Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Dia De Los Muertos Sugar Skulls

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year! The leaves, the soups, the chill in the air! It's my favorite time of year for many reasons, and one of those reasons is teaching students about the Latin American holiday Day of the Dead. It's so colorful and positive! We learn a bit about it as an introduction to learning about Frida Kahlo, the first female Mexican artist to have a gallery show of her very own. She's a big deal in art history. She's such a big deal she's hanging as a mobile above table number 5 in the art room. To understand her art better, we talk about her culture and her life. Different cultures celebrate different holidays, have different traditions, eat different foods, dress differently, and that's ok. The world would be pretty boring if everyone was exactly the same. 

After watching a short video about Day of the Dead and looking at decorations for the holiday, we took a closer look at sugar skulls. They're elaborately decorated candy skulls used to decorate graves and homes for the holiday. They also help students learn some basics about drawing a face. We viewed several whimsical ways of drawing a skull. Did you know that when you draw a face the eyes shouldn't be at the top of the head? It's true! Your eyes are actually in the middle of your head. When I tell students this they look at their around the room to see if I'm right. Wow! I drew an example on the board of what it looks like to draw them at the top of the head and they agreed it looked really weird. Did you also know that the bottom of your nose is in the middle of where your eyes and chin are? Yep, that's true too. And your mouth is in the middle of where the bottom of your nose and your chin are. Go check! These are pretty close approximate rules that artists follow to draw a face, and we applied these rules to our sugar skulls (it'll help us with our next project!). 

Even when given the same directions, the same examples to reference, and the same supplies students amaze me with their differences. They make so many personal choices in their work that distinguishes them from others. It's excited to watch it all unfold!

Once drawings were embellished and fancy, it was time for black glue outlines! This was a first for me, and it didn't go as smoothly as I thought it would. Live and learn, right? I mixed my own black glue by adding black paint to regular Elmer's glue. So far so good. Then I refilled glue bottles from last year. A little messy, but it worked! A good way to reuse the bottles, right? I thought so too. Time for the caps! This might've been my mistake. The tips clogged often, making outlining difficult. These were the original tips, and even though I'd checked each of them to make sure they worked before using them for bottles of black glue they failed me. Miserably. The kids were troopers, we limped through that part, and next time I'll order new tips for the old bottles. Hopefully that will solve the problem! 

We added multicolored glitter to our black glue while it was wet for a sugary look! You're either a glitter person or you're not. I AM! After our blobby black glue dried it was time to add some bright and cheerful colors! We used watercolors. Day of the Dead is celebrated November 1st and 2nd. Bright and cheerful colors are used in happy remembrance of loved ones who have passed on. Our only color rules were no black and no brown. Keep it happy!

Students filled in the shapes they created, some choosing to add salt to their watercolor paint for a neat-o effect. Then we cut them out, ready to hang in the hall!

I've done several variations of this project over the years, always much smaller in scale than this year. This year they're huge! This was the first black glue year. This was the first cut out and stand alone version. I've seen others do this project in a million different beautiful ways. This year I used all of my favorite things about how I've approached it in the past, what I've seen that's different, and new things I wanted to try and mish-mashed it together into this! Look at all of those smiles! What a happy wall!

They're BIG, they're bright, they're whimsical (one of my favorite words), and they're CHEERFUL! 

I love watching kids on their way from lunch to recess stopping to look at the artwork on the walls, showing their friends which ones they like best or looking for their own work. Who could blame them for stopping?! The arts hallway is lookin' mighty awesome these days! 

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