We recently received a Donors Choose grant for an education set of 3Doodler pens. These pens allow you to design 3D sculptures. Think of them as hot glue guns that aren’t quite as hot and have more design control.
The education set is great because it comes with books of design ideas, multiple filament strands, 12 rechargeable pens, and several molds to use for creating pieces.
As soon as the pens arrived, I showed them to our art teacher and let her borrow one of the design books. We didn’t immediately plan a project because many times an idea will appear out of nowhere over time. That’s just what happened. One day I pulled some Carson Ellis books to show to a class and Home was at the top of the stack. Ms. Foretich started looking through the illustrations during BTV and her creative wheels started turning.
Before long, she came back to me with an idea for 5th grade. What if we explored the idea of home with our 5th graders and had them create a sculpture that symbolized what home meant for them? The sculpture would have multiple parts and multiple materials that would come together for one piece of art from each 5th grader. The 3D pens could be a tool that students used to create a part of three-dimensional sculpture. They would also use paper and cardboard along with other art materials. That’s where it started.
We booked multiple times on the library calendar for the project and Ms. Foretich made plans for work that would be done in the art room as well. This week, during art, 5th grade came to the library for the initial lesson. We wanted to use this time to look at Carson’s work as well as read Home.
We looked at a variety of art on her site and in her books.
Students made many noticings such as the mixture of dark and bright colors. They noticed how often times there is a bright color that seems to pop off the page. We also noticed that her work had an embroidered or handmade quality to it as well.
After reading Home, we watched a short video to see Carson’s actual home and hear a bit about the environments she put into the book.
This brought us to a discussion of the word “home”. Most students started by talking about a physical structure, but then Ms. Foretich asked them to think about what they missed when they weren’t at home. This brought many students to bring up things like smells, objects, people, foods, pets, and more. We referenced that in Carson’s video, she zoomed in to things like a fireplace, apples hanging from a tree, chickens strutting through the yard, and a guitar propped against the wall. Ms. Foretich told students she wanted them to stretch the idea of “home” to go beyond the physical structure.
Next, we gave students some planning and exploration time. We split the class in half. One half worked on brainstorming.
They made a list of possible things that represent home and then selected what they would focus on the most for the art piece. They also sketched their image as well as what part of the image they would use the 3Doodler for. This brainstorming step is a step students will continue in the art classroom because they only had enough time to begin their planning.
The other half of the students explored the 3Doodler pens. I showed them the basics of how they worked as well as some examples of things that could be made based on the instructions in the books. Each student got 1 strand of filament to experiment with. I encouraged them to try writing their name or making a cube. Some of them created their own designs as well. Since this was a tinkering session, they did not have to create anything specific. I wanted them to see the possibilities and the limitations of the pens so that they could do better planning back in the art room.
After about 10 minutes, each group switched so that students visited both areas.
We are so excited about the possibilities of this project and the many standards that it will include. I can’t wait to learn more about the students by seeing what represents home for each of them. We will continue to revisit the work of Carson Ellis as we go. Planning will continue in art as well as the creation of the paper and cardboard pieces of the sculpture. Students will return soon to begin working with the 3Doodler pens.
It’s always so much fun to collaborate with art. Ms. Foretich plans the most meaningful projects for our students and I can’t wait for them to get to showcase these in multiple ways at school and in our community.