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Art Matters-- exploring the work of Henri Matisse with young learners
Art Matters– Exploring the work of Henri Matisse with young learners.
16 Sep, 2017. 1 Comment. A Day In First Grade, Kindergarten, Reggio Inspired, STEM. Posted By: Kristen Smith

Exploring Henri Matisse with young learners

 Happy Saturday, everyone! I hope that everyone’s year is off to a fantastic start and that you are starting to find your groove. Kindergarten at the beginning of the year is so much fun. I decided this year that I wanted to start off the year a bit differently than I have in the past. Before diving into letters and numbers and sounds, I started with a focus on art.

Why did I do this?

To be honest, I have noticed a trend with my last few groups of kindergarteners that they needed a bit of extra help developing their fine motor skills at the beginning of the year. I decided that taking a few weeks in the beginning to teach my students how to use our supplies and providing ample amount of exploratory time is absolutely needed to ensure success and confidence in young learners.

What did I do? 

To begin the year, I began by reading a few of my favorite books by Peter Reynolds: The Dot, Ish, and Sky Color to name a few. I cannot get enough of Peter’s books and the messages that they portray. Not only are they beautifully illustrated, the over arching growth mindset themes resonate off of each page in his books. By starting the year with these books, my students eagerly embraced that they were indeed artists.

We began our study on lines. I came across an ((amazing)) art teacher on YouTube and fell in love with her poem and anchor chart and just had to replicate it.

{If you have not followed Cassie Stephens on Instagram or YouTube, you simply must! The projects her students create are INSPIRATIONAL!}

To teach this to my kinder kids, I started the chart with just drawing the vertical, horizontal, and diagonal snakes. We learned the poem and then practiced making the different types of lines with our arms. (They loved this!)

Anchor chart to help students identify the different types of lines

The next day, I added curvy, spiral, and zig zag snakes to our chart and we discussed the properties of those lines. During exploration centers, I set out black pieces of cardstock that had different types of lines drawn on them along with some of our loose parts.

This was a hit at the creation station that week!
Exploring lines with loose parts Exploring lines with loose parts

One of my students loved Larry the Snake so much that he decided to create his own anchor chart! (How adorable did his come out?!?! I love the snake heads on his letters!! — Notice the connection he made- letters are made up of different kinds of lines!)

Kindergarten student creates his own anchor chart about the different types of lines

The next week, I introduced my students to the artist Henri Matisse. We read the book Henri’s Scissors and watched a video about him.

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We spent some time discussing the video and his art and then I introduced how to use scissors. My students were then presented with the option to go to the circle table to help create an Henri Matisse inspired collage. This not only was a HIT with my kinder kids, it provided a stress free project to practice using scissors. They didn’t have to cut on the lines, they didn’t have to make anything look like anything, and they got to cut as much paper as they wanted– win, win, win! (How many of your sweet kinder babies in the past have wanted to give their pages a “haircut” which resulted in a million little bits of paper all over the floor?? This type of activity allows the exploration that our kids NEED to experience with scissors!!)

henri matisse inspired collage

This is currently hanging in our discovery lab and our preschool and kinder kids are adding masterpieces to it weekly!

We also completed another project inspired by lines (and Cassie Stephens). This project was creating a sculpture out of lines. Students were provided with a tub full of precut strips of paper, glue, paint brushes, and a black piece of cardstock.

Art Matters-- Exploring the work of Henri Matisse with young learners.

Students folded “feet” onto their strips of paper to get them to stand and then painted glue to the bottom of their feet.
Art Matters-- Exploring the work of Henri Matisse with young learners.

As my students got comfortable with the project, their structures grew, and grew, and grew!

Art Matters-- Exploring the work of Henri Matisse with young learners.

Not only did this project develop fine motor skills, it also reinforced the different types of lines there are.

Art Matters-- Exploring the work of Henri Matisse with young learners.a day in first grade-24 Art Matters-- Exploring the work of Henri Matisse with young learners. Art Matters-- Exploring the work of Henri Matisse with young learners.

They were so proud of their projects!! Not to mention that I think they look absolutely beautiful hanging in our discovery lab!

Art Matters-- Exploring the work of Henri Matisse with young learners.

By starting the year focusing on introducing my students to the concept of lines and slowly introducing our materials in fun, creative ways, my students are more apt to use them with confidence. The connections to academic learning also far exceed what I even expected! In math the other day we were putting together a number line and my students very quickly identified our number line as a horizontal line! We also created vertical number lines without a problem! My students are also recognizing how to make their letters and numbers because they can identify what types of lines they need to draw to write them. They are also applying their knowledge of lines to the sides of our two dimensional shapes. (“Miss Smith!! A pentagon has two diagonal lines and three straight lines!”)

More so, students who during the first week of school were not comfortable with scissors are now creating beautiful creations with ease and confidence.

Art Matters-- Exploring the work of Henri Matisse with young learners.Art Matters-- Exploring the work of Henri Matisse with young learners.

Our study on lines is continuing this week as we create blueprints of buildings and begin a massive project on our community! Stay tuned and if you want a sneak peek into the action, follow me on Instagram to watch weekly Insta Stories (videos) and to see additional pictures! (click here)

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One Comment
  1. I love this whole post!!!! Art is so important, and just like your little boy showed, it often leads to children writing!!! Thank you for sharing!

1 Comment

  • I love this whole post!!!! Art is so important, and just like your little boy showed, it often leads to children writing!!! Thank you for sharing!

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