Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Fish Reduction Prints

Fourth grade is about to start their printmaking project. I am going to try reduction printing for the first time. I took photos of my process, intending to create a storyboard for the project before I purchased Camtasia and started making videos. With my full load, I wasn't able to find time to make a video, so I used the photos for a slideshow style video of the process. I still don't have my microphone working, so I plan on narrating in person with this video to show the kids how to create their prints. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Japanese Koinobori

I have done a Koinobori project in the past, with 4th grade using SmartFab and lino cut blocks as scales, but this time my first graders are learning about this Japanese tradition. I purchased some pre cut "Carp Windsocks" made of diffusing paper from School Specialty. Here is my demo video, which I will use with the kids starting tomorrow. I pause my videos a lot and add narration over the music (at least until the fab IT guys can figure out what is wrong with my internal microphone). 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Laurel Burch Cats

I think this is one of my current favorite projects. The final piece is so colorful and vibrant, just like Burch's work. Students began by watching an interview with Burch that was held by 30 minutes, Bay Area and viewing some of her work. We focused on her Fantastic Felines and flowers. I pointed out her use on one single line to create the top of each eye and the nose, blended color, use of pattern, and gold accents. Students then began by painting the flowers they designed in Burch's style. 

Note: I have a different Laurel Burch cat lesson that uses chalk and oil pastels that is also lovely.

CREDIT: This project is adapted from a pin I found that took me back to Deep Space Sparkle.

Frank Stella

My fifth graders are just beginning this lesson about Frank Stella. After a quick pre-assessment and an introduction to Stella's work they began the project this week. Next week they will begin mixing colors and will use four different color groups. They will be using the hue, tints, tones, and shades.

Note: This project was inspired by a pin from Kids Artists which leads back to this blog post.


I received a generous donation to my art department last year. Part of the money was invested in the video editing software, Camtasia. I have been having fun learning the software and creating demo videos for my students. I love it because I can be sure that I am giving all the classes the same instruction (let's face it, by the sixth presentation I'm sure to forget stuff!), and I save on supplies by only making one sample instead of seven! Plus, our district is a Google district, so we have our own YouTube channels through the district which saves the videos in case I want to use them in future years. Here is a video I created for a fourth grade project making Molas out of felt after introducing them to where Panama and the San Blas Islands are and telling them a rated G version of the Kuna Indians history.

I feel I should mention that I pause and fast forward the videos based on student interest. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Another Brilliant Idea

I forgot about one of my good ideas this year! I was lucky enough to get some money donated to my program. My first instinct was to get something to help with clay presentation. I found these great phone/tablet stands on eBay. A two pack was only 99 cents! I purchased enough for one grade level to be displayed at a time. They work awesome!

They fold up so that they don't take up much space while not in use and it makes them super flexible for slab style projects of many sizes!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Brilliant Ideas of the Year

Every now and then I have an idea that transforms my teaching and/or organization. This year I actually had a couple of them, although I can't take credit for one of these ideas.

1. While in college I spent some time as a server at a couple of different restaurants. We used a product called a Ketchup Coupler to combine the ketchup in the bottles to reduce waste. Hello, paint jugs! Now, this doesn't work quite as beatifully as I imagined because the top of the bottle is a bit larger than a ketchup bottle, but it does work and has already saved me some paint. I got mine as a two pack online for less than $15 (I don't remember exactly). 

2. We have a new art teacher this year, whom I get to mentor. She has a broad background and extensive knowledge in ceramics. She told me that there is a type of underglaze that DOESN'T stick to the kiln! It's called velvet underglaze, and it isn't glossy when fired. My mind is blown, and I now have a pint of black velvet underglaze that I use to paint students' names on the bottom of their projects. No more trying to read carved names!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Value Landscapes-Fifth Grade

My SLO this year is focusing a bit closer on the Elements of Art than I have in the past several years. Previously I had all the elements included in my assessment and this year I am focused only on color, space, and value. My PLC decided to tackle value first. I chose to go with this project with my fifth graders. 

As a pre-assessment, I gave the kids a blank value scale and asked the kids to fill it out without giving them any information on what a value scale is or how to fill it in. Next, we discussed value, value scales, and atmospheric perspective. I showed them this presentation and they were amazed that all the images are photos.

Students drew five layers of land and traced a circle in the sky. I explained and demonstrated how to mix tints and shades and how to find complementary colors on the color wheel. Students chose a set of complementary colors and then started with the land. Their closest layer of land is the darkest value and the layers get lighter as they move backwards. 

Next, they did the opposite to create the sky. They started with the lightest color closest to the sun and the shades got darker as the colors moved away from the sun.

Finally, students took an assessment in Google Classroom and filled in another value scale. This time I told them that I would be looking for five or more values in their value scale. 

Tiny Seed-First Grade

Eric Carle's Tiny Seed is a wonderful book for young kids. They love catching on that it's a circle story and enjoy how big the flower gets in the story. I read it to my first graders prior to making these cute Tiny Seed flowers.

Students received two pieces of paper. On the first one, they traced on stem, one circle, two leaves, and seven petals. We discussed analogous colors and they used three sets to paint their traced shapes. Yellow and green for the stem and leaves, yellow and orange for the circle, and orange and red for the petals. 

The next class, while students were cutting out their shapes they took turns coming up to a painting station to splatter paint their second piece of paper with cool colors. 

Finally, on the third class period they laid their pieces out on the splatter painted paper and glued them into a flower shape. I pointed out that the circle should be on top of the petals.

I do have a storyboard for part of the process. Students filled out this assessment to determine their understanding of analogous colors. 
See the full lesson plan here. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Primary Line Study-Kindergarten

For this project, kindergartners started by listening to me read Straight Line Wonder  by Mem Fox. The story is about three straight lines that are best friends when one day one of the lines is tired of being straight. He tries lots of different styles, to the frustration of his friends when he is discovered by a famous director and becomes a movie star. This perfectly introduces students to a class discussion of line, using this presentation to show examples of lines used by different famous artists. 

After the line discussion, I demonstrated how to paint, as this was our first painting project together. I like that we started with just black so the kids could focus on lines and the steps to painting.  I showed the students how to keep the paint in the "hair" of the brush and "tickle" the paper with the tip of the brush. I prepped paper by taping watercolor paper to a piece of construction paper for each student. This gives them a colorful outline as a guide for their painting and also provides the finished painting with a nice white border. Students were asked to paint different types of lines from one tape line across the paper to another tape line. 

The next class, I introduced the students to the color wheel. We talked about how artists use the color wheel to remember color groups. We then talked about the primary colors and why they are so important to artists. 

Finally, I reminded students of the painting steps from the previous class (keep the paint in the "hair" of the brush, tickle the paper) and then demonstrated how to change colors to keep the color clear on the paper. I informed the students that I would be looking for clean colors on their final paintings. Because this was our first painting project together, I also made this storyboard to remind the students of the steps after my demo. 

When finished with the project, students completed this assessment by making different types of lines with markers. See the full lesson plan here.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Raven: A Trickster Tale-Fourth Grade

Fourth graders focused on shape, balance, and symmetry while creating drawings of Raven: A Trickster Tale. 

After hearing the story, we used guided drawing to create the ravens. We talked about shape, balance, and symmetry. Students were asked to make the wings symmetrical and the body balanced using shapes.

With the birds fully designed, students chose a color scheme of four colors of crayons to color their shapes and detail on their raven.

When the birds were completely colored students used black watercolor to paint over the whole bird and make the crayon stand out. They cut out their birds when they were dry.

Finished projects were assessed for symmetry and balance. Students also filled out this assessment in Google Classroom.

Pattern Bracelets-Kindergarten

Students started by listening to A-B-A-B-A A Book of Pattern Play. Full disclosure, I did skip a few pages as it got a little bit to math-y for kinders, but in general it was a great book to talk about pattern with them. My lesson correlated with their classroom math introduction to pattern, so they already had a bit of knowledge about patterns.

Students created patterns with pony beads on pipecleaners to create their own bracelets. They could create their patterns as complicated as they wanted to, which made it easy for kids of all ability levels to create their patterns. Some used just two colors and some used up to five! 

I assessed their bracelets for the use of pattern. I grade on a four point scale, with a three being consistently meets grade level and a four being consistently exceeds grade level. Students that used two colors in a consistent pattern throughout the whole bracelet received a three and if they used more than two colors correctly they received a four. 

When they were finished putting the beads on their bracelets, they put a nametag on it and then they could twist them into bracelets, or I would twist if for them. 

The final assessment was for the kids to use this worksheet to draw a pattern with markers to transfer their knowledge from tactile beads to marker lines. 

Sugar Skulls-Fifth Grade

Fifth graders started the year by learning about the Day of the Dead. I created a Nearpod presentation that the students participated in with their Chromebooks. It included a pre-assessment on the first slide and a post assessment on the last slide to show that they already had learned about Dia de los Muertos. I found a super cute video that covers the basics of the holiday very well. I also created a short presentation to use for reviewing the symmetry and designs of sugar skulls each class. 

Students used plaster of paris and skull ice cube trays from the Dollar Store to create sugar skulls. They put a paperclip in the back of the plaster so they could string some yarn between them and make a garland of sugar skulls. 

Students were given options for adding the designs on their skulls. I found that paint or colored pencils are best. UltraFine tip Sharpies are too thin and create a lot of lines in the solid shapes and the plaster is quite dusty, which blocked the ink at times. After tying them together students filled out this assessment in their Google Classroom.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Follow the Line-Fourth Grade

Fourth graders read Follow the Line by Laura Ljungkvist and talked about line in art. I created a quick presentation about cityscapes and discussed color. By fourth grade, they have been introduced to most of the color groups, so I reviewed primary, secondary, warm, cool, analogous, and monochromatic color groups and asked them to choose one group to use for their buildings. 

When the buildings were glued to the paper I demonstrated how to use one line to create all of the details for their row of buildings. We looked at the illustrations in the book again and then I showed them how to do a couple of buildings and some details in the sky. They used UltraFine Sharpies to draw their lines. 

Our district has gone 1:1 with Chromebooks in grades 3-8 this year, so I have been using Google Classroom for my assessments. It is the BEST thing that I have done for my classroom in years. I create the assessments in Google Forms, using the Quiz setting. This allows me to set the answer key and a points value to each question. After the first class takes the quiz I go back into the form and send the results to a spreadsheet. I then sort the data by first name and color code by class. Easy peasy and all graded for me! All I have to do is put the grades into my gradebook. I use iDoceo on my iPad for my grades, seating chart, and planner. Here is a copy of the assessment I created. Feel free to copy it and use it.

Ton Schulten Cityscapes-Third Grade

I stumbled upon this great lesson on Pinterest, which lead to this blog post and introduced me to Dutch artist Ton Schulten. I created this presentation about Schulten, which also introduces geometric and organic shapes, and warm and cool colors. 

Students started by using a ruler to create the buildings. They then created the grid in the sky. We reviewed warm and cool colors and tints and shades. I demonstrated how to mix colors cleanly and passes out the warm colors. Students chose if they wanted to use the warm colors in their sky or buildings and mixes as many tints and shades as they could.

After a couple of classes they finished the warm colors and were given cool colors to repeat the steps with the other half of the painting. 

The final touches came with black paint outlines around the buildings and the addition of details such as windows, doors, birds, clock towers, etc.

Over all these turned out amazing! Oh, and the kids learned a lot. ;)

Matisse's Goldfish-Second Grade

I've done this project with my second graders many times over the years. They always turn out extremely well, and the kids get a lot out of the process. There are many children's books about Henri Matisse, and the kids enjoyed learning about him. My favorite Matisse book is When Pigasso Met Mootise by Nina Laden. The kids find it fun and silly, but are also learning about both Matisse and Picasso.

Students begin  by learning about perspective and how to make a 3D room. They painted it with tempera paint and then used oil pastels to add tile, brick, or wood planks on the floor and a pattern on the walls.

They designed a unique fishbowl (really, they did. These all happen to be the same shape, but there were aquariums, bowls, glasses like Matisse's, and completely made up shapes!) and then drew the details (fish, treasure chests, castles, rocks, etc) with oil pastels and used toothpicks to scrape detail into their objects. They used watercolor and salt to add the water. 

Finally, they designed a table and leaves and collaged the whole project together.
See the full lesson plan here.