Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Natural Forms Become Radial Designs!

This intricate design was made by the careful arrangement of blue and green beach glass, various seashells and small polished stones.  It was great fun to see how each student had a different way of placing the natural forms to make a unique radial design that demonstrated pattern, repetition, symmetrical balance and movement!
In this photo you can see the handout I prepared as a reference to get students thinking about radial designs.  In simple terms, a radial design moves out in a way that starts from a center point.  I already had several large bins of seashells sorted by size.  Students can reach for shells easier if you also sort them by shape, like having all of the spiral shells in one bin and the clam shells in another.  I had a large bag of smooth beach glass donated by a friend, and this added an element of color that the kids really enjoyed. Finally, wooden craft sticks worked well as an additional manipulative that added a linear element to the work.  You can see this in my sample design in the photo above; the sticks look like the spokes of a wheel.

I gave my students the choice to work alone or with a partner on this exercise.  The first step was to use pencil to trace a huge circle tracer to fill up the 18x24 paper. I suggested that they start their design by figuring out an interesting arrangement of parts for the center of the design first.  Once this was done, the students usually had an easier time adding and building the rest of the design.  We did not glue or attach the nature objects!  This allowed the students to move things around, make adjustments and try different ideas as they worked.  I really liked watching all of the visual problem-solving that was involved!  

 Here is the finsihed view of the radial design Danika is working on in the previous picture.  Some students chose to keep their design open and let a lot of the white paper show.  Others really thought that more was better and they used as many objects as they could fit without losing the overall clarity of the design.

This radial design is very intricate and I love the heavy perimeter made by the polished stones.  The inclusion of groups of spiral shells forms shapes that look almost like crosses!

If you look closely, you can see the faint outline of the pencil drawn circle.  Most students chose to cover the line, but I still think this design is well done!

This one really used many craft sticks!  Still, it has a sense of whimsy and I like the focal popint in the middle that uses a huge piece of turquoise beach glass!

When students were finished making these great radial designs, I gave them the option of using their cell phone to photograph their work.  Most of them chose to take advantage of this, and were more than happy to send a photo of their work to someone during school time!  Doing this made cleaning up and sorting the objects less of a "sad" task, because the work would live on in a photo! 
This activity worked very well as a way to keep everyone active and engaged.  I used it during the last week of school, when sometimes I don't want to start something huge, messy or time-consuming!  I hope you enjoyed seeing the results.  Feel free to leave me a comment!


Elizabeth - Dream Painters said...

Really effective... and it's so good to have some of those 'no mess' projects to fall back on, isn't it? :)

Angie said...

I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog! I'm enrolled in a visual art course for teachers and am gathering ideas for long range plans for Gr. 1-6. You have many awesome ideas!