Art Teacher Tales
My favorite lessons, tricks and professional developments.
I have done this Sunglass Selfie lesson at the end of the year with my kinders for the past three years. This lesson is a mash up of a bunch of Pinterest finds with some of my own input. I save this lesson for the end of the year because creating accurate proportions of the face are difficult for kinders but also because this lesson only requires crayons. This frees me up to put away all the rest of my supplies for our summer break.
There are two main objectives in this lesson. I want students to consider proper proportions of the face and I want them to choose skin color for their projects that they think matches them best. Notice that I do not expect each students to have perfect proportions or to have accurate skin tone. I introduce proportions because some students are ready for that concept and they can create more realistic work but not every artist follows those rules and it is the same for my students. I don't stress skin color because some students identify themselves as darker or lighter for an array of reasons and who am I to take that away from them. For instance, I had a student who was adopted. His skin tone was notably darker then his families but he self-identified as having lighter skin. I let it slide because he really searched for the skin color he though was right.
The best tool I have found to teach proportions of the face is my SMART Board. I pull up the shape of the head and students and I draw a face the way we think it should be drawn, then I keep our drawing up and I turn to the next slide which has a face drawn with guidelines. Without fail we always end up with eyes on the forehead. Then we analyze the face with guidelines and we try again. Students love to see me make mistakes and I also get to model how I erase and try again. Students use a stencil to create the shape of the head because we need big heads for our oversized sunglasses. I have also noticed that they love using those guidelines and they really think about drawing lightly so they can erase them after. I also talk in length that hair does not sit on top of your head and that drawing your ears first will help you get the right shape for your hair line.
My favorite art room book for discussing skin color is The Colors of Us by Karen Katz. The book is a little silly and really shows a range of skin colors. I have used this book in classes that were predominately one color or another and it worked great for both. It also sparked great conversation about how none of us are actually black or white but instead we are all different shades of brown. I walk my student through the process of trying to find the right skin tone for me and they are generally very happy to tell me that my cheeks are more red then the rest of my face. Thanks guys... I also show how to blend multiple colors together. We use Crayola Multi-Cultural Crayons and I added some colored tape so those crayons don't get mixed with the others.
Drawing and coloring the face usually takes a little more then one 40 minute class period so I introduce the sunglasses at the beginning of the second class. As a class we brainstorm about things we wear in the summer and sunglasses always come up. I then take out my sunglasses, put them on and we talk about the two pats of sunglasses, the frames and lenses. I am a sunglass hoarder so I have all kinds of fun sunglasses. When we look at the frames of my sunglasses I ask the students to tell me what they see. They mentioned that sometimes they can see my eyes but someone always notices that they can se their reflection. We then talk about how there is always a reflection in my sunglasses of what I am seeing. We talk about things we will see this summer and, for this lesson, I always show them an example. Again, I gave students tracers because these sunglasses need to be really big to add drawings in the lenses. My fashion designers get to work making their frames first and then adding the drawing of what they will see.
The sunglasses also take a little longer then the 40 minute session so during the third class students finish up coloring their work, cut out their sunglasses, and they come to me to attach their sunglasses. Because the portraits are soooo cute I don't want to permanently cover their beautiful faces so we use double sided tape and the glasses can come on and off. This last week is very easy for me which in ideal for the last week of school. I also found that some teachers also use these at their kindergarten graduations.