Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tip #8: Let them use their hands

When I hear about hands-on projects, I am reminded of several things. I think about the student that, during art club one day, had the simple wish to squish clay in his hand for an hour. He definitely craved some sensory stimulation! I think about the student that doubted himself, but completed a work of art that was beyond what he had imagined. I also think about the class that worked together to create an enormous Lochness monster that hung from the ceiling of their Scottish themed classroom.

I am a little biased being an art teacher, but I have always believed in the importance of hands-on projects. Students that are kinesthetic learners will love the lesson and absorb the information well. Using hands-on projects uses a high level of learning on Bloom's Taxonomy. Students can learn and practice problem solving skills and use creativity. Also, don't underestimate the importance of meeting the needs of your students in class who crave sensory stimulation. Here are some suggestions of ways to use hands-on projects in a variety of subjects.

Language Arts
  • Poetry – Tupac wrote many poems, some inspired by Vincent van Gogh. View his artwork with a PowerPoint presentation using LCD projector and compare the artwork to the description in the poems or compare van Gogh’s life to Tupac’s. There are similarities and differences. Plus, students will view you with a whole new 'coolness' now they know you have heard of Tupac!
  • Inferences – White out words on comics and cut into pieces. Have students arrange in order by making inferences from the pictures.
  • Puppet Making – For quieter students that do not like to act out scenes, create puppets from a play or scene in a book. Perform it in front of a younger group.
  • Design a foreign menu/store – Use math to calculate foreign currency of items. You could also incorporate social studies by researching foreign items or customs.
  • Architecture – Design and draw out architectural plans – you could even create a scale model of the school or classroom. You can reference real plans and use realistic symbols. Create the model to scale and calculate square footage.
  • Fractals – Have students view fractals and study the math behind the fractals.
  • Anatomy – Aboriginal people in Australia create X-Ray paintings that showcase the bones and guts of animals. Have students create their own x-ray drawing or painting.
  • Inventions – Study the invention sketches of Leonardo da Vinci. Students can draw their own invention or discuss what scientific concepts da Vinci shows in his drawings.
  • Environment – After a unit on recycling or the environment, have students create artwork using recycled materials such as empty chip bags or newspaper.
  • Lifecycle – Showcase the lifecycle of an animal, cell, plant, in a mandala style design.
Social Studies
  • Create foreign or time travel brochures
  • Design a Map – Have students invent their own country and draw their own map. Add realistic map items such as a key, latitude/longitude lines, etc...
  • Political Cartoons – View political cartoons from current or past issues. Students can draw their own political cartoon.
  • Artwork Viewing – View artwork created during time periods or from cultures you are studying. Some artists, such as Diego Rivera, created visual history lessons.
Social Awareness & Team Building
  • Self Collage – Use a shoebox to create a collage. On the outside, have students collage how they think others view them. On the inside, collage how they view themselves. You could also tie this to a novel if it has a similar theme.
  • Logo/Graphic Design – Have students design a logo for the classroom or themselves.
  • Story Quilt – Faith Ringgold showcased many stories about her life and African American culture through quilts. Create a paper quilt showcasing stories that are important to each of your students. Have each student draw out a story about themselves on a square piece of paper. Attach all pieces together to form a quilt. You can always use thin strips on the outside to form a border.

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