One of my all-time favorite children’s authors is Maurice Sendak … I have spent hours reading his books to my 2 boys and everyone knows his iconic “Wild Things” from the book Where The Wild Things Are”. I was looking for something to re-energize my second graders and this was the thing to do it! We had a blast making our Wild Things Masks!
Since all of the “Wild Things” in the book were based on real-life characters in Mr. Sendak’s book, I asked students to think about the personalities in their lives and create their Wild Thing around them. I’m pretty sure that there was some embellishing of characters, but isn’t that what artistic license is all about?!
Starting with tag paper, students drew a large head that took up most of the paper. Sendak’s characters were all bigger than life, physically and in personality. The shape of the head was at the discretion of the student. I gave them templates to help make big eyes, as all of the features in Sendak’s characters were large too. We talked about dimension and how that means there is something that pops off the paper. I was expecting that at least one feature on their mask was going to pop off, giving some dimension to their character and making it more life-like. Students are familiar with manipulating paper from first grade projects and it all came back … accordions, corkscrews, twisting paper, cutting a tab to make the horns stand out etc.
Using pastels, students colored like mad. Everything had to have color! Then they got down to the fun of putting dimension on their mask … a tongue sticking out, jagged teeth, horns, hair, a beak – you name it, we had it. It was wonderful!
After all the dimension was put on, students were given googly eyes and feathers. I hold these myself took help keep things under control … especially the feathers!
If there was time … students then cut out their mask! I think Maurice Sendak would be proud of all imagination and creativity that went into our Wild Things!
Another of my favorites in 2nd grade because it seems everyone is successful with this project. It is so beautiful that everyone comes away with a frame-worthy picture! This project is one of the few that I spend 2 class times on and everyone finishes.
The first time we meet and after discussing Van Gogh and his interest in Japanese Woodcuts and his studies of sunflowers, students draw their LARGE sunflowers on 12×18″ black construction paper (I like Tru-Color). The vase is a simple stencil to help save time and start the “large” process, which can be hard for some at this age. I ask students to decide if their vase is clear glass or ceramic … if it is clear, what will we see?! They then have to draw the stems in the vase, and many times nice marbles or rocks at the bottom for interest. The vase needs to be sitting on something so students draw a line to show a tabletop. This year, I had one student who thought to make his table small and round … very “out-of-the-box” thinking!
After all the pencil drawing is done, cover white glue along the pencil lines. This will protect the black paper when dry and give it the woodcut effect after adding the chalk and pastels. There is a fine line between too much glue and too little or dots instead of lines etc. but in the end they all look beautiful.
DAY 2 – IT IS TIME TO ADD THE COLOR! I found a use for the chalkboard chalk donated by a retiring teacher!!! It brightens our pictures like crazy!! We use the chalk along with 2 kinds of pastels – regular Cray-Pas and Flourescent Gallery Pastels and the contrasts really makes these sunflowers POP! You have to use the chalk first and blend the pastels in last … the oil in the pastels repel the chalk.
I ask that students cover their entire paper with color and show them that by turning the chalk on its side helps with laying a base of color, as well as giving their art a different look from using the tip of the chalk.
Chalk and pastel tends to be very messy and doesn’t adhere to the paper well. To make sure that these masterpieces can be enjoyed for a long time, we spray them at the end to seal everything. Instead of using an aerosol of some kind (hair spray or you can by a non-toxic that still smells terrible) I mix a little white glue with water (about 1 part water to 6-7 parts water) in a spray bottle and spray across the art. Lay it flat to dry and when dry it is ready to mount!