Monday, April 28, 2014

Little Clay House Plaques

Still talking about those wonderful 3rd grade clay projects.  With the emphasis on slab and texture, I attempted to introduce one new idea each week and then students could choose to try to create it or something from previous weeks or something of their own design.  After view this post on Mr. E's blog.  I was inspired to have students create little houses.  They came out really well, thanks for the idea Mr. E!
Polka Dot house painted with Neon Tempera
This one has so much detail!
Love the pink door and two color roof
This is a personal favorite.  He went for the crayon and paint technique
The texture and detail really pops!

This is actually a wall pocket.  This student combined
 two techniques to create her own original idea.

Non-glaze effects for clay

I was checking out the latest outfit Cassie Stephens was sporting on her blog the other day and found her post about clay hearts that had been colored with crayons and then painted with watercolors.  I was inspired by her results and it got me thinking.  My third grade students worked with clay with an emphasis on slab and texture this year.  There are lots of challenges with glazing and firing a kiln full of slabs and I really didn't feel I had enough stilts to make certain we wouldn't have a mishap or two.  I decided to set up stations and give the students choices on how they might complete their work.  Two stations contained tempera paint in neon colors.  By splitting it into two stations I had divided the painters into two separate groups so that they wouldn't be working elbow to elbow.  Another station contained crayons, one oil crayons, and one colored pencils.  The last three stations would all have an India ink wash applied to the final project.  As the students finished, I applied the ink and they removed it under running water with a gentle rub.  So here is the reason for this post,  the ink just didn't have the pizazz I was looking for.  Last year I had done clay magnets with kindergarten, here and had used black tempera paint.  I really liked the way they had turned out and how the color of the crayons seemed to pop.  Tempera is definitely my medium of choice with this technique.  Here are a few finished birds to demonstrate the differences.
Left: Oil Crayon with Tempera
Center: Crayon with India Ink
Right: Color Pencils with India Ink

I may try to paint over the ink ones and see if I can achieve more contrast with the colors...we'll see.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Substitute plans for Kindergarten - Shapes and Animals

I will be attending the Art Bid on Thursday this week and will need to leave sub plans for Kindergarten.  That's the only class I worry about when I am out because all other classes work in their portfolios.  I am always thinking minimal supplies for Kindergarten and try to keep it really manageable.  After surfing the net and checking into to Pinterest, I found a cute handout on a mommy blog for assembling dinosaurs using foam shapes.  This blog is where I located it.
My handout for the shapes
Kindergarten Shapes and Animals

Math & Visual Arts Connections
Animals in their Habitats

Purpose:  For students to create an animal using shapes. Practice cutting skills
and identify shapes and their properties.

Prep work: Photo copy handout of shapes onto colored paper either assorted for
animal lesson or suggested green or purple for dinosaurs.

Materials: scissors, handout, glue, background paper or choice either 12 x 18
drawing or construction paper in blue.

Assessment: Did the students use their creativity to design an original animal or a
animal that is recognizable related to something they have learned or studied

Begin: Read a book about a variety of animals so that students can connect
to visuals of animals OR
Choose a specific animal to have students create such as a Dinosaur

Discuss what shapes create what parts of animals.
i.e. what might we use for a head shape, a body, legs, etc.

Each student receives a print out of a variety of shapes. They will
carefully cut out each shape and place into an envelope for safe
keeping as they cut.

Have students arrange shapes in a variety of ways prior to actually gluing onto background.  Complete composition using crayons to add a habitat for the animal or in prior lesson have students paint a background for the animal.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Do you have Free Art?

Each quarter my students have the opportunity to earn a free art day based on how they manage their behavior as a group in the art room. Classes can earn up to three squares on the free art chart based on  behavior during instruction time, creative time and clean-up.  It is possible to earn a free art period per quarter.  The motivation for free art is the opportunity to create freely for a class period.  I have a number of kids drawing books for them to pattern after, a few art bases games and some wonderful dice games from Expressive Monkey, as well as some blocks and a felt board.  I try to move around the room and join various groups for a period of time to play games, draw, and visit with them.  I am often surprised and delighted by some of the work my students create for these free days.  It's also a great way to deal with the off days just prior to vacation when you know your students might be lacking in a focus for real instruction.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kinder Bunnies

I think this is becoming one of my favorite Kindergarten lessons.  It's great project for spring.  This year the timing has been wonderful as we completed these the week prior to Easter.  They are going home this week and I am sure will be a wonderful addition to many a family celebration.  Week one, students used a tracer to make a contour bunny on a 12x18 sheet of blue construction paper.  Using white tempera and a small cube sponge cut from a standard household sponge, students proceeded to pounce or hop with the sponge to fill in the form of the bunny.  These were set aside to dry for week two.
Today was week two.  Students were given construction paper crayons to embellish their bunnies.  First three shades of green and a brown were used to draw the grass.  I had the students imagine their spring bunny hiding in tall, tall grass as they used their crayons.  The green grass was tall and the browns grass was stubby and shorter.  Next two shades of pink were selected for adding the color in the bunnies ears, a nose, and the eye.  Finally, students were encouraged to complete their compositions by adding touches of spring through multi-colored flowers, butterflies, bees or anything else from their imagination.  I was really pleased with how these turned out and the students were thrilled by the oohhs and aahhs as they walked down the hall carrying their completed projects.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


My principal recently emailed everyone looking for a place to move a metal shelf.  I jumped at the opportunity to have it placed in the kiln room.  It has been such an asset this year for managing the approximately 400 pieces of green ware that have passed through the kiln room.  I have always found organizing clay pieces and keeping them safe to be a real challenge.  It is the worst possible mishap when I accidentally break a student's work.  I avoid that by carefully managing each piece.  This shelf has made a rough situation so bearable!  Crazy really that I am writing about this wonderful addition of a metal shelf!!  Today I took a few pictures of my clay organization.

3rd grade work
Each plastic bin is labeled by grade and day of the week.  As I unload the kiln, I sort the works into the bins.  I will apply wax resist by class and the glazing will begin!  With the bins labeled it is easy to prioritize which classes I need to work with and in what order.  The 3rd grades will not glaze but will instead paint their pieces.  There is a lot of work there; thanks goodness, no wax resist!  The rack those are store on was assembled from a metal cube system.  It was suppose to go together with plastic caps connecting the intersections.  Instead it is assembled with plastic ties from the hardware store and with extra shelves in each cube that are more suited to the sizes of my bins.

Friday, April 4, 2014


For years I have taught slab work to 3rd grade students.  The focus was always a cultural unit on Adobe Houses of the Pueblo Indians and the current day building of Adobe homes throughout the southwest.  I loved the unit and enjoyed making the houses.  I notice over the last couple of years, these were becoming too challenging and my students were not all experiencing the success I wanted them to feel.  This year I decided to approach slabs in a new way and I really like the way things have turned out.  The new focus was creating a wide variety of projects that all incorporated not only slabs but also the use of texture.  Every week over a three week period, I would introduce one or two new projects using the methods of slab with texture.  Students were given the option to create what was demonstrated that day, something they had learned previously or to create something on their own that would measure up to a high standard of creative endeavor.  The students eagerly tried new projects and experimented with creating their own ideas.  Some were successful, some were not but let the creative juices flow!  Here is a sampling of a few of their completed bisque projects.  These will be completed with acrylic paints in standard colors and in neons.

Fifth Grade Clay Whistles

Ready for the kiln

Elephant in a party hat!
My Fifth grade classes are completing their clay whistles this week.  I couldn't be more proud of this group.  A few of the musicians actually played around with my tools for making the fingering holes and were successful in achieving tones for their ocarinas.  This is in no way an easy feat.  There has been many a time, I personally filled in the holes and gave up my attempts to reach this achievement.  I give the students a bit of freedom in creating their whistles.  The only guidelines are that they must create something from the animal, insect, bird or fish kingdoms and that it needs to be done well.  Meaning, it needs to be detailed and look clean and finished.  I stress making all the additive pieces by forming them from a beginning ball shape and detail  wins me over every time!  Here are a few pieces of green ware that are definitely worthy of sharing as well as some bisque pieces.  I have one more bisque firing before they begin to glaze.
bisque menagerie
Whimsical owl with a tie
Bisque ware waiting to be glazed