Monday, September 27, 2010

Shout out for my Art Project Girl!

I support the "No Cookie-Cutter" Art Projects movement.
Thanks to Erica at Art Project Girl

I am a step by step teacher, but I will not use cut out sheets for every single project, I will not draw everything out for the child that doesn't understand. Instead I will encourage and show the student that if you "Make a Mistake, Make It Great" - Adventures of an Art Teacher

I completely agree with Adventures of an Art Teacher. I do step by step a bit too! These are little kids and their little lives are so short and a little to go back on... If I tell them to draw a cat kids always for get some of the steps (cat's with no ears, mouth, tail). Step by Step is a teaching tool that works. Take the steps and become creative with it!--


  1. In the spirit of no cookie cutter I just need to ask - do you really think step by step is not robbing them of their creativity? Why would you ever need to say "draw a cat"? We are studying Andy Warhol's cat illustrations right now in 3rd grade and we are drawing animals but - like Andy Warhol - we are drawing our pets or pets we wished we had. I show them how to use simple shapes to draw what they want and then they can do it the way they want to! Fill the space is about the only "rule" I give them. Yes, as art teachers we want stuff to look cute and for them to feel successful but doing a step by step lesson deprives them of making those steps towards higher order thinking skills. You can do a great job without them!

  2. Mini Matisse I guess you don't mind catching a little flack either. It's been so great to talk about what is teaching. , , even if it has been a heated debate. Many of us, like me, have not taken education classes in a few years now and discussing and debate what our philosophies helps define our own practices.

    You have to check out because I think she is doing some really great thinking and writing about the subject of what makes art "good", why we have a need to be "good" and why we should even make art. We have been talking a lot about WHO students are making the art for. The goal is to have them make art to grow themselves, to give them joy from the inside out.

    As I explore non cookie cutter art lessons in the classroom I begin to learn more about the students I teach and hopefully they discover more about their growing selves.

    Of course I'm only on a DIET too! I see many needs for art exercises in the classroom in guided drawing especially. Drawing is like learning to read sometimes you have to teach them how to sound it out right?

    Thanks for sharing awesome lessons, your experience and also reflections on teaching.

  3. Tajmahill- I love your style of teaching. I'm glad it works for you. I would say that I agree with you in, say 3rd grade, even 2nd grade, that this is a really successful way of teaching and one that I use as well. I guess I'm talking about the K's... 'step-by-step' is how I feel you can bring students of many levels onto a level playing field. As posted earlier on this blog (under K's label's) I have students from so many starting points. I'm not only teaching them how to draw an object... like a cat... I'm teaching them how to follow direction, and sequencing. For me, this works best with these young grades. I don't think my projects all look the same ever. I'm not die cutting shapes and asking them to arrange them in a certain way... I'm asking them to practice their shapes and lines, and work on order of events. Thanks for the inquiry and comment!

  4. Where's my comment from before? Lost in cyberspace maybe. I wanted to say that I totally am just on a DIET. I have to do some step by step instruction though trying to find other solutions. Sometimes there's no way to get around it with the kids we teach. Their experiences are so limited, a few of my kindergarteners still don't "know" their own name let alone be able to write it. So we are still Tracing their name on the bottom of their paper (just one example of how simple I have to keep things sometimes!)

    I like how you listen to your students too. When they said penguin you rolled with it. That inspired me a lot this week. When kids said maybe we should print the leaves instead of watercoloring them. . . we did it! It was not in the lesson plan but it was their idea. I am also doing a lot of "borrowing ideas". When a kid does something really original and fun with a lesson I ask if I can show the class (I tell them they might want to borrow the idea). Kids teaching kids is a great way to get away from cookie cutter stuff which is what you're doing! The trading cards are another example of the power of student directed learning.

    I saw this great business plan presented. The presenter showed a picture of a triangle and a boss at the top and the workers on the bottom. Then he flipped the triangle upside down. The boss was now the supporter. I thought that was an interesting way to think about teaching too!

  5. I like your way of thinking, and your approach to teaching. I, daily, have to find "creative" ways to make my kids understand. that's our job, isn't it?! I just taught my kindergartners how to draw trees, not the puffy-broccoli-type trees you see, but a tree with Y's. and if their Y's were all over the place? It was okay. HOWEVER, on our cow designs, I had them use a tracer for a body (which, ironically, on some of them, seemed NOT to be traced!!!!) just to make sure things were the right size.