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Teaching Art at the 6th Grade Level
By this age, most of the basic art concepts have been introduced. The intermediate art teacher is left almost guessing at the achievement level of each of the students and to what level the basics have been engrained. This uncertainty, combined with the normal issues faced by those teaching at the early teen level, increases the difficulty of planning successful lessons. Stick to building on the basics by creating art projects to keep their attention while introducing higher levels of the concepts.
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A popular concept for some artists are self-portraits. Expressing how we see ourselves to the world around us in an artist concept that expresses itself in multiple forms.
Begin the art lesson by introducing the class to self-portraits by famous artists. Henri Matisse, Vincent Van Gogh and Andy Warhol are all appropriate portraits to show various styles of self-expression. Present the class with actual pictures of the artists and allow a discussion to ensue. Do the portraits accurately depict how the painter appeared? All answers are acceptable.
Incorporate modern technology into your lesson by using a digital camera to take a head shot of each student. Take one head-on shot of the face and one profile angle. Print the head on shot full-size onto an 8x10 piece of paper. Cut each picture directly down the middle of the face and glue these half-shots onto a second full sheet of paper.
Present the prepared half-pictures to each student. Allow them to use colored pencils to complete the missing half of their face. As you present the art projects, discuss how portraits are a self-expression and there is no right or wrong way to finish the portrait.
For the second part of the art lesson, print the profile picture in a 5x8 size placed at the top of the picture. The picture should be arranged so that the face is pointing upward on the paper. Give each student their profile and instruct them to draw the other side of the face so that the pictures are back to back.
When the projects are complete, discuss each students work. What style of drawing did they use? Did they go for realistic or abstract? How does each piece make the artist's associates feel and why.
This lesson is a good measurement of the concepts the class already has a grasp on. Analyze the styling and creative nature of each to evaluate the concepts the students are using without direction.
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Examine various types of sculptures with the class. Discuss form and substance for each piece. Assign students to find metal sculptures to share with the class. Allow the students to present their findings.
Provide aluminum sculpting wire to the class. It typically comes in small rolls, so place several at each work station. Let the students begin forming the wire into artistic creations.
The forms will vary from simplistic geometrical shapes to elaborate creations. Allow the students to work on the pieces for several days. This time allowance will give them time to think about what they wish to create. Let them know it is acceptable to change the concept of the sculpture even after it has begun.