Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Horses and Elephants

The Book

My second graders learned about Eric Carle.  We looked at the book "The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse." The book was a easy read, but does a great job of using warm and cool colors in contrasting fashion with each page. Most of the pictures have a warm colored animal and a cool colored ground or vis-versa. For the lesson we looked at two pages, the cover page with the horse and another page with an orange elephant.
The students started out by coloring a 12x18 piece of paper with either warm colors or cool colors. Warm colors if they were doing the elephant, and cool colors if they were making the horse. The next class the students that used cool colored crayons used cool colored paint. The students painted over the entire paper and then used various scraping tools to at scratch and texture marks. The students love Eric Carle because of this scratching technique. The next class, I made multiple tracers for each animal... TRACERS (I know what your thinking, but the students drew things too small when I had them draw animals with basic shapes). The tracers were put on the back of the paper and then traced and cut out. The students were really forced to think for this step because they had to lay out all the pieces before they traced to make sure they could fit all the parts/ pieces. On a large white sheet a of paper the students made the ground line and scratched / scraped the paint just like they did with the animal. On the final class the students put together their animals using a picture from the book to reference (GREAT PROBLEM SOLVING). After they put the animal together, the students glued and added details with oil pastels. The students eyes were great when they put that last piece together and it looked like they animal on the picture... a sense of accomplishment! Thanks Eric Carle for the idea!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hand-Made Santa's ... LOVE Them!

A little break from my classroom... My girlfriend's grandfather makes these hand-made santa's every year for all the grandchildren. They look great, but as an artist and one that grew up with a carpenter father, I appreciate the time and tedious detail added to each one of these. The Santa with the lantern has over 20 different pieces. Each piece has to be cut, sanded, glued, and painted or stained. I love my girlfriend very much, but I must admit now that we have a house I love her even more because I am able to put these amazing works of art in my house over the holidays. Bill, your work is amazing and much appreciated!

WEAVING + Pouches + Electronic Devices = Excited 5th Graders

My fifth graders just finished weaving... yay!!!! It surprised me last year and still this year how much kids love to weave. We start out with the making of our cardboard looms with 1/2 inch spacing for the warp strings. The students string the warp strings and then start weaving UNDER OVER UNDER OVER. They all calm down and really concentrate on what they are doing. I have heard of teachers putting in educational movies or biographies of an artist to entertain students (Might try that next year). Either way, my fifth graders loved weaving and loved making the weaving into a pouch to hold their electronic divides. I let the students choose how wide they wanted their pouch to be before starting. The  narrow 9 warp strings wide (4-5 inches) would hold things like an ipod or cell phone. The 12-14 warp string wide (6-7 inches) could hold a reading tablet or ipad mini. Once I told then that they were making something they could use I had then hooked. The lesson took 10 class periods (35 min. periods)   from start to finish. It is a lot of time if you only see your kids once a week. I have the great fortune of seeing my fifth graders every day for one semester... this has given me the time to do more in depth lessons like this. 


Students finished the weaving and tied warp strings at the top and bottom of the weaving. We folded the bottom up towards the top of the weaving (all the way to the top matching the corners, or 3/4 of the way giving a flap to possibly fold over and cover the opening with a button). Starting on the bottom corner of one of the sides we loop stitched with yarn or thread till we got to the top. At the top the students tied the remaining string to a near by warm string knotting it and forming a nice tight seal. Repeat on the other side. After the students finish both sides, turn the pouch inside-out. Finished...buttons and straps would then follow (I didn't teach the button or strap step... had students who finished early, push their creativity and problem solving.

Other students made purses, wallets (pictures coming, had to attach two weavings together. He is problem solving :) ), pouches with buttons and flaps. Very pleased with my students ability to take what I have put out there and push that idea to a new level and challenge themselves! Proud teacher!!!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Abstract + Indian Corn + Window Drawings

This is my attempt to introduce my third grade students to "window drawing" and "still-lifes." I gave each student their own indian chunk of corn to draw, as well as a 2x2 inch window opening cardboard square. The students started out by taping the window to an interesting part of the corn and started drawing what they saw ( hard, but great practice) on a 12x12 inch piece of paper.
With little direction, I had the students start drawing right after they taped the window on the corn. I figured the students would draw the image at lease four times smaller than they should... didn't expect them to draw it smaller than real life size on the corn haha. After a while I stopped the students and had them walk around and look at one another's drawings. I followed this up with a demonstration showing them how to break the corn into sections / rows and fill those rows with irregular oval shapes (not everyone is the same size or shape). With a little MATH we counted the number of rows and columns inside the window opening. Lightly with our pencils we drew in a checker board pattern with columns and rows. The students drew in kernels overlapping each row and columns with different sizes.
The students finished the lesson with crayons, coloring each kernel with at least three different colors looking at their corn for color inspiration. The lesson came a long way since the first drawings with little direction. Happy with the abstract final look!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

SHAPE Roosters

I don't do a lot of "cookie cutter" lessons where everyone's projects looks the same. I get bored telling the students step-by-step lessons. This project was step-by-step, and was the apidimi of a "cookie cutter" lesson ... but my kindergarteners needed it and learned a ton of fine motor skills. I made tracers for each shape and taught the students how to hold paper with one hand and trace around the edge of a shape. We had a lesson on gluing and put together our roosters as a class. Lots of work, but a kindergarten class that benefited from a cookie.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Primary and Secondary Colored Balloons

The first graders started out the year learning (hopefully reviewing) about the primary colors. We took tissue paper and drew balloon shapes with pencil. The students cut out the balloon shapes with a scissors (sounds easy, but the tissue paper is so light and thin that the students get a great lesson on turning the paper and not turning the scissors). The next class the students wet down the paper with water in the section they wanted the tissue paper to go, and placed each color one at a time. We kept the tissue paper on the paper to dry and cut out a blue cloud shape out of blue tissue paper. The next class the students drew something from their imagination below the balloons. The students draw such amazing stuff in their sketchbook all the time, that I wanted a lesson that showed off that freedom to draw whatever they wanted. The results were amazing and showed off their creativity. We colored the drawings and added the blue tissue paper clouds by added water to the area and placing the tissue paper on the area and then removing it (can be reused three different times). The last class the students outlined the drawing, balloons, and drew the strings. Enjoyed the tissue paper project from last year and love the project results this year!

As the kindergarten learned about line, my first graders learned about line as well. We talked about five different kinds of line... Straight, curved, zig-zag, loop, and dotted. After we talked about the five kinds of lines, I had the students draw one of each on a piece of paper starting from one edge of the paper and ending on a different edge. After the lines were added to the paper we framed out a congested section of the paper with a square frame. The next class we learned about the warm and cool colors. The students had to pick one color scheme to do in the inside of the square, and the other color scheme on the outside. The students looked for the organic shapes and colored each of them in. It's great how cool a paper can look with a bunch of lines and planned out colors on it!

Primary Lines...

Yay... PRIMARY COLORS! My kindergarteners started out the year with this lesson on primary colors. We drew a bunch of random lines. The students learned about different kinds of lines and learned to listen to directions. The next class we outlined the lines with sharpie marker and colored in the inner shapes with the three primary colors RED, YELLOW, and BLUE. On the third day of art (I might have been crazy) I decided to paint with watercolors. We used green and learned about wax resist. Simple lesson with kindergarten, but a lot of things learned!

Positive and Negative Space Textured Initials

The 5th grade students learned about textures and positive and negative space. We started out the lesson talking about texture... visual texture (drawing something that has texture). The students had to find 15 different kinds of textures through the school or outside on their way home (a little homework). The next day we drew those textures on small thumbnail boxes. The students then took these textures and applied it to their Initial drawing. The student could decorate the inner area framed by the letter and square or the outer area which included the letter. The space that was left plane became the negative space. The students were confused what the project would look like by the end, but were very happy with the end product. Nice job guys!

Sign Language in ART!!!!

My fifth graders learned about sign language. The students spent the first class looking at their hands and drawing from life. The next class I brought in some transparency sheets for the students to draw their hands with. I got this idea from my buddy (Great Artdoors blog) as a way to turn a 3-D into a 2-D image. The students put their hands under the transparency and drew with a marker what they saw. The students learned a lot and took this knowledge of how to draw a 3-D image to the next class. Each student partnered up and drew the partners hand as they signed the letter needed to spell their name. Every students improved immensely from that first day. Some students as you can see from above, blew it out of the water for fifth grade. I posted four, but If anyone wants to see more as proof as to how much they learned from taking the time to show them three different methods of drawing... just ask and I will post more! Thanks to the Pinterest post that gave me this great lesson idea. The students loved making the "wet on wet"watercolor background. I loved the contrast of white hands on the colored / darker background. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Wow... It has been months since my last post and tons of changes have happened in my life and my classroom. To start out My girlfriend and I just bought our first house. We bought a hundred year old brick - 1 story house in the town I teach. The house had that "charm" that drew me to it the first time I drove past it (as they were putting the sign in... it was fate). The interior hasn't changed in over a hundred years and has an amazing amount of potential with the original hardwood floors, wood trim and foot high wood baseboards at the foot of every room. I love this house and it has been an amazing journey that I am happy to be sharing with Maggie. 

I want to secondly apologize for not posting anything in the last three month. At the end of the last school year I agreed to coach the varsity soccer team at the high school in my school district. I knew it would come with a lot of work, but that was an understatement. I loved every minute of it, but the planning, dealing with parents, stats, games, and practices began to catch up to me. 

To top off these two life changes... My school district moved me from two schools to THREE schools. I was nervous at first that I wouldn't be able to handle all these changes and then be stretched to three school, but I couldn't be more excited and proud of the work my students are doing and the way I have adjusted to the new way of teaching/ moving to three schools in as span of one day, everyday!
My school district moved the fifth graders to the middle school... this meant they needed someone to teach them. I went from seeing each fifth grade class once a week last year, to once a day for 35 minutes for one semester. Last year at this time I was finishing my first project with my fifth grade, now I have four lessons done and the students are learning so much more.

So excited to show you the lessons so far this year, and the projects to come!