Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Sponge Hierarchy

Last week I had to take a personal day and had laid out things for my sub as best as humanly possible. As I went to flip the lights off something caught my eye and I had a moment of sheer terror. I had left my "good sponges" out in plain sight. Good sponges. What if my sub wasn't sponge-worthy? I can't be alone in the coveting of a good sponge. Here's the hierarchy as far as I know it.

Level 1. Brand new sponge. Glorious and yellow from the cellophane packaging. A new sponge gets cut into thirds or sometimes quarters right from the package. (Sponges don't grow on trees, y'all.)
This sponge can only be used for printmaking. Once it mops up a table or something with glitter, it's all downhill.
Level 2. Once students have misused a printmaking sponge it can be used for moping up small spills by the teacher. This sponge is still too pretty to be given directly to students.
Level 3. Your everyday free range sponge. This can be used by anyone for just about anything.
Level 4. This sponge has seen better days. When wrung thoroughly the water from this sponge is always slightly gray and smells of gym socks. It can be cut down into shapes for sponge painting or stamping. Several of them can be used as packing peanuts for taking home clay projects.

I don't think you're ready for these jellies

First grade rocked their jellyfish paintings.

I had intended for this to be a one day lesson, but after thinking of the various steps and uncovering a Mark Kistler DVD I made some changes. On the first day we talked about watercolor paint, transparency and I demonstrated how to do a wash. They were given the blue liquid watercolors and a mop brush. I had them paint their backgrounds only - which took all of 5 minutes. While the backgrounds dried on their table, I fired up the DVD which had a segment on drawing jellyfish. They got very good at drawing the shape.
For the second week, I demonstrated how to paint the jellyfish, including the forced air tentacles. They used the rest of the time to paint. It's a much better result than if we'd done it all in one class.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Drawing with Scissors

After reading the book Matisse: The King of Color students did an amazing job with their collages. This lesson addressed figure drawing, silhouette, emphasis, movement. During bus duty the next day a student walked by and said "The King of Color is Here." A keeper for next year.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

DIY Liquid Watercolors

This week I had a need for blue watercolor paint and lots of it. We're talking about 150 first graders painting the ocean. I had visions of little hands gripping mop brushes and dripping the paint all over including the yellow pan. I wished I could just give them blue and nothing else. So I did.

We all know that blue is always the first color gone from the watercolor box anyway. I popped out the remnants from all of my old watercolor boxes and tossed them into shallow water bowls. Pouring a little warm water (enough to cover) into each dish, I left them to soak while I went about my day. Checked on them about four hours later and BAM! Liquid watercolor paint in a dish big enough for 4 mop brushes. I'd like to do this at the end of the year with all my remnants (separate by color) and store them in the little applicator bottles I found. Not sure what the shelf life will be. Sounds like a summer science project.

Backgrounds are done. Next week: Jellyfish!

Monday, May 5, 2014


First grade took their weaving projects to the next level, using the finished paper as a checkered tablecloth for a picnic. We talked about food shapes and creating a balanced meal by eating a rainbow. Students then decorated the edge of their plate and glued it onto the tablecloth.

They looks so cheerful in the hallways. This was their recycled project for Earth Day. We used up almost all of the paper in my scrap box. Lesson with introductory powerpoint available here.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Shrinking Arcimboldo

4th grade had so much fun getting their heads shrunk. We studied Arcimboldo and used their photos to create a profile to fill with their favorite things. I think these will be great Mother's Day gifts.