HighSchool Art Room: instruction and providing choice to students

Painted Snow Globes: Winter Collaborative Art

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Painted Winter Snow Globes

Collaborative Art Pieces

Once I’m into December and Winter break is right around the corner I hesitate to start a new project right before we are on holiday for ten days.  The last few years I have been fine tuning this pre-break collaborative snow globe art project with my fourth grade students.  The finished artworks make awesome Winter decorations that I’ve been able to keep up all through January as well.

The project begins with preparing the paper. I use a roll of “butcher block” paper that I have in the art room for random needs. I do order a heavier weight when possible just so that when I do want to do painting projects on it with the kids it can hold up.  But even if you have thin stuff, you could possibly double it up for more support. I pre-draw and cut the circles for the snow globes using the old string compass method as seen in this illustration I’ve borrowed from a sewing site.  You can decide how long you want the radius to be based on your display space. I like to make them BIG. My diameter is about three and a half to four feet across. I still need them to fit on my student work tables or I’d make them even bigger, because once they’re out in the halls they will seem smaller. I also prepare the trays of paint for each table. I use tempera paint and give each table a full selection of colors in plastic ramekin cups with lids.

I also cut Trapezoid shapes to be the bottom of the snowglobes.
snow globe art bases4 www.artteachersmile.com 

I will be dividing my classes into groups of four for snow globe circle tops and groups of two or three students for snow globe bottoms.  I suggest cutting extra of each shape just in case you have groups that need to begin again or there’s a big accident, etc.
Now as I only give my students two classes to work on these collaborative pieces, they need a direction to move in with their designs. So I decided I would come up with one or two word prompts and students would pick a prompt from a hat and must design their snowglobe based on that theme. This goes for snow globe bases as well.
Some prompts I have used are:
  • Ice skates/ice skating
  • Penguins
  • snowmen/building a snowman
  • Hot cocoa
  • Sledding
  • Evergreen trees
  • New Year
  • Hats & Mittens
  • Snowflakes
  • Winter Wonderland

Before Choosing, I read off the lists of possible themes students could get and we do a practice brainstorming session on different directions  group could possibly go within that theme.  As this is a collaborative project I feel it’s helpful and necessary to also review the guidelines for working in a group.  This includes allowing everyone in the group to participate, to discuss ideas and compromise.   

I have one student from each group pick their theme from the “hat” and then they get to work.
snow globe art winter wonderland www.artteachersmile.com 

snow globe art painting www.artteachersmile.com 

I remind students that the first step is to brainstorm ideas with their group and discuss them with everyone. This may include compromising by blending two ideas together. I also make sure to lay down the law regarding Christmas themed pictures. I just explain that these art pieces will be up long past any winter holiday and their subject matter is to be winter only, not holiday related.

When the group is ready, they can begin drawing with chalk.  I have the students use plain old chalkboard chalk to draw their designs on the butcher paper, which works out really well and yes, it is erasable.  The advantage to using chalk is that it is easy to see and it is completely covered by the paint.  If there are lots of cross outs or “mistakes” in the drawing, they won’t show through the paint the way pencil can.  So groups with snow globe tops need to consider what side of the circle will be the top and what will be the bottom.

Students who are working on snow globe bases are given a yardstick to make stripes first and then fill the rows with small picture designs or line designs, planning for seasonally appropriate colors.  Don’t forget to have each group write their names on the back of the paper.  Time and time again I’ve been impressed with how my students agree on working roles within the group and their unique take on the themes.  Next, students paint the biggest areas of color.  For example, the sky and the snow. This is usually the last step for day one.

On the second day of class we review the guidelines for working collaboratively and talk about painting biggest down to smallest.  This also includes reviewing and demonstrating big tools for big areas and small tools for details. Student tables are already set with their paint trays and water cups so they can get right down to business after this. Students are usually so excited and dig right in!  Their results are a really fun display for the Winter season and much admired by our school community.

snow globe art tropical www.artteachersmile.com snow globe art tropical penguins

snow globe art snowmen www.artteachersmile.com snow globe art snowmen friends

snow globe art base www.artteachersmile.com snow globe art base- marshmallows

snow globes art in hall www.artteachersmile.com snow globes art in hall

Thanks for reading! And a Happy Winter to you! However you celebrate, enjoy health, happiness and the riches of family and friends in the many gatherings of the season!

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