Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dragon's Halloween Chap. 2

Dragon is invited to a Halloween party and can't decide what costume to wear.  He ends up with a pumpkin splatting on his head and the scariest costume of all.   Here Kindergarten students model mask for their imaginary participation at the party with Dragon.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day of the dead

student work
Scratch art paper was the medium of choice to create these sugar skulls for Day of the Dead.  The focus was on symmetry.  We started by reading this new addition to my bookshelf by Lisa Bullard titled "Daniela's day of the Dead".  I really enjoyed sharing this book with my students.  It presents a little historical element on each page to help you introduce dia de los muertos to students in a fun informative way while the fictional story makes for an enchanting read.
student work

student work

student work

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What can we stack?

Lots of pumpkin expressions
First grade students learned about stacking this week.  We started by reading a favorite fall chapter book by Dav Pilkey.  This is a great book to introduce a number of skills to kinders.  I read one chapter a week and they have an accompanying project.  Chapter one tell how Dragon stacks six small pumpkins to create a scary jack-o-lantern.  Students are introduced to the concept of stacking in art by using a small pumpkins stencil.  They discover the proper placement of the stencil each time to create the stacking.  Compositions are completed by each student individually to show a spooky theme.  For Chapter 2, students create a symmetrical mask and for Chapter 3, color mixing is used to create a picture of a pumpkin.

These are projects from Chapter 1.
This one is a bit more haunted with the skeleton

This is a great composition for 1st grade

Once in a blue moon

Such wonderful detail

I love the moon in this one

Hanging on to fall

Almost all the leaves are gone from the trees in our area.  Third grade students hung on to a bit of the fall beauty with leaf prints today.  First several leaves were stenciled onto a page creating a contour of the leaf.  Immediately, more leaves were printed overlapping the first group by using watercolors.  The prints are striking on their own but students suggested we extend the project by turning them into tree compositions next week.  I'll post new photos next week to fill you in on how they turn out.  For now, I really love these!
The vein work is beautiful on this one

Heavier paint made a a more solid print
the viens on this one are beautiful too!

This student chose to only use red for the texture printing

The composition is so interesting and flowing

I have my whiteboard!

My white board was installed today....It was the best day ever!  Seriously, I ordered it a year ago and it has been sitting in a box in my classroom ever since.  I had given up hope of ever seeing it on the wall and never thought I'd be able to use it.  Doesn't it look great?  I didn't write on it today because I wanted to appreciate the splendor of having it hung!

Monday, October 21, 2013

She was very busy spinning her web

 Kinders enjoyed a reading of Eric Carle's The Very Busy Spider this past week.  The repetition of this book makes for a fun reading as students soon catch on and recite along with the book.

With a focus on line and shape, students then created a web using a white crayon.  Vocabulary included horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and angle.  A black crayon was used to create the spider with circles that are colored in slowly around the edges to become dots.  The magic of the lesson occurs as a liquid watercolor wash is applied over the compositions.  The students were delighted with their busy spider creations.

The Very Busy Spider

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Okay, that's not really a real word but it is what I have chosen to call this value project recently completed by fourth grade students.  I was given a large quantity of white model magic that had been around for a few years.  It was beginning to become a little stiff so needed to be used.  I decided to turn this into a lesson on value, primarily tints.  With a little blue model magic and a larger piece of white model magic, students started by dividing their clay into 5 approximately equal pieces.  This would help them as they began mixing so they would be able to budget clay use.  The first ball was a small blue one, then white and blue were mixed together to make an only slightly lighter ball of clay.  Each ball of clay became progressively larger and lighter ending with a large white ball of clay that became the head of a Caterpillar.  Thus, the name, Valupillar.  Not only were the students totally engaged in the color lightening process to create the tints of blue, I also had comments that this as the best project ever!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Artsonia to the rescue!

With the new state evaluation in place, my biggest concern was parent communications.  Most of my communications I the past have been in the way of progress reports or casual conversations.  Really, how much do specialist have the opportunity to meet parents.  With 600+ students this has felt very overwhelming.  But, as I said before, Artsonia to the rescue!   Their newsletter feature is the best.  You can target specific grades or send a newsletter to your entire roster.  A blanket letter can included a small note that is also grade specific.  I now have a way to give background information concerning  the intended focus and outcome of projects.  I used to try writing a quick note on the back of completed works.  It was tedious and I often felt short of my desired outcomes.  With the newsletter, I have a way to communicate quickly and efficiently to as many parents as I would like to reach each month.  I now also have an email data base if I feel the need to contact specific parents.  I feel in the loop with the communication piece and know I am now able to meet that goal.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


If you haven't reviewed the book  Lacy Walker, non-stop talker, take the time to check it out.  It is adorable.  I spent this past week reading it as a filler for all of my Kindergarten and 1st grade classes. It's a cute little book on its own and the illustrations are sweet but what I like about it most is that the message is clear and the students immediately catch on.  Talking in the classroom is always a problem, some young students have not learned to be listeners and aren't even aware how their talking impacts the classroom and learning.   The thought of a gold star really appealed to all of my students and the realization they might really be missing something with nonstop talking.   Will it make a difference for the long haul?   Who can tell at this early point in the year but I am certain they heard the message of the book and I can always refer back to it to remind them of the message.   Maybe I can remind students to not be a Lacy Walker when they are commanding the room instead of asking them to be silent.   I'm always game to try something new!

Friday, October 11, 2013

I love Kindergarteners self portraits!

I decided to start off with portraits for my kindergarteners this year and its been such a pleasure to view the results.  As we all know, students at this young age aren't yet intimidated by the opinions of others and their work is creative and free.  This is the opportunity to really tap in to the way they see the world, no one has molded them yet.  Here are a few of the wonderful, precious results.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Learning to use Artsonia

creating an Artist Statement on the iPad
 I decided to use Artsonia in my schools this year after years of looking at it and feeling like it would just be too difficult to manage.  These start up days are pretty intense.  With 600 students to put into the system and parental permissions to enter along with art work, I feel like all of my time has been on Artsonia the  past two weeks.  I'm beginning to see the rewards.  Fourth grade students are in the process of completing projects.  There are always a few students who manage their time well and finish well ahead of everyone else.  I have set up the desktop in my room and my iPad so that students can go into the program and enter their own artist statements.  I covered all the expectations ahead of time with the entire group and even supplied a dictionary for checking the spelling of challenging words.  I have been truly impressed with the writing skills of this group.  They have really put a lot of thought into what they are saying and taken pride in their art and the process.
Using the desktop to add an Artist Statement on Artsonia
The Artsonia program is going to help me with many of the challenges put forth in our new teacher evaluation and my colleagues are impressed with the writing the students are creating in art class.  I'm feeling really positive about all of this.  If  you haven't looked into Artsonia for your school, you really should check it out.

Here is a sample of a student's statement:

When I do art I think of so many ideas. I do not know which idea to pick from. I love art so much and art is fun to. I think my art is inspiring to other people.If you do not think you can do it try and try hard until you think you are good like me. Thats what I feel when I am doing art.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October and it's Pumpkin Time!

Ruby's pumpkin with multiple stems
David's Pumpkin with long stem

Codey's pumpkin with cylinder stem
This is one of the favorite projects for my 2nd grade students each year.  The purpose of the lesson is to review color mixing and the lesson touches on Math connections as well.  Students are given a piece of red model magic about 1 1/2" x 1/2" and they are to divide it into three sections.  A similar section of yellow model magic is divided in the same way.  Students take 2/3 of the red clay and 2/3 of the yellow clay and mix them together to discover they are making orange clay.  It is formed into a ball and a toothpick is used to slightly indent the clay to make the pumpkin ridges.  The pumpkin ball is slightly flattened on the bottom to keep it from rolling around.  The remaining red and yellow pieces of clay are divided into two halves.  A very small piece of blue clay is handed out and divided in half.
Emma's pumpkin with stretched stem
Students combine 1 of the blue pieces with one of the yellow pieces to form a green piece of clay.  This is rolled into a cylinder.  The ends of the cylinder are slightly pointed and flattened a small amount.  The toothpick is again used to add details to what will now form the leaves.  The remaining clay is mixed to form a brown for the stem.  Colors will vary depending upon how large or small students have made the sections of clay as they divided.  The brown is rolled into a cylinder for a stem and them stretched if desired to make it look more like the stem of a pumpkin.