Friday, March 14, 2014

Presidential and influential portraits in Lego!

Third grade is one of those transition years and one I find the most difficult to teach.  In my district, third graders start at a new school. We have k-2 in one building, and 3-5 at a second.  It is great for me as far as travel and planning.  I even see the same kids k-5th grade.  But still, third grade is a challenge.

Each year it seems I hit a point where I need to completely reinvent the wheel.  Other projects maybe haven't been as successful, or I am seeing more and more boredom and restlessness in the art room.  I try to really think of something that the kids are into so they will be excited and stay engaged.   Last year I tried Mine Craft  perspective pictures... All I heard about in art class constantly was Mine Craft, Mine Craft, Mine Craft... but it bombed.  This year, I've been hearing about Legos for weeks.  I've even had to confiscate Legos, so I figured it was having a surge in popularity.  I decided Lego Portraits might be the way to go... and it worked!!

It was right around Presidents Day.  We began this lesson by going through a slideshow that discussed the holiday.  I also included this great video presented by The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.  My students got way into it.  They wanted to keep talking about the people who were featured in the video and the stories they knew about them.  We also attempted a tour of the National Portrait Gallery via Google Art Project.  This is sooooooo coool but sooooo not conducive to the classroom.  Has anyone had luck with this?  It was still kind of neato and gave the kids the general idea.

As the slideshow continues, it asks why some of those people were included in the Portrait Gallery.  This got students thinking about why they were important.  Coincidentally, It is also Black History Month and much of what they were learning about in class meshed with some of the people featured in the video.

Next, I passed out the Lego Portrait Worksheet.  Students filled out the top portion independently.  Even though the worksheet is pretty general, I asked my third graders to think of a Lego Mini Figure they might see in the National Portrait Gallery.  The second part of the slideshow focuses on artist who created historical minifigures and shows some famous portraits in Lego form.  Their portrait didn't have to be someone like Rosa Parks, it could be someone else who is heroic, or famous,  real or not.  (I used the images on the worksheet after a Google search, so I am not exactly sure of the origin of the blank mini-figure.  I would like to have a better photo of the formal mini-figures too that included recognizable females.)

After students practiced, we drew as large as we could on a yellow 9 x 12 piece of paper.  We outlined with Sharpie and colored with crayons.

Wee made our portraits look a little more presidential by adding a frame that decorated in a radial pattern.  They used this worksheet to guide them.

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