Presidential Image MakingTuesday, March 7, 2017


As the Presidential campaigns heated up last fall, Patchogue-Medford Grade 4 teachers asked their students: “What Presidents Helped to Shape the United States?” The students were learning about the different US Presidents and preparing for a live performance of Rock the Presidents with Childsplay. To enrich the learning experience, the classroom teachers collaborated with specialty teachers as well as teaching artist Lucienne Pereira.


The arts-integrated project began with the fourth graders researching and then choosing a President to focus on. They wrote the President’s biography with help from the classroom teacher and librarian. At the same time, Ms. Pereira began a five-session residency with the students. In the first session, she explained that the students would be creating a portrait of their chosen President. She discussed artistic portraitures. “I asked the students what Presidential qualities would they like to express in their portraits,” she said. 


The teaching artist also introduced mix media painting and showed examples of painting with words and collage. She used a self-portrait as an example (below). 



In the subsequent sessions, the students began their portraits by selecting a shape for the face, choosing one that most closely resembled the President. Using Chester A. Arthur (below) as an example, Ms. Pereira modeled how to draw a portrait on the classroom's white board. She established the eye line and determined the placement of the nose with another line. As she did so, students mirrored her demonstration at their desks.



Next, the students had to decide on the shape of the eyes—ie, big, small, round, oval. After demonstrating on the white board, the teaching artist moved from table to table, providing assistance to the students. Because students were working in pairs, Ms. Pereira stressed the importance of sharing the drawing.



The teaching artist addressed other facial features, such as the mouth and facial hair. She modeled each feature on the whiteboard. She reminded the students to sketch lightly so that they could make corrections.




After the students had completed their sketches, Ms. Pereira discussed drawing words on the portraits. She took a sketch she’d done of James Madison (above) and wrote his name over an eyebrow. She asked for suggestions from the students. They provided many creative ideas, such as life and family information. She stressed the importance of choosing information that was pertinent to portrait. At the end of each session, Ms. Pereira congratulated the students on a job well done.


For the final session, the students added color to their portraits (below).



Here are a few of the fabulous final portraits of Presidents created by the fourth graders…








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