International Postcard Trade!

During my second placement in Australia I was able to create a unit exploring the types of texture artists’ use. This focus on texture later sparked an idea, which was to introduce a project where the 3/4 grade students at Trafalgar Primary would create trade postcards to send to my friend’s second grade students in Monona, Wisconsin. I contacted my friend Kelly and she was ecstatic about the idea. This gave me the opportunity to not only teach the art content knowledge but gave me the ability to collaborate with art educators globally. At Trafalgar Primary I taught students how to correctly portray texture in a two dimensional image as well as how to blend with colored pencils, and lastly how to break down complex images into simple shapes.

First we reviewed texture, prior to introducing the postcard project all 3rd and 4th grade classes learned about physical texture and visual texture. We learned about the similarities and differences through discussion. Next each child learned how to make each type of texture through a variety of different stations. Some stations asked students to mimic a rough, scaly or fluffy visual texture. At during these activities an image was provided that an artist had created. The task was to recreate the visual texture. Other stations asked that children observed the visual texture of a pompom and asked them to draw the soft light texture. Another station asked students to create a physical texture, students then created rubbings with a variety of physical textures.

After each child understood how to create texture I wanted to see their skills demonstrated in an artwork. I then introduced the international postcard trade. I explained to the students that would be focusing on animals native to Australia. These animals were the crocodile, echidna, koala, leafy frilled neck lizard, red kangaroo and the kookaburra. Together we discussed topics such as how these animals feel and what environments they might live in. The kookaburra for example has a very large head. We then looked at the complex photographs of several animals. I then explained how we would break those really difficult images into simple shapes. These simple shapes will help us create our animals. Students first were handed a slip of paper. This paper had a variety of different animals. Their first task was to break each animal down into simple shapes, circle, square, and rectangle. Then they had to choose which animal to post. They then traces their postcard and began their rough drafts. Each child’s rough draft had to demonstrate their understanding of using simple shapes and how to draw texture. After these were complete students could begin their final. When working on our finals concepts such as color blending and complex backgrounds were introduced. Together as a class we discussed how we could make the background interesting and stand out. This is when I elaborated on foreground, middle ground and background. We talked about how we could make different elements of our artworks look far away and how we could make them appear nice and close. Students were given two, 60 minute glass periods to create and finish their final drawings.

After all students finished their drawing it was time for the finishing touches. It was time to address our postcards and write our letters to the second graders in Wisconsin. This was a create opportunity to integrate reading and writing into the classroom. Each student was asked to write at least one fact about their animal and one fact about themselves on the back of their postcards. The students were so excited they didn’t have any trouble filling the space. Many students asked if they could write a longer letter and attach it. After each student wrote their rough draft and it had been reviewed and check by myself they were able to finish their final.

We are now in our finishing stages of the project, we have created a display with photocopies of the students’ cards and a three dimensional mailbox popping out of the wall. The students in Wisconsin will send over their cards just before Christmas and they will arrive shortly after the first week of school when Australia reconvenes for the New Year! The kids are excited for the new term to begin and cannot wait to see what they look like! Creating this display is a great way to involve each child and get them really excited for the upcoming year. My last week we will be creating a short film to say hello and tell the American students a little bit more about what we have learned in art class this term.

Reflecting on their project I feel that it has been a break way to not only create excitement in the school but a great opportunity to collaborate and bring others together. In the future I plan to continue to trade postcards or artworks with other schools throughout the world. I believe it is a great way to inspire and connect young artists and professionals everywhere!

Pictures coming Soon!


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