How to adapt Great Artist Curriculum to meet the needs of your students

merrie-monarch-hula-posterI am in my fourth year of teaching the Great Artist Program in Hawaii. The first year went really great. The students loved the projects and they looked forward to me coming in to teach them art. The second year was met with a little less enthusiasm. During this second year, I brought in some of my own art projects, and they really seemed to like those, but the projects from the Great Artist Curriculum, seemed to leave them disappointed.

Now in my fourth year, the students lack excitement when I come in the door with a new Great Artist Poster. So, I asked the kids what were their likes and dislikes. It seems that there is a lack of creativity in projects, that are copied exactly as presented. This works well, when students are young, and need a lot of guidance, or with students that are not that “into” art. The main dislike was that the Great Artists are all from Paris, and their works from the 1800’s have little relevance to students today. I see the same sort of thing happen when Shakespeare is introduced.

So, I decided to teach the program a little different. I would read to the students about the Great Artist of the month, in this case Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and then show their art. Then using the concepts of the lesson, in this case silhouette, line, bold colors, and poster print elements, we adapted it to something relevant. The Moulin Rouge was a cabaret club in Paris, not really something the kids could relate to. The greatest hula show of them all is the Merrie Monarch in Hilo, which goes on for several days and features all the different forms of hula from ancient to modern, even the boys can relate. So we decided to use it as our subject.

It was amazing what happened next. Students that never said one word to me all semester, were asking questions and chatting with me. Students that had struggled with paint and pastel were drawing perfect lines. Students that never completed a single project were coming up with creative reggae color combos. Every single student in the class produced a beautiful poster, and they were all different. It was like magic.

Here are some of the hula posters that the kids created.

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Family Coloring Activity

family-coloring-activity-pinWe all know kids love to color. Many adults now love to color. Why not do it together?

Here is a little activity I like to do with my kids. We look for an interesting image on the internet or in a book and then we sit down together and draw it. I let my kids watch me so that if they are having trouble, they can see how I am working it out. In this case we each drew a fish.

My son drew the fish on the top, mine is on the bottom. In case you are wondering, it is a flame angelfish. Anyways, when we are done drawing, we switch papers and color each others’ drawings.

 

 

This activity would work in a classroom setting as well using guided drawing and then having the kids turn in their drawings and asking one of the students to hand out the papers. Then having the kids color in the drawings. Collaborative art in the classroom is always fun.

If you like to draw fish, I recommend a site called marinelifephotography. Keoki Stender and his wife take some amazing underwater photographs!

For more fun crafts, educational ideas, and art tutorials, follow us on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/LucidPublishing/

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How to Make Sign Language Alphabet Flash Cards

Sign Language Flash Cards

Flashcards are fun to make and are very useful for helping children (and adults) learn the signs for the letters of the alphabet. They can also be used for playing different games and other activities. Flashcards can be made in a number of different configurations using basic signs, colors, the alphabet or numbers. However, for this article, I will show you how to make flashcards for the alphabet.

The basic idea behind the flashcards is to show the hand shape for each letter on one side of the cards while the opposite side shows the letter itself. Children love to help make the cards. Cutting, gluing and taking pictures are the perfect activities to get them involved in the project. There are obviously many variations that you may discover when making flashcards. There are no set rules he. The point of this exercise is to have fun and make a useful end product.

The instructions below focus on the assembly of the flashcards. If you are not familiar with the Sign Language alphabet, also referred to as the Manual Alphabet, you will need to learn your letter signs. While there are numerous alphabet charts on the internet, I recommend going to the LifePrint site where you will be able to print out some of the letters and even download the Sign Language alphabet font. Another option is to purchase the Sign Language ABCS Coloring Book and make larger flashcards 5X7″ or so, or buy the downloadable version from TeachersPayTeachers and when you print the pages, choose the option of scaling the images to 25% or 50% before printing. Then you can use them as is or color, cut and paste on the opposite side of the card.

Can you buy pre-made flashcards? Of course! But more learning takes place if you do this on your own, or in a classroom. Whenever you add a kinesthetic activity to your lesson, more connections are made in the brain, even if it is just coloring. So, I believe that this is a worthwhile project.

 

 

Supplies needed for flashcards:

Index cards or card stock cut to 3” X 5” or your desired custom size

Pictures or illustrations of the alphabet signs

Letters (stenciled, die cut, or cut from magazines)

Pen/Marker

Glue

Scissors

Laminating pouches & a laminator(optional)

how to make sign language flashcardsInstructions:

1.)  Print out your alphabet signs (again, you may find these on the LifePrint site, by doing an internet search for Sign Language Alphabet, or purchasing the Sign Language ABCs Coloring Book). Make sure that they are the right size to fit on your index cards. Alternately you can take pictures of your students, friends or family signing each letter. This personalizes the flashcards and makes them more fun to use.

2.)  Cut out each hand shape and glue it to one side of the card. Glue the corresponding letter to the opposite side of the card. If you do not have a stencil or die cut letters you may simply write the corresponding letter on the back of the card.

3.)  Always allow the glue to dry before moving onto step 4.

How to make alphabet flashcards4.)  Laminate the cards.

5.)  Have fun and enjoy!

 

Note: While laminating the cards is optional, it will keep them from getting damaged and they will be reusable for new children that come along, either in your classroom or in your family. These cards can be used to play memory and matching games, or you may use them for what they are: flash cards.