Friday, January 3, 2014

Cloudy with a Chance of Surrealism...4th Grade

using storybook illustration and an imaginary world to connect with the concept of surrealism

Earlier on in the year, Scholastic ART Magazine approached me about creating another lesson for their December/January issue.  I was thrilled and took on this wonderful and fun challenge.  This time, the theme was Henri Magritte, targeting Elements of Design: variation and repetition, capturing the idea of surrealism in a fun, kid friendly way.

I wanted my students to really investigate the purpose and reason why Surrealism made such a big splash.  I did not want to show them a couple of Magrittes, Dalis, de Chiricos or Man Rays and say let's make weird pictures.  The artistic style of Surrealism is complex enough for adults, let alone 10 year olds.  But, my challenge was to have my students make a relevant connection within their own world, to begin to understand this subject area.  
HOW????  Was a really big question that I repeated a million times in my head.  As I was looking as numerous and various paintings by Magritte, I began to group paintings with the targeted elements of design.  Most of what I was grouping showed clouds suspended over various landscapes, clouds hovering over various objects and heavy objects floating effortlessly in the sky. I was getting somewhere, but the big question still remained....HOW? Who really cares if someone painted things that float?  I still needed a hook to engage my students in the lesson.  So, I kept brainstorming and thinking, and re-thinking, and re-thinking, until in the background noise of my television I heard the trailer for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.  Mind you, I had not seen Meatballs 1 or even picked up the book.  But, the trailer caught my curiosity and I did a little research, only to find.....a wonderfully illustrated book that demonstrates all the connections I needed!  

Henri Magritte is famously known for a few trademark objects: his pipe, his hat and that symbolic green apple.  That was the link I needed to engage my students and encourage them to connect their art with something that is contemporary and relevant to their lives---at the moment.

You Tube: Book Reading

I put together a power point presentation, that started with the simple breakdown of the word "Surrealism", opening a discussion about the meaning behind the images they were about to observe.  This lead my students to connect the definition of surrealism to the overall idea of the book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.  And it worked!

All components of the lesson fell into place and connected.  In the end, the students used their own imaginations to create a landscape, mixed-media drawing.

Check out the lesson at
Scholastic Art and review the entire Issue, with helpful resources here.  

Students followed a few simple guidelines.  Each day was a mini-lesson on materials and techniques needed to achieve our final art works.

Check out more great teacher resources at Scholastic Art!
 xoxo, SMocK you.