Sunday, July 3, 2011

This Is Not A Marker

My students love markers. Why? Beats me. I do like using an archival non-bleeding pen for my illustrations but as a child I was never a marker fanatic. Always preferred pencils, paint and collage, etc. Perhaps the marker selection wasn’t as abundant when I was a kid. Did we only get tiny packs of primary colors? I don’t remember. But I do know what a challenge it is to get some kids away from the markers. Some of my kids challenge me when I pull out any other material.

So my goal for my last single summer class before my upcoming Picasso’s Basement Camp in August was to come up marker project that I loved and thought they would enjoy.
Let ‘em go marker crazy!

I did a little thinking and, although I did alter it, in the end I have to credit one of my favorite art teacher blogs called There's a Dragon in my Art Room for this lesson. She leaves this project for her substitute teachers because it is so easy to set up. But I fell in love with it for several reasons:  
  1. It involves a lot of creativity. 
  2. It encorporates recycling. I’m a recycling freak.
  3. It requires very little prep work. Always a nice factor in the summer. 
  4. It allows the kids to work with those darned markers.

First we read a wonderful picture book called Not A Box by Antoinette Portis. Simple plot: A rabbit is sitting in a box and is asked “why”. Because it’s NOT A BOX! It’s a ship. Why is he sitting on the box? Because it’s NOT A BOX! It’s a volcano! The book was for much younger children than those in my class that day, but I was surprised to find that they enjoyed predicting what the rabbit would do next with the box and were also quick to guess the moral: With some creativity and imagination you can make something into something else!

I dug through my collection of scratched and damaged CDs for this project, but also set out a pile of recycled soda bottle caps.  I kept a hot glue gun handy at a safe distance from the kids.
I pre-glued the CD’s on large sheets of heavy paper using the glue gun. The Picasso’s Basement Artists were told that they weren’t CDs and that their assignment was to surprise me by turning them into something else by drawing around them. With markers. (Imagine the delight of those marker-loving kids!) I gave them the option of adding bottle caps.

I also suggested that they could title their work.
Gentle readers, kindly remind me that in the future I should specify that they put the title and their names on the BACKS of the drawings. Luckily in this case the titles seemed to add to the wackiness of the artwork! Here’s a sampling of the pictures they came up with:

The Space Craft 

The Space Ship
The Eyeball
The Lady Bug


  1. Paula, thanks for giving me credit for the lesson. Your kids did a GREAT job with it (which means you did a great job presenting it). YEAH! I've come to explore your blog and adore your sense of humor. I think we would get along well. You just need to post more for us to read, please!

    Since you asked about Lucy, the dragon on my blog (Lucy in the sky with diamonds), here's the answer. About a year ago, I posted about the process of making her. You can find that post here:

    What I didn't say there is that she took 3 years to make. I posted an update about her "condition" more recently, here:

    Good luck blogging (and teaching!). Count me in as your newest follower.

  2. Thanks, Phyl. Your blog is my absolute favorite.
    All new to me so I've just started posting my art lessons. Still looking for work in the public schools so I'm currently teaching a home-based program that I've created. But I have lots more ideas up my sleeves so many more posts to come!

    I'll have to read about Lucy. 3 years! It must have been quite a project. My 7-year old, who has boundless energy, seems to think we can make anything. I'm not so sure I could handle a 3 year long project.

    Thanks so much for your encouragement! I'll keep checking in with your impressive work as well.

  3. Their solutions were so creative! Great project, Paula! (I wish that Liam had been there to take part! Next time!!)