Monday, February 14, 2011
I Spy Shapes in Art (Math + Art = Fun!)
I recently picked up a delightful book, I Spy Shapes in Art. Each left page says, "I spy with my little eye" and names a particular shape: a square, a circle, a rectangle, a triangle, etc. Toward the end of the book, shapes are 3-D: cylinder, cube, cone, etc. Each right page then shows a major work of art (think Matisse, O'Keeffe, Warhol, Escher, etc) in which the named shape can be found. Some are rather obvious, while others need a little searching. Interestingly enough, sometimes my 4yo found the shapes before my 8yo.
We used the book to begin an art/math lesson. As the boys located each shape, I asked my 8yo to identify properties of that particular shape. "Why is that a rectangle?" (sides are parallel, angles are 90 degrees, etc.) For my 8yo, this was review. For my 4yo, some of the concepts were new for the first time. He was delighted to tell me that a shape was a triangle because it "has three sides." My 8yo first said that the sides of a triangle had to be equal, then changed his response, as he remembered that sides could be of different lengths.
We then modified an activity from another helpful resource, Using Color in Your Art!: Choosing Colors for Impact and Pizzazz. The original activity (p. 17) calls for children to create primary color abstract paintings using tools. This is what we did instead:
1. The children collected 3-4 shapes from around the room that they could trace onto their paper. They traced lids to make circles, boxes for rectangles, and they drew their own triangles by connecting three dots with a ruler. My 4yo even found an oval shaped garmet tag to use. When they were finished, they'd successfully drawn 3-4 shapes on their papers; it was fine to overlap.
2. Next, they drew two lines across their paper, left to right. These lines could be anywhere, as long as they went left to right, off the paper.
3. They drew three lines from top to bottom of their paper. Again, anywhere as long as it reached top to bottom.
5. We took a coloring break and read Little Blue and Little Yellow, a book my son suggested when he noticed that sometimes green was being formed where blue and yellow touched.
6. When we finished, I posted the pictures on the wall so the boys could do their own "I Spy Shapes."
Note: The top left picture is mine, done the night before with tempera paint. I wanted to see how difficult it was to paint. After trying it, I had my boys use crayons. It was nice to have my sample, however, because we did "I Spy Shapes" with my pictures before the boys got started on their own. My 4yo's picture is on the bottom left, my 8yo's on the right.
P.S. Almost Unschoolers wrote about another experience with art/math last week, also using the book I Spy Shapes in Art. I'd planned my lesson before seeing her blog entry, so it might be interesting for you to see two different approaches using the same book.
P.P.S. Here is an on-line preschool activity for finding shapes in pictures:
Storyplace Shapes Online Activity
Link up or see other ideas at A Mommy's Adventures.