Mrs. Johnston

Travel with Mrs. Johnston's art class on a trip around the world with art!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ni Hao, Konnichiwa: Exploring the Art of Asia

The following pieces were from my presentation at the Ohio Art Education Conference this past weekend. I presented on the art of Asia with a colleague of mine from my school district.  I mostly shared lessons from China.  I became very interested in the various holidays, cultural traditions, and customs over the course of my three grant on art around the world. This was furthered by the presence of several students from China attending our school while their parents went to University of Akron. 

 First grade students studied tangram. We discussed various geometric shapes and looked at various tangram puzzles.  After doing so students were given tangram shapes cut out of origami paper(for added interest) They had to come up with their own animal using all of the shapes. The above student created a horse. Pieces were glued onto black paper and eyes were added to finish off the project. The classroom teachers are still telling students to put away tangram pieces they have stashed in their desks. An indication to me the project was a hit.

These two projects are from holidays celebrated in China, Dragon Boat Festival and Lantern Festival ( a part of the larger Chinese New Year) We read books from a series of books called celebrating Lantern Festival and Celebrating Dragon Boat Festival. The Dragon Boat project is second grade. It combines several different techniques including watercolor resist for the dragons, painted paper torn into pieces for the waves, and recycled plastic bags for another wave over the boat. The boats were popped out using tabs of cardboard glued behind the boats.  The Lantern project was first grade.  The frame is made from three tongue depressors and three popsicle sticks.  The glowing light is a wet on wet watercolor paper glued behind the frame. Scrap from the watercolor paper is fringed and used for the tassel.

 I was inspired for this project by a post on pinterest about the Blue Willow Tree China pattern. I got the Willow Tree poem and introduced it to students.  They chose two parts of the poem to illustrate on their cheapy paper plates.  We practiced mixing tints and shades of blue for the painting portion. I love how these turned out!

 This is my fifth graders version of the Terra Cotta Army discovered by Chinese farmers in 1974. Over 7,000 life size terra cotta soldiers dressed in full military attire and in military formation had been hiding beneathe the earth for thousands of years. We discussed the history behind these soldiers and created our own using terra cotta sculpey clay. This allowed us to use both additive and subtractive techniques. Collectively they look like one of the formations found in one of the pits in China.

The last three projects you see are Asian Kites, Lucky Crickets, and Sushi. The kites are third grade. We read a book called The Best Winds and looked at various kites from China. We also discussed the various military and religious uses for kites in Asian history.  Students had to use symmetry and the primary colors for this project.  The crickets were created from painted paper. They were created by my kindergartners at the end of last school year. The cricket is a symbol of good luck in China and is traditionally kept in little cages to bring good luck to the household. If you look at my previous post you can see information on our sushi.  These were created by third graders last year.


  1. Wonderful ideas! I have found that my students get really excited about art projects based on another culture. Learning about faraway places is exciting for everyone!


  2. Thanks from one Jessica to another :)