The Sixth Grade Student
Characteristics of Sixth Graders:
- Know everything, or think they do, but still quite open to new experiences
- Are interested in learning about artists, why their work looks the way it does, what contemporary artists are doing; have begun to form a real opinion on certain kinds of art and artists
- Experience dramatic mood swings because of physical and emotional changes; seek peer approval
- Have a short attention span at times
- Display a preadolescent interest in music, language, videos, movies, television
- Often prefer being by themselves, independent of adults
- Respond positively, and are proud to see their work on display
What Sixth Graders can do with materials and technology:
- Drawing Media: use charcoal, pencil, pastel, or oil pastel; draw an object from observation; apply tip or side of media firmly or softly
- Clay: sculpture a bust; make boxes; do slab or coil construction
- Paint: mix colors in all paint media; overlap and smoothly blend colors
- Ink: control ink wash; make line drawings
- Paper: create a sculpture; use three-dimensional forms; make origami folds
- Fiber arts: use batik; print; create tie-dye; tie simple knots; wrap; weave; do beading; stitch; use appliqué
- Sculpture materials: use assemblage; use papier mache; make a cardboard relief; sculpt with paper or pulp; use found materials; cut paper
- Printmaking: make a monoprint, a collagraph, or a string print
- Technology: create different kinds of lines using general computer software; take digital photographs or use a disposable camera
Suggestions for teaching Sixth Graders:
- Base as many projects as you can on self (self-portrait, human form). Have them create realistic portrait.
- Help develop abstract thinking through giving several different three-dimensional projects.
- Help students be able to look at a work and identify into which of the following categories it most logically fits: reality, expressing feelings, elements and principles, and serving a purpose.
- Conduct aesthetic discussions about nonrealistic works of art. Talk about how different coulters have different ideas about what is beautiful . Students may respond negatively to unfamiliar artwork from other cultures or time periods because of their personal experiences or what their friends may think.
- Take them outside the classroom to draw houses, buildings, people, cars, playground equipment.
- Help them progress sufficiently in their art skills so they will want to continue learning, rather than concluding that because they may not draw realistically, they are not “artists”.
- Find out what they know and understand about art and artists; have ongoing discussions about the influence of society on the type of art that is created and the place of the artist in society.
- Interest them in art from other cultures and trying their hand at similar projects.
- Introduce them to making posters, teaching the use of balance, space, and emphasis.
- Motivate through encouraging fantasy art or depicting imaginative experiences; they should be very interested in Surrealism.
- Make handmade books to be used for journals.
Sixth Grade content connections:
- Language Arts: art journals; poetry related to artworks; literature from other cultures; oral directions. Have students research and make a visual report on the life of an artist, then present it orally to the class.
Have one person describe a work of art to the class, which the others may not see. They are to draw what they think it looks like based on what they hear.
- Mathematics: measuring; geometric figures; scale drawing; rations and proportions; fractions; area; volume; perimeter.
Have students draw a floor plan of their room or home to scale.
Have them “enlarge a masterpiece.” They can use a magazine photo or postcard, with the ratio one quarter inch equals two feet.
- Music: jazz, orchestral theater, classical and contemporary music; musical vocation.
Have students select music and art from the same culture, then compare them and find similarities and differences.
- Science: weather; geology; climate; natural resources; magnetism; nuclear energy; human organisms; genes and chromosomes; substance abuse; aviation; space exploration.
This is the perfect age for biological information about the human organism. Students can draw their own hand or foot from direct observation.
Have them cut a piece of blue or black construction paper into eight small pieces. They can use chalk to draw cumulous, stratus, cirrus, and nimbus clouds. They should glue each small piece onto a piece of paper, identify it, give the altitude at which it is generally found, and describe the appearance (example: fluffy storm clouds).
- Social Studies: the ancient world; current events; environmental concerns; animal rights; their county’s heritage.
Students can learn to identify the characteristics of works from Greece, Rome, Egypt, or or locations in Africa or Asia. They can compare and contrast similar works from two entirely different cultures, discussing theme or cultural context.
Have them study African empires, dividing research on agriculture, arts.