Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Leader in Me Posters

I decided to make my own posters that were specific to the language I use in my classroom with my students relative to art. If you're a "Leader in Me" school and would like to snag yourself an 8x10 copy of each sign, check them out here.

Monday, August 14, 2017


This will be our second year as a Leader in Me school. Last year, it was knew to the kids and they were still clinging to our old extrinsic reward PBIS system. We're rolling out PBIS in a big way with kick off assemblies and hopefully the kids will be on board. I've decided to incorporate LIM into my bulletins this year.

My students will instantly recognize me with my Green Bay Packers apron and checked Van's sneakers. I'm sure they will get a chuckle out of my alter ego. I ordered a Wonder Woman apron online. I'm thinking first day I will pin it to my normal apron, and when I teach, I can flip it around to reveal my WW cape. Cape + Apron...Capron? Will have to channel my inner Cassie Stephens.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Summer of Books

This summer I've been stocking my bookshelves with amazing finds that I can't wait to use in the classroom. My usual source for obtaining school books is paperbackswap. When they don't have the book I'm looking for my new go-to is thriftbooks. They have very low minimums to qualify for free shipping and for every $50 spent I get a reading reward which is a $5 coupon. They have a referral program as well for additional earnings. My most recent order has me very excited for next year.

While it's rare for me to pay full price, I did snag an amazing book from hobby lobby as well. I don't usually buy how to books for teaching techniques, but I was really drawn to the illustrations in the book. It was like getting 10 project examples so totally worth it (after my 40% coupon).

I've been painting my own samples from the ideas in the book over the past few weeks and and putting the finishing touches on corresponding lesson plans.

This is not a sponsored post, but if you'd like to check out thriftbooks, please click my referral link.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Dala Horse Lesson

So very excited to share a new lesson. I feel like I haven't been doing enough folk art with my students and that is something I hope to change this year. So I went in search of something that didn't seem to be overdone and found the delightful Dalecarlian horses of Sweden. I will be having my younger students paint them, but since they missed out on the fun I may have the older students create 3D sculptures. Here's my teacher sample painting and a link to the lesson plan if you'd like to try it but have no time to write your own plan.

In the lesson plan over at TpT, I included two fun pattern worksheets for the students where they have to match up and identify different types of patterns. So excited to see their bright creations filling the hallway this fall!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Feeling Fibers

** Update **
Lesson plans now available here if interested, and I made step by step visuals for setting up the loom for the tree and the circular weaving. With arrows. Cause I'm fancy.

During the last week of school my grant for a visit artist was fully funded through Donors Choose. She will be creating a living wall using fibers as a collaborative piece with each student K-5. So, I've been feeling fibers lately as I plan out my scope and sequence for next year. I started making samples to decide which grade level I might work each project into.

I may use the kumihimo bracelet as a bridge or transition activity for my 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. I created a step-by-step handout that they can use to get started.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Thankful for my village

It takes a village....to develop a seriously good grading system for report cards. This year our district rolled out new report cards. We previously used a standards-based model of 1-4 with 3 being grade level and 4 being mastery of a year ahead. In art, students were assessed in two areas. We now have three areas to grade: art content, conduct and effort. The parents only see the letter labels so our amazing department put together a rubric to think through what each label means. I have been using sentences from the rubric on the report card comment section because they are so helpful. Since providing thoughtful comments can be tricky when you're working alone I wanted to share them out.

Friday, May 26, 2017


My first student batch of bobbleheads fresh from the oven. These are miniature (about 3" tall) made from sculpey. As a STEAM challenge, students had to weigh their material on a scale and were only allowed 2oz (equal to one brick) of polymer clay (We used Sculpey III). They could swap colors with friends or me to get up to that amount.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ready for this Gelli

After taking the Art of Education's course "Strategies for Art Educators" I was ready to get my students gelli printing. Thanks to a generous donation from my school's PTA and some artsonia funds that had accrued we were able to order (24) 5x5" gelli plates from blick.

I experimented with my own gelli prints at home for a few weeks, troubleshooting the process and imagining it with 24 bodies in action. I decided to start with traditional printing methods and ease into the gelli prints. Simply put, I didn't think they were ready for this Gelli. They created oil pastel self portraits on 6x9 plastic plates. These were transferred onto damp paper. We repeated this for a second week so students would have more prints to choose from.

Then they created the gelli prints. Using bubble wrap and textured stampers they made four prints each in one class period. During the last class they looked at pop art examples and assembled their own. The could use 1, 2, 3 or 4 self portraits and a range of composition strategies. The work was amazing and they had a great time.

If you'd like to try this lesson in your classroom but would rather skip the lesson plan writing, check it out here.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Evolution of Bobbleheads

My daughter made a bobblehead in fourth grade using plaster, a pencil and a styrofoam cup. It took her close to two months in art class, and about halfway through she was already "over it" so I had written it off as a possibility for my own class. After seeing the adorable lesson on Bobbleheads from Cassie Stephens, I decided I had to consider it. Since it's May and each grade level already worked with clay I thought about other materials. I've had a bunch of sculpey leftover from a grant a few years back and decided to give it a try at home.


Working in reverse I started looking for information to share with the students about bobbleheads and was overwhelmed with the information on the bobblehead hall of fame website. I didn't realize there was such a long and rich history. One piece of information struck me as possibly outdated so I did a fresh search for the largest bobblehead created and found that this Guiness record has changed a few times over the past decade. My students love facts like that, so I'm going to be sure to include that in their introduction. 

I like the element of balance and it got me thinking to how I will portion out the material. Although I've never tried it, I would like to bring in a small postal scale and have the students weigh their sculpey and give the project a maximum weight. This is shaping up to be a great STEAM lesson.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Noodle Felting

Last evening my husband and I had the opportunity to attend the opening of a local artisan studio that offers fiber art supplies, classes and handmade goods. In talking to the owner about my desire to bring felting to my classes I was introduced to the art of "noodle felting." In college, I learned how to card wool by hand and felted by stitching the layers together inside a pillowcase in my father's washing machine (much to his chagrin). Over the past few years I have seen examples of wet felting using a sushi mat and other household items. Noodle felting is a great, economical way to introduce wet felting to my elementary classroom.

To begin start with wool roving. Tear in 3-4" chunks. Lay down in alternating directions. I placed my wool on a layer of bubble wrap inside a disposable paint tray liner available at your local home improvement store. You should also add a layer to create agitation such as wire mesh/tulle. Use a squirt of liquid dish detergent with warm water and mist/spray the wool.  I folded the bubble wrap over the wool roving layers. Using a pool noodle roll over top of the wool. In the photo below I've used pipe insulation in place of a pool noodle.

This is the finished dry felted piece. The inspiration was an abstract landscape of a day at the beach.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Full STEAM Ahead

This year our school is combining our annual science fair with "Math & Literacy Night" to create a new event called "STEAM Night." Students can bring in traditional science projects or artworks and teachers will host stations integrating different elements of the curriculum. Since this is the first year art has been included I am very excited to participate. I thought that pendulum painting would be a fun idea to demonstrate for the kids.


To get started you need to make a pendulum.
I recycled an empty contact solution container because I wanted to be able to quickly and easily stop the flow. I cut off the bottom and reinforced that area with duct tape. Next I drilled three equidistant holes about .5" from the bottom of the bottle. If using a plastic water bottle, a hole puncher will work. 

Next loop about 1 yard of string or twine through each hole. Connect the three lengths at the top. I used a tripod we had at home, but you could also place a broom handle across two chairs. 

Tempera paint that has been thinned two parts to one part water is added tot he container with the hold plugged. Place paper under the tripod, remove the plug and let it go.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Time to make the donuts

This year my crayola grant is focusing on the work of Wayne Thiebaud. I had planned to have my fourth grade students create a layered cake with a piece removed and also make a model magic cupcake. Both are lessons I've borrowed from another teacher in my district. As the supplies started   rolling in, I saw a teacher post a lesson for donuts on a discussion board for art teachers. I knew right away that I could connect this to the Thiebaud lesson. And, hello fastnacht day! I don't know if this is a big deal if you're not Pennsylvania Dutch, but this is very relevant for the students in our district.
My first group of students finished their donuts today and they are gorgeous. I had them focus on unity, variety and emphasis. Since we used a pool noodle as a stamper, all of the shapes are the same. That's our unity. I supplied three colors of paint: vanilla, chocolate, and cinnamon. That's our variety. They used the amazing playcolor paint sticks to add frosting, glaze and sprinkles on top. They were allowed to use glitter on ONE donut which created emphasis. More photos to come.

This lesson idea inspired by Katie Mallette.