored paints and then use those (new) colors in a painting of different sized shapes. What kind of shapes might you use?
    S: I'm going to make a lot of little blobs in all different colors -- to make a design.
    S: I would like to use circles and squares together.
    S: I'll make up my own weird shapes.

    T: Will you have lots of different sized shapes or only have big and little shapes?
    S: I want to use lots of little shapes and only one really big shape
    S: I'd like to have a bunch of different sized shapes all over.

    T: How will you place your shapes on your paper? Will you bunch them together or spread them out?
    S: I'm going to bunch mine together like the way you see fruit in a basket
    S: I'm going to spread my shapes out -- like when snow is falling.

    T: Who can tell me how they will decide upon what colors they will use?
    S: I'm going to only use my favorite colors -- blue, green and yellow
    S: I want to use as many colors as I can make because rainbows have lots and lots of different colors.

    T: Will you make your bigger shapes different colors than your littler shapes?
    S: I'm going to use the unmixed colors for my big shapes and the mixed colors for my little shapes.
    S: I'm going to use only red for the little shapes and make the bigger shapes lots of colors.

    T: You have all had such great ideas about mixing different colors and using shapes of different sizes in you paintings.

    T: Now that we have talked about our ideas, think about the colors you would like to mix for your painting -- can you discover new and exciting colors? Where on your paper will you start your painting? Will you hold your paper the long way or from side to side? Will you begin will a small shape or a big shape? Will you use a big paintbrush or a smaller one? Remember how we mixed orange on the tray -- using our paintbrushes to scoop up the paint and mix them together and don't forget to clean you brushes in the water before you mix new colors. Once you have your materials, you may begin. (A reminder as to how to use paint and paintbrush might be helpful to many students at this point.)

    T: You have all made such rich and interesting paintings. Who would like to share their painting with us?
    S: I'd like to show mine to the class.

    T: Great come on up and hold your painting so that everyone can see. HMMMM I see that you have a lot of greens in your painting -- how did you make green? And you have little blotches of red ...

    S: I used blue and yellow to make green. Sometimes I used more blue and sometimes more yellow. I made really big shapes to look like the leaves in the jungle. You know the way it's all covered over with plants and stuff. The red little blotches looks like berries.
    T: Thank you for sharing your painting with us -- it's now time to go back to your classroom.

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    Adaptation/Extension Ideas

    Moving ahead: From here on in, when painting, students should be encouraged to mix their own paint colors for use in their artwork.

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    Arnheim, R. (1990). THOUGHTS ON ART EDUCATION. Los Angeles: Getty Center for Education and the Arts.

    Lowenfeld,V. & Brittain, L (1982). CREATIVE AND MENTAL GROWTH. New York: MacMillan.

    Hurwitz, A. & Day,M. (1995). CHILDREN AND THEIR ART. New York: Harcourt Brace.

    Burton,J.M. (1981 January). "Developing minds: Ideas in search of forms." SCHOOL ARTS, 58-64.

    Burton, J.M. (1995 January). "NAEA research task force on student learning in and through the visual arts: Briefing paper." Reston, VA:NAEA.

    Burton, J.M. (1994, June). "The arts in infancy:Celebrating artistry in the child." Paper presented at the conference: The Arts in Infancy, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimre, Maryland.

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    About the Author

    Iris Bildstein is currently a Program Associate for the Art and Art Education Program at Teachers College Columbia University where she is pursuing a Masters of Education in Art Education. She expects to receive her degree at the end of the year and then will continue on to the completion of a Doctorate in Education. She is co-editing a graduate journal at Teachers College and also does some supervision of student teachers. For seven years, Ms. Bildstein taught and coordinated an art education program for New York City school children who did not receive any art education as part of their regular curriculum. Ms. Bildstein worked closely on this lesson plan with Dr. Judith Burton.

    Dr. Judith M. Burton is Professor and Chair of the Department of the Arts and Humanities, and Director of the Program in Art and Art Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Burton is an internationally recognized scholar, lecturer, author, and a highly respected 'developmentalist' known for her research on the artistic-aesthetic responses of children and adolescents. Among numerous publications, her widely acclaimed series 'Developing Minds', published in SCHOOL ARTS has become essential reading for art education students across the country. Dr. Burton has been awarded several prestigious honors, including the Lowenfeld Award for lifetime achievement by the National Art Education Association.

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