The View from the Classroom Window

Monday, April 11, 2011

Our collective book project! The Instructions Post


So sorry, ladies, that I took so long to post this. It was a C.R.A.Z.Y. week, and then I got sick!  Now I have a whole day at home, finally, and my head feels good, so here you go!

As we were talking about at our special OSM last Monday, our theme for this year's book project is "What's Above, What's Beneath."  The idea is to brainstorm things you have been studying this year so far, and come up with an idea that can be developed into a triptych.  The three panels of the triptych will be the same size, and will be stacked horitontally.  The fourth panel is for an accompanying haiku or senryu.

Here is the format of the overall page:

Your job until the next Old School Monday (on the last week of April) is just to have your child complete the art and poem that go inside the four panels.  We will assemble the pages together at our next OSM gathering. **if you want to complete the colored border of the panels before we next meet, great!  But the content itself is what you must bring completed to our OSM.

First, the triptych panels:
The top panel is for "what is above," the bottom panel is for "what is beneath" and the middle panel explains itself. ; )  So you and your child should brainstorm several good ideas, and talk about what you could put in the panels.  I had my girls brainstorm three different topics, and then pick their favorite one, so we are confident in our ideas and have them planned out pretty well before we start the art itself. 

Don't limit yourself/your child to thinking vertically.  Think about all the different ways we can layer, even symbolic ones.  Here are some examples we came up with at our OSM gathering:

If the topic is the human body, you could do:
ABOVE:  head
MIDDLE:  torso


ABOVE: skin
MIDDLE: bones
BENEATH: organs


ABOVE: hair
MIDDLE: skull
BENEATH: rainbows and images and things to represent feelings and thoughts

As a class we also brainstormed ways you could do this with redwoods, and with a ship in a storm at sea.  Think creatively, and encourage your children to look at things and layers from as many points of view as possible.

*Each of your school age childen may make a page, or you can all work on one together.  If  your child gets really inspired, she is welcome to do more than one page!  But let's encourage all the kids to do their best work, ok?

*Remember, ideally this project would support learning you have already done, or are in the middle of.  We are finding it does not work as well to get a brilliant idea but not know about that subject, and then struggle with what do draw or say.  (but then again, if an idea gets the kid wanting to learn about something, great! run with it!)

*Have your child sketch out his idea on scratch paper first, so he knows how it will fit into the allotted panel dimensions. obviously horizontal images will work best, unless your artist would like a lot of negative space in her panels.  ; ) So encourage your kids to be thinking of this when they sketch their ideas.

*When it comes time to do the final art, I recommend the parent drawing out the rectangle (exact specifications below) on a larger sheet of paper, and then letting the child do the art, then cutting out the rectangle for the child so the lines are neat, and the child's art can easily go all the way to the edges of the panel.  (In other words, I would not recommend cutting out the panels first and then having your child do the art on them. Unless of course you are gluing sand or something to the panel that you would not be able to cut through later.)

*The art medium the child uses for the triptych is up to him and you--as long as the paper is strong enough to hold it, it should be fine.  So 3-dimensional art is fine, like a glued mosaic, but keep in mind this is to go in a book, so don't make the panels too heavy or have too much depth.

*Typically, the more detailed the art, the less emotion will flow through them.  Encourage your child to think of how the "above" "middle" and "beneath" can be shown with simple images. 

*Don't think of the triptych as a cross-section of something--encourage your kids to move past realism and into representation.  For example, if you were doing the first idea of the human body given above, the torso would not continue where the head/shoulders left off, and the bottom section of the body continue from there.  (your child is welcome to do this, but given the size considerations of each panel, they might just end up frustrated and their art cramped)  Instead, let's say the child draws the crown of a head, with its artistic swirls of hair for the "What's Above" image.  Then draws a tummy and bellybutton for the "Middle" image.  And then draws feet for the "What's Beneath" image.  Letting go the need for consistencies of perspective and literalness will allow for so much more creativity. 

*As the latter example illustrates, consider with your child how a large subject can be broken down and conveyed clearly through small parts of it.  The texture of bark would fill that middle panel beautifully for someone working with the topic of trees.  Or the overlaying shapes and colors of leaves filling the top panel for the tree tops.

Then, the haiku or senryu:
Please take a few moments to look up both these terms online, to best familiarize yourself with them before starting the writing part of the page with your child. 

But basically, both the haiku and senryu have the same three-line structure:
5 syllables in the first line,
7 syllables in the second line,
5 syllables in the third line.

Where the two poems differ is in their focus.  A haiku is traditionally about nature, while a senryu is traditionally about people. 

*The poem should respond to the art, or help explain/illuminate it.

*Humor is welcome, if it fits your child's subject!  In fact, many traditional haikus use the last line of the poem to bring the first two ideas together in juxtaposition, which is often purposefully humorous. 

*Have your child write at least three poems, and then have her pick her favorite one for the page. 

*Ideally the final poem would be written out neatly by your child's own hand.  A good time to practice spelling and printing!  Use marker or dark pencil or pen to make your child's words stand out.

Panel dimensions:
*Each of the three art panels should be approximately 8" x 2 1/2". 

*The fourth panel should be approximately 3" x 2 1/2".

*If you choose to go ahead and glue your panels to the construction paper, that's great.  The upper box will be appromimately 9" x 9 1/4" and the lower box will be approximately 4 1/2" x 3 1/2".

*I think it is appropriate for the parents to do the cutting and assembly, so that the art and poetry really get the focus of the page, but those who have older kids who want to cut out and assemble their own, fine!  This should be a kid-focused project, and let's make sure the resulting works reflect them more than us. : )

I am excited about this project!  Anyone who is a part of the Vintage Homeschool group is welcome to participate, even if you can't regularly come to OSM.  Just contact me about how to get your child's work to me in time for  to be added to our book before the Author's Fair.  

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