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Presenting shoes on parade.

After constantly hearing about the Chicago Cows on Parade, it was a thrill to go downtown and stroll along Michigan Avenue to observe them firsthand. I decided to create an activity in which my fifth-grade students could feel the excitement of being linked to a citywide happening.

I wanted my students to have the opportunity to produce something similar to the cows, but they needed to start with something different, something that would be virtually free of cost, readily available, and provide a sturdy base to build on. After much thought, I decided the base would be a gym shoe because everyone always seems to have old sneakers. I created a sample using simple materials. I used latex paint as a base coat to create a plain canvas for future painting, and white glue, masking tape, tag board, acrylic paint, and found materials for surface decoration.

We scanned the Internet looking for cows on parade articles and pictures, and displayed them on my bulletin board as an inspiration. I requested donations of any old latex paint, and the gym shoe base was expanded to any kind of shoe. These discussions continued for a month, giving students time to acquire their shoes and digest the concept of transforming a common shoe into a work of art. Many students brought extra shoes for others to use.

When we were ready to start, I discussed balance, counter balance, methods of joining two parts together, sculpting a three-dimensional object, and quality.

During this artistic process, the original concepts students started with evolved into different ideas. They anticipated roadblocks, did their own problem solving, and figured out ways of attaching parts. We added new and different materials as the sculptures evolved. We stapled, hot glued, taped, and even laced parts on. Many students painted their parts before assembling them; some painted the parts after the structures were finished.

Throughout this lesson, students' enthusiasm grew. As a finishing touch, we discussed naming the shoes creatively to further enhance their whimsical quality. Students wrote a poem, haiku, or similar verse relating to the shoe's history, materials used, construction process, or other information about their piece. Some of the students made riddles encouraging observers to guess the identity of their shoe.

The school staff was so encouraging that I felt we should have a show. We called it "Shoes on Parade." Desks were set up in front of every classroom displaying the shoe sculptures during our parent-teacher conferences. Our show was accepted with such enthusiasm that the display continued through the next month. Students created a map showing the location of all the shoes to assist our visitors on tour. We posted signs naming our school's halls after our principal and other staff members.

A hidden benefit of this lesson was the connection students felt with the presentation of their artwork. They had created their own "citywide" happening--a presentation of art with a "sole."


Students understand there are different purposes for creating works of visual art.

Penny Weinberg is an art teacher at Wilmot Elementary School in Deerfield, Illinois.
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Title Annotation:art project created using old sneakers as base to present a 'Shoes on Parade' show
Author:Weinberg, Penny
Publication:School Arts
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2002
Previous Article:The main frame.
Next Article:Kitchen utensil design: students will understand how a simple kitchen utensil or object can be used to create a repetitive visual pattern.

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