Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Favorite Classroom Tips

I get tips from all of your blogs all the time. Two such tips have completely transformed my classroom environment. I wish I could remember which blogs I got them from, if it was you, please let me know so I can send some linky love your way.

1. Use wipes to clean the tables. I'm sure landfills everywhere disagree, but using wipes is amazing! It easily cleans off even dried paint, and the kids are so excited to use them. I tell them I will pass out a wipe or two to each table after all the stuff on the table is put away. They rush to get it all put away so they can come up and get a wipe. No more lakes on my tables! As an added bonus, the whole room smells fresh and clean after 20+ kids use a baby or Chlorox wipe on their table spot.

2. Use a magazine as a pallet. SERIOUSLY?! Brilliant! Simply rip off the top page and toss when the kids are done painting with it. Viola. Done and done. I hate cleaning pallets so much, I almost shouted out loud when I read that idea! And to think, all the new supply catalogs are coming out right now. A perfect way to recycle outdated or multiple catalogs!

Monday, December 5, 2011

TP Roll Snowflakes~Part I

Usually my Adapted Art lessons are "one and done" type of projects. The kids like to take them with them as soon as possible, and I like to accommodate. However, today we are starting a two part project recycling TP rolls into snowflakes that look quilled. Here's step one.

Students should write their name on the inside of a piece or TP roll
(I cut them about 1/2 each).

2. They can make three different shapes from the TP strips;
keep it round, pinch one side, or pinch both sides.

3. Put a drop of glue on the shape they've created.

4. Press the glued spot to the piece with their name on it.

5. Add a paperclip to hold it for them so they can keep working.

6. Add their next piece, gluing it to the center and the first piece that was glued.

7. Paperclip all the glue spots.

8. Continue until they have made a whole snowflake.

 OPTIONAL: Add spirals
UPDATE: Unless you plan on spray painting them, or leaving them their original color I'd recommend skipping the spirals. Brushing on paint causes them to become too wet and straighten out.

1. Cut a circle into a strip.

2. Roll the strip around a pencil.

3. Hold it on the pencil for a moment.

4. Glue it to the snowflake and add a paperclip to hold it on.

5. End of step one!

Click here for our project inspiration.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kumihimo Weaving

While attending our local Art Fair this fall I talked with a fiber artist that was selling pocket looms to create Kumihimo Weavings. I had never heard of them, so I looked them up and it is a Japanese style of weaving. I found some videos online and there are many sizes of looms and they can be created with many different numbers of strings. You can use embroidery floss, yarn, ribbons, or even beaded strings to create these.

My third graders used Foamies to create their pocket looms and then embroidery floss for the actual weavings. It is such a hit, even kids that don't put a lot of effort into art have been asking to bring them home to work on them more! Some kids have finished, and within two days approached me to show me more weavings they've made on their looms since bringing it home. One teacher even told me she's noticed kids in her class have started making friendship bracelets since we started this project.

 Many kids made theirs long enough to go around their wrists twice.

This student loved the process so much she made a cardboard loom at home and completed that weaving before the one she made in class!

Some students got more creative with where to display their weavings.

I created a stop motion video on the whole process. I highly recommend this project for your students!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Adirondack Alcohol Inks

When I found this image in Pinterest, I had to try it out. I a little discourage when I found out that a small, three bottle package of Alcohol Inks are $9.99! Ugg. I kept it in the back of my mind and continued as normal until I found this pin on how to make your own alcohol inks. Amazing! Perfect! Exactly what I wanted to do at a tiny fraction of the cost! I went out the next day and bought Rit Dyes and Rubbing Alcohol galore at Wal Mart. I'm fairly certain the clerk thought I was nuts to be buying three economy sized bottles of Rubbing Alcohol, but she was nice enough not to say anything. I rushed to work the next day, completely excited to try out all I'd learned.

Total disappointment.

I could not get the dye to completely dissolve into the alcohol, leaving the tiles gritty, transparent, and downright ugly.


I gave in last night. I went to Michael's and bought the good stuff (thank goodness for that teacher discount!). I am so glad I did! Here's my tinkering this morning. . .

 The needed supplies: Alcohol Inks in various color and blending solution. I was going to use the cotton swabs, but didn't actually use them. They could be used instead of a paint brush to spread the blending solution though.

 First, spread the blending solution on the tile. This will disperse the ink and lighten it so the color is visible instead of being so condensed that it looks almost black regardless of the color.

 The inks come with a pointed tip so it's easy to drip just one drop at a time.

 Loving it! I'm thinking of putting a board of these up over the windows in my classroom. It would be spectacular (and the kids wouldn't be able to reach them!).

They do need to be sealed. I read to make sure that it is a water based sealer, such as Mod Podge because anything solvent based will cause the inks to rub off.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Truth Hurts

I got this from Phyl, over at There's a Dragon in My Art Room. It really coincides with what my cohort has been talking about in our monthly meetings. We've been looking at the Finland model of education, which is number one in the world and only tests their students ONCE their entire school career. Something to think about.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Sorry to be neglecting you all, blogfriends. I have many reason why I haven't been posting~although I'm still searching all of your blogs.
1. I got a new classroom! I'm super excited about it, and loving it~but arranging it and organizing it took up ALL of my inservice time before school started and I still have not caught up with all the work that needs to be done. Now instead of having a room in the middle of the school with no windows (it used to be the stage area when the school was a high school), I have a beautiful room with windows all along on side. Although it's a little smaller, the natural light more than makes up for it.
2. Half of my department retired last year and I have been helping out my new colleagues so they will get a great start on their new careers with our district.
3. I had a baby! Our little boy, Jerry Richard, was born June 24th, so he is three months old now. I pump before lunch, leaving me with only about a half hour to clean up after one class, eat, and get stuff out for my three afternoon classes.

Jerry with his big sisters, Gracie and Brianna

4. Quite frankly, I haven't done anything interesting yet. We're working on lessons that have already been posted about and aren't really all that amazing. We're just getting the basics covered and learning the new routine for the new classroom.

I'm hoping to get caught up soon so that I can start posting again. I did the crayon melt project with my CID students that is all over Pinterest, and I'll post pictures of my new classroom too.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Recycled Gargoyles~Guest Post!

Wow, another guest post, what fun! This one is written by Elaine Hirsch, who works with Lindsey from my last guest post. Elaine Hirsch is kind of a jack-of-all-interests, from education and history to medicine and videogames. This makes it difficult to choose just one life path, so she is currently working as a writer for various education-related sites and writing about all these things instead. Currently, she is a writer for an online PhD programs website.She has written about how to create gargoyle from cardboard cup holders. We're hoping to add some photos of the process, so check back for that!
Gargoyles from Coffee Trays

Teachers often drink a lot of coffee in order to keep up with students, and often one will go out and get a bunch of coffee for their coworkers, often bringing them back with a carry-out tray. Don't throw these out- collecting coffee trays is the first step towards a fun and educational gargoyle project. Not only does this give students an opportunity to see how entertaining recycling can be, but they will learn how easy and beneficial it is, as well as learn a bit about classical architecture.

Before you get started, a great way to get students excited during their brief gargoyle history lesson is to give them a crash course on the importance of gargoyles in Europe and to show them pictures of several different gargoyles around the world. Gargoyles date back to ancient times. The name comes from the Latin word, gurgulio, meaning to swallow or throat. Kids will recognize the other modern word derived from this root, gurgling! Gargoyles were originally used as rainspouts on buildings, to shunt rainwater off the roof and away from the foundation. They often depicted a frightening face, supposedly to ward off evil spirits. Today, they are more often used as decorative elements on buildings and tombstones, or as Halloween decorations.



Cardboard (5x5 in squares)

Lots of Carry Out Coffee Trays

Egg cartons

Masking tape

Paper pulp



Brown and Gray paint

Paint brushes


1. Make some paper pulp! First, soak shredded newspaper in water and stir. Then strain it, and add 1 cup of white glue to strained paper. It's best to do this shortly before class if you can so that it doesn't dry out beforehand.

2. Cut most of your coffee trays in half- these are to be the eyes. Make sure to leave enough trays to cut into quarters for mouths. Say if you have 20 students, save 10 trays for eyes, and 5 for mouths. Egg crates can be cut any way and used for horns.

3. The flat cardboard is to be used as the base of the gargoyle. Kids will write their names on the back.


1. Take the half piece and bend it in the middle so that it curves out. The curve will be the nose, the indents the eyes. Tape it down to the cardboard with lots of masking tape, but don't tape the bottom down yet.

2. Take the quarter piece and turn it so that the round corner (not the cut corner) makes the chin. Stick it slightly underneath the top half, and tape liberally.

3. Now make sure you tape all the holes on the gargoyle, so that the pulp won't leak through. This would be a good stage to tape on the egg carton horns if you want.

4. If you have time, take each kid's gargoyle and off the extra cardboard around the face.

5. Now kids can sculpt with the paper pulp! They can put it all over the face to create whatever expression or detail they want. Students can squeeze the water out of the pulp before they add it to the face to make it less mushy.

9. Use a liberal amount of glue on the face and then sprinkle sand on it. Let it dry for a day or two, then use brown and gray paint to finish the stony appearance. The result will be a very realistic and textured just as a stone would be. They should also be encouraged to look at recycled items in a new light and feel motivated to continue to create.

When students get creative recycling everyday objects, they can soon see caterpillars and boats and bird feeders out of milk cartons and pizzaboxes. The possible projects are endless. This could also be a good time to teach them about what items are recyclable and which aren't. It's fun and worth the effort!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Guest Post

Lindsey Wright, from the blog at contacted me about composing a guest post for One Crayola Short. I've never had a guest post before, and when she said she'd like to write about digital art I was sold. Who doesn't want to incorporate more technology into their lessons? So without further ado, here is Lindsey's article.
Thanks, Lindsey!

45-Minute Digital Art Lessons are Inexpensive and Beneficial for Young Students

With the rise of computers and mobile devices in all aspects of our daily lives, many artists are putting down the paintbrushes and oil paints and turning to digital platforms to express their creative ideas. Since professional artists are moving to digital media, it's no surprise that the youngest artists among us are following suit. As digital art software becomes less expensive, easier to use, and more widely available, children can also join the ranks of digital artists. There are many free or low-cost options online for teachers to choose from for traditional or online courses, and all students can benefit from learning digital art techniques.

Digital art software programs vary greatly. Some programs, such as iDoodle2 lite and DoodleIt are available for the iPhone and other mobile devices. These programs generally have fewer features than those meant for a full-size computer. They also might be more difficult for smaller fingers to use. Other programs, such as the free Inkscape and Gimp work best on a full-size computer. Both programs are similar to the expensive professional software used by graphic designers, and both offer considerable functionality and control. For very young or beginning students, Microsoft Paint or any similar program already on your computer may be sufficient to gauge the child's interest level before downloading a more extensive program.

The most important technique for encouraging artistic expression in a young student is to make each lesson fun and fairly brief. Young children shouldn't begin with hours-long lessons. Longer classes could wear the students out and tax their shorter attention spans. 45-minute lessons are perfectly timed for young students. By maintaining a short but interesting lesson, instructors can help younger students retain their original enthusiasm and creativity. Art remains something enjoyable rather than becoming a chore or just another subject to be studied.

Many parents report that the creative outlet helps their children learn to express themselves in safe, nurturing ways. According to one study, art plays a key role in cognitive and social development in children. Often, by working on an art project young students are able to work through the basic personal and social problems that occur in their lives. The art provides an outlet for new or difficult emotions. In addition to mental, social, and emotional benefits that children and young students gain from expressing their creativity, there are also physical advantages. Especially in young children, digital art lessons hone hand-eye coordination and teach muscle control.

With the decline of arts programs in schools, many parents feel that they need to take matters into their own hands. Less than 10% of arts funding comes from the government, and in addition, the New York Times reported that corporate art funding declined to less than half of its 1994 rate by 2004. With these dismal prospects, it's no wonder parents are working to encourage a love of art in their children at home, and digital art is the perfect solution. It requires no specialized, expensive, or bulky supplies, and rather than purchasing and providing messy paints, brushes, markers, paper, and other supplies, parents can encourage the artistic talents in their children with less expenditure of time and energy as well as money. Digital art requires little setup for a bout of intensive creativity. Simply turn the computer on, open the software program, and the young student is ready to create.

Young students should begin with simple projects that teach them the functions of their chosen software while still encouraging creativity. Add different skills slowly and methodically in order to keep students interested. Each new lesson should teach only one or two new functions. Some options for younger students include using a shape-drawing function to create different sizes of each shape (squares, circles, etc.) or using paintbrush or pen functions to draw simple figures such as flowers and trees. Older students can combine these functions to create a simple landscape. Animals and human figures should be reserved for later lessons, as they often prove very difficult for young students to create digitally without practice and familiarity with the particular software. For older students, free lesson plans are available at The Virtual Instructor.

Young students may enjoy enhancing existing images or photos as well as creating their own images and paintings from scratch. Capture your students' interests by providing them with a well-known photo and allowing them to color, stretch, crop, and otherwise enhance the image. Family photos, maps, and even scans of newsprint can all create excellent bases for a young student's creativity. You can encourage students' hand-eye coordination and use of color by providing a black-and-white photo and allowing them to color in the sections. Being provided with a familiar starting point can be less daunting to young students than facing a blank canvas and beginning the entire project on their own.

Whether a young child is a budding Picasso or simply enjoys the creative process for its own sake, he or she can benefit from art instruction. In addition to being a enjoyable and inexpensive hobby for young students, digital art helps them to develop life skills that they will use forever. The creative, social, and cognitive benefits to a developing mind cannot be easily overestimated.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Crayon Artist

I saw a news report about this local (to Minnesota) artist. He is working with an apprentice now, to pass on what he has learned. He also has a website with a nice gallery and some pieces for sale.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Marble Painting

I needed a quick project for my kindergarten students, so we did marble painting. I love this project for showing them Jackson Pollock, and they have a lot of fun rolling the marbles on the trays. I had them use plastic spoons to get the marbles transported to and from the paint and trays to try and limit the mess. I also told them to be careful not to tilt the tray too quickly or the marble will escape, leaving them responsible for cleaning the resulting trail of paint.

To see our gallery, click on Willow River's Artsonia link on the right.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pour Paintings-Results

I'm sorry to disappoint, but I did not get any photos of the finished projects before I needed to send them home. Oh how the end of the year is coming quickly! As suspected, the paint did crack. I was sad, but the kids loved it! I sprayed some clear spray paint over them to try and keep them intact a bit. One kid started picking at his paint chips and discovered that it actually looks really cool underneath! The paint dyed the wood, leaving the same pattern on the wood without the depth of the paint. I'm thinking I'll buy some Acrylic for next year to try this with-that's what Holton Rower's paintings use.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pour Paintings

One of my fifth grades tried Holton Rower's Pour Paintings today. I'm hoping that they will dry ok. I'm a little nervous that they will crack a lot, but it's all about the process, right?! We did our mini-using small wooden cubes and some makeup containers that were donated. Students hot glued them together and put them on a plate covered with foil so I'll be able to remove the plate later. I loved how amazed they were by the video. Then I heard a lot of "that's so easy!" I reminded them to pour consistently and as close to the middle as they could. They definately figured out it is not as easy as it looks!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Clay Birds

Many of my fourth graders are finished with their clay birds, and I have gotten some of them uploaded and published to Artsonia. I showed them how to mix a tint (lighter shade of a color) for their bird's belly and then encouraged great craftsmanship through the painting process. Most of them did an outstanding job painting these little guys! I could tell by their concentration and the quietness of the room that they were taking it very seriously.

Throughout the creation process we were referring to these as their "owls," and some kids didn't want to deviate from the original concept when it came to painting time and asked for brown or black paint instead of the bright rainbow colors I had already poured. I could understanding wanting to stick with the idea in their heads, so I got the other colors out. They turned out great.

To see our whole flock, check out Willow River's Artsonia link on the right.

Kindergarten Monoprints

Today in Kindergarten we made monoprints. As I was explaining what printmaking is a little boy rose his hand and said "So it's kind of like a printer? It puts the picture on the paper?"


We used plastic inking trays as our plates and painted with Tempera paint. I let them use some comb like tools that were left here from the previous teacher to make patterns and designs in the paint before putting their paper on the top and pressing it onto the paint to make their image. I asked the children to make at least two prints before cleaning up, but many of them made up to five of them!

Painting the plate.

Making lines in the paint.

Paper is placed on the paint.

Press the paper down all over.

Pull the paper off to reveal the masterpiece!

I plan on using this technique with my kids over the summer, using a cookie sheet and Q-Tips.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spray Bottle Paintings

Dontcha just love it when you plan a project thinking "Yeah, they'll probably like this. I think." and they love it. Not just love it, but create many, many copies of the project? I especially love it when that happens with my adapted art classes. So many of my objectives with those classes are to help the children grow in areas they are just fine at not growing in, thank you very much. Stretching themselves is especially hard for these kids, so many of my lessons are greeted with resistance. Today, however all but one kid created multiples of the project! Even my most severe young student picked up a spray bottle and started her own second project! She usually waits for her classmates to be done with their project so she can go back to class. It was so rewarding to watch these kids flourish today. Seriously, I'm kinda on a little high from it. All we did was use spray bottles of red, yellow, and blue liquid watercolors to spray large pieces of paper. I had three stations set up that I thought would be easy to clean up (ha!). One on my white board (easy-ish, once I remembered to move the markers!), one in my trusty kiddie pool (super easy!) and one on a wall that I taped large paper over (not easy at all! Make sure the paper goes all the way to the floor! I'm gonna have to bleach my wall. Oops.) We taped paper to the station, handed the child a bottle of each color and let them go to town. I'll post the results later, as they aren't dry yet. Beautiful, vibrant colors.

Press Here

My school's wonderful Media Specialist showed me this book this afternoon. It is hilarious, and I can see an awesome project in the works! Maybe something about color mixing with the younger kids at the beginning of the year next year. Or an actual interactive book with the older ones. I think my three-year-old would love the book too.

Silk Hoops

I love this project. Honestly, the hardest part about it is deciding on subject matter. Everything turns out great. I've done under the sea, jungle, radial imagery, and now music. We went with music this year to go along with our Young Author's Day, which is tomorrow and a big deal around here. The kids wrote books that are displayed in the Media Center, and will be doing workshops with professionals throughout the day tomorrow. These are hanging in the windows of the Media Center, which also over look the Atrium.

If you haven't tried this project, it is sold as a class set with 30 hoops, dyes, resist, paint brushes, and eye droppers through School Specialty. I'm sure other companies sell it too, but I do most of my ordering through SS. I created a design sheet by tracing a hoop on an 11" X 17" paper. I instruct the kids to fill the space, and not get too detailed. They trace their design with Sharpie, so they can see through the silk to the design and then trace it onto the silk with resist. Next class, add the dyes, final class take off the resist. You just need to soak it in hot water and rub a little to get it off. Once you try it, you will be hooked!