Friday, January 31, 2014

More snowflake prints but this time for Valentine's Day

All of my fourth grade students created snowflake prints back before the holidays.  I wrote about the process here in December.  One class was still working on a previous lesson and missed out on the printing.  It is a really fun project and the students all seem to really enjoy it.  With that in mind, I began thinking about a snowflake cutting book on my bookshelf that featured valentines.  My book was written by Robert Kelly.  I can't locate it on Amazon but here is a similar book by Kelly.  I selected several patterns and ran copies for the students to chose from.  I like the style of this book because each pattern has folding instructions attached at the top of the page.  Week one they cut valentine snowflakes and week two we printed on red and pink paper using red and white tempera paints.  I wanted to share a few of the beautiful snowflakes they completed with you.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Common core connections - writing

In my district we are all about fulfilling the guidelines of the common core.  There is a big push on making connections across the curriculum as well.   When the year's PD plans called for integrating writing into all subject areas, it was a given that the specialist would be in attendance to determine how writing would become a part of their program as well.  Earlier this month, we spent an afternoon planning how to have students do opinion writing.  I immediately decided to present artist statements as opinion writing and approach my students with materials in hand for what I thought would be a 45 minute writing period.  Three weeks later, I grabbed the computer cart, wheeled it into the art room and supervised classes intensely typing extensive art statements into their Artsonia accounts. In reflection, this took a tremendous amount of time away from artistic creation.  I do see the value of making the connections and think the most important connection was to have students understand that what they do  in English class can easily carry over into the art room with their art writing.  By week three, most students were making connections and had gotten beyond resisting my request to write because we were in the art room.  We will continue to create regular artistic statements because the students really seem to enjoy writing about their art.  I hope we can scale back the process so that it doesn't take so much time away from valuable art making.  It is important for students to be able to talk about their art making and to develop a strong artistic vocabulary.  This is a valuable portion of the art making process.  I hope that those connections and writing will strengthen student skills in writing and in art making as they become more reflective about their own work.

Snowmen in Perspective

I found multiple references for this form of perspective on pinterest in the past along with this very helpful poster.  I generally do a lesson on space or perspective with first and second graders at this time of the year using the terrific books of Caralyn Buehner, illustrated by her husband Mark.  If you haven't check out the series, it is a must have in the art room.  The short rhymes are catchy and cute and I am in love with Mark's wonderful illustrations..  Most all of them are done without using the color white even though most of the pictures are primarily of snow.  It's a great way to get students to expand their thoughts concerning color and to maybe explore what they see in a new way.  After the reading, we study the illustrations to identify the colors that are actually used for the snow and then investigate our own snow outside the windows to see if we can really see colors in our natural landscape.  The discussion leads to shadow, reflection, and light and color.

First graders explore the multiple ways to show space.  We use the words "Near and Far" in art so the poster is a very good visual.  I decided to try the aerial perspective approach with second graders.  First they cut three "snowballs" from white paper to form their snowmen.  Oil pastels were used to colored around the edges of each circle so they would be visible when stacked to form the snowmen.  Constructions paper was used to collage the features of the snowmen.  Consideration was given to the direction the snowman would be looking.  You can see from the student works, some look forward, some look up.  Finally, snowmen were glued on a dark sheet of construction paper and splatter painted using white tempera and a toothbrush to create the appearance of falling snow.  The students really enjoyed this project.  First graders are still working; I'll post some of those when they are completed.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Elmer the Elephant update

Here are a few of the final Elmer the Elephant projects.  Students created their own habitat for Elmer, the gray elephant who has rolled in the berries, and his patchwork friends.  They all had full creative license as they drew the habitats and the elephants were added where ever they wanted.  I had to quickly take photos and let these go home today.  All of the students were so proud of their finished work, they couldn't wait to take them home!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Just a Rant

Okay,  I'm hoping for some feedback from this post because this is an issue I face consistently and there has to be a solution out there somewhere on how to fix it.  So, someone, anyone, everyone, share some ideas on what works for you.

I know that in the general classroom, students often illustrate along with their assignments and then add labels to identify the purposes of the illustrations.  This a pet peeve of mine when it spills over into the art room.  I start in Kindergarten telling students that we are not looking for labeling or word bubbles in art work.  I assure them that they are such good artist that it is not necessary to label to let me or anyone else know what their drawing represents.  It always seems to begin when they draw that first picture of their family and everyone receives that label...Dad, Mom, Brother, Dog, etc.  By 5th grade you would expect that I would have them trained but I am still reminding my students to drop the labels.  I've gotten to the point where I tell offenders that in my mind their art just dropped from being art to becoming a classroom project and that I am so disappointed to see a beautiful artwork disfigured.  I honestly have students telling me they never heard me say don't add the words.  I refuse to post their work to their Artsonia galleries if there are words written across the front.  Just to clarify,  art can be made up of words and words can be the focus of art especially in some wonderful pop art examples, this is not what I am referring to with this rant!

So someone, share some magic with me.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Two new classroom posters

I attended a county wide professional day earlier in the week.  The focus for this meeting was assessments and many of the attendees shared lesson plans along with the methods they used for assessing the lesson.  We viewed and shared many different approaches for rubrics and also some fabulous samples of student works.  Sessions like this are a great use of professional time, you really feel like you walk away with some wonderful plans and ideas.  But, for the purpose of this post, I need to thank Allie Benson of Muddy Brook Elementary for sharing a few of her classroom posters. I took photos of the images and set to work the next day attempting to create similar ones for my classroom.  I am not ever a 100% copier.  I always manage to add my own twist to the ideas I borrow from others.  Here are two of the posters I have created with Allie's examples as a guide.
This first one is a tutorial for creating Zentangles.  Mine is slightly different than Allie's in layout but I did use the information she provided.  I also added my "No Name, No Fame" statement to the bottom of the poster.  My students are accustomed to my reminding them to write their name on their papers with those words.  I also dug out my Zentangle book, purchased a few summers ago and made photo copies of the designs in the back of the book.  I shrunk them down enough to be able to cut them to a 3 1/4 x 3 1/2 rectangle.  They are to be laminated, a hole punched into the upper left corner of each one and hung on a split ring for a visual to accompany the poster.  I plan to make it available for students to use during Free Art or when they finish a project as a filler.

This second one is my "NO Stick Figures!" Poster.  I loved Allie's term Strong Bodies that she uses with her students to indicate not using stick figures.  Here is my interpretation of her poster with a slightly different layout.  I think this might need a bit of discussion and clarification for students to fully grasp the message.  It should be a reminder to them that they need to use shapes to create strong bodies when they draw people in the classroom.    I'm really happy with how they turned out and eager to gage the responses of my students.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Elephant Patterns

Here are a few of the pattern elephants from my lesson plan post last week.   As a follow-up, I need to share that the cutting was a bit challenging for them.  I quickly drew the cut lines on the reverse side of each of the grids to make it clearer for most of my classes.  One class did not require the added assistance, however, it was a small class due to many students being out with illness.   I was able to walk around and work individually with students in the smaller class to help them achieve cutting success.  The next step in the process will be to draw and color an elephant on a separate sheet of white paper.  I intend to do a "follow the leader" draw using shapes to create the drawn elephant.  It will be colored gray to represent Elmer in the Elmer's Day Parade.   Students will then complete a composition that will be their interpretation of an elephant habitat.   This could be the jungle, watering hole, a zoo, etc.   After the habitat is completed, the patterned elephants will be glued into the composition.  I think these will be really cute and I will definitely be sharing the completed ones.  Check back for the update!

LOVE this new book

Have you found this book yet?  I am developing a project on pictographs and thought this would be a good supplement read when I found it on Amazon.  It is a really great book.  Here is a brief overview:  a young boy sees things that others can not see.  He imagines animals in the shapes of clouds and in the bumps and crevices of his cave walls.  No one else seems to see the world as he does.  He begins to draw on the cave walls of his home to help others see as he sees.
 I plan to use it for a Native American unit but it could just as easily work for something about the Caves of  Lascaux.  I can't wait to share this one with my students.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Today I threw a wrench into the 6 minute draw

I've shared about the 6 minute draw with you in the past.  You can check the previous post Here and Here.  I love the 6 minute draw.  It helps students to transition into my classroom and into an art state of mind and it gives me a few minutes to prepare for the next grade level.  Today I really did throw a wrench into things but I am intrigued by the outcome and plan to do it again!
Here is what happened:   I have been following all the pins and post on recycling or up-cycling of books and have been thinking about just how I might want to do that in my classroom.  I had used books last year with my fourth grade classes and posted that as recycling old books last spring.  Today I made a trip into the school library to see what was in the discard box.  I primarily was looking for books with more text than illustrations to use in collage or for illustration.  As I disassembled one of the books it occurred to me that the pages were about the same size as the paper I used for 6 minute draw.  I wondered what my students would do with the pages if I substituted the pages for their paper without any explanation.  When the 4th and 3rd grade students came in today, I did exactly that.  A helpful student in each class quickly informed me that the paper had writing on it.  I responded that I was aware as I had put the paper on their tables and they should begin their 6 minute draw.  I was very curious how they would handle the paper; if they would draw across the writing as if it wasn't there, incorporate it into the design or try to manage around it.  Here are the results and they did all three!  I loved the outcome and I will definitely be throwing that wrench in with my other school tomorrow!  I'm thinking about maybe giving them color pencils or markers to embellish next week.  This unplanned creativeness may turn into something really amazing!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

AOE Conference time!

I'm all registered and ready to go!!!  I can't think of a better way to spend my Saturday, January 25th, than curled up in front of the fire listening to presentations by all my favorite blogsters.  Registrations is still open and if you register prior to the 13th, you are eligible for the swag box!!!  Here is the link, jump on over there, check it out and join in the fun.
 Winter Conference 2014

Professional Day coming up, again

I'll be out for Kindergarten again so I headed back to the Lesson Builder to build my lesson plan.  This is a terrific site, check it out if you haven't yet used it.  This is not an original lesson idea, I built it from an image seen on pinterest.  I will leave "Elmer the Elephant" for the substitute to read.  I've used Elmer before in a similar lesson for my kinders but I really liked the use of graph paper for this lesson.  We will see how it goes!
Thanks to for this great step by step illustration.