Masters of Art I: Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder’s mobiles were the inspiration for our second project in our Masters of Art series. The first day  of this project was spent decorating five cardboard pieces that were pre-cut into various trapezoids and triangles. This lesson plan was a play between open-ended and guided instruction. Students embarked on decorating and embellishing the cardboard before I introduced Calder’s work and showed examples.
The following supplies were set on the table ready to go as students arrived:

  • oil pastels
  • markers
  • cardboard cut into various shapes

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After students were engaged with the initial materials I set a few more supplies on the table:

  • colored masking tape
  • foam stickers

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Managing tape and stickers is great practice for fine motor skill. I asked students to think about what their art would look like hanging in midair and suggested that they decorate both sides and think about color, texture, pattern, and design.
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The second day of this project focused on completing both sides of each piece with the same materials provided on the first day. We then punched holes to ready the pieces to be made into a mobile. Depending on the design some pieces needed two holes across from each other while some only needed one.
I like to use a two hole punch as a single hole punch. It’s safer and easier to manage for little ones because they can press down using gravity and their weight to make the hole.
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While some students were definitely inspired to do their own connecting (usually 5 years and older) the construction of the mobile was best done one-on-one or with a few parent/child pairs at a time.

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Here are a few photos of finished mobiles.

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Since some children had more focus or vision for decorating their pieces and some were more adept at punching holes and twisting their wire students finished this project at different times. As the first students finished I offered them extra pipe cleaners to play with or paper to draw on while others finished up. This open-ended art time always proves fruitful.
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