Middle school student art projects can be prepared in one day. For the purposes of evaluation, it maybe easier to tie together your projects over a period of time. This age group works well in partners and is learning to develop their own voice. Activities for this age group include drama and improvisation, portraiture, nature collages and mask making.
Instruct students to create their masks according to the time of year, or a specific cultural event. Examples for mask-making are African or Egyptian masks, Mardi Gras masks, Chinese dragon masks and Native American masks. Show students examples from each culture.
To begin mask-making, assign partners. Construct face masks using plaster of paris, gauze or newspaper strips and vaseline. One partner lays still as the other applies vaseline to the face, and dry gauze over the eyes. Mix plaster of paris, water and gauzes or strips of newsprint. The wet strips will form to the face into a mask. Remove mask about ten minutes after the last application of wet plastered material. Painting and decorating masks can be finished a few hours after drying. This project can tie into an improvisation project or theater activities.
Give a quick lecture to the students about the history and portraiture. Use examples like Impressionist artists, Carte de Postal and contemporary photographer Annie Leibovitz. Assign partners and instruct the students to draw each other based on a story about their life. Students can use biographical information about famous figures or create their own character.
Provide examples such as "I am a famous athlete", or "I am a jazz musician". One student provides details for the student artist to develop for the portrait. The artist must question the subject to discover what things belong in the portrait. Everyone has the opportunity to have their portrait drawn. Allow students to present and share the life-story of the subject. This activity can be adapted into a guessing game about famous celebrities.
Weather permitting, take the students out for a walk, and give them each a bag to collect things to use in their natural diorama. Tell the students there will not be any talking during the walk. The activity of collecting should support reflection. Leaves, sticks, flowers, stones and sand can be glued or placed on cardboard for this art project. Themes like poetry, haiku, seasons and weather can be discussed and shared during presentation. Ask students to draw conclusions about why they choose what they use.
This activity works to brainstorm for drawing, painting and other dramatic events. Ask the group of students to generate a storyline together. One student should write key details of the story on a chalkboard or newsprint. Pick two students to act out a scene. One is assigned as the protagonist, the other the antagonist. After a few different scenes have been improvised, incorporate other characters. Students can be given other art assignments related to their favorite storyline or characters.
- Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images