By West, Debi
Arts & Activities , Vol. 146, No. 3
Since our entire school enjoyed watching our "All About Me" tile mural wall go up, I thought it would be fun to create an installation in our main atrium as I continued to teach the Alpha Art curriculum.
My kindergarteners and first-graders were working on the letter "D" and my fourth- and fifth-graders were working on the letter "B" (lessons are available at www.artsandactivities.com), so I found that working with my second- and third-graders on several cave art lessons would make for an exciting installation involving the letter "C"! The best part is that while the art itself was made individually, it all came together in a collaborative installation--another fun "C" word!
I began the unit with a fun discussion about what prehistoric actually means. It's wonderful to see children realize that art was literally the first language as cavemen "wrote" their stories on the cave walls to leave their mark. Students compared leaving their own marks with that of man thousands of years ago!
My negative/positive handprint lesson is one of my most successful lessons. The students LOVE it, the results are outstanding and important art vocabulary is learned.
The objective of this lesson is to have students think about the art of prehistoric man, specifically the paintings found on the cave walls and the tools used for survival. To begin the lesson, I give them samples of art prints from the Lascaux caves and several caves in Australia, as well as artifacts from this time period.
I also think it's fun to have the room set up in a cave-like atmosphere. For example, I turn the lights out, have overhead images projected onto all of the walls depicting cave wall images, and perhaps even have some environmental music playing lightly in the background, such as birds chirping and water running. The kids get so excited to be immersed into the "world" of prehistoric man!
The procedure for this lesson is really quite simple: Students are taught to trace their hands onto a piece of Bristol paper or other sturdy paper, and then cut it out. I always remind my kiddos to cut neatly and stay on the line "track" as you don't want their fingers to be too thin.
Once all of the hands are cut out and their trash is thrown away, they take their cut-out hand outside and lay it on top of their construction paper. (All of this is on top of a large piece of canvas or a large sheet.) I then come around with various neutral-colored spray paints, and spray their paper hands! This creates a negative/positive image that makes the kids say "ohhhh!" They absolutely love to see this negative space appear! …