Patterns and STEAM Workshop for the October 18 NHAE Conference (Part 3 of 4)

Once the students are somewhat familiar with the basic principles of patten design, I try to offer many opportunities for them to explore and expand on its applications.

Here you can see how eight and nine year olds improvised patterned frames around their owl drawings. The drawings themselves had been produced using photographs for references together with a step by step line drawing demonstration at the board. These youngsters had been working on their contour drawing skills since second grade.

Here are samples from 3rd Grade Students who’ve been challenged to add a patterned frame to their watercolor paintings of squirrels. Since they’ve also been learning about the focusing power of frames, they’ve chosen a colored construction paper background and glued their watercolor to its center (exercising their perceptual judgement of visual relationships). After all this, they paint or draw the additional patterning effects.

Here you can see how 6th Graders, who have been studying Kehinde Wiley’s work continue developing their skills with pattern deployment in conjunction with more figurative challenges related to the depiction of animals of the Northeast Forest Biome (clearly a STEAM topic on its own).

Here we show some of the Second Graders work with weaving as a form of concrete pattern building combined with a decorative pattern overlay that emphasizes the overall sense of rhythm. This project allows students to develop their capacity for creating a sustained design (a task that entails lots of fine motor skill coordination as well as challenges to executive functioning). Because these designs are actually imagined by the student and incorporated into a work of art that’s intriguing and shareable, the skills can be acquired in a way that’s not aversive and rote. Almost all of the art the students produce is displayed for the rest of the learning community to view / admire and / or sent home for families to enjoy.

Here are examples of patterning being transferred to a three dimensional challenge for May Baskets (a project usually offered to second graders).

The following is a cumulative project where students 4th grade and above can apply their patterning skills (using round reed, flat reed, and optional yarn or ribbon) to produce their own small baskets.

Here is a fifth grade project based on a study of ceramic patterns from Portugal, Guatemala and Pre-Contact Native American designs from the Southwestern United States. Here, one of the many challenges is to apply patterns with regard for radial symmetry along rims. Not all students choose to do this but some in this sample have.

Here’s yet another set of examples showing how Third graders continue applying and elaborating their pattern studies by exploring patterns based on double axis symmetries combined with varied materials, textures and colors. The central image is an an Italian textile motif from the 14th Century. This has been a very popular Valentine’s project over the years.

In a similar way, demonstrating learning about science, math, and physics, etc. by creating artistically rich projects allows students to consolidate and share learning in imaginative and unique ways while avoiding the tedium of filling in narrowly constructed answers on an electronic screen or in a workbook viewed only by the teacher.