Thursday, December 31, 2015

Holiday Vacation

I hope everyone is enjoying a well deserved break. Like most of you, time out of the room doesn't always equal time mentally away from school. My husband and I took our daughter to Colonial Williamsburg and my mind is just churning away with all of the "trades" that we visited. During our visit I had the chance to take a Scherenschnitte workshop at the art museum and it was invigorating.

This falls after the month where students want to do nothing but cut paper snowflakes in my classroom. I'd love to follow up on my enthusiasm with a lesson, but I'm finding the price of the scissors a little daunting ($11-17 per pair....ouch!) While I know I could do the lesson with regular scissors, I definitely appreciated how smoothly and easily the curved blades cut through the paper and I hope they could experience that as well.

What was so magical about the workshop was that special time to create and be pampered as the student. Everything was prepared for me, no clean up. Supplies magically appeared at my desk right before I needed them, what a treat! My previous encounters with the medium were very two dimensional, so I loved that we made ornaments by stitching the cut pieces together. This could be a very scalable project for my upper elementary.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


This year my students finished their negative space line designs early. This has been a favorite the past two years so I'm brining it back. They were allowed to make keychains or tags for their bookbags or ornaments. I was thinking it was a shame that I can't really display them properly and then this idea popped into my head.

There's a tree for each homeroom and instead of ornament hooks, I used a pushpin on each.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Painted Collage

Our librarian asked if I wanted to collaborate after the holidays on a lesson based on the books of Ezra Jack Keats. In my head I'm seeing the Snowy Day book and thinking about how I just planned a ton of winter/snow/snowflake lessons for December. I asked her to bring me a few of the books she has on hand, which she did. Shuffling through them quickly on my lunch break I was immediately drawn to a lesser known book called "Dreams."

So. Much. Eye. Candy.

Pages like this had me quickly making up lesson plans in my head throughout the afternoon as I was teaching other classes.

By the end of the day, I had a quick mock up of where I saw the project going:

But I had a feeling there was a lot more I could do with it. Which is why it's 10pm and I'm up to my elbows in painted paper samples, putting together something more like this:

I can not wait to jump into this after break. Lesson plan and step by step visuals available here.

Test Tiles

Sometimes you just need to follow the experts. I've been making test tiles the way my college professors, cooperating teachers and mentors made them. Actually, my first two years of teaching elementary, I didn't make them at all, I just relied on the catalog pictures and any finished project samples laying around from the previous teacher.

Last year I decided to use mini cookie cutters to help me quickly separate the glaze by brands. So my Amaco are square tiles, the Sax are round and the new "Teacher's Palette" are gingerbread men. As I'm painfully painting the 3rd coat on my 20th gingerbread man I think to myself "I guess this is why the paint your own pottery stores just put a drop of each color on one tile." DING! DING! DING!

Yes! Firing all these little dudes, while completely adorable, was a complete and utter pain. So I grabbed a blank tile leftover from the previous teacher's mural project and was able to knock these out in less than 10 minutes:

I did make a little cheat sheet for myself on scrap paper so I would remember where each color was on the tile. Obviously this tile is not representative of ALL the colors of clay that I might use, but if I make a few slabs of each color clay, I will have a few ready. Not sure why teachers don't do it this way - maybe they don't want students to see ALL the colors, but I'm fine telling them "We're out of that color right now."

And while I've never done a color theory lesson with glazes, I could see how the Teacher's Palette line would be an easy one to try. The above tile is a color wheel using scarlet, lemon and midnight blue. The secondaries are pretty good.

I would love to hear your test tile tips and tricks.