Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Joy of Palette Knives

In preparation for their landscape paintings, I recently shared a Bob Ross painting clip with my fourth graders. It was completely silent. The amazing kind of jaw dropped wonder that I remember from my own discovery of Bob Ross in the mid-eighties was reflected back to me on every face. The first question when I turned off the video: "Do we get to use that knife thing?"

Yes, grasshopper.

It turns out, that I will be letting them use "that knife thing" a whole lot once I discovered how much easier it is to clean 30 palette knives as opposed to 30 paintbrushes. Like the difference between washing a bald head or Rapunzel's hair.

Wet sponges on their tables made all the difference. Now I'm encouraging ALL paint mixing to be done with the knive and to apply paint with the knife or a brush. I will definitely bring this idea to the other grades, expecially for color wheels and other things where they don't have to paint in a specific shape. Saving so much time and paint this way. I'd have to imagine it will extend the life of my brushes as well.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Mouse Paint Remix

I bought the book "Mouse Paint" my first year of teaching and used it the first week of school for a first grade lesson. I have also used the book with my Art 2 students in high school as the basis for an illustration prompt. Now that I am back at the elementary level, I have used this book with every grade at some point. As my kindergarten students wrapped up their paper sculptures I was looking to move on with sculpture but not sure if I wanted to tackle clay. I remembered seeing the mini-mice lesson from Deep Space Sparkle. I've also been seeing lots of play-doh color wheels on pinterest and decided to combine the two using Mouse Paint as my inspiration. I'm going to road test it next week. I used model magic. Stay tuned!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Drum Dream Girl

The book "The Drum Dream Girl" by Margarita Engle is a wonderful story with gorgeous illustrations. When I showed my music teacher she immediately agreed to collaborate with me. Since she does drums with second grade, I created a project for that grade.

We will end with a partner activity where students will respond to their classmate's work using haiku.

Saturday, February 6, 2016


Riding the wave of the classroom discussions of Martin Luther King's Dream Speech, this month I introduced two dream inspired projects. My first graders began a painting unit. For three weeks students created sheets of paper using marbling, wet on wet, gradations, squeegees, stippling, blotto, diffuser paper and more.

During the last class, I read the book "Dreams" by Ezra Jack Keats. The students were excited to search for "their" techniques in the book. I like this reversed format of ending with the book instead of starting. We focused on an illustration of the apartment building where everyone is dreaming. We used their paint explorations to fill each window where someone is dreaming.

The second lesson is a collaborative one I started with our music teacher. During their lesson last week, I read the book The Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle. We talked about discrimination and determination. The illustrations in this book are so vivid and layered. The students loved searching for patterns as I read. I find that if I give them a job while reading, whether it be a word to listen for, or a specific thing to spot, it increases their engagement. In this case, they were on the hunt for patterns, and were to give me a quiet "thumbs up" whenever they spotted one. The music teacher reinforced the use of repetition and patterns in music. We will be following this up next week with scratch art illustrations of a drum of their choice.

Sandy's Circus

Now available in my TpT store:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Calder Inspired

I've been working through paper sculpture with my kindergarten students since we returned from winter break. We started off with the loop project as a collaborative project after being inspired by Faith Ringold's Quilting Bee. We talked about being part of a community and contributing to a whole, even if you don't get to keep it. Great lesson for this group.

Next, we moved into other paper sculpting techniques using a round robin format for six centers. This no prep lesson is a new favorite. I placed one paper sculpting technique on each of my six tables. The students had a 6x6 base and unlimited scraps of white (recycled) copy paper. They had to figure out by themselves how to make the technique and then mount it on their base. Every five minutes I rang the bell and they got a new sample to try.

A finished base with 6 techniques

 Poster used to introduce paper sculpting techniques

The six samples, one for each table.

Last week I read "Sandy's Circus" and they made circus people using pipe cleaners and beads for the hands and/or feet.

We extended further into Alexander Calder this week as the students created planar sculptures and abstract animal sculptures after being inspired by a picture of stegosaurus. Lesson plan adapted from pink stripey socks.

Kindergarten sample of Planar Sculpture using at least 3 shapes.

Kindergarten Calder Inspired Sculpture

My "Alien" Calder Inspired Sample

Could do this lesson next October as a Spider:

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

iPledge Allegiance to


So excited to be one of the teachers selected to pilot the new iPledge program. One of my schools will receive an iPad mini for students to begin to document their work and share it to our online gallery. So very excited to move this task off of my plate, and onto theirs!  Our school will be a Leader in Me school next year and I'm thinking that students may have the chance to be the gallery curator. Maybe my 5th grade students will rotate through that job and upload for my 1st and 2nd graders. 3rd and up should be easily trained.