Modigliani Self-Portraits

Amadeo Modigliani was an Italian Modernist painter during the 20th century.  He is best known for his minimalist portraits of women with strange almond shaped eyes that are completely colored in.  The faces are nearly alien and the bodies are linear.  The backgrounds are non-descriptive and surreal.    Upon looking at his art kids will often remark about how alien the women appear and how strange the portraits are.  This lesson  is an excellent introduction into basic facial proportions as the students don’t have to worry so much about the realistic shapes of the face, just the correct placement of simplified facial features.
I posted before about DBAE (Discipline Based Art Education) and this particular lesson plan has a strong art critical component that leads into an understanding of Modigliani’s aesthetic.  The students will go through with the teacher all of the Elements of Art and Principals of Design and how they relate to Modigliani’s paintings.
modigliani
Art Lesson Plan

Modigliani Self-Portrait

Grade: 3rd-6th

# of 50 minute sessions: 4

Art Resources: visuals from the Girl series by Amadeo Modigliani and teacher exemplar
Art Materials: one 11”x14” sheet of white paper per student, pencils, erasers, and oil pastels.
Objectives-
Student will:
– create a self-portrait in the style of Amadeo Modigliani.
– create a drawing using pencils and oil pastels.
– learn about the art of Modigliani.
– discuss the artwork of Modigliani according to the Principals of Design and Elements of Art.
Vocabulary: Amadeo Modigliani, Modern Art, Principals of Design, Elements of Art, and Self-Portrait.
Procedure:
Day 1: Teacher will introduce visuals from the Girl series by Amadeo Modigliani. Teacher will discuss the art criticism part of the lesson with the student and go over vocabulary. Student will view the visuals and begin discussing with students the work of art according to the Elements of Art and Principals of Design. The teacher will demonstrate how to draw a self-portrait in Modigliani’s style. Student will draw his/her self-portrait using pencil (lightly).
Day 2: Student will review vocabulary, the art critical component from the prior week, and teacher product/visual aide.Student will begin coloring in self-portrait.
Days 3-4: Student will review vocabulary and teacher product/visual aide. Student will finish coloring his self-portrait and present his artwork to the class.  Student will share with the class using the Elements of Art and Principals of Design how his self-portrait is similar in style to Modigliani’s portraits.

How to Raise a Bilingual Child

In order to take care of Ben you have to be able to speak more than one language. This was an issue for my parents who I had to give a refresher mini course in Hebrew to so I could have a date night when they visited. He communicates with both Hebrew and English. Half and half. If his nose is running he’ll tell you in Hebrew, if Ben wants something to eat he’ll ask you for “cookies.” ” Cookies” aren’t really a cookie though, I just want to clarify that, it’s more like a cracker. I’ve learned more Hebrew being his mom than I had in the six years prior being married to his dad. His Hebrew has grown organically through several different channels. I’m going to share how we have taught in both languages simultaneously. Currently he’s not speaking either in complete sentences, we recently caught up with a speech therapist that I used to work with and she advised that he has not yet picked his dominant language. He is 2 and a half-that is normal, and that is very normal for kids who are bilingual. Just because he picks a dominant language doesn’t mean that he’s going lose the other language either.


1. My husband refuses to speak English at all with him. Ben has to only communicate in Hebrew with my husband.  If Ben wants “up” from the dinner table he will be answered in Hebrew with “I don’t understand what yo want, I don’t speak English with you.”  For me, it’s easier because we are in America, all of his classes are in English, and our day to day life is in English.  So he gets plenty of English, so his dad really has to be firm in speaking only Hebrew.

2.  We had an Israeli nanny for a year.  She only spoke Hebrew with Ben and she taught him
Hebrew songs.

3.  TV!  TV is huge.  My speech therapist friend agrees.  She said to teach a young child any language put them in front of the TV.  He has always from babyhood watched TV in both languages.

4.   We took a trip to Israel for a month and all of us were immersed in Hebrew.  My Hebrew developed over there dramatically in a short time!  Full immersion is the way to go if you get the opportunity.

5. Hebrew CD’s are on constant rotation in my car.  I know every Hebrew nursery rhyme!  Ben sings along where ever we go, it’s so sweet!

6.  Reading is so important in both languages.  I honestly don’t read a lot in Hebrew to him because he doesn’t have patience for how slowly I read and loses interest.  I do read him flash cards and have a few books I’m familiar with.  Our nanny read to him in Hebrew only, and my friends who are Israeli always read Hebrew stories to our kids.

7. Hebrew toys help some, especially if they make noise and speak.  His aunt in Israel sent some learning toys that will increase his vocabulary and even increase mine.  I also turn his American toys to Spanish just to strengthen his ear for languages.

8. Lastly, our local community has a large Israeli population so there are many friends and kids for him to speak Hebrew with.

We started all of these steps from birth.  My husband has not spoken a word of English to my son ever. English is only for mommy.  This is truly a gift for Ben and it will be a gift for Adam who already has a word in Hebrew and a word in English!

 

Patriotic Playgroup Activities  for Presidents’ Day

This week we had our playgroup on Presidents’ Day. I decided to go with the theme of patriotic crafts and I did some research on Pinterest. I found a really cool pasta sensory bin that was cheap and easy to make.  I will attach the pan below in case you’re interested. The century vent was a blast and the children really enjoyed it. It did not take a whole lot of work to make. In fact I made it just in a few extra moments that I had over the weekend. Obviously the pasta is reusable, so I can use this for future crafts to come.  Once the bin was assembled I added in some plastic cups, plastic spoons and forks, and a little car for the kids to play with.



I also did a patriotic star craft. We assembled stars using Elmer’s glue with red and blue popsicle sticks. Then we attached the start to some white card stock. The kids could use glue sticks to collage paper tissue squares in red and blue or red glitter on their star.  This was sort of a problem-solving craft in the fact that the kids had to help their moms put together a star which is not easy to do as far as it coming out symmetrical. The kids also had to learn how to use a glue stick and choose the materials that they wanted in their star.  For a two-year-old that is definitely some higher-level thinking. They are analyzing, synthesizing, and creating.


My last activity was a so-called free painting in red white and blue. This particular project has some art historical significance. The style of Abstract Expressionism  which was made popular by Jackson Pollock in the 1940’s was an exploration of paint itself. No longer was paint being used to depict a person, place or thing – the artist was just creating a painting to depict the paint.  Their style of art marks the transition of the center of the art world from being Paris to it being in New York City. This is a truly American art movement.  So as the kids dripped, swirled, and explored with paint, they were actually creating works of art that tied into an American historical style of art.


When I do my playgroup every month I like to have a variety of activities. I like for there to be something for the kids to craft or collage, something for them to model or experience such as a sensory activity or clay, and of course a drawing or painting material. At this age it’s really important that kids just experience as much as they possibly can. By giving young children art materials and allowing them to create they’re using their higher thinking skills, they are exploring their imagination, and they’re expressing their unique individuality at a very-which is a character builder.  Young children experience a level of confidence in themselves and their artwork and like teenagers who typically are shy about their accomplishments. If we can encourage  young children to to be proud of themselves and build up their confidence at a young age then hopefully they’ll be more confident when they enter their teenage years and adulthood. I hope you had a wonderful holiday and if you have any thoughts about how art builds character in kids please share them in the comments below.

Story Time on the Railroad

 

Ben has recently take an interest in “choo choo trains” so I thought we would go and check out the story time at the Nevada Railroad Museum in Boulder City.  This was such a fun and unique experience I had to write a post about it!  

Two weeks ago we hiked an old railroad trail in Nevada near Lake Mead. I was so excited take Ben because of his interest in trains and yet there were no trains. It’s really hard for a two-year-old to understand that trains used to go through these tunnels 100 years ago. Then I remembered that I had heard about the story time nearby that happens once a month on the railroad. I was able to find my information through the Nevada Railroad Museum’s Facebook page. We drove about 45 minutes out of Vegas to get to the museum in the rain. They charged us only $10 for me, when the kids turn four they will cost $7.   This was an excellent deal for the three of us, especially since they give you also a coupon for free ice cream for each person!  We were the last family to board the train and we were told to not sit for the storytime was happening at that time, but rather sit in another car because there were so many people!  They told us that when the train turns around they would invite us up to the dining car for the story. The car we sat in was over 100 years old and it took us on an old section of rail road that runs past America’s oldest casino.  There were several men dressed as conductors walked up and down the isles telling people about the history of the area and they were kind enough to take pictures with us. 

When the train turned around we went to the dining car. The dining car was a first class dining car from over 100 years ago. It was beautiful! People back then knew how to travel in style! We were read a story for Valentine’s Day.  One of the volunteer teachers from the local school district helped Ben and Adam make train toggle bracelets, and they were giving oversized train coloring pages.  Lastly, once the train returned to the station we got back in the car and we drove less than half a mile to a local 1950’s style diner where we were able to get our free ice cream. The boys had so much fun! This was truly a wonderful experience!  I was able to enjoy just the beauty of these historical train cars and feel transported back in time while the boys just absorbed the experience.  On Halloween they do a haunted train ride for the kids and at Christmas they do a Santa train ride.  If you’re visiting Las Vegas with small children and I highly recommend checking this out. Other weekends they have a small train and the kids can sit on and he goes around a small track, they have a variety of engines and trains to check it out. I will definitely be going again!

Process Art Activity-Apple Printing

apple-printingThis is one of the first activities I did with the My Petite Picassos playgroup back in the fall. I never got around to blogging about it, though. I think when you start a blog you have so many ideas that it’s almost impossible to get all of them done. On top of that I had the holidays to craft and blog about-so here is my belated post on apple printing.

I used basic school based tempera paint in fall colors: green, yellow, red, orange, and brown. I put the colors out on a pallet for the kids to dip the apples that were already cut into halves and then they printed on the paper. For the paper I used long sheets from a role that I cut to be equal for each child. I picked up rolls of paper at Target in the fall for about $7. This is a great idea for a playgroup or a fall party. It was so easy and different. The kids really enjoyed it. All of the toddlers walked away with apple prints.  They were so enthralled with the idea putting their food into the paint and no one put the paint into their mouth! This is definitely an activity I would repeat!



I Used to Be an Artist

Some artists create everyday like clockwork.  They take their canvas and easel and go to a mountain top or a cliff and paint for hours on end until they have a masterpiece or hurl their canvas over the cliff like Cezanne in a fit of frustration.  I am not that kind of artist. I have never been that kind of artist and yet my whole life I have been Liza the artist.  I was the girl in high school who spent countless hours in the art room listening to Depeche Mode on her headphones shading and mixing colors. I attended art school, have a B.F.A. in painting, and went onto a successful career as art teacher in the public schools.  I created my own art and displayed it in galleries in my spare time.  Then one day in October of 2013 I got the call that ended my artistic career: I was finally pregnant.  I had tried for several years to create what would become one of my two greatest masterpieces, not knowing that this news would make me completely redefine myself.

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Maybe you’re reading this saying I shouldn’t have to give up my artistic pursuits to be a mom.  You’re right.  There are plenty of people who have babies and manage with a helpful family member, daycare, or sleep schedules to continue their interests.  I have fully committed myself to being a mom and put this part of myself on the back burner.  My practice as an artist has ebbed and flowed throughout my life.  Three summers ago before my pregnancy I was creating art everyday, and now nothing since.  The blog is filling the creative void to express what art left behind.  I do miss it, but not terribly because I know one day it will consume my life again.

Matboucha Tutorial and Recipe Suggestions

About a month ago I shared with you my Matboucha recipe.  It’s a spicy, cooked salad from Morocco. It’s a staple in my household.  I make it every Friday for our Sabbath meal as my husband is of Moroccan decent.  I am including a video tutorial on how to prepare it as it is a little tricky for beginner chefs and recipe suggestions on how to use this delicious salad will be posted below.

 

 


Recipe Suggestions:

1.  Eat with charred pita and hummus.  It’s delicious either hot or cold.

2.  Incorporate it into a sandwich like grilled cheese or as a burger topping.

3.  Top off a seared salmon filet with a spoonful of Matboucha.
5.  Use it in a quiche. Spoon a generous helping into a store bought pie-crust.  Beat 4 eggs with salt and pepper, pour them into the pie shell.  Add smoked provolone on top and bake for 50 minutes at 350F.

6. Start an omelet with olive oil and Matboucha.  Then add your beaten eggs and cheese once the moisture has evaporated.

7.  Top of rice or quinoa with Matboucha and a chopped hard boiled egg.

Truly the options are limitless!

Galaxy Sensory Bottles

galaxy-bottles
At this month’s My Petite Picassos’ Playgroup we created projects under the theme of the galaxy. We made galaxy sensory bottles for the babies, paper craft rockets, and we did galaxy marbling papers to make valentines.


We made our galaxy bottles using cotton balls, watered down tempera paint, kabob skewers, and glitter.  I highly recommend if you do this activity you use a short water bottle otherwise you will be very busy for a long time creating your galaxy bottle!  I saw a few videos on YouTube on how to do this and the toddlers enjoyed putting the galaxy bottles together so much!

Basically it’s very simple, but time-consuming. Take your cotton balls one by one pulling them apart and placing them inside of your bottle. When you think you have a lot of cotton balls take your blue watered down paint mixture and pour a little bit over the cotton balls.  Then use the kebab skewers to mix the paint and the cotton together. The water will be absorbed by the cotton and the cotton balls will shrink up so you will probably want continue another layer or two of blue cotton before you move onto the next color.  I did my layers as blue on the bottom purple in the middle and pink on the top. As I moved up the bottle I continued putting in the cotton and adding my water. In between layers put a little bit of glitter not too much or you’ll get clumps!  We also tried doing this with food coloring and water and that turned out excellent as well as you can see from my friend’s bottle on the bottom of the page.  If you don’t have paint at your house but you have some food coloring you can do this craft easily.  My friend had a really good point that the bottles do get a little bit heavy with all of the water and so it is a good idea to keep them small even if you think a big bottle would be a stand out if you want a baby to hold it and left it with her hands and inspect it and it’s needs to stay small.

Like I said earlier the toddlers loved this craft! They were very engaged with ripping apart the cotton and pushing it through the bottles.  One of the moms made the comment that her son never does arts and crafts projects but he loved this craft.  They filled up even large bottles with cotton. You could see they were fully concentrating on the activity and they were immersed in the process.

Teacher Tip: Evil Eye Magnets 

evil-eyes
I recently was confronted with a Facebook memory of this photo: handcrafted evil eyes that were used as a fundraiser by my art club 4 years ago.  For many years I didn’t have much of a budget as an art teacher and I had to get creative as to how to get supplies for my 800 students.  I decided with my art clubbers we would mass produce evil eye magnets to sell in order to raise money for the clock parts we wanted to buy to make ceramic clocks. The evil eye is seen in many Mediterranean cultures of protection from negativity.  By having the kids make the magnets and sell them at our city’s monthly art walk the kids took ownership of their education, their program, instead of asking an adult to just give them the money or project components.  I think this is a very important lesson.  We are so blessed in this country to have free education for all.

To make the magnets I simply poured Plaster of Paris into old egg cartons I lubricated with Vaseline prior.  When hard, I popped them out, sanded them, and then handed them to the children to paint and we hot glued on a magnet backing.  I had hundreds of free magnets from a business that donated them when they closed.

At our local First Friday Gallery Walk we stood in front of my friend’s gallery with signs the kids created on posterboard.  People stopped and talked with us about why we were fundraising, the meaning of the evil eye, and we made over $300 in a few hours of sales!  The GATE teacher at our school sold the rest on Friday mornings with pencils.  We were able to pay for our clock parts and create our masterpieces.

Fun and Yummy Learning: Marshmallow Shapes

marshmallow-shapes

Ben knows how to sing his ABC song, count to 10 in Hebrew and English, and parts of his body in Hebrew.  Now I’m trying to teach him shapes and colors.  This is a really simple and fun evening family time activity.  I used kids’ straws from Daiso and small marshmallows to build basic geometric shapes.  We talked about the names of the shapes: triangle, rectangle, square.  We talked about the colors of the straws.  Ben asked for help to build which I was happy to hear.

I would rather he ask me or an adult for help than be frustrated and give up.  Too often as a teacher students didn’t ask for help and misunderstood parts of my lesson.  Asking for help is crucial in learning and kids should be taught to.

The activity was a hit with boys.  Adam ate all the marshmallows!  The next night they were at it again with their “Aba” who taught them the names of the shapes and colors in Hebrew.  So not only was this a math lesson, it was sculpture, and it was language development!  I’ve seen on Pinterest people use toothpicks instead of the straws.  I liked that the straws were less pointy for my littles, but for older kids toothpicks would definitely work.  This is also a great busy bag idea!