Thursday, February 24, 2011

Blog Award

Hannah, over at Art. Paper. Scissors. Glue! and Mrs. Hahn at Mini Matisse passed the Stylish Blogger Award to me. Thanks!

Rules: 1. Shout out to the person that gave the award.

2. Tell 7 things about yourself.

3. Pass the award on to your fav 5 blogs.

Seven things about me?


1. I have been married since April 2003, but we've been together since March 1998.

2. We have two girls. One will be three March 9th, and the other is 16 months. We are expecting a boy June 24th. Wowza!

3. I've wanted to be a teacher since I was in first grade. I started out as an El Ed major but when I transfered colleges after my freshman year the program was full. I was advised to change majors and change it back after I had been admitted but loved Art Ed even more, so I never changed it back. Teaching elementary art is the perfect compromise, and I love that I get to see all the kids, not just a select 20-25.

4. Every year at this time I start to feel uninspired and uncreative. About three weeks before school lets out for summer I'll regain that spark that I need, but it will be too late. That's one of the many reasons I love all your blogs so much!

5. It's a good thing I only need seven of these...Hum. Although I love my job, and literally cannot imagine doing anything else for a living, I often wonder if I should be doing something else. With all the political turmoil in my state right now, it makes those thoughts stronger. I look at my kids and feel like I'm not doing what's best for them, just what I want to do and that's not right. They deserve the best.

6. Really? Two more? I'm really not that interesting...I was scared to death to change school districts last year. I had security at my old district, loved my coworkers and principals, and students. Moving meant losing tenure, leaving friends, and trusting that it was the right decision. However, it also meant being closer (six hours closer!) to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends for my kids. Also, I was pregnant with our second when I interviewed, moved, and started teaching here. I thought "there's no way they'd hire me, I'm pregnant." I interviewed in the afternoon, and got the call offering me the job the next morning.

7. Finally. I am a Christian, and try to lead my life as a tribute to Jesus. I fall short most of the time, but lucky for me He still loves me.

Sending this award on to...
This is a really hard part, because I love so many blogs and because a lot of my art ed blog buddies (Blogeagues?) have already received this award.
In no particular order...
1. Adventures of an Art Teacher-Katie is newer in our Art Ed world, which makes many of her ideas fresh and new.
2. Art is the Best Part of the Day-Ms. Jackson always has fun stuff.
3. Artolazzi-Jenny Bartolazzi has lots of creative ideas. Seriously, you have to check out her Chihuly inspired group work! Awesome!
4. Mrs. Picasso's Art Room-One of the first Art Ed blogs I started following-and you'll see why if you visit.
5. Laugh, Paint, Create-Erin has lots of great ideas, and she teaches PK, which makes for great starter projects for K and special needs students!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I you have watched any t.v. lately, you've probably seen one of the new Windows 7 commercials. The characters get into a situtation and say "to the cloud!" Did you know "the cloud" is not a Windows 7 thing? Neither did I! I learned that at our last grad school weekend. It's actually an internet program called "dropbox." There are many different versions, and if you Google Dropbox, you'll find a bunch. I just downloaded a version actually called "Dropbox" to try it out. I was thinking it could be very useful in sharing PowerPoints, Prezis, and other tech stuff with all of you. Unfortunately, after loading many items into organized folders I learned that I have to share the link of the individual item, I cannot simply share the link of all my info, or even each folder. Ugg, that's a lot of links...

So, what I'm going to do is make a page on this blog that has links to all of my resources for you. It will keep growing as I develop more things. Clouds are nice, but anyone with the link can change and save the material. I just ask that if you modify it (and by all means, go ahead!) please save the modified version to your own computer, or change the name of it to give you credit for the edits. I'd hate to go in there in a couple weeks/months and not even recognize my own work!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Only about half of the kids are done with their jellyfish, but there seems to be some interest in them, so I thought I'd post the kids' results. They did great! I thought they'd loose interest in the beading and need a break. Some did, but most of them just got on a roll and worked on it all at once. They turned out so cute, and all the kids are very proud of their work!

Jellyfish-Step 2

We will be finishing up our jellyfish today. I must admit, I was not able to get the supplies to make them look like I had envisioned. Part of me is really disappointed, but I also like how they did turn out-well, my sample at least. Here's what we'll be doing:

I will be putting a hanging loop on each body, and pre-tying all the laces for the tentacles. That way all the kids have to do is glue in the crepe paper and string the beads. I think those will be good activities for the level of development my students are at. I put a knot on both sides of the body, so that the loops won't fall out in the box I'm storing them in until the Art Show.

Students will glue a few pieces of crepe paper into the middle of the body, inside the concave part of the sculpture. These will be the thicker tentacles of the jellyfish. They have thinner tentacles around the outside of their bodies, which we will make with beads.

I'll punch the holes and pre-tie the lacing around each body for the kids.

I got pink lacing, thinking that it will show through the pony beads-which it does. I can barely tell the difference between the pink and clear pony beads with the pink lacing inside them. I was concerned about how heavy the beads would get if I put six strings of beads on the bodies, so I put a knot here and there to spread the beads out on the string. I like it, because it not only solves the weight problem, but also the boring problem. I originally was going to use sparkly beads that are prestrung-like my kids have at home for dress up. However, the only way I've found to get those beads is in a dress up kit and although my girls love to dress up, I'm thinking that's a bit extreme with 13 students to buy beads for! I checked online, Wal Mart, Jo-Ann, Michael's, and two party stores with no luck. Well, no appropriate luck. Bachelorette beads just didn't sit well with me, even if I cut the bachelorette part off! I personally find a long string of pony beads to be so uniform that it gets a little boring-for this project at least. The knots break up the monotony and also make the tentacles look more like tentacles and less like long strings of pony beads.

Here's my finished sample:

I like it! I really hope the kids do, too!

Eric Carle's Mr. Seahorse

My Kindergarteners have finished their Art Show project! This is a project that I have done several times over the years, but I have always thought that there's a way to make it just a little better. I think I finally figured out how to really make them exceptional.
Eric Carle's Mr. Seahorse
2 12" X 18" watercolor (or equally thick) paper per student
Florescent paint in pink, red, orange, yellow
Paint in a variety of blues (we used light blue, dark blue, and turquoise)
Foam brushes
Paint brushes
Water containers & water
Seahorse tracers
Green paper (4" X 6")
Round sequins
Thin line Sharpies (for signing at the end)
We started by reading Eric Carle's Mr. Seahorse, which the kids love. There are clear plastic pages here and there, and the author asks the students to find fish that are "hiding" behind the objects on that page. To avoid lost time and chaos, I tell the kids to let me know they've found the fish by giving me a thumbs up when they see it. I usually have all thumbs up before I finish the first sentence! Next, students went to their seats and used a foam brush to cover a paper with warm colored florescent paint. We talked about texture (how something feels, or looks like it feels), and I showed them how dabbing the brush creates an interesting texture, but wiping it, like a paint brush does not.
Next class, student used a variety of blue paints and covered a second piece of watercolor paper with shades of blue. We used regular paint brushes this time, and a medium size-so they wouldn't be able to get through it too fast.
The third class, we ripped up green pieces of paper and glued them to the bottom of the blue paper from the previous class. I talked about seaweed, and we noticed that seaweed does not have any straight edges. When many students were done with their seaweed, I showed them how to carefully trace a seahorse on the back of their florescent paper. We did it on the back in case of any mistakes. The kids love when I point out no one will know they made a mistake when it's on the back, so just try. I they have lots of trouble, I'll get a colored pencil out and trace it for them, so they can ignore all the pencil lines and just cut on my colored line. Some kids need help cutting the tail-but I'm always impressed with how far they've come with their cutting skills by this time of the year! Just think, when we started the year many of them had never used scissors, and now they're doing complicated shapes like seahorses! They glued their seahorse to their blue & seaweed paper and then brought it and their florescent scraps to me. I paperclipped the scraps to their project and put them on the drying rack.
Finally, the fourth class, I showed them how to use their scraps to add details to their seahorse. We cut a rectangle out of the corner of one scrap, and at least 10 triangles to glue along the seahorse's back. They also cut a circle for the eye, but put the glue on the colored side to make a white eye. I gave them markers to add a mouth, pupil in the eye, and lines on their tail, if they wanted to. Finally, I asked them to glue 5-10 "eggs" on the seahorse's belly. I showed them how to put a dot of glue on the seahorse and drop the sequin onto the glue dot so they wouldn't get their fingers all glue-y, have the sequin stick to their fingers, and get frustrated. Their last step was to use a fine point Sharpie to sign their name and 2011 in the corner of their work of art. I explained that most artists sign their work, and in the art room they are all artists.
As I assess their completed projects, I am looking for following of directions. I count the number of triangles (I told them 10 or more), and sequins (5-10). I check for craftsmanship in cutting, ripping, and gluing, and I look for the thoroughness in painting both with the florescent colors and the blues. I must say, these pictures really don't do them justice, they are amazing! Bright, vibrant, and really well-made. I am so happy with how hard they worked on them, and how well they turned out. They will be stunning at the art show, labeled and mounted! Each class period they came in excitedly asking if they get to work on their seahorses again. I love that. One of my favorite things about teaching is their enthusiasm.

If you'd like to see more of these, check out our Artsonia site!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Best Supplies

I've been having supply issues lately. Primarily in the glue and pencil department. My glue bottle are all clogged up and even after unclogging them for classes over and over, they keep getting clogged by the start of the next class. I tried using small squeeze bottles that have larger holes in the tips, but those still got clogged, and the kids lost the tiny little caps. I resorted to buying some new bottles, and went with Crayola School Glue this time. I used it in my previous school and really like it. The only drawback of this glue is that it doesn't come in gallon size to refill them later. Which is a bummer, because it's thicker than Elmer's, but not as thick as Tacky Glue. The caps have a plastic piece that goes into the bottle to avoid clogging, and the bottles even have a nifty way of hanging the cap so the kids don't lose them.

To solve my pencil issues, I got new hand sharpeners. I LOVE them. I found them in School Specialty's adapted catalog-which confuses me a bit, as they are great for non-special needs kids too. They have a little button on them that pops up when the pencil is sharp! No more over sharpening! The kids love them, and are completely amazed when the botton pops and the pencil really is sharp.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Scary Stuff

I love my job, and I've never considered doing anything but teaching. I started as an El Ed major, and switched to Art Ed when I transferred schools my second year of college. Working with kids has never been a question for me. However, I have never been more nervous about my job and the repercussions the government has on it as I am now. Our new governor seems to have it out for all public employees-especially teachers. We got a memo today about his proposed "budget repair," and it's downright frightening.

Here's a direct quote from the memo about the provisions that could be in the legislation he is trying to rush through our state senate this coming week:
  • Sizable cuts in school aide over the next 2 years, which would be mostly but not totally made up for by allowing schools flexibility to lower benefits to teachers.
  • Require public workers to pay in 5% of their salaries/wages to their WRS retirement.
  • Require workers to pay 12% of their health premiums.
  • Reinstitute a version of the QEO that ties total package increases to revenue limits.
  • Limit collective bargaining rights by making some issues (like insurance, discipline, discharge, and evaluation) permissive subjects of bargaining; meaning that school districts could implement their language without reaching an agreement with the union.

Now, these are things that could be in that bill, which has not been made public. This list was taken from an article in the Milwaukee Journal, which is a very reputable source. I find this all so scary. Not only do they want to dock my pay (by making me pay into retirement), but I also have to pay more for my insurance, and have no say in any of it? Ridicules! Why is it just because we choose to spend our lives serving others some members of government think they can push us around and take away our livlihood? I'm already low income, I have another kid on the way, I'm in grad school to increase my pay-yet I'll be making less money next year (despite moving up a lane!) if this plan goes through. What other career do you know of could that happen to an employee?

I love teaching. But I seriously HATE the politics of working in an area that the government has any hand in, let alone pretty much controls.

If you teach in Wisconsin, I'm sure your union has already passed this rotten news on to you and urged you to call your representitives. Let me be one more voice urging you.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Jellyfish-Step 1

I have always loved working with students with Special Needs. Last year I was disappointed to learn that some kids didn't make it to art at all due to their developmental levels. Working with the Special Education teachers, we created an adapted art class which has started this year. One of the great benefits of this (besides working with those kids I was missing out on, and helping them reach their IEP goals) is that they get to have an art project in the Art Show this year! A few of them will even have two-the ones that are creating a project with their class and in adapted art. Following our Hawaiian theme, they will be making paper mache jellyfish.

I started by cutting many shades of pink tissue paper into small squares-about two inches each. I also cut computer paper into smaller squares-about one inch each. The paper doesn't crumple as easily as the tissue paper, so bigger squares were too challenging and I didn't think the kids would stay focused with that much challenge.

I blew up on balloon for each child and tied a large washer to the bottom. I drew a line about halfway down the balloon, and added the child's name. I am hoping that the washer will anchor them enough to limit frustration during the paper mache process. The line is their guide for how low to continue to paper mache.

The following pictures are the photos I took to create their storyboard. It shows them step by step how to complete the first part of the project. My Action Research for Grad School is implementing Storyboards to attempt to help them gain independence. We have a shortage of educational assistants, so gaining independence would help everyone involved!

Paint the balloon with paper mache

Put tissue paper on the balloon, and add paper mache on top of the tissue paper.

Overlap the tissue paper.

Continue with the tissue paper until the top of the balloon is filled to the line.
Paper mache white paper over the tissue paper.

Overlap the white paper.

Continue to cover all of the tissue paper with white paper.

Add a layer of tissue paper over the white paper.

Overlap the tissue paper.

Cover all of the white paper with tissue paper.
A preview into step two, I have a pink crepe paper roll that the kids will use as the larger tentacles of the jellyfish. I hope to find some cheap, plastic bead necklaces at the party store that I can have the kids put around the outside edge of the jellyfish for the smaller tentacles. The store I went to so far didn't have them, so that plan may change to yarn. The sparkle of the beads would be so much nicer though! These will be just inside the door at our art show (the only place without a very tall ceiling in the Art Show area), so they will make a wonderful welcome to all of our guests!