Oh examples. Kids love them, I hate them. It seems like every time I make an example, I end up with a bunch of copycats and a bunch more meltdowns because their artwork doesn't look just like mine.
It's a struggle for me. On the one hand, I like the kids to have a visual to refer back to so I'm not bombarded with a million questions about what I've already explained. On the other hand, I'm not the kind of art teacher who likes a bunch of carbon copy artworks and the "mine's not perfect" fits are the bane of my existence.
So I decide based on the project. If my fourth graders are making collages about different kind of weather, they don't really need an example for that. But if my kindergarteners are drawing pigs for the first time, they need some sort of visual to rely on beyond just my verbal directions. (ps, here are my kindergartener pig drawings. I think they are freaking adorable.)
My first graders have been learning about Ben Franklin in their classroom. So I've taken advantage of that to teach about another famous inventor, Leonardo da Vinci. We've talked about both inventors and then about the process of inventing; first, you have to have a problem, next, you decide how to solve it, last, you draw the invention. I wanted my kids to include several things in their drawings that are better explained by visuals, rather than me just telling them, like notes and descriptions, the idea of motion, backgrounds, etc. So I made an example.
But instead of drawing a really nice drawing of an invention, I drew something that was just a little bit above most of their skill levels. That way, they still have something to strive for but it's not a constant comparison.
This project also works well for an example because each kid had to come up with his or her problem before I showed my example. And I was very clear from the beginning that no one could do the same invention as I did.
Every year, they blow me away with this project. I've never had kid not like this project. They all have problems they want to solve. This project really brings out their creativity. I'm constantly amazed by their crazy, creative inventions. When we're done with this project, I'm definitely going to post the finished products.
What about you? Do you make examples for your students? Or does it depend on the grade level and project? Do you have something that works better than an example of the finished product?