Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kindergarten GREEN Trees

Kindergarten has spent the last month working on some amazing trees, made completely out of recycled materials (not counting the glue and the paint!) We began our unit by using paper scraps left over from other art projects and pages from the phone book. We thought it would be a great idea to reuse paper, which is made from trees, to create new trees!

To start, we used a phone book - which is FULL of many, many sheets of paper and often discarded each year when a new edition comes out - and ripped out pages to make our collages on. We looked for pages that were mostly covered in plain phone number listings, so that the words would become a sort of background pattern. Then, we glued the two sheets together, attaching them where the papers had been ripped from the book.

The students then used scraps of various shades of brown, yellow and orange construction paper to create a tree trunk and branches. We discussed types of bark, shapes and placement of branches and how those two characteristics differ from tree to tree. Kindergartners worked on strengthening the muscles of their fingers by ripping the paper, instead of using scissors. We liked this effect - more organic and natural looking. Students used the "just a dot, not a lot" rule to make sure that their pieces were glued effectively. (Put small dots around the perimeter of the shape, instead of one big dot in the middle.)

Once the trunks, branches, and even some roots were complete, we set to work on preparations for leaf-making. We looked at, felt, described and discussed leaves in detail, especially paying attention to the overall shape and pattern of the veins of each leaf. (We looked at a variety of fake leaves cut from artificial flower stems - they looked really real, and they held up well with lots of handling!) Then, each student drew a unique leaf from observation with Sharpie onto a small square of Styrofoam from an egg carton lid. If the drawing was too small, they could try again on the back.

Making the stamps was a three step process for the students, and one step process for me. First, the students drew their leaf using Sharpie. Then, they used a dull pencil to push on their Sharpie lines to create grooves in the Styrofoam. Last, they used scissors to cut out their leaf. Students wrote their initials on the back so I would know who they belonged to! (We spent about 5 minutes talking about initials and how to figure out what yours are. This was a great point in the year to use initials with kindergarten!)

Then, I used a hot glue gun to attach the leaves to the bottle caps (Elmer's would probably work, too.) I also had to transfer their initials to the inside of the bottle cap. The bigger bottle caps (like the ones on a Gatorade bottle) work better; the stamp prints best when almost the whole leaf is backed by the bottle cap. It really takes no time at all to glue the stamps once the students are done making them!

Next class, we got to print with our stamps! We tried a few different methods the first day, but then we found one technique we really liked. We used tempera paint, a piece of plexi-glass and some small, flat paintbrushes. (I would have preferred acrylic, though, for the richness of colors. My original plan involved acrylic, but we ran out during another unit!) I put a small amount of paint on the plexi at a time, then the students spread it thin with their brushes and painted the leaves with the tempera. Then you simply start stamping, pressing down on the bottle cap each time! Worked like a charm! The students loved it! At the end of printing, I let them wash and dry their stamps so that they could take them home to try out with stamp pads or other paints.

We loved this unit!


Lauren Taylor, Art Instructor said...

These are genius! I love the stamps...what a smart way to reuse bottle caps and egg cartons. Wonderful work, Mrs. G and students!

artyowza said...


Mary said...

Great post! I love the use of the yellow pages as a background.

Mr. Spoqui said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rachelle @ tinkerlab.com said...

These are incredible!! I can't believe they were made by kinders! I'm your newest fan, and can't wait to see what else you come up with :)

Gabriela said...

wow, you have a lot of great things going on...great job! By the way, a few years ago I took a class that you presented on How To Start Your Class Blog. Well, that was my beginning and I've had my blog now about 1 year or so. Thanks for the inspiration! If you get a chance, check out my blog and let me know how I'm doing.
Thanks again.

sara's art house said...

LOVE, love, love the trees!