Friday, November 5, 2010

Watercolor Adventure

***Update for you: The class economy has been going super, super well since day 2. I knew it would. It just took us 24 hours to get over some sadness. It's really been awesome seeing my kids settle into their duties in the classroom, demand payment, complain when I tax or fine them, and question about inflation. It's been quite entertaining and such a cool approach to teaching these skills. I am really pleased with it.

Now on to.....Watercolor Adventure.

Fridays are a bit more strenuous for my kids. We do all of our assessments on Fridays: math assessment, science/social studies assessments, comprehension test over book of the week, comprehension assessment on a cold reading, phonics test, and spelling test. Whew. It's kind of nuts. I don't just gruel my students to death, I promise...I just want to use Monday-Thursday to teach and for my kids to learn, practice, rehearse the information, work with their hands, etc.

Usually on Fridays, if we finish all of our assessments for the day and do it well we get "Free Choice Friday." This is where the students can pretty much do anything permissible-- board games, playing teacher, free art, computer time, iPod touch time, etc. They really look forward to Free Choice Friday every week, and I know that after a long day they need it.

I decided today, however, to give them a mind-resting activity at the end of the morning assessments too. I had been feeling that our art activities have been a little lacking in modalities and excitement, so I told my students that if we finished our math, science, and social studies assessments/activities that we would have...da da da DA: Watercolor Friday. I had retrieved the watercolor materials from the art room yesterday and was really excited for my kids to get to paint a bit. I really enjoy seeing their artistic expression and freedom, and they also had been asking to paint sometime. I realize that I had been letting them cut, paste, glue, paper art, modeling clay, playdough, etc. but hadn't painted yet. It was time.

You really think you're prepared and overprepared and then things just happen, you know? Everyone I talked to today after Watercolor Friday was like, "Oh, wow, you're bold." or "Oh, wow, you're brave." It was completely worth my excited 18 little faces afterwards, but the "during" part of Watercolor Wednesday was just insanity. After teaching and going over watercolor skills, paintbrush dipping, water sharing, and the like, I had 18 little paintbrushes eager to dip into water and begin.

Colors began splashing on paper...and the desks...and their clothes...and the floor.
Water began dripping...on the paint...on the desks...on each other...and the floor.
Cups began tumping over...on their paintings...on the desks...on each other...and, namely, the floor.
Water was getting dirty and needed replenishing. Brushes were getting flattened. Colors were disappearing from tables. Friends were dripping their paint onto other friends' work. One student kept insisting he was messing up and needed another paper...4 times.

Clean up was epic. It actually went far smoother than I had expected...except that I suddenly realized I had no where to put these paintings. The students needed to clear them off the desks and tables so they could wipe those things down with clorox wipes. I had no hooks or anything to hang them. So, uh...just put them on the floor, in the back of the room, back...there.

Students were stepping on each other's paintings trying to dump water cups in the back sink and wash paint brushes. Chairs were accidentally finding themselves smushing art creations. One student of mine kept INSISTING his painting was dry (which, it seriously was not at all) and wanted to put it in his locker.

We did make it to lunch. We made it...and we survived Watercolor Friday. The carpet might have a new fun embellishments. But we did it.

*sings "We are the Champions" in my head*

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