Transparent & Opaque, Grade 4

Grade Four Students Complete their Oil Pastel Explorations on Newspaper

The Assignment:

Students drew thickly applied oil pastel designs on newspaper using as many colors as possible.  I asked  the students to really work at applying a thick layer of oil pastel to see if they could make the print beneath the color disappear.  In addition, I pointed out that they might like to use the rectangular shapes formed by the print columns, photos and advertisements to make their designs.

For the past month, the students have been using their observation skills during their still life warm up exercises at the beginning of class where they practice looking carefully and attentively to draw what they see.  For this assignment, I asked students to do a different kind of observation--I asked them to observe the materials by noticing which oil pastel colors were opaque and which colors were transparent.

When designing art activities and lessons such as this Oil Pastel Exploration, I plan for entry points that are accessible to all the students in the class.  For this assignment, the entry points were:

  • to apply the oil pastel thickly
  • to use as many colors as possible
  • to observe which colors are opaque and which are transparent

In addition to entry points, I also plan for openings in the assignment for students to use their own ideas. The place in this assignment where students had an opportunity to use their own ideas was when I pointed out that they might like to use the grid structure of the newspaper layout to guide their rectangular designs but were free to make their own decisions on how to specifically use the rectangular layout and in adding their own design elements and colors.  Left is an example of a student who stretched and explored the boundaries of this project by diverging from the rectangular pattern of the newspaper to create his own designs using diagonal lines.

The entry point is generally the place in my lessons where students practice skills, processes, materials and tools.  A central goal in my teaching is to balance this practice with opportunities for students to also stretch and explore, express and create.  This is a balancing act!

This Oil Pastel Exploration on Newspaper is an example of a lesson where the learning weighs more heavily on the practice of techniques and materials.  As the students move along in subsequent lessons, I will gradually open up the learning for students to use more complex thinking to change, combine, visualize, reorganize, design and transform in order to grow in their ability to create original and expressive works of art.