Sunday, July 30, 2017

Art is at the Core: Dorothea Lange

I write a column for Arts and Activities Magazine called Art is at the Core.  I've been a subscriber for a long time. I think it is a great publication. You should get a subscription for your classroom. It is great for art teachers, but I used it when I taught in the regular classroom as well.

Thought I'd share the Dorothea Lange column with you today. Enjoy!
Here's the link 

Best I can tell, there are no copyright restrictions on this image.
This image is available from the US Library of Congress: Prints and Photographs Division
under the digital ID fsa.8b29516.

Do you have other ideas for using Lange's work in the classroom? Please share with me! 

The Degas House in NOLA

Did you know that Edgar Degas spent some time in New Orleans?

He did. You can visit The Degas House at 2306 Esplanade Avenue. It is worth a trip if you are in NOLA. They have a bed and breakfast and can also host ceremonies and receptions. The NOLA Degas House is the only home of Degas anywhere in the world that is open to the public. 

Here is a photo from across the street. 

I just always love when the sunlight does this in a photograph.

If I understood correctly, there are two buildings. There is a sort of breezeway between them. You can see that in this photograph. These two structures used to be one building. 

Informational sign.

Inside the first building.

Inside first building. That is the family tree behind the tour guide who is speaking to us.

She is talking about Degas' Cotton Buyer or Cotton Merchants in New Orleans, and how he completely changed his style while in NOLA. This is a reproduction. The original is in Harvard Art Museum's Collection.

Between the two buildings. 

This is the set up of the room where Degas spent his five months.

Another photo of the room. 

I was really fascinated with this tile. I believe they said it was the original flooring.  

Another photo of the room. They host resident artists here. I believe that is what this was supposed to represent. 


It was a beautiful place to visit. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Lego Portraits

The fourth grade teachers at my school always love this Lego Self-Portrait project. (SHOUT OUT to you wonderful fourth grade math teachers!)

Each is pretty unique, which I value. I also like how they ask the students to find area and perimeter. They also find fractional parts. You can see the math work that accompanies this lesson attached in the photos. 

I actually really like it when students can create something and take and manipulate mathematical calculations from it. I think this raises engagement. I'd have loved this as a student, and I hated math (still do, with a passion you don't see everyday). I know I'd have been tremendously connected and invested in this lesson because I'd have created something. I was all about the self-expression and creativity! Who isn't?

This is a good back to school activity, I think. They can create their portrait in the first week or two of school. Then, they can use it to introduce themselves to their new classmates. Then, when these math skills are taught, they can get this artwork back out and revisit it for math skills. ALL THE CONNECTIONS!

This lesson came from here.

Here are some other links for Lego art-ish lessons:

Image from here

Have you taught this lesson? Tried something similar? Got other ideas? Want me to check out your blog post about it? Just share, my friends. Just share! Always share!

Art is at the Core: Janet Fish

I write a column for Arts and Activities Magazine called Art is at the Core. I choose an artist and write about how to integrate that with math, science, language arts, and other curriculums. I wrote about Janet Fish recently. 

I had such a wonderful surprise when someone posted in an art teacher Facebook group about their student's work as they created using ideas from my article.

Okay, so...

I have to confess that this was one of the best things that has happened to me professionally. For years, I've been writing on this blog. I've written for pretty much every other education outlet that'll have me as well. I've done it all blindly. I've done it in hopes that other students would benefit from the arts. Truly. I have been on a mission to get the arts into as many classrooms as possible. I had resigned myself to never really knowing if I was reaching other classrooms. I thought that would be a difficult thing to measure.

Anyway, it really meant a lot to me to find out that Carol Janka had read my column and tried one of the Janet Fish ideas in her classroom. (I just love this so much, I don't even know where to stop gushing about it!)

Here are some photos from her classroom (student privacy protected, no faces showing):

The former first grade regular education teacher in me loves seeing those plastic coins atop that student artwork!

Carol, thank you. If you just knew...if you only knew...if you could just know how much I needed to see this. If you only knew how tough my summer was in 2016, when we met, you'd know how much this means to me. Read between the lines and know that I adore this.

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.