Friday, August 30, 2013

art is...

As I told you in my last post, I wanted to switch things up this year on the first day of Art in each grade level. My self-portrait idea was getting stale after 10 years!
I originally saw this idea on and loved her "Art is...." statements her students made. Ironically, the post was also about having original teaching ideas and not just copying others' ideas. Ahem. 

Well, I suppose you could say I'm imitating her idea and not copying?

It's time for all of us to start incorporating the Common Core Standards into our art lessons, I wanted to start with this lesson this year. It made my students really THINK about what art actually is. We applied literacy and creative thought into these...a total WIN/WIN. 

This project was done in two first, I gave them each a Post-it note and had them write down what art was to them. I created a bulletin board out of those ideas. I also had them write down what art ISN'T...a bit more of an abstract idea (which was very hard for them to write, actually).

We were "word illustrators" for the day...discussing how important illustrations are to primary students to tell a story. We looked at different illustrators and pondered what books would be like without illustrations (which led to a conversation about chapter books and more colorful and descriptive language which create pictures in your head instead of, these kids can T.A.L.K!)

Anyway, students were to come up with ONE word that described what art was to THEM. There were so many words...colorful, creative, imaginative, fun, epic, awesome...
After they had their word down, they needed to illustrate that word. Colorful sure needed to LOOK colorful. Fun better look fun, and so on...

Getting them to think for themselves...using descriptive language...visually illustrating a thought or idea...defining words...HELLO, COMMON CORE. Having students apply an art project to another discipline...golden.

For this project, I simply used 11x17 paper and photocopied it with the words "Art is" on it. I sliced them in half and each student had their own. With discussion, direction, and production time it took about 70-75 minutes. (I have 55-minute classes, so about a class and a half).
At the end of the lesson, I read the kids the book "Art is" by Bob Raczka. I love the last line in the book "Art is how artists get you to think".

Yep, Exactly.


  1. I love this! I start school this Thursday and I may, ahem, borrow this idea for my 5th and 6th graders! I've done a similar type year I made a tree without leaves and the students filled the branches with leaves that had statements about what they wanted to learn in art...but I REALLY like the illustrated element you added!

    1. Awww thanks! I love the tree idea, too! Maybe I will borrow back for next year! Have a wonderful start to your school year!

  2. I also did the Art Is, Art Is Not idea for the first week of school. I loved seeing what each student came up with! I really like your idea of illustrating the words.

  3. I did the "Art is" last year the week before the art show. I then hung them all over the school in the areas where the art was not hanging to kind of "fill in the gaps." Since my art show is the same night at the spring concert, we call it "Pride in the Arts Night." I made the same signs for the music teacher with "Music is" and she hung them around the hallways as well! :)
    I think I'll try the art is and art isn't some day. I didn't know about the Art is book. I'll have to get that to read to my classes as well! Thanks! Laura

  4. What a fabulous lesson. I love the whole process, from brainstorming to the book. You have some very good illustrators in the house!