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Friday, January 14, 2011

Martin Luther King Day

One of our great American heros who has his own national holiday on Monday  is Martin Luther King, Jr. Every year I read the kids in my classroom a non-fiction big book . It  has pictures depicting the civil rights movement in black and white photos, taken during the time of  King's peaceful protest era.



It is always amazing to me that the kids are shocked by the unfairness they see in actual primary source photos of the time. When I show them the pictures of "colored bathroom only" signs in the book, or the "blacks sit to the back of the bus" signs, and I ask them, "Do you guys think this is fair?" they always will unitedly chorus in the negative.


Rosa Parks being arrested and fingerprinted for
not giving up her seat on the bus to a white man
 The book has pictures of the police using firehoses or dogs on people they think are "out of order" and women shouting at black kids entering the first southern desegregated schools. Nobody in my first grade class thinks these things are right. It still amazes me that adults of that time thought they were.


So I think this little bit of history is important to share. To get kids as young as six thinking about ways to protest things they don't like, in a peaceful, yet effective way is a good thing. Especially in this era of lawsuits and bullying, and crazy violence.  For kids to see that there are lots of things in this world, run by adults, that still are not fair is important, in my opinion. And to show them that one calm, but focused voice, can help create change. And even kids as young as six can see the differences between things right and things wrong.

So we do a portrait of Dr. King and put it on the bulletin board along with writing projects by the students about  what their "dreams" for the world would be.  It's always funny to see things like: "I dream that there will be no more bad guys"....and stuff like that.  But it's good to get kids to synthesize what they learn in a new way. So I do it for that reason.  Hey, world peace isn't just for the Miss America Pageant you know!

These portraits always turn out really resembling Dr. King.  The key is to model each and every step and explain as you go. Some of them turn out a little comical, like a Mr. Potato Head, but others are really artistic and well done. I can always spot my budding artists by January of each new year. Anyway,  Here is how I do it:

Using 11 x 13 white paper I have them draw a brown  oval, potato shape (not that I'm trying for potato heads!) right in the middle of the page, leaving about 3 inches blank at the top and bottom of the page. I do it first on the board on my own paper, then they follow me. It is a totally directed drawing lesson.

We memorize this poem and recite it in pairs at week's end

Then, right in the middle of the oval we draw a nose. I tell them start with a line and a c on the left side of the nose, then a line and a backwards c on the right side, then in the middle a loopy capital M shape, or 2 pointy mountain shapes together. We talk about balance in art and putting things in a balanced way on the page, like a nose in the middle of a face. My husband said I should put the eyes in the middle of the face. He took more drawing classes than I. I'll have to try that next year.

Then I talk about perspective and how the eyes should be halfway between the nose and the forehead and the mouth should be halfway between the nose and the chin. We do the mouth next. We are still working with a brown crayon.  It is really in the shape of kissing lips. I tell them do 2 hills for the top of the mouth, and a very flat and wide U shape for the bottom of the mouth. Then fill it in with a line across the midde.  We lightly color that in with brown and add a little pink.

On either side of the head and horizontal with the nose draw 2, small ears, small capital C shape on the left, backwards C shape on the right. Inside each ear, draw kind of a question mark on either side. (backwards on the left ear)


Next halfway between the nose and forehead but about an inch lower towards the nose we do 2 eyes. We switch crayon colors to black.  The eyes look round so do a top lid with a wide half circle. Then fill in a black circle under the wide half circle top lid and color it in stopping with a little tiny white circle in the middle. It will look like a pupil when we are done. Then do bushy black "caterpillar" looking eyebrows above each eye and a thinner, and straight, bushy black mustache above the mouth. Some of them forgot the mustache but I didn't catch it.

Then starting from the top left ear, we are drawing in the hair in small squiggly circles in a spiral around and around the outside edges of the head, stopping at the right ear. The squiggles should be only about 1/2 inch tall or thick. It will look like a very tight, short afro when you are done.

Next we will do his clothes. We will start with his white shirt and red tie. Still using black we go under his chin and draw a Capital W for the 2 points of a white shirt above the tie. Then under it we do a long V for the top of a knotted silk tie. Then draw a long, leaf shape for the bottom of the tie. Then I tell them to choose a red crayon and color it in red, or do red, white and blue stripes or polka dots in the 3 patriotic colors. The best looking is usually plain red. Then we draw the shoulders coming down and 2 lines for the sides of a blue suit jacket and color that in Navy Blue, very presidential! 


When we are about done, I ask the kids to print at the top in Blue or Black crayon or marker: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (I have to teach them what Jr. means, they always want to know). Then we draw a little American flag on a pole on one side of him, and a few little fireworks on the other side. I teach them to do the fireworks just starting with an X and then adding a few, longer criss crosses to the x.  I do them in red and blue. Sometimes we will do the fireworks with red and blue glitter glue.

 It ends up looking like this!  Super cute kid's art. Some years we do speech bubbles on white paper and I post the best 5 or 6 of them around the portraits. Then underneath we add our "Dream for the World".  It always turns out to be a nice, patriotic bulletin board for late January going into President's Day in early February.

Happy Birthday Dr. King! And thanks for making our world a better place, and for teaching us how one voice can change the world.

1 comment:

  1. please may i know the name of the book.

    ReplyDelete

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