Well, it has been a great summer, and I'm looking forward to a new school year! Between a newborn baby and an exceptionally challenging enrichment schedule last year, I didn't get a chance to post many of our units from last school year, so I'll start sharing a few now!
This unit was rather involved and very engaging for my third and fifth grade students. Sometimes I like to try out a new unit with two different grade levels to see which one it ends up fitting better with. With this unit, both grade levels really did great. In general, 5th grade was a bit more meticulous and it took them a class period or two longer to finish. (I encourage you to click on individual images so you can see the details and materials more closely!)
First, students brainstormed different dream scenarios based on their interests, daily lives, hopes, fears, and other items of personal relevance. Then, we combined various elements together to create different story ideas, which had to include a person, setting, action and interesting detail. The student had to be in their dream, but could be represented by someone or something else if they wanted. (Most of this part of the process was done through writing and thumbnail sketches.)
First, students worked on creating their setting. We talked a lot about including enough details, texture, etc. that would really visually describe the setting. There was a lot of language integration during this unit. To practice describing a setting, I had the students help me brainstorm all the parts of the art room - right down to the tiny scraps of paper in piles along the walls (we were very messy that time of year, ha!) If a student was still having trouble thinking of things to include for their setting, then I had them work with a partner to brainstorm details of the setting on the back of their paper.
Then, students worked on adding the characters, action and an unexpected detail to their setting. We looked at the work of various surrealist artists such as Salvador Dali, Marc Chagall, and Rene Magritte and talked about ways that the images seem more like a dream than a reality. Some students, just like some of the artists we looked at, only included subtle hints that would clue in the viewer that the image was not meant to be reality. Others constructed totally imaginary places, and stories within them.
For materials, we started out with 11"x17" construction paper as a base, and then built a complex mixed-media collage on top using fabric scraps, leftover paper, magazines and drawing materials such as oil pastel and pencil. We used Elmer's glue to get everything stuck down nice and secure. The students really enjoyed working with fabric; our only challenge was the use of super dull scissors to cut tough fabrics. We managed, though!
I love the story-telling and creative ideas that the students invented based on their own personal tastes and experiences. All of these dream stories were very unique. Some were wishful, some were adventurous, some were peaceful and serene. Others were surreal interpretations of real life - with elements that were just ever so slightly "off." Some students created dreams that were really rather more like nightmares. I am fascinated by the imagination of children.