To all my fellow teachers, you will understand when I say that this was performed on a day that required… well, flexibility. All sorts of stuff kept modifying my plans and I had to make spontaneous changes. I think I’d been keeping Mondrian in my back pocket to teach a lesson on complimentary colours, but I realized I could adapt it to a less constrained lesson playing with basic shapes, lines, and colour choices.

The students were very hyped this day due to special events and some sweet treats given at lunch. Yikes! It’s always nice to treat the kids, but sugar kicks in fast and resolves very slowly, so they were hard to get in a listening mode. I used my trick of just sitting in front of them quietly and they started telling each other that I was waiting to start the next activity. They quieted themselves. Then without instruction, I got some helpers to pass out materials: white mixed-media paper (14″ x 17″), rulers, and crayons. I gave no instruction before or after the video other than saying this “art challenge” is about shapes and colours, and I want to see only straight lines. I asked that they keep their composition mysterious. I didn’t invite questions. I started the video: “Easy Mondrian Drawing for Kids” and sat back. I gave the briefest introduction of vocabulary to explain that minimalism allows for leaving blank spaces. (Usually emphasize that I don’t want white spaces in their works… mostly motivate participation from the fast “I’m finished” students.)

During the making, there were lots of question about design choices, but I left the answers as minimalist as the activity: “Maybe, try and see what happens, but remember to stick to strait lines.” For a few, I would get close and whisper suggestions about composition, adding a level of conspiracy to the mystery composition.

They had only 40 minutes for this today and I wasn’t sure they would have time for a sharing session, as we did this in last period. They must have sensed my concern about time, as they worked quieter than usual. We did the sharing the next morning for those who still wanted and it was about observation and guessing what was in the drawings.

Here are the results:

4 thoughts on “A Grade One Experiencing of Minimalism & Mondrian

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