Posts Tagged ‘Windblown’

Collage Birds Inspired by Picture Books

Friday, September 6th, 2013

As promised, here is a deep look into one of the projects we did with our Animals, Art and The Imagination Students, aged 6-10, 0n the final day of our program two weeks ago:

The project happened in a few phases throughout the day.  In the  morning, I set up a series of stamping stations with our homemade stamp pads, similar to the way we set up when we do our Eric Carle program offsite, and let the students make as many visually textured papers (using tracing paper, construction paper and Folia Transparent Paper) as they wished within a 40 minute period.

When we were stamped out, we gathered in a circle on the floor around a handful of picture books to look at how different artists’  illustrate birds. They noticed that some artists work realistically, depicting the birds and their details closely to how we would see them in nature, and some artists work more abstractly, using a collection of simple shapes to illustrate theirs.

We looked carefully a doodle of the Pigeon, which happened to be drawn by Mo Willems himself in larger-than-life fashion on our back wall.  When we compared Pigeon with birds by Charley Harper and Eric Carle, the students noticed that there were a few basic geometric shapes the artists used in common: drop/tear/seed, circles, and triangles. We used magnetic versions of those shapes on a small magnet board  to collectively construct a bird of our own as I told them that later, they would be making their own birds out of paper.

After a storytime in the Reading Library featuring books with birds, an Elephant and Piggie story, and Windblown by Edouard Manceau, I gave each student a rectangle of scrap watercolor paper (approx. 6″x10″)  and proposed that we make our own collage birds. Those who were less excited about the idea were glad to hear that after making a bird, they would be welcome to make a different flying creature after.

drop shape and triangles

I explained that we would be cutting our birds’ parts out of the white paper first and then adding our stamped paper to our shapes once we were happy with them.  I suggested starting with the largest part of the bird. While asking them to remember what shape Mo Willems, Eric Carle, and Charley Harper often used for the body of the bird, I  cut a rough tear drop from my own piece of paper, starting with the point on one of the short sides. Whenever possible I try not to “demonstrate” how to do something because it could lead the the students to wanting theirs to look like mine, or feelings of not getting theirs “right.”  I let them know if they want to make their drop rounder, or wider or narrower, they choice was theirs.  As it turns out, everyone’s drop shape was unique. As an educator, I see a part of my job as helping my students see their peers as resources and teachers. So in the future I’ll probably ask if someone in the group wants to show the others how they would make a drop shape.

When everyone had cut their bird’s body shape, I had them hold up their negative shape (the paper leftover from their drop shape) to see if there were other shapes within it they could identify. They found that 2 triangle-ish shapes were left down by the point-end. As I showed them how I cut triangles off my negative shape I asked “what parts of my bird should use these for?” From responses that included “wings”, “a tail”, and “a beak” I knew they could take it from there. It was exciting to hear them share the possibilities they found within those shapes.

Once nearly everyone had their shapes cut out, we talked about how to integrate their stamped collage papers into their birds. We could have gone directly to cutting shapes out of their collage paper, but my thinking was that cutting from the white paper would help them focus on they shapes they were making without the distraction of color and visual texture. Additionally, my plan was to invite the students to make a mobile with their birds. It would be necessary to make the birds sturdier than just the papers we stamped.  So, using one of my white shapes and a gluestick, I showed them how to glue it to the back of a stamped paper and then cut it out again. The parts of the birds were glued to each other rather than a background piece of paper.   Everyone finished at least one bird. A few who had extra time started making bats.

Next time I do this, I might having them stamp directly to heavier weight paper to save the extra gluing and cutting step. I liked how “drawing with scissors” (as opposed to drawing the shapes on the papers with pencil first) helped keep the shapes loose and large. Sometimes, when given a pencil,  or “precious” materials such as their stamped papers, kids have a tendency to work really small.

Later, at the farm, we attached our birds to sticks we collected on the walk with craft string and white file-label dots. This is the part of the process I have no photos of. You can’t always be in the moment and document it! The shot I would have loved for you to see is of the students running around the farm’s back lawn, birds flying. You will have settle for this photo of my own stationary bird hung in The Studio after the fact.

A few repairs had to be made. Gluesticks and dot stickers were not the best adhesives for paper birds flown with the energy of a child on their last day of camp of the whole summer.  On a breezy day,  birds must fly! Lesson learned. : -)