Reading, Creating and Playing with Art

Playing with art on the SMARTboard

We have spent the last two weeks immersed in Wassily Kandinsky’s art. My kindergarteners have been talking about his art, tracing over it on transparency paper, playing with it on our SMARTboard, and creating their own “Kindergarten Kandinsky”. It’s been exciting to listen in on the conversations as the kids compared different pieces and wondered why Kandinsky made the choices he did as an artist. We have had fun playing “I spy” as the students looked closely for “the big blue circle next to the small triangle behind the three parallel lines”. They have enjoyed talking about the pictures Kandinsky made with shapes and we had quite an interesting discussion about how Kandinsky couldn’t have intentionally made an “Angry Bird” in one of his paintings since it was made 100 years ago. It started a great discussion about perspective, imagination and creating stories in our minds. I loved how they connected it to making pictures in our minds as we read!

They love looking at the big art prints on paper and the Kandinsky SMARTboard station has been a top choice during Explore time. I have a feeling the Kandinsky prints will continue to be a part of our classroom explorations and conversations for quite some time.

Cutting shapes for our mural

We ended our Kandinsky study by creating a class mural – our “Kindergarten Kandinsky”. The kids cut out a variety of shapes and lines and we carefully placed them on a large piece of butcher paper. We talked about where the shapes would go, how they would overlap, what the proximity to other shapes and lines would be and negotiated our artwork together. After everything was placed as the students wanted it, we glued it down. The kids were so excited to have a giant “Kandinsky” to discuss and talk about, just as we have talked about his original artwork.

Negotiating placement of our shapes on our mural

Our finished "Kindergarten Kandinsky"

After spring break, we are starting a photography study of the alphabet through found pictures in the environment. I think the Kandinsky study has opened our eyes to reading pictures and seeing beyond the obvious. We are ready to look for letters in nature and in our environment. Stay tuned for a post in a few weeks on this new project!

Art as a mentor text

Talking about art while tracing shapes and lines

My kindergarteners have been looking closely at the artwork of Wassily Kandinsky as we learn about geometry in math. We are using his art to explore shapes, lines, color and important vocabulary for positional words that are part of our state standards. I’m using Kandinsky’s art just like I use mentor texts throughout my literacy workshop. It’s been very exciting to see how the children are learning math while “standing on the shoulders” (as Katie Wood Ray says) of this artist. His fascinating abstract art paintings engage my students and allow us to surround our math instruction with rich talk about a variety of geometric terms, as well as art terms. For example, mathematicians use the term “rhombus”, but artists use the term “diamond” to speak about the same shape. We  are creating an ongoing shared writing text with what we are noticing.  This writing that came from their talk looked like this: I see a red square next to a blue curved line. I see a big yellow curved line overlapping a black circle. I see 5 small circles under a pink rhombus. 

Last week we used the program Pixie in the computer lab to create our own Kandinsky inspired works of art. The students used a variety of shapes, colors and lines to create their own work of art. They talked about how they were choosing the placement of their shapes and carefully planned out their work.

This week we are creating our very own “Kindergarten Kandinsky” wall mural as we use his work as our mentor text to create a piece of art showing our knowledge of shapes, colors and lines. Stay tuned for an upcoming post about this!

I value the importance of visual texts, such as our Kandinsky pieces, as another form of literacy. Teaching children to read art, to create art from using artists as mentors, and to talk about art is a key piece of my literacy instruction.

How do you use visual art in your teaching? 

Our Pixie Kandinsky Inspired Art