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Friday, September 20, 2013

Optical Illusion Cubes

5th Grade Op Art

5th Grade Optical Illusion Cube with Parallel Lines and Crayon Shading

I love introducing my students to Optical Illusions!  They get really excited about it and so do I!  There are always some frustrating moments in the process for the kids, but they love the results and are amazed at what they are capable of in the end!  (Can you tell I get excited about this?  I just wrote three sentences in a row that ended in exclamation points and I'm pretty sure I could finish this post without the help of any other punctuation)

Not only do I love teaching Op Art, but I like to change up what lessons I go with for this unit.  This year, I found an amazing idea from another teacher and blogger and owe her a giant 'thank you' for the lesson, because it was different than what I had done before and it was great at getting the kids' motor skills and worked with math skills and vocabulary! I may have put my own spin on the lesson, but she was the idea-man woman.

We started by looking at various Optical Illusions that I had compiled into a PowerPoint.  It really gets the kids excited and it's so much fun to hear all of the "oohs" and "ahhs" among the "I can see it!  It's moving!" or "It's blinking at me!"  If you'd like a copy of my PowerPoint, give me your email and I can send it your way.  While we look at all of the amazing Op Art, I remind the students that nothing in the images is actually moving or blinking, that it is all just a careful combination of lines, pattern and color choice.

I showed them a finished example of what our Optical Illusion would look like and the kids couldn't believe they were going to make be able to make this.  But I assured them that they would do great, it just takes patience and understanding where to put certain lines and colors.  And I reminded them that I would help walk them through it and that I just wanted them to do the best that they could and that nothing is ever perfect.

I wanted to start them off with some simple ruler (as a straight edge) practice so that none of them would be criss-crossing their arms and struggling to make straight lines as well as reiterate some math vocab and recap on what a "parallel line" is.  I demonstrated the proper use of a ruler and asked them to draw some parallel lines on a  paper I provided them.  The sheet I gave them had three lines printed in various directions and I just asked that they use their ruler to draw at least one parallel line next to each of the three. This was just so I knew they really understood parallel lines (because with this lesson, I was going to refer to them a lot) and how to use a ruler as a straight edge.
Ruler and Parallel Line Practice Sheet

After our practice, we dove right into our own Op Art.  We broke down the finished version into simple shapes; one student proudly proclaimed "It's just a hexagon inside of a hexagon!" Of course he was correct and I was going to help them make those hexagons.  We started with a pre-made printed template I got from Artisan des Arts (blogger previously mentioned) and we got down to business! I don't normally use previously made templates like this, but I knew that the kids were going to be working hard with their rulers, parallel lines and angles, so this time, I made an exception.
Pre-made Template for Optical Illusion Cube

We started by making our small cube inside of the large hexagon using (what else) parallel lines!  I
walked the students through the steps and tried to remind them that they would not be perfect since were were "eyeballing" our parallel lines and kept pointing out that my example was also not perfect and the illusion still worked.  This was a concern the students continually had and I think that seeing me point out my flaws, helped put them at ease when they were struggling.

I took photos of the step by step process below.  I started by taking them individually but after a few, I started to combine the steps side by side for efficiency.  If you want any more details of the instruction that went along with them, let me know, I'd be happy to provide an instruction guide with the images.

Because this is a challenging lesson for 5th graders, I had them color their small cubes in to give them a break from dividing their sections up into thirds and drawing all of the parallel lines.  We colored the "top" section in the darkest with our crayons, medium shading on the right and lightest on the left.  We discussed how to get shades out of our crayon and I let the students decide if they wanted to color using a pattern (many of them chose checkerboard style) or just color at random like in my example.  I reminded them that for the optical illusion to work, it was just all about shading and it helped for them to use the same colors throughout the entire piece of artwork

Finishing the Coloring/Shading on our Op Art Cube

When they were finished coloring, I allowed the students to cut out their illusion and glue it to a sheet of construction paper...their color choice of course!  The results were amazing, they all had a sense of pride in their work and were amazed at what they came up with!  Through any frustrations they had with the rulers and making parallel lines, they were finally able to look past their imperfections and see the amazing piece of Op Art that they created.  Plus I was able to get my love for cross curricular lesson planning with the incorporated math (dividing lines into thirds, making parallel lines, color shading, optical illusions, what more could you ask for in a lesson?!).  

5th Grade Optical Illusion Cube with Parallel Lines and Crayon Shading

5th Grade Optical Illusion Cube with Parallel Lines and Crayon Shading

Being mindful of my shared bulletin strips and wall space in the halls, I created three different wall displays of the students' artwork. Two were displayed in the fifth grade hallway and one is located in the main hallway near the cafeteria...a chance for everyone to see what the fifth graders are up to!
5th Grade Optical Illusion Cube with Parallel Lines and Crayon Shading

5th Grade Optical Illusion Cube with Parallel Lines and Crayon Shading