Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto

I recently had my Kindergarteners work on a project that I saw in SchoolArts magazine titled Building a Better Robot (January 2012 issue). This mixed media project seemed to have it all- found object printmaking, pencil drawing, coloring with marker, and shading with chalk.  I was excited about exposing my students to a variety of media while also teaching them about the concepts of foreground and background.  

I added to this project an artist study of sculptor Nemo Gould. Many of Gould's robot sculptures are creatively themed around animals. My students particularly liked his sculpture of a giant ant-robot complete with a real ant farm built into the chest! My students looked at Gould's variety of robots in order to get their creative juices flowing for their own robot designs.  
The subject of the project also lent itself well to integration with science. After a student voiced an interesting misconception, I decided that additional scientific information would enrich this project further. I checked out a tall stack of books from the school library about robots, planets, and outer space.  As the students worked on this project they also learned about the purpose of robots and a little about the solar system. 
I absolutely love the final products that my students made, and my students are very proud of their impressive work.  Most visitors are amazed that the Kinders made these awesome pieces of art!!!

Reflection & Notes for the future:
I need to make a point to elaborate student options further.  I should explain that robots could reflect any favorite-- a princess robot, a pizza robot, a baby doll robot, a soccer player robot, etc.

I thought that I was giving the students plenty of choice by simply stating that they could create their own robot, and by showing them an artist who makes a variety of animal robots.  With those instructions though, the students created fairly similar robots to one another (nearly every one of them animal-themed).  I never intended to limit their creative options, but when Kindergarteners see an example they tend to copy it. Their brains are bursting with ideas and creativity, but they are also learning how to follow the rules of school and to please their teachers.  I want them to let their imaginations run wild in the art room, the more wild the better! 

Next time I do this project, I will provide students with clear choices to make the project meaningful to each and every student.  In the future I'll start this project with the question, "What is your favorite thing in the whole world?" This will be sure to pique each child's interest and spur a lively discussion. Then I will guide my students to use artistic skills and creativity to portray their 'favorite' in robot form.  This will surely lead to some more out-of-the-box thinking! 

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