Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Three Sisters Patterns

During my teaching assignment last fall I tried out a new lesson plan with first graders to learn about the Thanksgiving holiday, creating a pattern, and to highlight a living artist's work.

We discussed the companion gardening technique of the Wampanoag people, and why they called beans, corn and squash The Three Sisters. While researching this assignment I came across the website of a New England artist named Janice Schupak Frishkopf, whose works inspired my students to create their own autumn harvest patterns!

To make our patterns I provided tracing templates for ears of corn, beans and various types of squash. Students were asked to show each of the Three Sisters in their patterns, to repeat shapes, to let their shapes reach outside the border of their paper, and to start with the largest shapes first. They could also let shapes overlap. The first class they worked in pencil to trace out their patterns.

After the pencil drawings were finished, I placed ears of dried Indian corn, and decorative squash at each table. We looked at all of the different colors and textures, and then added color to the drawings with oil pastels. The last step was using cake tempera to add a wash of color to the background and/or as a resist.

Their color choices and attention to detail were more than I had hoped for! And they really had fun creating their own distinct patterns. I actually left this lesson in progress for the returning art teacher, and she finished up the assignment with the children. When I had a chance to sub again I saw their finished pieces on display. I just had to take a few pictures! Thank you Emily for letting me introduce this lesson in your class room, for helping the children complete their art, and for letting me share this lesson on my blog.

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