Let's Use Our Art Eyes!

By Braun, Christine | Arts & Activities, September 2006 | Go to article overview

Let's Use Our Art Eyes!


Braun, Christine, Arts & Activities


At the beginning of the year, in order to introduce my kindergarten students to the concept of observation, I have them try to use their eyes as an artist would when looking at the world. They are asked to look at the world around them more intensely than usual, akin to how an artist studies an object while drawing it. From that point on, this observation activity is referred to in my art room as using our "art eyes" or "artist eyes."

Subsequently, whenever we draw, we use our art eyes more purposefully to observe the object we're drawing. If creating art from our imaginations or memories, we look more intently at our work to include subtle details in our pictures.

This concept materializes in two projects. Each project takes one 35-minute art class. First, the children create art-eye glasses. They make them during the first art class of the year and wear them during the closure of the first lesson.

While wearing the glasses, the children play "I spy" and notice things in and around the art room. This is a subtle, fun way to discover art-room rules and the location of art supplies and tools. Also, having the children use scissors during the first class of the year provides an opportunity to take note of any children who have fine-motor and/or scissor-skill needs. As a bonus, this lesson integrates with the children's core curriculum unit on the five senses.

MAKING THE GLASSES The art eyeglasses are constructed from a simple photocopied template. I have a master drawing that consists of three pairs of art eyeglasses drawn onto one 11" x 17" piece of paper. I make multiple copies for my classes.

These templates could also be easily traced, by each student or the teacher, onto other art papers to allow for larger, sturdier eyeglasses. To keep things simple, the children only use markers to decorate their eyeglasses, as this lesson is used as an introduction to how an artist sees things, as well as a first-creation project and clean-up lesson. The children then cut out the glasses when they are finished.

Depending upon time constraints and if necessary, the eyeholes can be precut for the children. I keep clear tape handy to patch up any accidents that might happen as the children cut out their glasses.

In the future, whenever the children are asked to use their art eyes, they will be able to refer to this experience of actually putting on special art eyeglasses. In subsequent lessons and years, I use "art eye" experiences conceptually, as students would when asked to put on their "thinking cap."

The second day's project has the children paint renderings of their own eyes. As they enter the classroom, I give each of them a mirror. They are told to look carefully for shapes, colors and lines they may find in their eyes.

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