Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Santa needs a vacation! Paper collage in Grade 4...

December in the classroom can seem like the longest short month of the school year...plenty of breaks for Christmas programs and special events...a last day on the Friday before Christmas...parties and gifts. So much excitement that it can be a challenge to keep to the curriculum and still have a little fun. I don't do this project every year because it can take too long with all the interruptions, but this year my fourth grade class schedule was clear from the week after Thanksgiving until our Christmas break.


After choosing a perfect vacation location for Santa, each student traced a simple body form using a template that I made myself. The Santa faces were from free clip art a few years ago, so unfortunately, I no longer remember the exact website. I'm sure there are plenty of free Santas out there! The only rule for the Santa heads was that the face and beard had to remain. It was ok to change the hat or give Santa some sunglasses or goggles to fit his vacation plans. To keep it simple and minimize the mess at this busy time of year, we used our stash of painted paper, colored construction paper, colored markers, colored pencils, and crayons to design and construct Santa's vacation outfit. 

The project guidelines were simple: dress Santa for his Great Escape, make at least three items of clothing or props out of our painted paper (to add lots of pattern and color), and to include a prop, sign, or shirt design to let the viewers know where each Santa was headed for his January vacation!

Our finished Santas will be on display in the school Children's Art Gallery through the month of January...just enough time to finish up some clay projects to replace them in February!

More Christmas Trees in Art Room 231...Grade 2 Weaving!

When art class only meets once a week, every minute counts, even during the holidays! This project was designed to review simple paper weaving, which my second graders had learned during the spring of their first grade year when we wove paper flower baskets. We'll be doing loom weaving with yarn after the Christmas holiday break, so this project helped me see which students remembered the basic over-under weaving pattern, and which students would need more review when the yarn and looms came out in January.
My direction board for the weaving steps
After choosing light or dark green construction paper (9x12"), the students followed some simple instructions to create their triangular tree "loom".
We call a lengthwise fold the "hot dog fold". After folding, the students used cardboard strips to draw a line from the folded corner to the opposite open corner of the paper.

After cutting on the line, the students used the cardboard strip to mark off what I call the "do not cut past this line...line", which helps them keep from cutting the paper in half while preparing the openings for the weaving.

The students then used shorter cardboard strips, about 1" wide, to mark off the cutting lines.

Once the lines have been cut, it's time for weaving! This year, I had received a generous donation of red, green, and gold metallic ribbon from a parent, which made the project extra special. The students cut ribbon strips 12" long using rulers, then used the strips to weave their trees. The final step was to cut out a silver star, which they could decorate using liquid glue and plenty of colorful glitter! I don't have a photo, but I try to contain the glitter a bit by having the students apply the glue at their tables, then bring it to a "glitter station" where the piece is placed in a box lid where the sprinkling takes place. The glitter can then be collected and returned to the shakers for reuse instead of going into the trash and onto the floor.
To keep it simple, we used masking tape on the back of the trees to attach the stars, trunks, and any lose ribbons.

Merry Christmas to all from Art Room 231!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christmas in Art Room 231...Grade 1 Printmaking!

I like Christmas as much as anyone, but when I only see my students once a week, every moment counts when it comes to meeting curriculum objectives...even during holiday weeks! So for this year's first grade December project, I decided to introduce a simple printmaking technique using liquid tempera, paper towel tubes, and of course, lots of glitter!
Each round table in my art studio seats 4-5 students, so I prepared two pans of green tempera and a collection of cut up paper towel tubes for each table group. The students wrote their names on a 12x18" sheet of 80# multi-media paper before we important since many of the trees will look very much the same at the beginning! I demonstrated how to start with a single circle at the top, then add two overlapping circles below the first one, followed by three, and so on until the desired number of overlapping circles were created. Before the paint dried, I went around the table with my container of glitter and gave each tree a generous sprinkle of the lovely, shiny bits of joy! The students let their paper "rest" while they washed up, then each took his or her project to the large trash can for a shake down before placing it on the drying rack until the following week.

When the students arrived the next week, we were ready to decorate the trees. I had a roll of gold sticky backed paper which I cut into squares for the stars. The students traced tagboard star patterns (made using our workroom Accu-cut machine), peeled off the backing, and stuck them to the top of the tree. Any scraps could be used to make ornaments or gifts for under the trees.  We used red tempera to make thumbprint ornaments to decorate the trees, which the students thought was great fun! To make the red tempera "stamp pads", I folded and soaked paper towels, put one in each pan, then used a brush to fill the wet paper towel pad with red tempera. Although I had to frequently refill the makeshift stamp pads, the color was much brighter than the color from any purchased stamp pad.
Here a just a few of our lovely Christmas tree prints:  

One of my personal favorites is this one. The sweet little boy told me his tree had solid gold booster rockets and was headed into outer space! Gotta love first graders and their imaginations!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ready for a new school year!

After a wonderfully relaxing summer, it's time for those big yellow buses to roll! I will miss my lazy mornings on the deck and the precious time with family and friends, that's for sure, but the coffee is on and the halls are ready and waiting for another group of young artists. It's been a busy few days...prepping the art room and halls, teacher in service day, new student orientation, and Sunday's Open House for parents and students...and now it's showtime!

Over the years I've learned to save work in May to display in August, which makes preparation much, much it down to just three days this year!

Third grade sunrise/sunset water colors

Yummy ice cream cones by last year's second graders


A variety of framed art work by students in grades 2, 3, and 4!
An eye-catching display based on a study of Louise Nevelson,  
created by last year's seventh grade students
And a featured work by one of my sixth grade students whose portfolio won her an opportunity to attend the Dorothy Myers Yeck Scholarship Studio at the Dayton Art Institute!

Thanks to the stenciling by a talented staff member, our students climbed to the second floor to begin the year inspired by the words of Mother Theresa.
I hope your year is off to a great start!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Six Tips for Glazing Clay in the Classroom

1. I keep the glaze on a table separate from the one used by the students. Spoons are kept on the table to facilitate refills as each class needs them. This job is usually done by me in the lower grades, but the middle school students do their own refills as needed.
2. Every glaze has a number assigned to it. This stays the same every year, since I use pretty much the same colors every year.
3. The glazes are put in six lidded cups that I get at the local Flower Factory outlet, one for each table in the classroom. Each cup is numbered to match the glaze that is inside.

4.The table is covered with a plastic table cover that I use throughout the entire unit. If it becomes too dirty to clean easily, I flip it over and use the reverse side. This really saves on clean up time at the end of each clay day.

5. Since different projects use either red or white low fire clay, there is a sample star for each glaze on both kinds of clay. The name of the glaze color and its number is carved into the back of each star.

6. Each table has rotating responsibility for clean up. Glaze cups are counted, refilled, and capped by two tables. Although each student is responsible for washing his or her brushes as they are used, one table makes sure that all have been cleaned and returned to the brush jars, bristles up, of course! The sink crew makes sure the sink area is dry and no brushes, paper towels, or other debris is left behind. Tables are wiped down, the floor is swept if necessary, and the small trash cans are emptied into the large one.

To be quite honest, it has taken me ten years of trial and error to come up with this system! My classes are often large, as many as 28 students, and we only have 40 minute periods once a week. This works for both large and small classes, and with a few modifications, equally well for all my grade 4-8 classes. Grades 1-3 usually use tempera paints, which I gloss with ModPodge, in order to keep the cost of materials down.