Let’s face it, this time of year can be rough for many teachers. January is right after winter break and quite a while until spring break (if you have one at all).
When you wake up, the sky is dark, when you head home, the sky is once again dark. You’ve probably contracted the sniffles or other delightful germs from students. Things can get a little bleak and sometimes we need a day to just be silly and teach easy to prep, crowd-pleasing lessons.
In this spirit, I present to you my list of no-fail, low-prep, winter-doldrum-blasting lessons!
Dinosaurs on Vacation
how: tell students that the weather is too cold for dinosaurs right now, and they’re all taking a vacation. ask students to draw what dinosaurs do for fun on vacation. (the results are hilarious!)
prep: copy some “how to draw dinosaur sheets” (I have a great book like this one), grab your favorite drawing tools.
how: show this video (you can decide how much, half-way in there are step-by-step instructions) to students so they understand the concepts and techniques, then let them jam on their own designs using paper, scissors and glue. Remind students to glue down their center piece first, after all cuts are made, or they might not fit together!
prep: cut 6″ squares and 10″ squares of colorful construction paper, have glue sticks and scissors ready. (These always turn out surprisingly well, even when you only have a little bit of time. I often end up sharing the results of this project in the art show)
Figure Drawing Studio/James Brown Dance Party
how: Walk through the steps of this presentation with students. After students are familiar with the steps, have them draw a scene of dancing figures while listening to James Brown dance music… (or any other Soul or Funk!)
prep: Print a few copies of the slides featuring a few different pose examples using shapes. Provide pens and markers for students to get funky. (Because the mood of this class is so light-hearted and silly, students tend to be less critical of their work, even if it’s their first time figure drawing)
Blind Contour portraits w/watercolor
how: Demonstrate the blind contour process. Since erasing is never a part of this process, I use sharpies for bold lines, and then have students add watercolor into the forms that are created by intersecting lines. Pair students or have them pick a partner. Remind students that these portraits of their peers will look funny, and to keep feelings in mind when sharing.
prep: Squares of oaktag/card-stock with a small X cut in the center make great “blinders” for kids to put your sharpie through. Have watercolor sets ready ahead of time, as these drawings happen quickly!
Surrealist/Dada Chance drawings
how: share about the surrealist and dada movements with my presentation, and talk about chance compositions.
prep: print and assemble the dice from my website, or make your own using ablank cube template. You can have students draw in whatever media you like- I often have them work in permanent pen and watercolor for more striking results. (If you draw on old book or newspaper pages instead of plain paper, the results look even better!)
Blob creatures with watercolor
how: Demonstrate how to create a puddle of watercolor on a page, then blow air at it through a straw to turn it into an unusual shape. After your “blob” dries, use a pen to turn it into the first thing that comes to mind. Encourage students to create their own page FULL of blob creatures! If you have time, have students share their favorite blobs at the end of class.
prep: pass out pens and new straws to each student, set up a few watercolor sets and water bins with brushes.
What are your go-to, easy, and inspiring lessons when the going gets tough?