4th Graders, like my 5th graders, started the year off studying Pop Art. Specifically, they studied the work of Andy Warhol. Pop Art is a great way to introduce the year because it allows students to see a connection between making art and their every day life. Andy Warhol was famous for taking everyday objects and people, popular in his time, and making them iconic through printmaking. Having this conversation with students-talking about what is popular culture and what could we represent it with provides a great understanding for students.
So, of course, I started with a Prezi. My prezis tend to be brief because most of the meat is in the conversation I have with students. From there, my fourth graders took their sketchbooks (trying sketchbooks with 4th and 5th grade this year – seems to be going well – next year I intend to do sketch tins, just you wait!) and started to make lists of popular items and imagery we see today. I gave them an example of how the original Nintendo was my thing as a kid (they asked me why I would enjoy a flat game – aged me quick) and that Ring Pops and String Thing were also huge items to have as kids. Again, aged me but that got their brain going – students drew Baby Alives (what?), One Direction, PS3s, Sugar Babies (what?), and a lot of other things I had maybe heard of but again, it was items that represented their popular culture. And some might think, “But they drew pictures of famous people – isn’t that cop-?” – let’s premise by saying they weren’t allowed to copy from any pictures of look things up online. This was from memory.
From there, students drew line drawings of one item they liked the most – we talked about line drawings and how simple they are. After drawing their image they traced over it with a Styrofoam sheet underneath. I don’t have the budget for linoleum in any form so this was my next best thing and it worked just as well. Once they traced over their drawing, they removed it and retraced the image that transferred onto the sheet. This just ensured that their drawing was pressed in enough and print.
Using Mr. Sketch markers, students colored in their Styrofoam sheet using the fat end of the marker and filling the entire space. They worked over the sketchbook to save on reasons to clean. You might ask why I didn’t use printmaking ink – 1) I have 30 minute classes with 25 students…time is a huge factor and 2) when I tested this theory, the ink didn’t take to the Styrofoam as well as hoped. Plus Mr. Sketch markers are very fluid so they work really well. After they colored in their sheet, students laid a blank card on top of their design and rubbed them together to transfer the image.
Favorite part of the project? The first print when students are completely surprised that it works (even though I demoed the entire thing for them). From here, students would switch colors every day to get a series of prints in various colors.
When all was said and done, students had 9-15 prints in various colors. From there, students framed them in a grid-like manner. I didn’t want to limit students on what this may look like so if students came up with a unique grid or something staggered with equal parts, we talked about why it could work so I checked for understanding and they were allowed to do it. They glued their prints onto their colored background. And I think they turned out great!!