I did the math the other day and figured out that I probably teach somewhere around 130 different art projects every school year. As a K-8 art teacher, I draw inspiration from famous artists, online resources, art lessons I learned growing up, images from books, various techniques, and (of course) random ideas that pop into my head. This dragonfly quilt project was inspired by someone very dear to me….my grandma.
My grandma, JoAnn, suffered from ALS in the years before she passed away. People with ALS have loss of muscle strength and often have trouble breathing, swallowing, and speaking. My grandma quickly lost her ability to speak and communicated to us by writing on a small dry erase board. Another way she communicated was through her artwork. Her preferred method of creating art was quilting. The dragonfly quilt pictured above was one of her beautiful quilts that was passed down to me as a wedding gift.
I thought it would be fun to celebrate her creativity through an art lesson inspired by this dragonfly quilt. After all, my grandma was a teacher (math) for the majority of her life. Hopefully she looked down and smiled when she saw our kindergarteners making their own quilts like busy bees. Each students selected a bright sheet of construction paper and folded it hotdog style to establish a vertical center crease. Kindergarteners sketched their dragonflies along the crease by following these 5 steps. Once the sketches were done, we outlined our dragonflies in white chalk and reviewed some chalk pastel techniques. Chalk pastels are quite messy, but the easy blending and bright colors made them perfect for this project.
Once the dragonflies were colored in, kindergarteners traced their wings onto wax paper and cut them out. They glued their wax wing shapes on top of their real wings. This gave the dragonflies a more textured and dimensional effect. Some students waved their dragonflies around in the air, allowing their wings to lift up and flap!
The “quilting” was the fun part! We didn’t use real fabric because it would weigh down the paper. Instead, I gathered some stacks of old scrap paper and cut them into tiny squares. Each table of kindergarteners got a stack of squares to sort through. It was fun to see which scraps the little artists selected to arrange around the edge of their pieces.
This was a very special project and a job well done.