Sunday, April 13, 2014

Brain-Break Lesson #1

IMPORTANT! Please read through the whole post to get the full effect. Phase one may make me seem like a terrible teacher, but I promise it's just an intro to a fun lesson.

I think we've all had the experience of students getting a little restless during long projects. This often results in quickly shaded backgrounds or sloppy painting. Everyone needs a brain break. Here's one a my favorite quick lessons. Subject? Creativity! Time: 40 min

Phase One: The Repetitive Bunny (could really be any animal, but it's SPRING so let's bunny it up!) 

  • Students should receive one sheet of WHITE paper and one pencil (my student bring one to each class)
  • Instruct students that today we will be doing a drawing lesson and they should EXACTLY follow the instructions without talking. If you feel comfortable use a sternish/boring teacher voice.
  • Here are the exact words I use with my students as I'm drawing the steps on a whiteboard. The wording a designed to NOT allow students to stray from the directions. 
    • Start by drawing a circle in the middle of your paper. Not too high and not too low, right in the middle.
    • In the center of this circle draw an upside down triangle. This triangle should be equal on all sides. 
    • Above this triangle draw two small circles. DO NOT COLOR THEM IN!
    • Coming off this bottom of the triangle, draw a forwards 'J' and backwards 'J'. This should look like how you would maybe draw a cat's mouth
    • On either side of the triangle, draw three diagonal lines. NOT TWO, NOT FOUR, THREE.
    • Finally at the top of the circle  draw two 'upside-down socks' facing in opposite directions. 
The final drawing should look like this: 

After the bunnies are drawn have the students turn and compare their images to the neighbors'. 

Discussion Questions:

  • How did you feel during the process of drawing the bunny?
  • What did you notice about your bunny compared to your neighbor's bunny?
  • If you had the opportunity, what would you do to change your bunny drawing?
In my experience students often first notice the differences between their bunny and their neighbors bunny, but they notice that they all look relatively the same. They also usually agree that the process was boring and they wish they could add color, a body and detail to their bunny drawing. I respond by asking, "what if art was like this everyday?" I usually get groans. Then we talk about why creativity thinking is so important to the work we do in the Art room and why sometimes the creativity falls away. 

Creativity and the ability to explore different possibilities is one of the best parts about Art class. The are 100's of ways to do every art project and keeping students to a step-by-step process can be limiting to their creative growth. Students like a little freedom. As frustrating as it may be for them, the creative process is one of the greatest experiences they'll have in the Art room. 

Phase Two: Bunnies, No Boundaries.   
  • Students should receive a bucket of misc. materials. Just whatever you have extra of! Literally anything you want to give them. And a pair of scissors. 
  • Tell the students to make a bunny using only whats in the bucket, nothing else
  • THAT'S IT!!!
Some students start asking "can I" or "is it okay if" questions during the process, in which I always answer YES! (well almost always)

About midway through the supplies start running low in their buckets. This is when I tell them, "your bunny needs a friend, please make one". You'd be surprised the things students come up with during this part. I've had students re-make their whole bunny to accommodate for making a friend, draw on their hands to make a friend, bring in their original bunny with additions and so many other crazy things. 

I don't let the students use glue on this 'project'. At the end of class they say good-bye to their bunny friends and set-up the activity for the next class.  My goal isn't assessment or high-quality work. My goal is to shake off the project boredom and get the creative juices flowing again. I find that when student return to or start their projects again, they are filled with new creative outlook. Here are some examples of the bunnies and their friends

"Can my bunny have two friends?" YES!!

Love this little spool friend :)

Project subtable for ALL ages. I've done it with 6th, 7th and 8th grade and they all LOVED the little brain break :)  Also great for a beginning of the year project!

1 comment:

  1. I remember doing this in college when another classmate presented it to us. I still have my bunny out of "stuff" that I made. I use him for an Easter decoration every year :)