One of the highlights of the 5th grade art curriculum is our trip to the Art Institute of Chicago. While at the museum the students become art docents, presenting researched information to their peers while standing next to the original work of art. Prior to our trip, the students spend six class periods working in collaborative groups researching one of eight artists and prepare their information for presentation at the Art Institute of Chicago. This past year was especially exciting since we had access to iPads as our presentation tool instead of just reading from a typewritten report as we have in the past. Keynote was used on the iPads to display images of the artist, other artist works on display in other museums, and even show video footage such as Monet in his garden or reference Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
The success of this learning experience is dependent on careful attention to detail. But believe me, it is well worth all the effort! Here’s a look into how I organize this great learning experience:
1. Painting assignment: I start by showing my students eight different paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago and briefly share a couple of details about each. (*Note: paintings chosen based on availability of research material appropriate for 5th grade.) Students then rank their favorite painting based on the one they are most interested in learning about. (Tip: use a different color paper for each class to stay organized.) Next, I go through and sort the completed rankings by preference and create research groups of 2, 3 or 4 students. After lots of shuffling, I have close to equal numbers of students researching each of the eight paintings. For example, of the eighty students in 5th grade, I had ten students researching eight different artists.
2. Begin research: Although I have a variety of books on each artist for student reference, most of the research is done online. Instead of setting the students free to roam the Internet, I have gathered quality and age appropriate multimedia resources into Livebinder for students to access.
The students are asked to work together gathering basic artist information. Research roles are assigned to engage all the students in the collaborative learning process: information recorder, word definition researcher, fact checker, and group progress monitor. Students are encouraged to find and record only useful information – content important for understanding or something others would find interesting to learn.
3. Presentation Creation: Since the iPads at my school are shared across grade levels, I have my students use Keynote on a Mac to create their presentation before loading onto an iPad. (This can also be done using PowerPoint that is easily converted to a Keynote on the iPad).
Essential Keynote requirements:
Each Keynote must include full screen images of the artist and/or artwork not found at the Art Institute of Chicago. (A great resource for finding images is Wikipaintings.) The presentations must also include accurate information about the artist, the painting featured, and concluding open-ended questions for the audience. (See student checklist here) Here are a few finished student examples in Keynote:
4. Museum Preparation: You will need to separate students into new groups for the museum. For example, a research group of three students learning about Picasso at school will all be split up into three different museum groups. In the end, each museum chaperoned group will have all researched artists represented . . . one student representing Picasso, one student Monet, O’Keeffe, Cassatt, etc . . .
Next, find out exact room location of paintings and prepare a rotation map for each group.
5. iPad Preparation: Upload all student Keynotes to a wiki or Dropbox. You will need one iPad per museum chaperoned group. In my case, I had 10 iPads (10 groups of 8 students). Just use iPad to link to your Dropbox or Wiki, then click on each Keynote to load onto iPads. (Tip: Students should save Keynote with all group member names to make it easy to find correct Keynote to upload)
6. On location! Students rotate throughout museum taking turns presenting at each painting along the map route. For example, group #3 starts at location #3 and then moves in rotation order. I usually add in a few fun stops along the way if there are fewer artists studied than museum chaperoned groups (such as the Thorne Miniature Rooms or a St. George and the Dragon activity)
Check out the video overview to see what our experience looked like:
Since the Keynotes were uploaded online, I just had to share the link so the students could download it at home and share with family. I have even had former students return and tell me that they visited “their painting” over the summer loved feeling so smart as they discussed it. I can’t wait to do this project again!
The Art Institute of Chicago’s guest blogger Carolina Kauffman was kind enough to let us republish her excellent article about the use of technology to enhance and extend the museum experience. Read the article below and the original can be found here.
Is There an App for that Brushstroke?
In deference to the safety of the museum’s collection, painting in the Art Institute has traditionally been restricted to a limited number of students and professionals. But thanks to creative uses of mobile devices, the museum has been able to extend that artistic experience to a wider audience without spilling a drop of paint. In a recent Teen Studio Workshop on Experimental Painting, museum education staff—using an iPad app that simulates painting techniques—provided teens with a digital canvas and virtual brushes and paints. Inspired by artworks like Gerhard Richter’s Ice (1-4) shown below, participants “squeezed” virtual paint onto their simulated canvases, blended and smudged colors with a palette knife, and built up layers and textures, all through touching or dragging their fingers over iPad screens.
Museum lecturers also use iPads as virtual portfolios to show images that supplement understanding of artworks discussed on public gallery talks. Digital images on the iPads permit the audience to view sculpture from different angles, and to explore related works from the collection not on display, or comparative artworks from other museums or collections. The speaker below, for instance, shows the image of an ancient coffin to help convey the original purpose of the Egyptian funerary objects in the cases behind him. Lecturers use them to zoom in on minute details, some not detectable to the naked eye, and the highly visible backlit screen gives iPads an advantage over their paper analogues.
Lecturers have even begun to incorporate audio and video into their tours. During a gallery talk, for example, visitors might listen to the atonal music of Arnold Schoenberg and compare it to the abstract compositions of Vasily Kandinsky; or they might compare movement, rhythm, mood, or repetition in an artwork to that found in an example of jazz or classical music. A lecturer might invite visitors to explore Richmond Barthé’s bronze sculpture The Boxer and watch an archival video showing the artists process and sculptural techniques in his studio. Most recently, children were introduced to the illustration exhibition Animals around the World: Picture Books by Steve Jenkins in the Ryan Education Center both literally and virtually. First, students looked closely at the dynamic paper collages combined with amazing facts about inhabitants of the animal kingdom. Then an educator showed videos on an iPad of the animals in their habitats, enabling some of our youngest audiences to see examples of where an artist drew inspiration for his work.
Mobile technology is increasingly demonstrating its potential to connect museum audiences of all ages with the artists and their works and to provide opportunities for creative experiences through dynamic interaction with the collection. Stay tuned for more ways in which the Art Institute of Chicago will engage 21st century visitors with mobile and touch-screen technology, bringing them closer to the collection in new and exciting ways.
—Carolina K., Education Technology Manager, Digital Information and Access
As a child I was lucky to live close enough to the Art Institute of Chicago to visit the Thorne Miniature Rooms. I imagined how different my life would be living during the historical time periods depicted in the extraordinarily detailed 3-dimensional interior designs. A new interactive game from The Art Institute of Chicago, Escape from Thorne Mansion, allows me to take a virtual leap back into those rooms.
The interactive adventure begins in a 16th century French parlor with a cryptic note explaining details to escape the mansion. Clicking on different areas of the image reveal verbal clues at the bottom of the screen and open doorways to gain entry into the next room. Your students will enjoy the challenge escaping the labyrinth of rooms using the clues found along the way.
Escape from Thorne Mansion could be easily integrated with a study of linear perspective, composition, or design. Alternatively, create a literature connection at school or at home incorporating the book, The Sixty-eight Rooms reviewed in an earlier post.
Connecting with Music
Other than the light strum of a harp in the French Anteroom, the Escape from Thorne Mansion interactive missed an opportunity to couple era music with the room design. So, I’ve decided to pick up where the Art Institute of Chicago has left off and pair a few Thorne Room images with sounds from the time (click the widget to the right of the image to listen).
The Thorne Miniature Rooms create an amazing opportunity to connect history, literature, and music with art and design. How else do the Thorne Miniature Rooms connect to your curriculum?
The following is a guest post written by Samantha Melvin. She teaches elementary art and music integrating across the curriculum in Burnet, Texas.
Good Things Come in Small Packages. It is such fun to come across a book that our elementary-aged students can read that have ideas for visual arts lessons built right into the story. The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone does just that. It is a fantasy tale, perfect for 2nd-6th graders, about the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago.
In our story, Jack and Ruthie go on a field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago and see the Thorne Rooms for the first time. Jack discovers a key while on a separate special tour with one of the museum guards. The key leads Jack and Ruthie to discovering much more about the sixty-eight rooms! These exquisite rooms, whose design represents the style of a different era and place, were commissioned by Narcissa Niblack Thorne. The artists and master craftsmen created each using only the finest materials. They were built using 1 inch to 1 foot scale. Even the doorknobs turn, and the desk drawers open, truly representing design in miniature. Our characters discover that the key is really a magic key, which transforms the person holding it into a miniature version of him or herself. We live vicariously as they walk into these rooms and step back in time to pre-revolutionary France, or to late seventeenth century America. By connecting with artworks mentioned in the story including Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze, we can demonstrate the link between history and art. In this case, Jack and Ruthie realize that they landed in France prior to its revolution, that had been partially inspired by the American’s fight for freedom from British rule.
Not all of us can travel to the Art Institute of Chicago to visit this wonderful collection. However there are other museums around the country that also have a connection to Thorne’s incredible legacy. The Knoxville Museum of Art, in Knoxville, TN, holds a collection of Thorne Rooms. These represent some of the earliest of her works. The Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures in Tucson, AZ is a museum dedicated to miniatures. In its fantastic collection, one can find the Kupjack Georgian Dining Room, an example of work by one of Thorne’s primary artists, Eugene Kupjack. The Phoenix Art Museum also holds 20 examples of the Thorne Rooms.
Make curricular connections:
Drawing & Math
Connect this wonderful fantasy to the creativity of our students by asking them to design their own “Contemporary Interior” where they design a room, using 1 inch to 1 foot scale, representing their place and time. Either using one-point perspective in drawing, or photomontage from magazines, the design of their own space would be a fascinating view of our 21st Century world from a child’s point of view.
Sculptural Paper Folding & Math
Jack and Ruthie, our adventurous 6th grade characters, go to school together in a Chicago neighborhood. In the opening chapter, Jack shows a bento box that he brought for lunch to school. Ruthie had never seen anything like it, and your students may not have either! Integrate a wonderful paper folding lesson, that implements measurement and folding for creating the bento box, and using paper folding and sculpture for the food. There is a wonderful example in the Thorne Rooms collection of Japanese architecture and design known as the Japanese Traditional Interior that would connect wonderfully with this lesson.
The Sixty-Eight Rooms is a wonderful addition to any book or art club looking to connect literature with art. The magical tale would be a great read-aloud in the art classroom, leading to specific art projects that make children think about their enviroments and design.
Special Thanks to the Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures in Tucson, AZ for permission to publish the photographs of works in their collection, both taken by Balfour Walker. The museum can be found on Twitter at @tucsonmuseum Thanks to Nancy Walker for sharing her Bento Box lesson as well. Photos of teacher samples are from the Center for Educator Development in Fine Arts Summit XI Elementary Sessions hosted by Samantha Melvin and Nancy Walkup.
Art museum visits and art history discussions can be great learning opportunities for students. However, it just takes a few negative student attitudes to change the experience for the entire class. The following Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) video addresses many art conversations and museum etiquette issues in an entertaining format directed at tweens and teens.
Can’t view YouTube video above? See it at the AIC website.
Possible Discussion Questions:
1. What did you learn about visiting a museum that you didn’t know before?
2. Why might each artwork have different meanings to different people?
3. What type of art do you like best? Why?
We were excited to view The Art Institute of Chicago’s new Modern Wing at the educator open house. The new edition designed by Renzo Piano makes the Art Institute of Chicago the second largest art museum in the United States. The layout and design of the new galleries that now house the museums 20th and 21st century art collections are impressive but, as educators we were truly amazed by the new Ryan Education Center.
The new eduction space boasts five classrooms, three huge studios, the new Crown Family Education Center and the new David and Marilyn Fatt Vitale Family Orientation Room. Not only are these educational spaces truly state of the art but, have one of the most sought after views in the city as they look onto Millennium Park. The image above was taken on my phone in one of the new studios.
Along with the fantastic educational space , The Art Institute previewed new interactive software and resources featuring pieces from their collections. This July they lunched that material online in an interactive website for kids called the Curious Corner. The site is geared more towards the elementary age child but, also has resources for educators and parents. Visitors can choose form three different categories of interactive games such as Story Time, Match Up and Play with Art. The Match up section is one of our favorites it lets you match texture, shape or sound. Below is a short clip of some of the interactive games children can explore on the site.
(Trouble viewing this video? Try this link.)
Below is a couple of ideas for utilizing the Curious Corner in the classroom.
- Use the “Story Time” games as an introduction to teaching children about the messages, stories and meaning behind many pieces of art.
- Use the “Match Up” sound game as an individual activity for analyzing the parts of a work of art. As a student matches each sound to different area of a piece of art they will notice new details and better understand what is happening in the image.
- Use the Cornell Box section of the “Play with Art” game to have students create a still life that is meaningful to themselves. Print the completed computer still life images and have students use the grid drawing processes to enlarge the image. Choose a media such as colored pencil or chalk for students to add detail to their personal still life drawings.
- Use the “Match Up” game as an introduction or extension activity for concepts like texture and shape.
Share how you could utilize this site in your classroom in the comments section below?
A common practice in my art room is to use a few minutes at the beginning or end of class to revisit art concepts. I often make a review game by holding up art prints and asking the students to identify an artist, art media, element of art, etc.
I recently found MyStudiyo, a great online resource that allows you to use images to create your own quiz game. Instead of pulling out a pile a prints, I just project the customized game and have each table work in groups to figure out the answers. Once each table makes a guess, the correct answer is revealed and we move on to the next question.
Try the game below using images from The Art Institute of Chicago.
Can’t view the image above or want to try more? Click here.
Want to share quizzes you make on Mystudiyo? Add the link in the comments area below!
Update 6/2/09: Thanks to Samantha Melvin for sharing a MyStudiyo quiz she created. You can try “All About Color” with your students by clicking here.
When discussing Degas and Impressionism I use classical music – preferably classical ballet – to set the mood. Here is some classical and classical ballet music to try:
1. Does hearing the music change any impressions about the work of art?
2. How might the scene change with each piece of music? How might the dance moves change? Would there be a change in costume?