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Re: [teacherartexchange] Suggestions for Fourth Grade Aluminum Foil Sculpture Lesson


From: Marvin Bartel (marvinpb_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed May 21 2008 - 12:57:33 PDT

>--Michael B. wrote:
>I am trying to develop short, meaningful sculpture unit involving Aluminum Foil as a means of construction. I was wondering if any teachers posting to this listserv have had experience with leading three-dimensional experiences using Aluminum Foil, and if so, if they had any suggestions or ideas for successful projects.
>I am planning this for a fourth grade class.

What if the students are provided a reduced amount of materials and told to experiment with it first to see what they can invent. Inform them that this is practice material to use for experimentation and playing with ideas. Emphasize creativity by asking them what they would like to make that no other student has already decided to make. Tell them to imagine they are being commissioned to make a larger piece, and this material is for them to practice with an look use to search for an idea. You may want to allow other available materials to be combined with the foil if individuals choose to do so.

After they do some searching, ask them to make it again with the benefit of the preliminary experimentation. Ask if they can use two or three times as much material on the actual piece. Encourage them to think of refinements and improvements as they are working to make it have a certain quality that they like. Qualities can include humor, anger, elegance, action, (have them add to this list). Subject matter might include something that they are personally very interested in, or some abstract idea they want to express. In fourth grade, some students would probably really enjoy combining their materials to make larger collaborative artwork.

What if the critique of their projects is in the form of an awards ceremony. Ask them to decide which pieces show the most boundary pushing, boundary breaking, invention; which pieces show great composition, which show the most motion, which show the most most variety, which show the most unity, which show the most theme with variation, the most realism, the most feeling, etc (allow them to add categories so long as they are positive attributes) until everybody gets some kind of affirmation about what was created. Each piece gets a positive statement attached such as, "One of five that show good motion." You might ask the principle or another art teacher to come and select a best of show and explain why is selected.

Conducting the critiques as an awards ceremony seems to be enjoyed by the students. When I have done this with clay assignments it seemed to help promote a creative studio art classroom culture. When the students to have to name the visual effects and qualities that each work exudes, they are learning to think about the purposes and means used by artists as they materialize their feelings and ideas.

Another variation is to have each student make two different projects with the intention of selecting one of them to enter into the awards ceremony, and trashing the other one. They get to discuss their two pieces with two friends before deciding which one to enter into the main ceremony.


NOTE: The terms boundary pushing, boundary breaking, and invention come from Eisner, Elliot W. "A Typology of Creative Behavior in the Visual Arts" published in Readings in Art Education. 1966. Edited by Elliot W. Eisner and David W. Ecker. Blaisdell Publishing, Waltham, MA. pages 323 - 335.

Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art Emeritus
Adjunct in Art Education
Goshen College, 1700 South Main, Goshen IN 46526
studio phone: 574-533-0171
"Art is me when I am myself." ... a kindergarten girl when asked, "What is art?"
"You can't never know how to do it before you never did it before." ... a kindergarten boy working with clay for the first time.

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