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Weaving into Gyotaku printing with Kindergarten

After many years of trying to figure out a successful project with Gyotaku prints I finally discovered one that I love!!! This was such a hit with my kindergarten students, we will for sure be doing it again next year. This was a three day project in 40 minute classperiods.

On the first day students got to learn the art of Gyotaku printing. I started class by sharing this great youtube video of a contemporary artists. At the tables were out rubber fish that I purchased from Nasco. Next to the fish was black tempered paint in a tray with foam rollers. Students spent the day walking around the room and printing all different kinds of fish. Many of the fish the kids were able to identify, especially if they could be found in the waters of Wisconsin.

During the first day students had to make at least four prints. A few of the big rules for the day were to not pick up the fish, the fish had to stay glued to the tables. students had to wait their turn to print the fish.

Step 1: Cover fish with black paint using foam roller

Step 2: Place paper over top of fish with name facing up (I used a light weight drawing paper)

Step 3: Make sure to give your fish a real good message

When students were done they placed all their fish on one piece of cardboard into the drying rack.

The only rough part of this day is the clean up. I always end up with an entire sink full of fish, which is something I never thought I would find in the art room sink.

On the second day we start class by talking about what its like to swim underwater and what happens when we dive down deep into the water. I then introduce students to the concept of value. I demonstrate to students how to make a value scale of blue by adding white to get a light blue at the top of my paper, which would be the where the water would be lighter. As students paint the rest of their paper they work on slowly getting their blue darker and darker. After creating their value scale for the water students then can add bubbles by printing bubble wrap onto their water. The last step for the day was to add seagrass and any other details they might find underwater. On this day I also like to have a youtube video of an aquarium playing while kids work.

On the last day of this project I pre-cut seaweed out of 12X18 green construction paper. Students then start by glueing that to the bottom of their underwater seen. Students choose 2-3 fish to weave into their seaweed. This is the first time students have been introduced to weaving so we spend quite a bit of time talking about what weaving is. I also like to start the class by reading students Mr. Seahorse by Eric Carle which had great examples of how different fish can hide into their surroundings just like their fish will be hiding into the seaweed. Students loved this project and were so proud of their finished product. I was even lucky enough to plan this project right around the opening of fishing in Wisconsin, talk about a win.

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