This project was among my favorites from this past year. I feel like the kids had a LOT of fun and so did I! You can read who Kusama was and the project details here, this post is focused more on what I and the kids learned.
What the kids learned: One of the greatest things about being a teacher is seeing the kids progress and try and grow. I felt like my students grew leaps and bounds with this project. And I am totally serious about that! One thing that I noticed during this project was that students who normally don’t like participating were realizing that they COULD create art and so they started participating MORE. HALLELUJAH! There is something about feeling like you are not alone in a project that helps kids further their potential. Secondly the kids learned to work together, they were so excited to create something as a class– we decided on the colors as a class (school colors) and they decided on the patterns as a table. I saw so much more communicating and helping during this project than I have with any other. Students who finished quickly helped groups who were slower– they even helped brainstorm ideas for tables that felt stuck. YAY! And lastly I noticed that students learned that it was okay to ask for help— this is a skill that I believe everyone needs to learn (and the sooner the better). I saw kids who don’t usually ask for help— ask their peers, my teachers aid, and myself for opinions, ideas, and help. #BLESSED After all that is what we are there for!
Things I learned :
#1 Don’t be afraid to GO BIG!! At first I was hesitant, how were the kids going to handle being told to create a 4ft by 2-3ft painting, and how were they going to handle being told that they had to create it as a table? Well, if you read the above paragraph you’ll know that they LOVED it! This was their favorite project! And they actually thought it was cool to create such a large piece, it turned out to be 27 feet long!!
#2 Think “what is the worst that can happen” before starting a project. So this is where I am sad to admit that I made a HUGE mistake. And its hard for me to admit this— but I didn’t even consider what might happen if I give student giant paint brushes, and access to a palette of paint. Let me first back up and tell you. Day ONE of painting, the students already had their designs drawn and I told them to get out their paint and paint brushes and paint neatly within their drawings. What I did not mention was my rules— which I hadn’t created yet but I should have. Students should have been told how much paint is appropriate to use— they also should have been told not to splatter paint inside. because here is what happened.
Looks cool. But when I told them they had to clean it up too much water was used, and it was already too late. There was paint on the floors, tables, chairs, cabinets, walls, children, me, my hair, clothes, shoes. Pretty much everywhere.
So as a rookie teacher— my advice is save yourself from a bunch of stress and fear and THINK through your entire project and make expectations clear early on!
#3 Gain inspiration from other cultures. One thing that helped make this project successful was that it wasn’t another ‘traditional’ painting or drawing project. The students also LOVED that our artist was from japan we spent a few minutes each class learning about Japan and Japanese culture.