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Connecting to Curious George.

Each month throughout the school year, the two second grade teachers at Lessenger Elementary highlight a different children's author. When applicable, I make art connections. The interdisciplinary lessons that evolved the month they selected Margaret and H.A. Rey's Curious George books were the most successful. By the end of the month, art, story writing, reading aloud, and career education were all brought together through the curious little chimpanzee.

Making George in Clay

Every story has characters. The first lesson was to make George (the central character) in clay. Each student received a palm-sized ball of soft clay and a 4" (10 cm) square of tag-board on which to work.

Although students were familiar with how George looked, photocopies were available for reference as they worked. Students began by flattening a clay base for George to sit on. This lessened the likelihood of arms and legs breaking off later. After students created their clay Georges, their names were etched into the bases.

The sculptures were allowed to dry, then bisque fired. In the next class, students used small brushes to paint a dark brown underglaze on George and a green on the base. We (the teachers) brushed on a clear cover coat of glaze and retired the Georges to cone 04.

Background Scenery

Every story also has a setting, so students had to each decide where their George would be. Our district was emphasizing career education, so we encouraged students to have George in a setting where one of their parents worked, such as an office, grocery store, shop, etc.

A piece of folded 9 x 12" (23 x 30.5 cm) white drawing paper functioned as the background setting. Students first sketched in pencil, then finished using colored pencil. A fine-tip black marker was used to trace over the pencil lines, making the setting more "legible."

Story Writing

Now that students had a character and a setting, they needed two final elements important in story writing--a problem and a solution. We asked students to imagine what type of mischief their George would get himself into in their selected setting. They also needed to plan how he would get out of the mess he created. Students wrote, rewrote, and composed final drafts on the computer, and printed them.

Reading Aloud

Learning to read aloud is part of the second-grade curriculum, so we incorporated it into the final part of the unit. The second graders read their stories to small groups of first-grade students. Following the readings, the second graders showed their artwork and answered questions.

Closure

I felt this was a powerful unit. The success of the lessons--stretching students' thinking and producing relevant art--was obvious to all who participated. Those who were not directly involved (parents, other students, and teachers) were still able to admire and appreciate the students' work as we displayed their art and writings in the school lobby display cases. A book of George's adventures was bound and donated to the school library.

NATIONAL STANDARD

Students understand and use similarities and differences between the characteristics of the visual arts and other arts disciplines.

WEB LINK

www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/features/cgsite/

Craig Hinshaw is an art teacher at Hiller Elementary, Davison, Michigan. craighinshaw@hotmail.com
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Title Annotation:Elementary Studio Lesson
Author:Hinshaw, Craig
Publication:School Arts
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2006
Words:537
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