...after 2-3 classes of puppet construction, here's my reflection with several photos as artifacts:


 1.      How did you incorporate contemporary art as public pedagogy as you implemented your plan?

I tried to incorporate a lot of collaboration among students with this lesson. If the students are successful enough with the final projects and written scripts, I think I would like to try a few groups as a public show during the school wide- art show/music night in the district. The school is filled with parents, and other family members and community members and I think it would be a good public display of contemporary art.  I can imagine a small stage set up somewhere in a corner of a hallway where students could take turns performing their skits with their puppets.  Or perhaps I could video record the performances in the classroom and play them on a T.V. on a loop so that people walking by observing the artwork, could stop and watch a few skits.


2.      What happened? What worked? What, if anything, didn't work?

Students were enthusiastic about getting started on the puppets. First, I did a little demonstration on how to make certain features of the puppets.  I showed students the 3 ways to make a puppet for the assignment. I felt that it would be easier for each class to make all the same type of puppet due to limited time.  I decided that once I had the demonstration on paper bag, sock and finger puppets, I would let the class vote on which one kind they would make.  For this particular class, the majority of students wanted to make the paper bag puppet, so that is what we made.  Ironically, the second class that I introduced this lesson to also chose a paper bag puppet.  Only a few in each class voted for sock and finger puppets.


I found that it was easier for me to show the students a few ways to make parts of the body/ eyes, ears, nose, etc., and then they could work at their own pace and gather materials as they needed them.  Then, they could enhance the body to fit the characteristics they were looking for so that no two puppets were identical.  I also just decided it was easier for the paper bag puppet to be in the form of some kind of animal or creature.  I think this worked well as then there were fewer requests for specific materials and I could spend more time assisting students.


3.      What challenges did you face? How did you handle challenges?

Time was a challenge.  One class was late coming to art class due to an assembly, but surprisingly got caught up pretty quickly.  Students who were absent will have to start next week or I can have them come in during their recess time. 


4.      What changes (curriculum or pedagogy) are you interested in making if you were to teach it again? Why make these changes?


Perhaps if I did this lesson again I could coordinate with their home room teachers to see what students have been taught in terms of creative writing. Maybe I could have them write the story or skit in their homeroom as part of their teacher's lesson and then we can construct the puppets in art class. I would make these changes because of time.  I only see the kids once a week and I feel they would be able to spend more quality time writing creatively in their homeroom classes on consecutive days than once a week over the course of several weeks.



5.      Reflecting on the entire process, what stands out or is significant to you now?


Discussing puppetry and storytelling with students made me realize that most of my students enjoyed the idea of performing in front of their peers.  This surprised me a little.  I will have to wait until they actually get to perform to know if this was true, but it was interesting to know that there was a significant amount of students that really seemed to embrace the idea of entertaining their classmates through a puppet show.


Another thing that I thought was significant was that some students didn't know what parts of a story were needed in order for it to flow nicely.  For example, we talked a little about how a story would start and end, but what about all the stuff in the middle?  Some students couldn't connect the beginning and end to make sense.  The stories would change so many times, that it was like having 3-4 stories in one.  

The pictures below include:

(1)  My examples of paper bag puppets using animals/creatures as characters such as a bird, a dragon, and a tiger (school mascot)

(2)  A male student constructing a puppet

(3)   A female student constructing a puppet

(4)  Some final pieces/works in progress of student work


Implementation of Lesson: Process Entry

       I wanted to give my students a little inspiration as to how puppets have changed over the years.  I don't have a way to project website material onto a large screen in my room, so I took the students next door to the music room and used the installed Promethean Board and computer to share some ways that puppets have been used.  I wanted to not only show some examples of puppets, but also display how they interacted with the backdrops, props, humans, and other puppets. Below you will find the part of Lesson 3 that I started.  I hope to next class have students start making puppets and we'll see how far we get.  I may have to work with a smaller group due to time restraints.

Excerpt of Lesson 3 "Puppet Construction and Development"

ARTWORKS, ARTISTS and/or ARTIFACTS: (i.e., motivation, inspiration)

            Students will look at examples of puppet shows from around the world as well as the lives and influence of some famous story tellers such as Walt Disney, Mister Rogers, Jim Henson, and Charles Schultz, to name a few.  Students will view pictures of early puppets as well as some advanced puppets that they may see today.

Key Concepts Addressed in this lesson: Students will create a puppet in one of three ways.  1) Sock Puppet 2) Finger Puppet or 3) Small Brown Paper Bag Puppet.


Lesson Implementation:

Art History and Introduction to lesson on puppet making:

     I showed a few pictures of famous puppets and used YouTube clips for inspiration.

-Kermit the Frog, Bert and Ernie, Lamb Chop, Howdy Doody, King Friday XIII, Pinocchio and also some cultural type puppets from around the world were a few discussed.


We then viewed some clips from the following website links:


Howdy Doody with Buffalo Bob Smith found at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHOpVBznl5s   (We discussed marionettes here.)


-The Sound of Music puppet show of "The Lonely Goatherd" found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWaMJ331oYM    (This is probably one of my favorite parts of this movie).


-Mr. Roger's Neighborhood and the Land of Make-Believe puppets: YouTube clip on Learning found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mKzw3eetPI&feature=related  (Nothing too fancy here, but got to still love Mr. Rogers.)


-Finger Puppeteer: Lejo, found at http://www.lejo.nl/    (The students responded well to this one).  Click on ENGLISH and then VIDEOS once the page loads.


Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlJ0jBjdRhE   (We discussed ventriloquism here.)


Handspring Puppet Company and "Warhorse" found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7u6N-cSWtY




.....next part of the lesson is how to construct a puppet.

Part II: Overview of Lessons

            Lesson 1: Creative Writing/Story Development: Though in elementary school, students will one day half to think about a future career.  I will use this as a way to get the students engaged and thinking about future job opportunities in some kind of creative field. The connecting idea for Lesson 1 will be to think about their future jobs.  Perhaps a student would want to be a writer/author, a movie director, script writer, poet or journalist.  Students will use creative writing as a way to "see" what that job might be like in some cases will also help in their current writing skills that can be used in other current classes. 

            Lesson 2: Set Design:  Students will again look at possible future job fields.  Perhaps they would want to be an architect, furniture designer, interior decorator, landscape artist or work at a theme park.  It is a good way to also talk about creating 3-D art for props. Currently, students can connect this idea to help them in other classes and projects they may encounter.  For example, students may want to help with the school play stage crew or design a small habitat in a shoe box for a science project.  Creating a set design is much different than just drawing it on paper.

            Lesson 3: Puppet Design/Character Development/ Play Practice: Students will look at potential future careers.  Students will the connecting idea that someday they may want to have a job as an actor, ventriloquist, animator, robotics designer, cartoonist, or public speaker.  All of these can be tied to puppet design/character development activities where students can "speak" through another form.  It will also help get over the fear of speaking in front of other people/classmates.  Currently, students may have to stand up and recite a poem, give a book report, or act in a school play in front of their peers.  This activity could help them get ready for such an occasion.

            A well rounded education involves a lot of different information.  I will first tap the student's memory about past information they may have learned.  Once I know the good foundation of past knowledge involving the topics of the lessons, I will begin to review old information and introduce new.  Students can give examples of where they have seen or heard of the topics.  When have they ever done creative writing? Have they ever seen a live play or puppet performance?  Have they ever built a fort or decorated a tree house of pretended one object was some kind of prop during recess?  

            At the beginning of each lesson I will introduce the topics by showing a video clip from an educational source.  This could be in the form of websites like TeacherTube, Online school district's archives or from an approved DVD collection that coincides with the art textbooks.  Students will look at items such as where puppets originated from and their purpose.  Students will learn cultural connections to puppets and reasons why they were used.  Students will look at some other famous story tellers such as Jim Henson, Charles Shultz and Walt Disney.  Art Criticism and Art Aesthetics will take place after the final play.  Since I never want negative comments towards another student's artwork during a critique, students will critique themselves by telling one thing they liked about the lessons and also one thing they would change about their puppets if they had the chance.  For Art Aesthetics, student will explain why they chose a particular medium to work with while creating the puppets or a prop.

            Art production is problem solving.  Decision making happens during the entire process.  How much blue should a student mix with white to get the perfect tint of the sky in the background of the set design?  How will students make 3-D props?  What would work best? Cardboard? Paper Mache? Plaster of Paris gauze draped over an existing object? This is where students can explore some options and can ask me questions when they are not sure of something.


            Lesson 1 will consist of students working in groups and coming up with a script for a predetermined problem and solution of a possible story provided by myself.  Students can decide how or what will take place and how the characters will interact throughout the story.  Characters and dialogue can be kept simple.  Students will learn some key parts to a story such as beginning, middle, end, main event, introduction and conclusion. Students will ultimately learn collaboration within the group to achieve a common goal.


            During lesson 2, students will use their script to decide what the setting of the story would look like.  Students will again keep it simple and limit their change of scenery to 1 to 2 changes.  Each student will also be responsible for making 1 prop to be used in the story.  Students will learn about 2-D and 3-D work.  Also, students will learn about perspective rules as well as foreground, middle ground and background properties, horizon line and mixing of tints and shades to show atmospheric perspective.


            During Lesson 3, students will develop their characters in the form of a puppet by using a variety of media.  Students will learn to add features to their puppet to make it unique and give the character a name.  Students will also learn to cooperate in a group and to work together to have nice flow for their play.  Students will learn to help each other and share ideas that will help make their short story puppet play successful.




Students will solve several art making problems throughout the unit by questioning themselves as to what media would work the best for the construction of their puppet.  Students can explore several options before deciding on a way to make the puppet and props for the play.  I will provide several example of how to make simple props out of recycled items such as cardboard tubes, construction paper and other found items.


Due to time restraints of only seeing the students once per week for 50 minutes, students will be asked to keep the puppets, props and set designs simple, yet effective.  The script for the play must be school appropriate and cannot use foul language or weapons that would not be permitted in schools.


                  If students would rather type their script out on a computer, students could then type their script during computer class with the assistance and permission from the computer teacher. 


                  Students will look at examples of puppet shows from around the world as well as the lives and influence of some famous story tellers such as Walt Disney, Mister Rogers, Jim Henson, and Charles Shultz, to name a few.  Students will view pictures of early puppets as well as some advanced puppets that they may see today.


 Students will tie what they learn from this unit into other classes.  Math skills, Writing vocabulary, spelling/grammar, music (if there is singing in the play), and computers (if they type the script) will all be used for these lessons.


Students will use paper, pencils, erasers, rulers, construction paper, plaster of paris, old clean socks, buttons, yarn, glue, sharpie markers, paintbrushes, paint, scissors, felt, glitter, small paper bags, cardboard and other found objects that can be used to enhance their puppet, props or set can/may be used with prior teacher permission.  Should any requests be made for a particular item, I will do my best to provide it for students or they may have to bring it from home. 



UNIT TITLE:  Beginning Puppetry and Storytelling


My idea is to have students learn about the history and cultural ties to puppetry.  Students will creatively write an educational or entertaining skit/story.  My goal is to have this skit/story be told through student-made puppets and be supported by the creation of a set where the story will take place

LESSON NUMBER: 3 of 3 in the Unit

LESSON TITLE: Puppet Construction and Development


TIME ALLOTMENT: 3-4 class periods of 50 minutes each.

LESSON SUMMARY: After working in groups to write a script for a short story and making appropriate sets and props for their play, students will work individually to create a puppet for their group's play.  Students will have a choice of either a finger puppet, sock puppet or small paper bag puppet to make for their play.  After brief demonstrations by the teacher on simple ways to make puppets, students will begin with the supplies available.  Students can experiment before making a final decision.  After creating their puppets, students will have a chance to practice with their group, using their puppets, props and sets to get the timing and flow right before the performance.  Students should be able to practice with their group until they don't have any mistakes for at least 3 times in a row before they will perform for their classmates.  Students will critique themselves once all plays are over on how well their group did, what they liked about their puppet and also name one thing they would change about their puppet if they were given the chance.

ARTWORKS, ARTISTS and/or ARTIFACTS: (i.e., motivation, inspiration)

            Students will look at examples of puppet shows from around the world as well as the lives and influence of some famous story tellers such as Walt Disney, Mister Rogers, Jim Henson, and Charles Shultz, to name a few.  Students will view pictures of early puppets as well as some advanced puppets that they may see today.

Key Concepts Addressed in this lesson: Students will create a puppet in one of three ways.  1) Sock Puppet 2) Finger Puppet or 3) Small Brown Paper Bag Puppet.

Essential Questions Addressed in this lesson: (from the original list in unit overview)

STANDARDS: Art Production 9.1.5 A,B,C, D, E, F, G, H   Art Aesthetics 9.3.5 D  Art Criticism 9.4.5 E, F, G


Students will tie what they learn from this unit into other classes.  Math skills, Writing vocabulary, spelling/grammar, music (if there is singing in the play), and computers (if they type the script) will all be used for these lessons.



LESSON OBJECTIVES: Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of puppet making through art production of a puppet that will be used in a class written play.

Students will demonstrate an understanding by following directions and using materials properly.

· Knowledge: Students may tend to use vocabulary they learned in previous lessons while working on their puppet.  Students transfer of knowledge should be evident in how they use the teacher demonstrations as a way to start and finish their project successfully.

· Skills: Previously learned art skills should be used while creating the puppets.  The teacher can review and skill the student may need to know.

· Dispositions:  If the teacher sees a student not using the materials properly or not following directions, the student will be redirected as needed.



· Students will be given a rubric prior to the lesson and will have a checklist as to what shall be completed in a timely manner.

· Did students follow directions set forth by the teacher? Did students create a puppet that will help in the success of the group's play?

· Students will be graded on completion of puppet, craftsmanship of puppet, and creativity of puppet.

·   Each day a goal will be set for completion.  The teacher will decide if students need more time in order to have a successful final outcome of the puppet and play.  If additional time is needed, students may use recess time or other time provided by the teacher.



1. Teacher Research and Preparation: The teacher will have all supplies and examples ready prior to students coming into the room.   The teacher will practice several techniques on puppet making prior to showing the students.  The teacher will preview any possible examples (photos of puppets, or video examples) prior to show the students.

2. Teaching Resources:

Teacher Tube, Art Textbooks, School District's website with links to appropriate outside sources, posters of examples, actual puppet examples.

3. Student Supplies:

 Students will use paper, pencils, erasers, rulers, construction paper, plaster of paris, old clean socks, buttons, yarn, glue, sharpie markers, paintbrushes, paint, scissors, felt, glitter, small paper bags, cardboard and other found objects that can be used to enhance their puppet, props or set can/may be used with prior teacher permission.  Should any requests be made for a particular item, I will do my best to provide it for students or they may have to bring it from home.













Unit Title: Beginning Puppetry and Storytelling (Grades 3-5)

Enduring Idea:  When I was a child I learned through the use of puppets such as those on "Sesame Street".  I was entertained through puppets on the "Muppet Show".  My idea is to have students learn about the history and cultural ties to puppetry.  Students will creatively write an educational or entertaining skit/story.  My goal is to have this skit/story be told through student-made puppets and be supported by the creation of a set where the story will take place.

Key Concepts about the Enduring Idea:  Students will have to think about the following:

Story Telling- what will I write about? Students will write a short skit with dialogue between 2 or more puppets.  Students may choose to entertain by telling a series of jokes, riddles or poems.

Set Design: Working together, students will plan and design their own backdrops for the "stage" where their stories will take place.  A stage crew/set crew will help with the design of props as well.

Puppet making: Students can create puppets in 1 of 3 ways.  Students will use 1)finger, 2)paper bag, or 3) Sock puppets.


Key Concepts about Contemporary Art as Public Pedagogy: Key concepts to be used will be culture, semiotics, intertextuality, collaboration, public pedagogy, and contemporary art.


Essential Questions:  Students will need to think about setting, plot, characters, and important dialogue between characters.  Students who choose to write a script for several characters, should think about a single simple problem that needs to be resolved by the end of the story.  How will the story end?  What will the characters do?  How will they interact?  Will you have a special voice for your puppet to make it believable? Will the story or skit be Funny? Sad? Informative? Entertaining? Fact or Fiction?


Rationale:  It is important for students to understand puppetry and the different cultures throughout history.  Not only will students use art production in the making of a puppet, but will also spend some time using some creative writing skills.  Students will have to work together for the puppet show to be a success.  This show how great teamwork and cooperation can be beneficial in reaching a common goal.

Unit Objectives:

Some big things I want my students to understand and have come experience with are:

  1. Creative writing- Students will be able to write an original skit/story or tell a series of jokes/riddles or poems (depending of grade level).
  2. Set Design- Students will be able to plan and create simple backdrops and props used for the puppet shows that help tell the story/skit written.
  3. Puppet Production:  Students will be able to create a simple puppet in the form of a finger puppet, a paper bag puppet or a sock puppet with a variety of supporting materials.


PA State Art Standards: Art Production 9.1.5 A,B,C, D, E, F, G, H.   Art History 9.2.5 A, C, D, E, F, G.  Art Aesthetics 9.3.5  Art Criticism 9.4.5


End of Unit Assessment:  Assessment will be done by the art teacher and students will be graded on craftsmanship of puppets, creativity of writing and set design and also completion of the project/participation.

Evidence: Students will have the opportunity to show what they have learned through a final puppet show with their groups. Evidence of a good understanding will be shown through cooperation, flow and comprehension of storytelling. 

Rubric/Levels/Criteria: A checklist during each day of work leading up to the puppet show will placed on the tables for each student of things they need to include.  They can keep track by checking off with a pencil once they have completed it.  Students will also have daily class reminders of their objective/goals for the day.  Students will be evaluated on the scale of O = Outstanding, P=Proficient for grade level, B=Basic and BB=Below Basic.

Blog 8: Performance Art & Performed Networks of Relations

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The following ideas were developed to be taught in an upper elementary art room for grades 3-5.

Using March's story as a springboard for an idea, I took her approach of having 2 different people describe what they see at the same time from different points of view.   I thought about how much my students like to draw self portraits. They are comfortable with drawing themselves because if they "mess up" it's no big deal usually.   They look at themselves in individual mirrors and draw what they see.  At that time they are only concentrating on their own features.  But, how often do they get to draw other students? Students will work in groups of 2 and sit directly across from each other.  A list of interview questions will be given to each student.  Students will find out about each other with questions such as their favorite food, place to visit, sports team, color, animal and future career.  Once this information is collected, students will begin to draw each with as much detail as possible at the same time.  They can approach this like a caricature in that students can exaggerate features in a polite way.  As they draw each other, they are not to share any ideas with one another. Students will add several items gathered from the interview to incorporate into the drawing. An example of this would be a portrait of a student with added features such as making the person have on a Mickey Mouse ears hat (for their favorite place),  while also wearing a football jersey of their favorite team (Steelers), with a police badge pinned to their shirt (future career).  Students will share their "view" of the other person and will discuss how accurate the drawing is as well as explain to each other why they chose the added features.

Using Rodney's story of the unpleasant view of the dead squirrel in a public place, I thought about how students would view this if they came across it themselves.  What expression would be on their faces?  Perhaps a scream?  Students will use Edvard Munch's painting of "The Scream" as a way to show this expression.  Students will recreate the painting's background with the appropriate colors. They will also draw in the bridge but will leave out the area of the person screaming as well as the background figures.  Students will then pose for the digital camera and pictures will be printed out in a smaller scale so that their pictures can be cut out and glued down in the area of the person screaming.  Students will try out their best scream or surprised expression for the photo.   The background figures will be replaced with their own object (perhaps a dead squirrel, pollution/environmental issues, an alien, a monster, etc).  Students will then write a short paragraph describing what it was that made them feel uncomfortable enough to "scream" in their picture.

Using Stephanie's story of the ways that her life was interrupted by "lanterns in a bedroom, a maze on a floor, and a brick wall in a hallway", I will have my students use the school hallways in an art scavenger hunt using art history clues.  Students in other classes will create the "clues" for some examples so that other students can find their way through the "maze" created by obstacles in our hallways.  For example, to replace the lanterns suggested by Stephanie, students will create mobiles that will hang from the ceiling or doorways throughout the school.   The brick wall in the hallways will be replaced with large abstract paper sculptures.  Also, several hints could be left on large painted murals on paper that are hanging on walls.  Perhaps one item from a famous artwork could be a clue that would the lead to the next item. (Like a Van Gogh Sunflower, or a Matisse paper cut-out collage).  Students would start with a clue in the art room that will lead them to another somewhere in the school.  Students will use the clues in the mobiles, murals and paper sculptures to navigate through the maze of the hallways.  Students can work in teams and could be timed or could collect certain clues at each artwork to bring back with them to the finish line.  In the end, whichever team did it the fastest or collected the most clues in a set amount of time would get the prize.  It would be a neat way to review some art history that was taught during the year.

Blog Entry 7: Making Visible

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Pigeon:  "It's 6 a.m.  I am hungry.  A friend of mine should be here soon to feed me.  He's been coming here for years.  He seems rather lonely. I think I will just sit here on this old wooden park bench and wait awhile.  I hope he brings me and my friends some of that stale bread from his kitchen.  It's the best! I usually try to get here early so that the blue jays and black birds don't take it all.  Ah, this old park bench.  It's been through a lot. Sometimes my bird buddies fly over and leave their mark from up above.  Hey, there's my friend! He's coming down the sidewalk now with is cane in hand. I can see that plastic bag full of breakfast!"

Elderly Man:  "It's 7 a.m.  My body just doesn't work like it used to.  I had trouble sleeping again last night. I thought about her a lot.  Seems like just yesterday we'd come here and sit on that old park bench and feed the birds.  Speaking of that park bench, my knees hurt and I need to sit down.  Ahh, that feels better giving these old bones a rest. I remember when this was all trees back when I was a kid.  It's amazing how much has changed in the last 75 years.  The world seems so fast now.  Or maybe it is just me slowing down.  Either way I still enjoy coming here.  I don't know what I would do if I had no place to sit and rest awhile.  The Dr. says I need to take a walk everyday, but I sometimes just need to rest a bit before heading back home.  Here little birdie, have some of this. Sorry I was a little late.  Do you mind sharing this bench with me?"

Young Mother:  "It's 10 a.m.  My 4 year old keeps me busy, but I wouldn't change it for anything.  I am glad my husband has a good job and can provide enough for us that I am able to stay home and raise our child.  I have been bringing him to our little park since he was 2.  He loves it. I don't know what I will feel when he is in school next year.  I wonder if this old park bench will miss us?  After all, we sit her several days a week.  We read books, eat a snack and sing songs while sitting on this bench.  It's become a part of our routine. Well I suppose he wants to go play on the slide.  I don't think he'll mind if I sit here and watch."

Grounds Crew:  "It's 12 noon and time for lunch.  I have been taking care of this old park for the last 10 years.  I started off just mowing the grass, but since that gazebo was put in several years ago and the kid's play area last year, we've had to hire new help to trim the bushes, plant the flowers, rake the leaves and maintain the play area to make sure it's safe for the children.  Hey, what do you know?  Lunch time already?  I think I'll just take a rest here on this bench. I wonder what the wife packed me today?  I am a big guy.  Sometimes I am afraid this bench won't hold me.  One time I got a splinter from it.  I wonder if that is its way of telling me to find another place to sit.  Ha! Peanut Butter and Jelly!  My wife does love me!  Well, I better get back to work.  After all I still got to pull those weeds around the sidewalk before school lets out and this place is covered with teenagers.  See you in a few days Mr. Bench."

Teenagers:  "It's 3 p.m.   Every day I walk her home. Today I think I'll take her through the park.  She is supposed to meet me here soon. I may as well just sit here on this old bench and wait. I am hoping to ask her to the dance.  She's my best friend.  We'll be off to college next year.  Sometimes we sit her on this bench and talk about our future.  What will be like when we graduate?  What will our careers be like? I remember when we were in 1st grade together and we used to have recess over at the swing set.  It was an older set of swings that was here when our parents attended school here across the street.  Look how nice that slide is!  Too bad I am too big to fit down that slide. Anyway, here she comes now......wish me luck."

Child"It's 5 p.m.  I am 8 years old.  Playtime at the park! The only problem is I am stuck here on this stupid old bench for the next 10 minutes.  It wasn't even my fault.  My sister tripped me first.  Dad just didn't see it. Dad told me to be nice to girls, but she tripped me FIRST!  I always get caught and have to sit in time out.  I guess it is better than standing in time out, or leaning on that tree in time out, or sitting on the ground in time out.  Dad says I have to sit here to think about what I did wrong.  We come here just about every day after he gets home from work.  He's a good dad. The only problem is that my yucky sister has to come too.  Look at her over there smiling at me and Dad doesn't even see it.  Hey! Did you see that?  She just stuck her tongue out at me!  If only this bench could talk it could tell Dad all about it.  Oh well."

Newly Weds:  "It's 7 p.m.  We try to take a walk just about every night.  We sometimes stop at the local convenience store and grab a quick fountain drink with 2 straws and a snack sit here on this bench and share it and talk about out work day.  We like to come to this park because we got married in that gazebo over there.  It was built about 5 years ago, but we were told we were the first to ever get married in it last summer.  Remember that Dear?  We had a blast with our family and friends.  Wasn't it your Uncle Larry that fell asleep on this bench after the Chicken Dance?  I think we got some good pictures of him.  Seems like just yesterday we were in that gazebo dancing the night away.  Wow how time flies.  Well, it's getting dark and we still got do the dishes and take out the trash.  We better get going.  We'll be back tomorrow. Do you want the rest of this popcorn or should I leave it for the birds?"

Pigeon:  It's 8 p.m.  Hey, it's me again.  Sometimes I come back here in the evening to see if I can find some dinner.  Hey! Popcorn....perfect!  See you in the morning old bench. Save a spot for the older gentleman.

Blog Entry 6: Critical Public Art Pedagogy

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Critical Public Art Pedagogy: Urban Omnibus "Geological City"

            I was very interested in the Urban Omnibus Geological City project found at, http://urbanomnibus.net/2010/12/geologic-city/ ,that I started to think how I could get my students involved in something artistic, yet good for the Earth as well.  I was reading the website's Geological City by Elizabeth Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse and was particularly interested in what they had to say about what happens to all the recycled materials that is not recycled and just put into landfills.  What would it look like after we as humans are all gone?  The thought of this struck me and I had the urge to become even "Greener" than I was yesterday when it came to recycling empty household containers. 

I was drawn to the following paragraphs in the REMIXED GEOLOGICAL STRATA OF THE FUTURE section of their explanation.

 Ellsworth and Kruse say, "In October, we took a public tour of the Fresh Kills landfill. We found ourselves standing on a grassy mound, elevated to almost 200 feet by the pile of trash beneath us. As long as funding continues, a park three times the size of Central Park will be completed there by 2036. The "hills" that create the foundation of the proposed recreation area stand in sharp contrast to the schist foundation of Central Park. Because Freshkills Park is being constructed on a foundation of garbage -- 53 years worth of city trash to be exact -- the site is unsuitable for heavy construction (such as that required for the once-considered wind farm). So, the park will offer light-use activities such as mountain biking and trail running.

Within the hills, one human-made "geologic stratum" enfolds another as the mounded garbage layer is capped and contained by a layer of impermeable plastic. Beneath the plastic cap, the environment is airless, or anaerobic. That means a discarded hot dog will remain preserved, as is, for decades beyond our individual lifetimes. Plastic garbage, which is inorganic, will never decompose here or anywhere. It will merely break down into smaller and smaller bits of itself. Which led us to think that, in 2,000 years, Freshkills Park might be known as a geologically rich site for discovering concentrations of plastic, not so dissimilar to today's concentrations of coal, uranium or oil (2010)."

I started thinking of how I could get my students to be more aware of what they don't recycle.  I thought about sharing this part of the article with them build a small sculptural piece that could then be put on display to encourage others to reuse or recycle material so that they could be turned into other things, even artwork.

Even though I teach elementary students, here's what I've come up with for upper middle school through high school student for an art project(s).  We'll focus on 3 contemporary art concepts such as appropriation, collaboration and public pedagogy as we make our sculptures with our recycled materials.


Objective: Students, in groups of 2 or 3, will be able to create a sculpture by using recycled materials such as cardboard, plastic bottles and paper products. 

 Art History:  For influence, students will look at several art sculptures from past and current artists that have done similar work in using recycled materials for making 3-D art.  Students may choose to replicate a sculpture using appropriation in art by perhaps choosing a famous 2-D artwork and making parts of it or certain focal points of the artwork into a 3-D sculpture. Appropriation will be used as a way to recreate a famous artwork using found objects.  An example of this could be using recycled cardboard to create a sculpture of a famous 2D artwork, thus, making the original artwork into something new.

Art Production:  Using collaboration, students will work in assigned groups of 2 or 3 to collect reusable plastic, cardboard or paper products to build and art sculpture.  Students will brainstorm ideas and get approval for the sculpture and submit a sketch prior to building and collecting the materials.  Students should collaborate on an idea so that there are similar interests for the group and should share the responsibilities of building the sculpture so that a common outcome for the project is reached.

Art Criticism: Students will engage in a critique once the sculptures are completed. Perhaps students could then take a shot at naming the sculpture and see which ones are the most popular of the groups.

Art Aesthetics:  How pleasing are the finished pieces and how can we display them to the public?  Where would be a good place to view them? Perhaps a good place to view them would be a place where the public could be educated about how important it is to recycle items when it is appropriate.  We'll use public pedagogy here to influence society and to educate them on ways and reasons to recycle. The sculptures could be showcased in front of large backdrop with  pictures of a landfill or polluted areas.  A statistics sheet showing how long it takes for items to decompose, if at all, could be available for people as well as tips for those who would want more information.


Some websites you may want to check out to get an idea of what I was thinking of as a way to influence my students:



Blog 5: Public Pedagogy: Politicizing the Personal

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Blog Entry 4: Contemporary Art Concepts

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Meshes in the Afternoon

---Code switching: body to object---Since it was a silent film and there was no conversation, I believe the code switching from body to object was meant to tell the viewer a message.  The audience can't listen to the conversation or changes is dialect so the objects turn into different objects  (much like a change in language) so that the view can get a hint of what is going on.  I found it interesting that several changes of the same object mean different things each time it changed depending on what was happening in the film at that moment.  I can also see where perhaps the characters roles switch, for example, the man mimics the dark figure walking up the stairs and to the bedroom.  Is the dark figure and the man the same person?  Or different?  I think this can also be seen as reversal of subjects to objects.

---Double coding : Key and knife--- for these particular repeating items in the film, double coding takes place when the key and knife convey many meanings simultaneously.  For example the key turns into the knife while in the woman's hands while sitting at the table.  I see the key as a way to "unlock" or "find a way out of" a bad situation. Was the knife her "way out"? 

---Subversion of Normalcy: To ruin how things are under normal circumstances. This film was odd to me. It was a bit creepy and the music made me feel as if she was in a nightmare of some kind.   

---Hypersignification of domestic objects: (with extreme close-ups, slow zooms, camera angles, space constriction).  Many of these appeared throughout the film.  Most likely it was to get the viewer's attention.  The extreme close up of the woman's eye made me believe she had either died or was falling into a deep sleep.  Camera angles played a big role also in that sometimes it was from the woman's point of view (as if she was holding the camera). Other times it was clear that she was watching as if she herself was a viewer. 


---My thoughts and interpretation on this film:  In Maya Deren' 1943 film, Meshes of the Afternoon, I get the sense that she is trapped in some sort of bad relationship.  Perhaps it is an abusive relationship that she can't get out of.   The arm at the beginning of the film that places the flower down reminds me of someone baiting a trap as if to capture or lure something or someone into a place that the shouldn't be in. I believe that the dark figure represents death as well as the man who is abusing her in some way.  I was convinced of this when the man did the exact same thing when walking up the steps to the bedroom as the dark figure did previously.  Plus, the reflection of the man's face appears in the mirror in the bedroom.   I think the phone off the hook is a symbol of she wants to tell someone the situation, but no one is listening.  


 Contemporary Art Form:  Land Art or Earth Art

I have always been interested in landscaping and I see it as a form or art in that you can use colors of different items such as dyed mulch, flowers, shrubs, rocks, gravel, etc. to create an inviting place.  Some artist took it a step further in the 1970's and transformed huge areas into works of art that in most cases, could be seen the best from an airplane.

Something to consider would be to "investigate community themes" where perhaps the artwork could enhance the surroundings of the land and at the same time benefit the people living there as a sort of attraction.  Sometimes the community members living where the Earth Art would be placed, can have a hand in building the art as well as implementing specific ideas for their community or culture.earthar_helign_mudmn_lg.jpg

Mud Man sculpture in The Lost Gardens of Heligan of Cornwall, England.


                                             Extending An Invitation


To: Rachel Carson, an American writer of nature, marine biologist and ecologist




 In the 1950s, Carson, concerned about extended use of synthetic, chemical pesticides, voiced her opinion to wildlife conservation and the environmental problems that were occurring.   She "courageously spoke out to remind us that we are a vulnerable part of the natural world subject to the same damage as the rest of the ecosystem. Testifying before Congress in 1963, Carson called for new policies to protect human health and the environment (Lear, 2000)." One of her most famous books, Silent Spring, brought environmental concerns to the American public for the first time.  This book helped to change the national pesticide policy, which eventually led to a nationwide ban on certain pesticides.   "In Silent Spring, she challenged the practices of agricultural scientists and the government, and called for a change in the way humankind viewed the natural world (Lear)."  


In the 1940s, she had become concerned about the use of synthetic pesticides, many of which had been developed through the military during and after WWII.  Rachel spoke up at a time when most females probably wouldn't.  In my opinion, perhaps Rachel paved the way for more women to go into science related fields. Through her findings and research, she not only helped women, but men , children  and animals as well.  If it wasn't for Rachel's concern for human, animal and environmental safety concerns, we would probably not have the Environmental Protection Agency.

 Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter, after her death in 1964.

 "Her legacy to this and future generations is guided by her environmental ethic:

  • Live in harmony with nature
  • Preserve and learn from natural places
  • Minimize the impact of man-made chemicals on natural systems of the world
  • Consider the implications of human activities on the global web of life (Rachel Carson Homestead Association, 2006)."


Nominator :                               Steve Izzo


On Rachel Carson's placemat, I would have a simple image of the earth in shades of green and blue representing the ground and water which she helped protect.  For her plate, I would also make it in the shape of a birds nest.  The plate would have two handle-like branches representing trees or leaves of the environment. 




Images from Google.




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