Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Silhouetted Objects Challenge

In preparation for making shadow puppets, which rely heavily on shape to communicate story and a sense of character, I had students in the 3rd and 4th grade think more about shape.  As a one-day challenge, I showed them a projected silhouette of a stapler and a scissor, which they were immediately able to identify "because of their shape" and because they are familiar with these objects.
We talked briefly about the word silhouette.  I really like silhouettes because, as stated by the artist Beatrice Coron, the language of silhouettes is efficient and gets down to the essential (qualities of something).

Art by Beatrice Coron who works in cut paper!
I then demonstrated the challenge I wanted the students to take on during class time.  
Each table group was given a baggie of words naming different objects such as bird, lamps, swing, etc.  
The challenge was for students to be able to cut out a shape or multiple shapes that communicated their chosen word so that it could be recognized without using any lines whatsoever. 

This is a horse and a suitcase by third graders in 207.

Once they found a shape(s) that communicated their word, they cut it out and glued it onto a cardboard "flash card". 
Each class now has a set of flash cards which we will discuss and play with during the next class. 

Fork and Lamp

Television, Shirt and Cherry

During this "challenge", students had to visualize the objects in their mind, as well as to think symbolically and consider what is essential to recognizing a particular object as a shape in order to successfully communicate their word.  

"Donut", "Butterfly" and "Swing"
Some words were challenging even for adults, and students struggled to figure out just how to do it without using any describing lines. 

For instance, your really do need a cut hole to communicate a donut!

Many of the students were extremely successful at communicating their word in silhouette.  I often got chills when I looked at their flash cards, thinking, wow they really got it! 

"Basketball" and "Lamp"

"Helicopter" and "Socks"

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