St Augustine’s : 1 Portraits and Initials

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Art room Hour:

I introduced myself and this started a discussion about what the children imagined my job entailed which was very interesting. I then introduced the idea that we would look at making portraits as an opportunity to get to know each other better. I began by showing them my Coraline puppet, as the artist I had made her with had made her as a kind of a portrait of me as a child. The children had a chance to handle the puppet if they wanted to. 

Their Art Teacher, Carmel, had prepared some resources of self portraits by artists, which she had in a slide show on the whiteboard but had also printed out and laminated. We looked at and discussed these. She spread them all out on the table and asked each one to choose one and then we went around the group and they were invited to say why they had chosen each. 

I then invited them to take a hand and finger “tour” of our faces, necks and shoulders – with eyes closed. Asking them to feel the shape of their heads, the bones under our faces, feel how we are put together, the smooth bits, the hairy bits etc

Then everyone was given a mirror. We discussed looking at different parts of the face, noticing the different shapes of things, how one thing connects to another etc. 

We put the mirrors aside and gave out A2 sheets of paper and thick markers and invited them to enjoy making a drawing of their face, remembering as much as they can of what they saw and felt, but also not worrying too much about whether it looks like them or not, enjoying the lines and shapes they make on the page. One child worked faster than others and made several images. Another finished ahead of the others and was happy to add things she liked or which said something about her to her portrait.

When finished we assembled the images in a group for a little “exhibition” and photograph. As some of the group were interested in colouring their portraits, we have decided to return to portraits next week but this time through painting.

There was then a lunch break.

Class room Hour

We began by sitting in a circle where I suggested we warm up our voices as this can be important in my work. After using some simple exercises we began to sing our own names in turn and to play a little with rhythm in doing so, as I offered clapping as an option for those who found it difficult to respond verbally. I introduced a simple sock puppet with mouth action who I was able to use to encourage them to play with volume, by holding him low or high and asking them to respond to that.

Then I invited them to make a different kind of portrait picture but this time just using the first letter of their name. I invited them to play with the letter, as if they were singing it, using different colours and playing with how they put it on the page. We had  A2 pages and some good quality water soluble colouring pencils. When a couple of the girls who finished first asked to draw something else, one of them did another portrait and the other decided to make a stage for a puppet show and cut it out. I then suggested we collect ideas for the puppets that might go on stage there. I wrote down her and her neighbour’s ideas and then she took over, getting ideas from others in the class.

I think next week we will use this as an opportunity to create very simple paper puppets to appear in the stage set she created.

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