Saturday, July 22, 2017

Back-to-School Resources

Back-to-school we go!

How about some resources to get you started on the right foot?

Analyzing Art Freebie

First off, here is a freebie to help your students analyze a work of art. It is a graphic organizer where they can record their thoughts while looking at a work. 

Early Finishers

Here's the description from TpT: 

Nip that "What do I do now?" question right in the bud with this activity. This includes five sets of scenarios for students to draw in the Free Draw Challenge. Included are images from actual student work and of how I have this set up in my classroom. You will also find instructions and helpful hints on how to make this an actual challenge and not just plain 'ol free draw. This resource is designed to provide activities for an entire school year. This is my favorite resource that I have ever created!

Sub Binder

Every year at the beginning of the year, we have to create a sub folder. I know, I know, we are always looking for the one! Right? I've found that there is no one-size-fits-all sub folder bundle. So, I created these cute dividers just to put in my sub binder. The black and white version is free! Woohoo! The color version is only $5!

Quotes by Famous Artists

Arts-Integrated First Week Activity

This is my favorite back-to-school arts-integrated lesson. It offers students the chance to make something beautiful while following oral directions. Each product will be a unique work of art, and students cannot mess it up. They will all be successful. You will be able to assess their listening skills, fine motor skills, understanding of positional words, etc. This resource will give you everything you need to use this lesson with your students (minus the art supplies, of course). It is available for only $10! Be sure to check out the blog post about this one. You can see many of my students products here. 

Thanks for checking out these resources. I truly hope they help you have a great school year. Let me know if you have any questions. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Authentic Children's Art

This is an idea that I'd like to explore further: Authentic Children's Art.

Bob Reeker, who has guest blogged for Party in the Art Room (go check it out right now), posted a link to another blog that I found very intriguing. I'm giving Bob the credit for posting it first. It is a great post and definitely a must-read. After I read, I knew I had to share on the blog.

This blog is called Rainbows Within Reach. I'd never heard of it before. The post I am referring to is from November 2014 and is called 

Children's AUTHENTIC Art vs. Classroom Craftivities.

Debbie Clement writes this blog and boasts, "The best work on earth is my having the opportunity of making a crazy-quilt while happily and enthusiastically stitching these three ingredients together. My company, Rainbows Within Reach, is now launching it's 18th year of children's Arts programing." I'd never heard of this company either. But BOY! Now, I am a follower. I'd like to meet her. I might just have to reach out and connect with her at some point. I'll keep you posted on that. (Remember, I have two children under the age of 3...this could take a while!)

I hope you will read this post. It makes some very good points about the differences between run-ot-the-mill artsy craftsy projects and authentic art for kids. I think every teacher needs to think about this.

Here's a crafty penguin from Pinterest to serve as an example. I am on the fence about this issue in some ways. I used to do these types of things with my first graders when I taught regular education. They had to use a tracer for the shapes. It was very good for following directions and cutting/gluing. I don't think tracing is a bad thing in itself. I never called those "art" or tried to pass it off as authentic art. We also did authentic art projects. Anyway, more on that later.


AAAAANNNNDDDD of course, as always,
Let me know what you think! You can reach out here or on social media. I love to hear from you guys!

Ralph Steadman's Alice in Wonderland


Ya need to.

He's the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas artist.

What?!?!?! Never read that book?!?!?!


You HAVE to read that book. It's great. I love it. It is super creative. Very outside the box and insert other nerdy idiom or whatever.

Okay. So, it's obvious that I like this guy and that book... moving on.

He has his own illustrations of Alice in Wonderland. 

WHAT? Yes, that's correct. Alice. in. Wonderland.

I also love Alice in Wonderland. I love it in all forms. I love Disney's animated version, the original book with original artwork, the Johnny Depp version...WOW! Johnny Depp...Fear and Loathing...Alice in Wonderland. Mind=blown.

Just kidding. But, I really do love the two things. So, I was super excited to read this post about Steadman's Alice in Wonderland.  Like, that pig baby with the black pepper.  I mean, come on. 

I thought it was worth sharing. Hope you love it too. 

Oh, and watch this lovely video. Steadman is delightful!

"Its a wonderful thing to be able to draw is marvelous to express an idea in pictures because you can say it so succinctly...there's a way you can say it in which you cannot say it in words." ~Ralph Steadman

"The blots express a kind of dirt." ~ Ralph Steadman

Monday, July 10, 2017

Beginning of the Year Newsletters

Here is a newsletter that I sent home several years ago, when QR codes were cool. I haven't sent a newsletter home in a couple of years. The other "specials" teachers at my school have been thinking about sending one home from all of us. My thought is that would help parents. One newsletter is better than five! Anyway, I thought I might share this one and ask you guys to share yours. I'm interested in ideas for newsletters. Hopefully, this will be something my team can be successful with this year! 
The blurry spot is where I marked out some contact information. 

Help out a friend, guys! Share your ideas! 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Kids Love Zentangles

Here's a scientific fact for you:

All kids love zentangles.

I made that up. It's not scientific. But, I think it's true! My students love them! They love to look at them and make their own. I like to use the concept for our Square 1 Art fundraiser pieces. Here are some different ways my students have created zentangles for this purpose. 

We use the heck out of some Crayola Construction Paper Crayons in my classroom. The colors are so yummy and vibrant. They work well with paint washes too. 

Notice the differences in the vibrancy of the color in the top two compared to the bottom two. It isn't because they colored lighter (applied less pressure). It is because the bottom two are regular crayons. The top two are construction paper crayons. Crayola did not pay me to write this! I just really love those crayons!

Sorry for the lack of proper cropping on these photos! 

Arts Integration: ELA, Storytelling, and Visual Art

The other project I wrote about was a storyteller who came to work with my third graders. He worked with them in their ELA classes, but we also did some follow up work in the art class. The storyteller's name is Terrence Roberts, or Da Story Weaver. We LOVE him at my school. This was his second year to come work with our students. He is located in Mississippi. Here's a video of him telling stories about Anasi.

Here are some photos from his visit and the work we did in our art class after. You can read a lot more about it on the PBS blog. 

I forgot what this is called, but it is a beautiful instrument. It makes a lovely sound that is very soothing. I think I need to see about getting one of these for my classroom. 

These are parts of different stories. 

Da Story Weaver in my art classroom. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Curious George

Here is a lesson that can be taught with any of the Curious George books. I incorporated this into an art camp that I taught called Feather, Fur, Scales, and Tales. Each creation was based on a children's book with animal characters. I was teaching primarily Kindergarten and first graders. They had great difficulty drawing a monkey in the style of Curious George. So, we talked about shapes. I asked them what shapes they could use for the head, face, ears, etc. 

My favorite part of the shape discussion was that L/7 could be used for the arms and Z and backwards Z could be used for the legs. 

Here is other helpful language for teaching this drawing:
Mouth and nose area= oval
Mouth= shaped like a regular smiley face with a loop underneath
Nose= parentheses or or C and backwards C
Eyes= M or two humps
Ears= parentheses or C and backwards C
Belly= U

Be careful with the tail. If they do too much curling, they won't be able to cut it out. I say "one curl, you can draw one curl." I loop my hand around in the air to represent one curl. Otherwise they will draw around and around and around...OY!

After they drew the monkey, they traced it with a black permanent marker and added color with crayons. Then, they cut it out. They glued it with regular glue bottles to black paper and cut around it to create a border. This was hard for these younger students. I had to help them a lot. I wish I'd made them trace a border and then cut on the line. I tried to get them to eyeball it. Didn't work. Don't do it. Make them draw first!

These kiddos loved making this background. They used art tissue paper (the kind that bleeds). I actually had a bucket of scraps. It didn't take much of this to cover a sheet of paper. 

I am a stickler for making kids use glue bottles. It bothers me when art teachers (or any adult) makes gluing easy. I think they need to develop the fine motor skills needed to open, squeeze, and close a bottle of glue. So, I usually make them do this. However, since this is a little bit different from regular gluing, I squirted some glue, water, and glitter into a bowl. I stirred it up and let them paint the glue onto the paper. Then, they just had to place their tissue scraps. After they were placed, I had them paint the glue mixture over it one more time. That helps everything lie flat!

You will probably have students who pile up a mound of tissue paper. Monitor for this and help them understand that some wrinkling in the paper is fine, but paper wads are not. I bet they haven't ever had to think about the difference before. Once you explain it and model it, they'll get it!

Finally, I made sure that the students understood they were creating a monkey because they read Curious George. I talked to them about what "inspired by" means. In this case, we were inspired to create a monkey because of the book. Our monkeys don't have to look like the one in the book.

Have you ever taught an art lesson inspired by Curious George? Let me know the details. 

3 Weeks of Math in Art Center Activities

Here's an idea for a Math in Art center: Tessellations. 

I think it would be great to have them use the tessellation patterns like the ones you see in the photos the first week of the center. Then, the next week, have them create their own pattern for a tessellation. That way they get the idea of what a tessellation is first. Then, they have to extend that understanding into creating their own.

Hey! Wanna back it up for a minute. Here's an idea:
Week 2: Use the plastic tessellation patterns. These came from Sax. They still make them. You can still buy them!
Week 3: Create their own pattern for their own tessellation.

Scaffolding! There you go. Three weeks of Math in Art Centers! Feel free to ask questions and share your own ideas!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Papier Mache Dolls

I did this at my house one year! It was so much fun. 

We started with a toilet paper roll. We used plaster wrap to create the round shape of the head and to smooth the head and toilet paper roll together. 

Then, we used newspaper and glue to continue building the shape of the animal. It took chatted and giggled while we worked. So, it didn't seem to take that long. It was messy though!

We painted and used old fabrics (tshirts, pillowcases, etc.) to create the clothes. The photo shows one of the girls tracing a small paper plate to create a skirt. We didn't have any actual patterns for the clothes. We just made it up! That was the fun, creative part about this.

I love the way they turned out. Here are just a few photos that I was able to capture.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Lee Darter: Art Advocacy in Your Classroom

Everybody put your hands up for this week's guest blogger, Lee Darter. That's right, Lee Darter of the Art Room Blog. The Art Room Blog is a favorite of mine. I love how Lee shares so many lesson ideas so frequently. She has the perfect mix of personal and school posts, too. She writes about advocacy in this guest post. 

Hope you enjoy!

Art Advocacy In Your Classroom
By Lee Darter

When I first became the art advocacy chair for the VAEA (Virginia Art Education Association), I was not sure what kind of presence I would have on the board. I really did not know very much about art advocacy. I always assumed someone much higher up and much smarter than me would handle all our state’s art advocacy needs. This mysterious person was always there lobbying state officials and creating policy on behalf of all the arts. I did not think it was something I needed to worry about. I realized that I was not alone in thinking this way. I discovered most art teachers tend to let others worry about art advocacy for them. 

I also realized that I could no longer stand by and allow others to tackle art advocacy issues for me. With so many art jobs and arts funding being cut all across our country we as art teachers have to do everything in our power to make sure our students understand the impact of a really great art education program.  

Art advocacy does not have to always mean beating down your legislator’s door. Art advocacy can be as simple as teaching the principles and elements of art, and it is just as important. Art advocacy is something you can do right from your classroom. 

It always surprises me when students say, “art is not a real subject” or “art is not a real job”. To this I say, “look around you, everything you see here was touched by an artist in some way”. 

If you ask your students to simply look around the room and start removing everything an artist had a part in creating, you would be left sitting on a mound of dirt outside with no clothes on. I ask my students to consider these things; the rug under their feet, the signs on the walls, the video games they play, the movies they watch, the package design on their favorite toy, the menu at their favorite restaurant, the photos of their sister’s wedding, the plates they eat from, the building that surrounds them, the car their parents drove them to school in and the clothes they are wearing right now. These are all things created by artists. 

I am not sure how or when it became acceptable thinking that art is not a real job or a real field of study. Even if you are not looking for a career directly related to art, the study of art will help you be more creative in whatever path you choose. Having the capacity and the ability to think outside the normal constraints of your job title is something artists do every day. Why wouldn’t everyone want to strive for that in their own lives and work…even doctors and rocket scientists?

There are several things you can teach your students in the classroom to ensure they become responsible art advocates. 

  • First, make sure to include a related art career with every lesson you teach. Students benefit from seeing the impact of what they are learning being used in real world applications. 
  • Second, make sure that you are promoting your own art program. Let your students, parents and community see the benefits of your program. Show your school administrators that children grow from learning how to think creatively as opposed to learning what to think for a given test. 
  • Also, make sure your state legislators know that art is much more than cute pictures hanging in the hallways of their local elementary school. Let them know art is a career in and of itself. Let the world know art also prepares our future workforce to think creatively in order to solve real world problems. 
  • Most importantly make sure your students know and believe that what you are teaching is a real subject every time you stand in front of them through your own enthusiasm and love art. 

You are art’s best advocate, and it begins right in your own classroom.

Lee Darter is an elementary school art teacher, an artist, a business owner (Doodle All Day Art)and the president of the Ron Abney Educational Fund charity.