Saturday, October 20, 2012

Photo Album Remixed as Dry Eraser Binder

I was searching through an old photo album over the weekend and noted that my mom had never filled the last 10 pages. I pulled them out of the 3 ring binder and found two great uses for them.

1. Mini White-board lessons. Slip in a few activities and place back in a binder for your art center.
2. Cheap laminating for items that you'd like to keep in a binder.

I know it isn't rocket science, but here are the pictures anyway. I figure if I go through each album and pull the last 3-4 empty pages, I'll have enough for a binder of 10 or so activities at each school.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Conversation Starter

I saw and loved this. It would make a great "open house" handout for parents. Saving for next year.

Your child comes to you with a picture she has just drawn. You look at it and say something like, "Wow, that's beautiful." Then you put it on the fridge. And that is pretty much it. While there is nothing wrong with this scenario, if you want your child to think critically and creatively about her art, you could use this opportunity to ask some questions. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  1. What can you tell me about your picture? This open-ended question is a great way to get kids talking about their art. It is especially good if you cannot tell what the picture is. Nothing worse than saying, "What a lovely horse." only to have the child tell you it is supposed to be a dog.

  2. How did you get the idea for this picture? By explaining the inspiration, the child recognizes his own creative spark and makes the connection from real-life events to artistic creation

  3. What do you like about your picture? Encourages the child to look carefully at his art and make a judgment. More importantly, this question teaches your child to value his own internal validation rather than performing in hopes of gaining the approval of others.

  4. What title would you give this work? Titles can offer a new dimension to a piece of art. Also, a title encourages your child to think about the main idea or concept of her work.

  5. Why did you.....use brown for the sky? Make the girl so much larger than the boy? Use only the bottom of the paper? Basically ask why the child decided to draw or color a specific element of the work in a particular way. Make sure your tone is neutral - you are asking for clarity, not judging or criticizing the work.

  6. How were you feeling when you made this picture? Connecting emotions with creative expression.

  7. How do hope other people will feel when they look at your picture? Allows the child to put himself in another's position and imagine how his work affects that person. You could also make this question more specific by naming a particular person: How do you think grandma will feel when she looks at your picture?

  8. If you could make this picture again, what would you do differently? Professional artists often make many versions of the same picture, trying new things, tweaking, experimenting. Encourage your young artist to do the same.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Something Borrowed

I've been loving the Paul Klee lesson from Mrs. Picasso's art blog so much that I went a little over board with samples this weekend. These will be gifted or put on etsy! I think I like the idea of having students use quotes or song lyrics.

The Turtles "So happy together

First Corinthians

Friday, October 12, 2012

Am I Done?

Made use of the side of a metal storage cabinet for students to do a visual check of whether or not they are REALLY done. The second part underneath is an enlarged copy from their standards-based report card. Can anyone guess what question I answered too many times today?

Thursday, October 11, 2012


I will gladly credit someone else if this has been said before, but this was the thought in my head tonight as I packed 10 corks, 3 plastic cereal bowls and some empty yogurt containers in my car for tomorrow.


Our curriculum map is set up to teach 1 point perspective in 3rd grade and 2 point perspective in 4th grade. Today we read "The Spider and the Fly" which the students loved even though I kept stopping the story to make them admire the drool-worthy illustrations of Tony DiTerlizzi.

Each class completed introductory practice pages last week of drawing boxes (3rd grade) and houses (4th grade). They will begin drawing their houses next week, after I show them some very cool Victorian homes. If the houses end up a bit spooky, well who can blame them?

This is the current bulletin board for at-a-glance reinforcement of the concepts.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October Lessons

Finding it hard to resist the temptation of fall themed projects. Stumbled upon this great book in my daughter's bookshelf and decided to make a go of it. There is a nice anti-bullying undercurrent and it's not overtly halloweenish. Great additional resources on the website for teachers.

Decided the use the book as a jump off point for second grade, who will be learning how to shade with value using pumpkins. Something like this perhaps:

And for first grade they will explore turning shapes into forms as they create crazy pumpkin patches. Maybe something like this (faces optional).

Crayon on colored construction paper. Could push them to work in a color scheme possibly. Obviously need to show a background. Still thinking.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pencil Sharpening

I took for granted that I required my high school art students to arrive with a pencil. It is now necessary to make sure I have sharp pencils for 28 students all day long. If you're like me, the constant sound of the electric sharpener is grating at best. It also starts a chain reaction of kids who want to walk. I tried handheld sharpeners at each table...for a week. Someone was constantly getting a tip broken off and trying to dig it out with scissors or (even better) their fingers. The solution is I sharpen them. I know I should be working smarter not harder, but this is a small price to pay. I put 2 extra pencils at each table. As pencils get dull or break the student takes a fresh one and puts the dull pencil on the end of their table. At the end of class a student helper grabs the green bucket of sharp pencils and swaps them out into the red "to be sharpened" bucket. It's working. I plan to make sharpening a helper job for a few responsible 4th graders who are usually done early.