Monday, December 4, 2017

Artist in residence

Today was the last session with our visiting artist, Mallory Zondag. Every student in 3rd-5th grade choose a flat piece of felt to contribute to the piece and every student K-2 choose either a sphere or a cord to include. All other pieces were theirs to keep. She will combine all of their pieces onto the giant 5' x 5' felted background that all students worked on in class and it will hang prominently in our school.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A New Throne For Yertle

Kindergarten and 1st grade designed and built a new throne for Yertle the Turtle. After reading the story and discussing the characteristics of good leadership, we decided Yertle needed a new throne, so he would stop standing on all his friends. Students visited three centers where they designed with marker, built individually with play-doh and worked in teams building with blocks.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Kindergarten Collaborations

Kindergarten has been working their way through paper sculpture at one of my schools. After studying and practicing planar sculptures in the style of Alexander Calder, we moved onto collaborative paper sculptures by looking at the found object work of Louise Nevelson and creating paper assemblages on 6x6" paper.

To teach the lesson, each table had one paper sculpting technique "sample" and each student had their own background paper. They had to try to make the example on their own by experimenting.

Every 5 minutes I would switch out the samples (easier for me to move 6 paper samples then for 24 kids to change seats 5 times!) After their final technique was added, they brought their paper back and we glued it onto a giant piece of posterboard.

For our third week of paper sculpture, we looked at the story quilts of Faith Ringgold. Since they had just finished collaborating on the Nevelson project, it was easy to link into quilts. We talked about quilting bees and other ways artists can work together. I then shared the work of contemporary artist Suzan Shutan. Inspired by her tar paper installations, students created loops and began adding to a classroom piece by directing the placement of their individual loop.

They used marker to create pattern inside their loop, but the outside of each loop remained white to create a unified design. All four kindergarten classes are displayed together in the hall and will eventually move into my classroom.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Updated Organization

A few years back I had posted a few tips and tricks I had picked up along the way. I updated the list today with some new ideas, photos and routines. One of which is my "class counts" cheat sheet. This is a super simple chart I make in excel with the number of kids in each class, broken down by day and grade level. (The bonus of using does the math for you!)

I print it out 6 to a page and tape that thing wherever I find myself counting out supplies...especially next to the paper cutter! If you struggle with organization this is a free download on TpT. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Felted Spheres

During our 30-minute classes today the K, 1 & 2 students made spheres with felt. This may become rocks or pebbles in the final design. This was the second session with our artist-in-residence, Mallory Zondag.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Candy Cane Lane

Teaching 3rd grade 1-point perspective with these gingerbread houses on Candy Cane Lane.

They have already completed a pumpkin patch painting using the casual devices of perspective (scale, overlapping, details and placement) and are now ready for more formal perspective. They started laying our their drawings last week and I think this is going to be more successful since they have that foundation of perspective already mastered. We're working on kraft paper so the gingerbread will not be colored and the frosting really pops. My sample is colored pencil, but I'm going to let them use oil pastel.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Artist In Residence

Our visiting artist, Mallory Zondag, started today and it's been amazing to watch the students blossom under her guidance. We are constructing a living wall of fiber using wet felting techniques. Every student K-5 has the opportunity to add to the collective 6 foot square background. Grades 5, 4 & 3 are creating sheets of felt that will be needle felted on top of the background while 2nd, 1st and kindergarten are creating cords that will be used as textural embellishments.

For the flat pieces the students tear and place five thin layers of wool roving, alternating the layers as they stack them on their mat. The mat is a piece of pool covering but you could use a sushi mat or bubble wrap.

A mesh screen is placed over the five layers and then the warm soapy water is used to scrub over the entire pile. We used an olive oil based soap.

Next, they remove the screen and roll over top of the felt with a pool noodle wrapped in the other end of their mat. They agitate for about two minutes. Then we added five more layers to the pile and repeat. They could change color if desired.

For the corded pieces, students received about a yard of roving to wrap around their palm several times. They dunked their hand in the soapy water and rubbed their hands together to agitate. They needed to rotate the wool around the hand so that it was evenly felted. After a few rotations they had  to unwrap the cord and squeegee off the excess soap.

We store the kits by rolling the mats around the pool noodles, stuffing the screen in the open hole of the noodle and securing with a rubber band.

Here is their progress so far:

Monday, November 13, 2017

Circle Weaving

4th grade is completing their circle weavings.

Starting the year off with weaving for all classes in 3rd through 5th may not have been my smartest decision, but I survived. I underestimated how long the projects would take by a lot. We still could have stretched another week or so in most classes but we are all happy to move on to something new.

This has been the first time for most of them doing real weaving. In 1st and 2nd we have done paper weaving, so this was a learning curve for them and me. They painted their paper plates, but everyone  wanted to take the circles off the loom, so going forward I might skip that step and save myself a week (and paint). Here are some results.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Day at the Circus

My kindergarten students have been exploring a variety of sculpture techniques recently. This week we revisited Alexander Calder and focused on his Circus creations. We then compared that to the Georges Seurat Circus painting. Using Wikki Stix I showed them how to make a basic 3D stick figure.

We talked about their skeleton and how artists use shapes like this inside sculptures. I gave each student 2 wikistix and did a direct teach on how to make basic parts, but told them they could create their own. We talked a little bit about action figures and how they have limited motion. I then showed them how to use the skeleton to draw a figure that was not a stick figure by tracing around it and being careful not to touch the "bones." We brainstormed some ideas for different circus performers and they were off, back to their seats to create circus drawings.

We had already watched this video in a previous class, but it would be great with this lesson as well. If you'd like to give it a go, but can't stand writing your own plans, download it here.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Doc Cam For the Win

Two weeks ago I bought a document camera. I had access to one in one of my two schools and wanted to simplify life and be able to do the same thing at both schools. At the time, I did not realize that I would be able to record demonstrations, which has been the greatest feature so far. This morning I recorded a video for a lesson I will be giving next week. I've done this lesson before, and remember how I had to restate the same thing over and over with small groups of kids. Hopefully this helps.

Tech Stuff: I purchased the ziggi HD and use ipevo software on a MacBook Air. I have an iziggi at school that is wifi enabled. This is not a sponsored post.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Fall Remix

This is the REMIX.

About two years ago I found the book Mouse's First Fall. It was the first year I taught kindergarten and it was a great fit. This year I remixed the lesson for first graders to make fall illustrations with markers. They created a mouse with marker, then used water and paintbrushes to pull the color into the body of the mouse. This was a great way to teach them that gray is a tint of black. It was a three session project. We added texture rubbings to some of the leaves before painting them.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Mixed Media Landscape Weavings

Students are starting to finish their landscape weavings. I think the branches need to be closer together. If I teach this lesson again, I would change that.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Donation Requests

Inspired by the art of ed's donation list, I decided to create my own. What would be on yours?


Our school district has a bonfire tradition before our annual Thanksgiving day game. The students at the elementary look forward to their turn participating in all the activities the high school students enjoy that week. I tried this project last year as a fun way to introduce warm, cool and neutral colors to my fourth and fifth graders and will be repeating again with fourth (with a few minor tweaks). This was a high success project for all students.

Want to try it? Lesson plan available for download here.