February has been full of activity! Between the start of the month kicking off with the Philadelphia Eagles finally winning the Super Bowl, some Valentine's fun, and the Winter Olympics... it has been a little crazy in the art room!
I have just recently started experimenting with creating instructional videos in art class... so much fun! The students have always really responded well to any type of guided video, so I decided it was time to make a few of my own.
Yesterday, all of my classes had a clay day. Kindergarten made bird's nests and the first grade made dragons. Below are some student examples of bird's nests...
I had created two separate videos to explain the approach. You can view them both here...
This has really helped further engage the students through the process of making art and allowed me to circulate around the room to help students during each step.
Below are a few more highlights from the month of February in the art room...
For this blog post, I wanted to share something non-art related that I have been into for the past few years!
My best friend since Kindergarten, Allison, introduced me to canning three years ago and I have made some odd fifty or so things in jars ever since. I’ve read a few books, and blogs, and closely follow local Philly canner Marisa McCellan (www.foodinjars.com) for her endless tips and inspiration.
Canning and preserving is a lot like making art. You gather ingredients in any point in time, put them together in interesting ways, create something (hopefully special) and give it away. It is time frozen, and often when you open that jar a few months later, it’s like a memory unlocks itself yet again.
The joy of making these things is so calming and relaxing, I feel like it closely matches the feeling of making art. I do have much to learn on the process as well as building more confidence in myself to deviate from the recipes, but one thing is certain. I am running out of cabinet space!
To end with a little art project update, the Kindergarten students have started a beautiful project inspired by the author, Lois Elhert. First graders are finishing up some wintry artworks with birds and beginning a typography project inspired by Jasper Johns. Here are some examples in progress:
Well, the season of pumpkins is rapidly coming coming to a close! Ahead of Thanksgiving, I am already seeing signs and symbols of fall fade away and switch on to winter mode!
Some of my first grade students are tackling a moonlit pumpkin project that I have seen on a number of blogs and art teacher posts. This is typically a second or third grade project by most accounts, but I wanted to give it a try with my first grade classes to challenge them.
Boy, did they rise to the challenge! This project tackles concepts of value, color mixing, collage and space all in one project. It should be broken down into three classes.
The first week, I have them draw pumpkins and we discussed value (highlight and shadow). We practiced on dry erase boards, and drew some rough contour line drawings of pumpkins. We took those sketches to black paper and drew in white oil pastel and colorized in chalk pastel, with emphasis on highlight and shadow.
The following week, we painted the moonlit background. We drew a horizon line for the field and a circle for the moon. After, we introduced white for the moon and gradually added more blue paint to paint various tints of blue, and painted a halo over the moon. As we got a bit darker, we started adding black to the paint to fill in the remaining night sky.
Following the sky, we mixed orange with navy blue to make a nice brown color for the field. Background complete!
The last week was all about composition and collage.
We talked about how in a landscape, objects appear larger in the foreground and smaller in the background. They placed their biggest pumpkins in the front, as well as showing overlapping. When everything was cut and arranged, we glued down the pumpkins and finished with drawing leaves and vines.
So very proud of these fall beauties! Have a look!
This month in the Art room has been jam packed! Students have been busily finishing their Square One artworks in mid October, which focused on a variety of different themes.. line, geometric shapes, heart designs/collages, fall trees, and owls.
Here is a sampling of a few SQ 1 artworks...
At the end of October in Kindergarten, we wrapped some line paintings from early October and gave them a Halloween twist by turning them into funky monster and ghoul collages! They loved getting an intro into cutting and collage with this project, and of course, letting their imaginations go to work!
We begin the first week with painting a variety of different lines using black paint. I have them draw their lines first, then trace with black paint. Before we create, I show them a great video called, "The Line Movie." You can view it here:
The second week, we focus on color and color mixing. The students begin colorizing in oil pastel or crayon, then do a resist on top with a water based paint (either pan or liquid watercolor.)
You can see the finished results here...
During the last week of the project, we focused strongly on honing in on our cutting and collaging skills! Students made eyes, mouth, horns, hair, and more to finish their collage and turn their monsters/ghouls into something truly fantastic!
To begin November, we will be starting a stained glass fall leaf project for Kindergarten, and finishing up some fall-themed artwork in First Grade!
Enfield artists are just starting to get back into the swing of school! I welcomed students back in mid-September with a wonderful art initiative inspired by author/illustrator Peter Reynolds, who wrote, "The Dot." This book talks a lot about having creative courage and perseverance.. all things that are necessary as an artist! The students enjoyed creating a small dot artwork that incorporated many elements of design.
Take a look at some student samples here:
We have also been spending a great bit of time establishing and reestablishing classroom routines, as I have introduced some new things in the art room. This year, I have started "art stars" as a way to reward positive behavior and allow students to help with the art demo, clean-up, and anything else for the good of the artists/art room.
Also, I painted shapes on the demo table so the students have a specific spot to stand, and a chance to engage more in art critiques.
This week, we are beginning artworks for our Square One art fundraiser that will be wrapping up in two weeks. At the end of the month, I will be starting some leafy and spooky projects for sure! 🎃👻
This first week of May has been a busy one! We had our Art show and Spring concert (Festival of the Arts) on Wednesday while also celebrating our visiting artist, Jenna Price! Jenna is a woodworking artist that creates awesome creations out of wood, both large and small. Her work can be found at www.honeybadgerwoodworks.com/
Jenna made a class wooden birdhouse with the students, from concept to completion. The project took two weeks to complete, in which the students made imaginative sketches of what they envisioned a birdhouse would look like, to which Jenna took their ideas and meshed them together into a completed
The second week, the students measured, sanded, and painted various parts and pieces of the birdhouse, while practicing hammering, sawing (yes!!!) and drilling (more yes!!!!). This was a tall task to the K/1 set, and they really loved the hands-on process of building something from concept to completion!
Below is a gallery of the final birdhouses on the day of the Art show...
Onward to the Art show! This year's theme was "Elements.. earth/air/fire/water", a broad theme that encompassed a variety of different artworks, mediums, and materials. I was really inspired this year by a lot of work that I saw this year at the NAEA conference as well as some ideas from fellow art ed bloggers.
Take a look at the artwork below!
I love to inspire the students with contemporary artists, as well as old masters, so that they remember the new and the old! As I reflect on this year's show, I tried to let go of some traditional notions of what art show artwork should look like, as some of the artworks favor abstraction over representation, which more closely followed the artist's style, process, and technique. My favorites are the big, scribbly paintings that were inspired by kinesthetic artist, Heather Hansen. They also remind me of one of my favorite artists, Cy Twombly. I also enjoyed introducing some of my students to Yayoi Kusama, which inspired the large dot paintings.
Even though art show season is crazy busy time of year, it is the time of year I most look forward to. I get so excited to see what other art teachers are doing.. we are able to connect to each other and share these experiences. I think we all find way to push each other harder and push the boundaries of what the students can do. I am looking forward to seeing what next year brings :)
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to visit New York (thank you SDST!!!) for the National Art Education Association's National Conference.
This experience was a first for me.. I have been wanting to go to this conference for a very, very long time, but the distance and logistics of going was always an issue.
As an elementary art teacher, I often long for a chance to talk (in person!) with other art teachers, as it you can sometimes feel isolated at your own school. I try to reach other to other teachers online and through social media and blogging, but it is never the same as having meaningful discussions with creative people in person!
This place was brimming with activity (obviously, it's NYC!) and there were unlimited chances to meet other art teachers, share ideas, and generally just be inspired and motivated to find ways to better engage art students and create unique works of art.
My three main goals of attending where to meet other art teachers that inspire me, connect with familiar colleagues, and discuss new art lessons/art materials that will continue to breathe new life into my current art curriculum. Mission accomplished!
I attended a two sessions lead by my favorite art teachers/bloggers (of course they were crazy packed!) and reconnected the UArts gang from graduate school.
This session was jam packed, and focused on teaching Folk Art- lead by art teachers Cassie Stephens, Laura Lohman, Ginger Pacer, and Jennifer Alvarado. There I am near the doors, on the floor, making friends with a trash can! This was one of my favorite sessions of the conference- so many great elementary project ideas.
In addition to attending sessions, I walked around the convention spaces, viewed some incredible student work, and tested out some fun, new art materials. I even sat down for a bit (hard to find the time!) and created a ceramic artwork on a tile, used a scratch out method, glaze on glaze technique from the AMACO booth. Mostly, I just discovered a lot of materials that I may need to consider for the students for next year :)
During the off times, I had the chance to explore the city a bit. It has been a few years for me, so I visited the MoMA first (one of my favorite museums). I wanted to create a little virtual tour for my students when I returned, so I snapped a few pictures of the pieces I love the most!
That night, my family joined me, and we had a chance to explore the rest of the city, while I squeezed in some of the last moments of the conference here and there. Of course, we did typical tourist things.. and also spent a lot of time using the subway and figuring out where we were!
The last session I attended, was an "elementary carousel of learning", which allowed art teachers to have roundtable discussions about current contemporary artists. This is so important, because sometimes I feel that as art teachers, we spend a lot of time talking about old masters and non-living artists, and forget about the ones that are "alive and kicking!" Here are some of the highlights of this final session..
Overall, NAEA weekend proved to be such a memorable, art-filled, fun, exhausting (!!) experience. It leaves me feeling reenergized, excited and hopeful for what comes next in the art room :)
In January, we have wrapped up some wintry projects that carried over in December and have begun some abstract art projects that span the latter part of January for Kindergarten.
Kandinsky is the perfect introduction to abstract art, as his work as beautiful as it is varied and diverse. It leads itself to simplicity and bright colors, which brightens these dreary winter days!
The students begin with a square piece of paper, which can be folded in half twice to create a smaller 4 x 4 grid. We draw on the fold lines to bring focus to the grid blocks.
I cut out a lot of smaller squares in various colors to use for the circle cut outs. We discuss various ways to cut circles by rounding the edges, folding the paper and symmetrically cutting, and using circle tracers (a glue stick cap is a great example!
When they begin stacking the circles, make sure there is good contrast between colors and that the circles continue diminishing in size. By the end, they are circle cutting pros!
Once all the blocks are filled up with concentric circle cut outs, we discuss how to enhance our collage with drawing and paint. I give them really small 6 color paint trays and we do lines, dabs, dashes of paint to further enhance. Some of the students do a little marker drawing ahead of the paint.
This is a simple and fun project that stresses cutting, color theory, and design- a great intro to more abstract approach to art making.
This week, the Kindergarten students are starting a Mondrian inspired project and the First Grade is doing a African Kente Collage- more to come in February 💕
For many years in December, I have had the kindergarten students at my school create a small found object assemblage of a house. It has been a favorite of mine, as it ties a lot of art concepts together, symmetry, color, shape, collage, and much more. Most of all, the students get to let loose a little, as it becomes a kitchen sink project, where they can throw lots of different materials together, and just have some fun.
I often see their personalities shine through in these houses, some are very structured and ordered, where others feel more scattered and playful.
It starts in the beginning of the school year. As most art teachers do, we save all the cardboard boxes from our art supply order- as it means as added material for sculpture or whatever!
I spend a good deal of time cutting up these boxes into varying shapes- rectangles, squares, and triangles.. to construct the house shape and use for details such as windows and doors.
Also, I gather materials, recycled or a mix of art materials that are small, and lend themselves for embellishments (buttons, gems, pipe cleaners, beads, and fiber scraps). I also use a great material called "bits o wood" which I get from Nasco. This stuff is so much fun for little hands.
The first class, we discuss the word, "assemblage" and how it is similar to collage, only more 3-dimensional. If time permits, sometimes I show the work of Louise Nevelson, Robert Rauschenberg, and other artists that explored assemblage.
We begin assembling and gluing our houses together, starting with the rectangle for the base, then a triangle for the roof. I have them come up by their table color to pick out further materials for embellishment, and then they are off!
A word on glue. I have tried using both Elmers squeeze bottles (which mercifully clog all the time not matter what you do!) and glue pots with small brushes.. glue pots are the better choice for little ones. The time that you spend unclogging glue is not worth the trouble and unless they are gluing with some kind of creative meaning, it's not worth the trouble!
I also try to encourage students to bring in a few novel materials from home (I always get some incredible stuff here ;) to personalize their house.
We complete the houses the following week and discuss paint and color mixing. I have started using puck tempera recently which feels like very powerful watercolor, only more opaque. It allows students to mix and layer the color more deliberately and allows for more immediate results.
When the houses dry, I glue on a ribbon and button to the back of the project so it can hang. Lots of hot glue is needed for this, and in general, I have the hot glue flowing throughout the entire project, as it is needed in the event that anything falls off during the process.
Please check out some finished houses from this week!
November is the time of year that begin some Native American art inspired lessons in Kindergarten. The students are already getting an introduction to Native American history in the classroom, so I try to create some connections in the art room.
We discuss petroglyphs, the symbols carved into rock by early Pueblo Indians. We also discuss their unique culture and heritage.
The students make a rock "drawing" use markers, chalk, and colorized using colored chalk and vine charcoal. I try to chose materials that encourage authenticity and simplicity. I suppose you could also use natural materials here- beet juice comes to mind for paint!
I use a ton of handouts that incorporate different symbols to meanings. The students have great fun picking out symbols to use in their drawings and make up their own as well. I find that little hands do well with this symbols, most are very basic to draw and really build confidence as they work through the artwork. We discuss how these early artists communicated their ideas through symbol making, and how we also use symbols in the modern world.
You can use painted paper for just about anything- I tend to use it for backgrounds and collage. The painted paper serves as a backdrop for the line collage and eventual painting of lines and patterns. Below you will find a gallery that shows the process from beginning to end.
The students fold the paper in half and fringe the edges. Then, you will have a gigantic piles of assorted paper on each table, mixed in with some thinner strips of black. We discuss symmetry with the start of this project- the lines should reflect each other to show unity... keep adding on! They can certainly cut into the lines to make them smaller or layer them on top of wider lines.
They finish with brightly colored paint- lines, designs, patterns!
I can't take full credit for this project! I was inspired by another art ed blogger, Painted Paper, from her Mexican marketplace series! Go check her out at www.paintedpaperart.com
In first grade, we are tackling a favorite children's book, Cloudy with a chance of meatballs.
I loved this story growing up and it is indeed naturally motivating for the students to draw from their imaginations, and draw from things that they like (food!) and know (home!)
They draw the town that they live in, buildings, houses, storefronts... and it's raining down all of their favorite foods!
We finish using black marker (or china marker) outline, colorize with crayon or oil pastel, finish with a watercolor overlay. Whew!
I can't believe this month is winding down and the holidays are almost here! Lots in store for December ❄️
There is so much creative build up with Halloween. It is undoubtedly my favorite holiday. I start decorating around my house right after Labor Day. Usually, the ghouls and really scary stuff have to wait until the end of September, but it takes all my will power not to put everything out right away.
The same goes for school. The students are finishing up Square One Art in mid-October, and I am beyond ready to dive into some leafy, Octobery (is that a word?) projects- there is just too much good stuff to pick from here.
For kindergarten, we make some very traditional fall leaves to adorn the classrooms. This is a very old school project using tissue paper and mod podge- simple, creative, and a one day starter project.
For first grade, we typically begin with a fall leaf print project, a la Deep Space Sparkle- this project yields beautiful results and allows the students to explore texture, printing, and color mixing all at once. Here is the link to this fabulous project: www.deepspacesparkle.com/2015/10/01/fall-leaves/
Since I have so many kindergarten & first grade classes, I like to mix up projects and throw some new ones in there for a little variety. This year, I stumbled upon a similar project to try out, which incorporated spiderweb stencils.
That black stencil that you see above was purchased at Marshall's! Oh, how I love Marshall's! I have found so many cool and random art supplies there... among other things.
I decided to have the students use the stencil to create a repetitive web background for their eventual spider collage. The first class was devoted on making this painted paper background.
We started with a dark ground (black or blue worked best) and stamped with wide brushes- purple and gold- no brush washing needed! I encouraged students to just lightly dip the brush into the paint to dry brush the background in a swishing, stamping motion.
Then, we switched over to white paint (their brushes are already gold from the color order in which we painted) and placed the stencils down and lightly stamped in the holes.
As we were stamping, the students were crazy satisfied with themselves! This project is a real confidence builder for students that have challenges with fine motor skills. It was also equally relaxing, as most students were standing during the process, and able to release some energy while art making.
The next week, I began art with a story. Since we were making a spider collage, I read a really wonderful book on spiders. This was both interesting for young audiences and had a ton of science connections.
Once we finished the story, I briefly went over how to begin the collage. I had already pre-cut a ton of different squares, rectangles, and strips of solid/patterned paper for various spider bodies. It was up to them to round edges, and put their spiders together. I gave them some direction that their spider needed to have a head, body, eight legs, eyes (some of them made them scientifically correct!), and most of all... add some of their own creativity to it.
Overall, I am a little sad that October is almost over, but I am gearing up for November, which is usually the month where I do some literacy focused art projects- more to come on that later! Until next time... happy Halloween! 👻
For the past several years, I have started off the new school year doing a self portrait project for first grade. It has been a great way to provide a challenge for my students, while also serving as a confidence builder in the process.
We begin with a square piece of white paper... If you are using watercolor, then you can switch to watercolor paper.
Starting with the face, draw a U shape... add in the neck and shoulder lines next- use symmetry as an art vocabulary word while explaining!
Continue next steps, the facial features, starting with the nose... Use words such as boat bottom, tree trunk to describe the steps of the nose. Finish with the curved lines for the nostrils. Yes! Nostrils! The young ones always crack up when we make the nostrils.
Ensure that the nose is placed correctly a little farther then halfway down the page- this serves a reference point for all other facial features.
Next, we will work on the eyes... Warning!!! Most students will make giant circles for eyes, encourage that they are sized appropriately, and shaped like ovals or footballs. Start with the shape, then add the iris, pupils, and additional details.
Now, we tackle the mouth... After the eyes, this should be a little simpler. Start with two mountains and a valley, add a boat bottom, and draw a line in between. If they want to draw some nice toothy grins, make sure you widen the boat bottom line, and add details in between.
We are almost at the finish line now! It is usually now that I provide the students with mirrors so that they can depict more details... Ears, hair, glasses, freckles, the works!
We are about finished with one class period due now. In the final week, the students will outline their pencil sketches with black marker, and do an oil pastel resist with watercolor paint. I also encourage them to consider a nice background element to their portrait.
Check out some of these student works in progress!
Next week, we will finish last minute details, (as this project can carry over to three weeks) and have a final critique on their work!
For next time, I will be posting progress on our Square One Art fundraiser which is starting shortly!
I am currently cycling through some of my favorite art show projects of the year, which include a simple Rothko drawing/painting for Kindergarten and a Titanic watercolor painting for First Grade.
The art show theme this year was time travel, so I incorporated a ton of multicultural and art history projects with the students. It was, an undertaking... fun, exhausting, and exhilarating all at once. Here is a sampling of some of the projects from this year's show:
I found that the most successful projects favored abstraction and simplicity, and worked well with K/1 students from a developmental standpoint. Also, students loved the Star Wars Pompeii, and Titanic projects, because they are fascinating, cool spaces in history and pop culture that really need no motivation.
I have repeated the Rothko project with all of the Kindergarten classes... Not only is it an amazingly simple study of shape & color, but the students got their hands waay dirty with my go to art materials- chalk pastel and fluorescent paint!
After a brief discussion of Rothko, we begin drawing rectangles in varying sizes and configurations. Some of them got really carried away with this... More boxes, more shapes, I tried to let it go and not be too specific with how many boxes they made or if they incorporated other shapes... Exploration!
We discussed color theory a lot with this project... Contrast, warm/cool colors, complementary colors, gradient blends, you can really drill down how important color choices are with this project.
As as they completed the chalk pastel boxes, I had them finish with tempera paint... The brighter, the better. Again, the goal was to paint in between the boxes, but if some of the students paint over the boxes a little and it looks awesome... Why not?? What you will wind up with (if you give them a little wiggle room) if a class full of unique Rothko projects that each have their own personal footprint (or handprint I should say!)
It is worth noting that you can complete this project on one class period, or do an extension of this project the following week (see second picture below)
So, in a couple weeks the artwork will slowly come down and the school will look very empty. It's hard to believe that it will be the close of another school year and next year, a new group of Kindergarten students! I think this would be a perfect project for the beginning of the school year, which I would consider incorporating for next year.
This summer I plan to post ideas for new art projects, and progress on my own ceramics/paintings. I am looking forward to sunny summer days without rain! ☀️
This week we are wrapping up our Maker madness artworks that we made in the weeks before. I decided to turn the words into mini signs with wood blocks attached to them and paint patterns and designs with fluorescent tempera. Check these out, they are screaming with color and the students had quite a time making them!
Next up... It's spring break week! Before the break, we just started a new kindergarten project- Asian cherry blossom scrolls. This is a staple project that always yields beautiful results. There are many variations of this project too, and it can be modified to suit older students.
First, we discuss Asian Art and the different types of subject matter that are often incorporated into the artworks- nature, landscapes, animals, etc. I have a great book on Asian brush painting that I often pull examples from (notice there is paint all over it!)
So I typically use chalk pastel as a base for the painting- we use sunset colors and shade and blend the colors to form a nice yummy gradient. I always try to incorporate a couple of art buzz words into a lesson and then attach them to an art words board in my room. Some other buzz words for this lesson... Scroll and Chop
The students will have made quite a mess of themselves at this point with the pastels. Try to minimize the mess by encouraging them to blend the gradient with one or two fingers and not to touch their face (ha!) After the students have a good base of pastels, we stop and I demonstrate painting a cherry tree branch.
It's important that you show how important brushes speak to this type of painting, as well as other materials, such as ink and paper. In kindergarten, we don't use ink for obvious reasons but it is nice to share the process! We use some nice bamboo brushes to paint with, and watered down tempera paint , which seems to add a little authenticity.
When they paint the branches, start with a big one that has a nice, wide curve to it, and then add the smaller branches, Have them look outside of our a window to reference the curvature of the branches. Encourage overlapping and discourage "the caterpillar"... Which tends to look like one giant branch attached to stick-like tiny branches. If they want to paint some silhouettes of birds or nests, why not?
That is about all you will have time for in one class. The next week, we finished with collaged cherry blossoms textured with a bit of peach paint, and some painted bright green leaves. If you want, you can have them make a seal or chop or finish with some Chinese calligraphy. Enjoy!
What a glorious & creative day today. We had an fun event at the school today that promotes the idea of maker spaces and STEAM education. This is great for our little ones who need move around, and explore through creative play. The students rotated through different centers... Cardboard construction, Legos, Snap circuits, and an Art project (that's where I come in :)
Not much of an intro needed with this project- hardly a demo even. A few exemplars and a structured space with loads of different materials and you are good to go.
We began with each student writing a word wall word on a cut piece of cardboard- keep it simple, the words big and large.
The students then went crazy with embellishments... Found objects, art materials, the works. No intro needed... They went for it! I have never seen such focus, and creative energy. Here is a little taste of the process and a few pieces that were near completion.
In between classes, I took a peak at what the students were doing in the other maker spaces, and I was so proud of these creations...
These students had fifteen minutes at each station and it is remarkable to see what they accomplished in such a small timeframe!
Next week in art we will be taking our word wall words a little further- I am thinking of hitting these with a little fluorescent paint around the edges to brighten them up and then... display time!
Such a great experience for our youngest students and certainly a freedom based project which allows them to explore, create and just enjoy!