Saturday, December 20, 2014

Cairns Installation Inspired by Thea Alvin and Andy Goldsworthy

After Kindergarten practiced stacking stones and painted their collected stones, we finally had decent weather to go outside and install cairns in the woods behind our school. I was so glad we could do this before winter break! The kids worked in small groups to stack their painted stones along a pathway by the creek. 

Some of my favorite quotes from this experience...
I love how their painted rocks match their candy colored coats and boots.
I'm playing with rocks!
Try it again so it doesn't fall. 
Kindergarten "rocks!" 
 In this art and science project I introduced the stone work of artists Andy Goldsworthy and Thea Alvin. In addition to showing Kindergarten images from this great book I also showed them stone works from Andy Goldsworthy's digital catalogue where you can browse by year, form, material, or place.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Teaching Compassion for Animals Through Art

This month my school is working with a local non-profit called 22Reasons. The founding member of 22Reasons, Gigi Glendinning, presented the students and taught them about the plight of wild elephants in Kenya and orangutans in Borneo and the compassionate humans who help them. 1st and 4th grade are working on art projects inspired by these animals. 1st grade learned about baby elephants who were orphaned because of poaching and were taken in at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

1st graders "adopted" six orphan baby elephants and made sculptures of them. They are not done yet, but check out their progress!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Kindergarten Rocks: Nature's Building Blocks

Stones arranged with "cairn"

Looking for a way to create with natural items? Look no more! 

Kindergarten takes seasonal walks through the woods behind our school. They collected flat, wide rocks on their Fall walk for an art and science project inspired by stone cairns. A cairn is a stack of stones built as a marker of new territory or pathway. Kindergarteners practiced stacking their stones in art class and learned about gravity, stability, and balance in science class. We painted our stones to make them stand out and will be installing them in the hiking trail behind our school soon. Check out how much fun Kindergarten had practicing with nature's building blocks: rocks!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Drawing Multicultural Representations

As an art teacher you are often asked creative favors, and more often than not the favor takes longer than the person who is asking thinks it will take. For me, the reason some of these creative tasks take longer than expected is because of how invested I become in completing them successfully as they often will affect many people.

Recently, my school asked me to redesign a coloring book that they give as a welcome packet to potential Pre-K and Kindergarten students. The book is supposed to show a day in the life and ease the anxiety a four-year-old child may have about visiting a new place. The problem with asking me to make illustrations that represent a diverse student population was that, at the time, I was taking a grad class on diversity and very much in the throes of struggling with all the "isms" of society. Racism, sexism, etc. are tough topics and understanding how they operate subliminally in an educational setting is even more unsettling. I felt like Atlas with the weight of the world on my shoulders when I first begin sketching! How was I going to make effective multicultural representations in a coloring book?!

I based my drawings on many different students
I began by observing my students and watching how they moved and posed. Sometimes I would see a student crouching down with her kilt draping gracefully around her and try to remember it. The biggest lesson I learned is that you cannot create in a vacuum. Sharing early sketches and initiating conversations with peers and kids is a great way to get quick and honest feedback. I even snuck a few copies into my scrap bin to see how how my kids would react to them. Now that the illustrations are finally complete I am proud of them and hope that our diverse student population sees themselves in these multicultural representations.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Art Installation in Windows: Leaf Collages

Last year I got approval from the administration to install a new way to display artwork in the windows of a hallway connecting Lower School to the rest of the school. This space, the breezeway, always inspired me as a sunlit link between the Lower School, the wetlands, woods, and creek. The solution for a simple and elegant hanging apparatus came from The Eric Carle Studio Blog as they too had beautiful big windows where they wished to display art.
If you're walking to the wetlands or woods outside you'll pass by nature-themed artwork

Friday, November 7, 2014

Easy, Beautiful Leaf Collages Inspired by Lois Elhert

I am so excited to share a sneak peak of 1st and 2nd grade's leaf collages! (They will be installed in the windows next week and I'll be sure to share pictures of them en situ.) We read Lois Elhert's beautiful picture book, Leaf Man as inspiration to make our own leaf collages from fallen autumn leaves around our school.

After collecting 5-6 favorite leaves we put on Motown via Pandora and got busy creating in the art room! We used a small amount of glue from a gluestick to adhere the cut leaf collage to a piece of lamination paper. I laminated their creations the same day to ensure they remained flat and didn't get crispy and dry. I photographed them on a light table to show off the gorgeous colors. I emphasized overlapping, color, and shape to create successful representations of animals and creatures. More pictures soon!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Discoveries Through A Handmade Halloween

This year the music teacher, Maggie, and I ROCKED our school's Halloween parade with homemade, Disney's Frozen-themed costumes. Maggie embodies a true Disney princess with her sing-song voice, long hair, and effervescent personality so it was only natural that she made herself into Anna for the day. With my shoulder-length dark hair and black eyebrows I didn't feel like blonde Elsa was a good match for me...I felt much less like a Disney princess and much more like a jolly, round snowman. As the art and music teachers of young elementary students we already experience a certain level of celebrity, but as Olaf and Anna we jumped to superstar status! The kids loved our costumes and seeing their joy and excitement was the best part of this endeavor! (There were even a few parents that wanted pictures with us.)

I always admire Cassie Stephens' What The Art Teacher Wore posts and how she visually embodies the content she teaches. I was so excited to embark on a totally handmade costume and made some great discoveries along the way. I learned that despite how convincing a plan looks on paper you will likely scrap it and have to figure things out by enlisting the help of friends and by simply messing around with materials. So thank you to Maggie, Tessa of Telado Photography, Sara, and Jacob for your ideas and support! 

I also learned how awesome craft foam is as a building material. It's expensive but it really packs a punch with it's flexibility, strength, and light weight qualities. I will definitely do a sculpture project using this foam with my older kids in summer art camp! The foam was 1" regular density and should be sold by the inch at your local Jo-ann Fabric and Craft Store or other fabric store. I also used these amazing Clover Wonder Clips to hold the foam in place.

Enjoy the pictures and Happy Halloween!!!

How is Halloween treated in your school? Does your student population celebrate Halloween? Send me a message on the lower right part of the blog or leave a Google+ comment. I'd love to hear from you! I'm going to start planning now for next year's costume!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Worth A Read--A Good Pre-K Start

A few days ago a wonderful New York Times article by Shael Polakow-Suransky and Nancy Nager came out about what a good Pre-K program looks like. In The Building Blocks of a Good Pre-K a scene of purposeful play is described as 

a room organized by a caring, responsive teacher who understands child development. Activity centers are stocked with materials that invite exploration, fire the imagination, require initiative and prompt collaboration. The room hums.
This is the direction my school's Pre-K and K program have been going in for some time. As a specialist teacher I try to bring this sense of play and exploration in my early childhood art curriculum as well.  Check out my pinboard, Teaching Sensory/Fun/Imaginative Projects to borrow some ideas I have borrowed!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Nature Curricular Activities in Art and Science: Worm Yarn Paintings

This year I am teaming up with my colleague who teaches science to create science and art related lessons for each of the grades we teach. One of our collaborative lessons with Pre-K is about some of our garden friends, earthworms. Some of the things Pre-K learns about in science are...
  • What jobs do earthworms carry out in soil?
  • How much soil do earthworms churn?
  • Do earthworms eat seeds or do they plant them?
  • What paths do they make in their worm farm?

In art, we are creating "upcycled" worms using spray-painted cardboard forms and colorful, thick yarn. This lesson is inspired from a project by Olivia and her girls from MooMama. We haven't finished yet but I really wanted to share! They are adorable and reinforce my four- and five-year-olds' fine motor skills as they create different types of lines on their worms.
Straight, curly, squiggly lines of thick yarn are used to decorate cardboard worm forms

Friday, October 10, 2014

Autumn Fabric Sun Prints

Orange and blue Inkodye sunprints!
Who doesn't remember the magic of sunprint paper? Arrange leaves and other objects on the paper, let it darken in the sun, lift off the objects to reveal a masked shadow. Now, using a textile dye (Inkodye) that reacts to sunlight, you can create sunprints on fabric! 2nd grade had a great time experimenting with this process using blue and orange dyes.

Friday, October 3, 2014

"Green" Monotypes with Pre-K

I was eager to use some of my new picture books as inspiration for art projects. Green written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger was the perfect launching point for a monotype project with my Pre-Kindergarten artists. We used natural art tools made from dried cattail stalks and arrangements of goldenrod, Queen Anne's lace, and other local plants and grasses as visual inspiration.

We added yellow and blue tempera paint onto our trays and then mixed them into green with a foam roller. Next, we drew a design by scraping away the paint with a cattail stalk. Once the design was finished, we pressed a piece of paper to lift off the picture. Students were encouraged to look at the lines and shapes of the wildflower arrangements on their tables.

My school is lucky to have a natural wetland right in our backyard!

Friday, September 26, 2014

How to Make Collagraph Prints Look 3-D

Using a background board, foam, textured paper, and printmaking supplies you can create prints with a 3-D effect. After introducing my 2nd graders to Henri Matisse's later work in which his assistants painted paper that he cut and collaged, they applied the same collage principles to create their own low-relief printing plate. (I tend to call all printing plates stamps with my younger students.)

To make your own printing plate or stamp simply

Friday, September 19, 2014

How to Use 10 Extra Minutes and Scrap Materials

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” 


One day during my first year of teaching I found myself in a bad situation: my Pre-K students were waiting for their afternoon art lesson to begin and I could not find their projects! Panic set in as my four-year-olds went from all sitting criss-cross applesauce on the rug to a squirming mass that resembled new puppies in a play pen. I had to act FAST! I grabbed the scrap paper bin and announced that we were going to play a new game: Scrap Show and Tell!

How to Play

Friday, September 12, 2014

Setting the Tone with High Behavioral Expectations

It doesn't happen overnight, but rather over several years: your classroom rules can begin to feel stale and not all that relevant any more. At least that is what happened to me! This fall I revamped my classroom rules to reflect positive behavior in line with the new expectations set in the school. This visual list has been making all the difference in setting a good tone with all my classes. We begin and end each class with this list. When the expectation has been met I make a big check mark next to it, an expectation somewhat met receives a half circle, and for an expectation that is not met I make an open circle so we know what we have to work on. Setting high behavioral expectations in the beginning of the year is so important.

A bright, new list of expectations will get your students' attention and help you throughout the school year.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Take a Virtual Field Trip with Google Cultural Institute

How many of us art teachers infuse teachings from other cultures into our curriculum? How many of us want our students to not only feel competent in the subject matter we teach but to also feel like they are citizens of the world. Artstor has a phenomenal digital library of art and science images. The Google Art Project is newer and also houses a ton of digital art images from around the world. One of the best features is the ability to "walk around" a cultural site.

Angkor Wat in Cambodia is on my "to go' list. What about you?

Friday, August 29, 2014

3 Gorgeous Picture Books

Happy New Year, teachers! New year? New picture books! Here are three visually beautiful new books I got this year. For many of us teachers of young children, a picture book is the perfect motivation for creating a lesson. I looked at these books online, ordered them and cannot wait to delve into them deeper to create lessons inspired by them.
Rosie Revere, Engineer written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts promises to be as good as my other favorite by this author-illustrator duo, Iggy Peck, Architect. I love that a female protagonist is starring!

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Importance of Play

Ocean temperatures are typically at their highest in late August and spending time "down the shore" is a favorite way of many Atlantic State-rs to enjoy the end of summer. For kids and teachers this time is especially important as we will soon be off the sand and back in the classroom. On my final beach day of the season I couldn't help but notice this family of four (mom, dad, daughter, son) next to me as I reclined in my chair reading national bestseller Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul written by Stuart Brown, M.D. with Christopher Vaughan, founder of the National Institute for Play. For most of the day, the entire family was either jumping waves, collecting seashells, or building sand creations. Neither kids nor parents spent much time sitting on their blanket. Admittedly, I probably only read 5-10 pages of my book because I too felt the need to play and frolic on this perfect summer day. I have only just begun the book (and I'm a terribly slow reader) but I've started to make a list of favorite quotes:

Friday, August 15, 2014

DIY Tooled Metal Jewelry for Kids Part II: Embossed Pendants

Teach kids how to make wearable embossed pendants!
After showing how to make a metal cuff bracelet, Say Things With Color was excited to be featured on Craft Gossip! Check out their fabulous collection of DIY jewelry and craft projects. Many of their projects would be great to make for and with kids.

I have been on a tooled metal kick this summer! Something about tooling metal has really captured me. It is soft enough for kids to draw in designs and hearty enough to be made into jewelry and much more. This jewelry project is a great way to use up scraps from those bigger tooled metal projects. It can be successfully done with kids aged 8 and up (use your judgment). As always, take care to keep clear of the edges of the metal as they can be sharp.

This week, I'll show you how to make an embossed pendant with a built-in bail. A bail is a part that allows a pendant to hang from a necklace. You can make your pendants any size or shape and attach them to any type of string or jewelry wire that you like.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Direct Painting with Kids

One of my favorite parts about moving from spectator to participant in the blogging world is that I can acknowledge others' lessons that have inspired projects with my kids. I came across this fantastic direct painting lesson by Patty Palmer on Deep Space Sparkle that makes painting fun, loose, and vibrant. Direct painting means that you mix your paints on the canvas or paper instead of pre-mixing colors on a palette before applying them. I tried this double-loaded painting technique from DSS with my summer camp kids (2nd - 6th graders).

Purple wings are created by double-loading the brush with blue and red.
We used primary colors, black, and white in our invented bird paintings. I have a collection of National Geographic bird photos and artist illustrations of birds to inspire my students. We started with a black paint outline of the bird and background details and allowed it to dry. Next, we used primary colors to paint the shapes in an alla prima / direct painting style. I introduced the adjective "painterly" to describe our style of painting in which brushstrokes show and colors are not fully mixed.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Learning How Things Are Made

Last summer I read Victoria Finlay's ColorIn the 1880s European artists experienced a disconnect from how their paints were created and often their artwork had issues because of the "artists' loss of technical knowledge." At this point, artists "rarely had to mix paint from basic materials" and "never had to grind a rock, or powder a root, or burn a twig, or crush a dried insect" to make their own paint. These artists did not know the process in which to make their own materials and their products greatly suffered.

In the art room kids experience the wonderful process of making artwork all the time. One of my goals is to more often teach the process of how things are made. This year Kindergarten students loved experiencing how to make paint by hammering chalk pastels into powdery pigment and mixing it with an egg binder.

Also, this past school year, in an unplanned way, a few of my boys learned how things are fixed. During clean up one afternoon they accidentally dropped two paintbrushes down the new art room sinks. After an email home to the parents I thought about the next step.  Instead of keeping the boys in for recess to help clean the art room, a different lesson presented itself. Our school plumber was fixing the sinks early one morning. He was on his back with his upper body in the cabinet under the sink and his legs sticking out. I ran up to the boy's homeroom and asked if they could be excused for a few minutes. I introduced the boys to the school plumber and let them watch him work a bit. I loved how the plumber did not get up, but paused from his work and shook the boys' hands as he continued to lay on his back! The boys looked shocked to see how difficult it was to service these new sinks. Lesson learned? Lesson appreciated? I like to think so.

Friday, July 25, 2014

An Old Photo and a New Idea for Quilled Paper Butterflies

Add quilled paper to the blank side of an old photo
Paper quilling is a favorite, decorative art technique of mine partially because it can be taught to kids of all ages. I was looking for a quick, new way to integrate paper quilling into a summer art camp project with my 2nd - 6th graders and got an idea as I was cleaning my desk at the end of the school year. A falling-apart book of butterflies was the inspiration for quilled paper butterflies.

I hope you are inspired to make your own quilled paper project with your kids using repurposed photographs. Maybe you will make a butterfly, another insect, or decide to decorate a portrait with paper additions! Wherever this leads you, have fun in the mosaic-like beauty and simplicity of quilled paper designs!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Seashells, Sand, and Water: Composition in Collage

If you are looking for a tried and true art project to make at home, camp, or with your kids this school year, check out this favorite summer art camp project: seashells on a beach background. This multi-step project begins with making contour line drawings of seashells and then painting them with watercolors. Next, we splatter-paint to create a sandy background and make salt paintings for our ocean water.

There are no wrong compositions. What is your favorite arrangement?
The beauty in this project is in how one composes all the collage pieces. We play a game taking turns arranging my shells on my background. Each student places a shell until they are all arranged, and then they take turns moving, turning, and changing the placement of shells until they are satisfied. This exercise pushes students to be thoughtful about the composition of their finished artwork.

Friday, July 11, 2014

DIY Tooled Metal Jewelry for Kids Part I: Cuff Bracelets

What does summer mean for you? Are you thinking about lessons to try with students in the fall? Are you looking for projects to do with kids at home or in camp? For me, summer is all of these things as I think about new lessons for fall and also teach kids for several weeks at summer art camp.

I want to share a great jewelry project that you can do with kids aged 6+. Early this week we made metal cuff bracelets using tooling metal. This metal is stronger than aluminum foil but soft enough to accept marks with pencils, T-pins, and just about anything with a point.

Read more to learn how you can make tooled metal cuff bracelets with your kids at home or in the classroom. The process is fun and yields exciting results!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Summer Thoughts for Fall: A Cheap Alternative to a Big, Classroom Rug

Carpet tiles designate personal space for kids as they listen to a story,
watch a video, or create on their own on floor-level. Afterwards, stack
them away and get as messy as you want in an art room!
Whether you are an educator, a parent, or an artist creating a space for learning and making things takes consideration and thought. Educators often consider the flow of the classroom since it contributes to a safe, efficient, creative environment. Last year I made a few changes that have been proving effective in transitioning students from instruction and demonstration, to independent work, to clean up. 

Carpet tiles are an affordable option and are perfect for transitioning between story time and messy art making time since they neatly stack away in a box or flat on the counter. During art stations, I sometimes put up an interactive game or tutorial on the SMART board and kids will pull out carpet tiles and fold origami on the floor, re-watch an art video, or create a free project. This year, we read all these picture books sitting on carpet squares before starting our art projects!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Frida Kahlo Would Have Loved Instagram

Artist Frida Kahlo would have loved setting the contrast high and using bright filters to create daily selfies according to her mood and emotional struggles.

One of my kids wanted to re-read Frida with Frida!

July 6th is Frida's birthday. What would she do today? Read Frida with your Littles and then do something Frida would do: paint, draw, or Instagram a selfie! 

Frida Kahlo is a great artist to introduce to kids with the age-appropriate help of picture book Frida written by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Ana Juan. The story is faithful to her eventful life and passes on an important message about working through challenges--Frida painted when she was sick, injured, or upset.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Another Reason I Love Washable Stamp Pads

On their last day of art Pre-K made a giant rainbow to create hallway decoration for the summer. Two students at a time helped create an arc of color by pressing their fingers and eventually hands and entire arms (who could resist?) on washable stamp pads and then onto large, white paper.

Pre-Kindergarteners had so much fun making a
collaborative rainbow on their last day of art!

I've talked about my favorite stamp pads before. They are worth the investment especially when you "re-ink" them using washable liquid watercolors like I did. I squirt a few lines of liquid watercolor on the dried-out stamp pads and then use a sponge roller to even out and distribute the color. Once you see the efficient and cost-friendly results of re-inking with liquid watercolors you will understand why I love washable stamp pads!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Saying Goodbye at the End of the Year

Tissues were a necessity as I wrote my spring progress reports this year. Unlike homeroom teachers who create a sense of family with their students over one school year, as a specialist I see students for short periods of time over several years. There are great moments of empathy and community in the art room and it is hard to say goodbye once my students move on. Memories of certain kids will stay with me for a long time.

Twisted black tissue paper for chimney smoke, a cut paper vegetable garden,
tissue paper flowers, kids' self portraits looking out of the window,
and a mailbox made the Kindergarten House complete!
Remembering one boy's frequent struggles back in Kindergarten I realize that he is still not an "art kid," but his confidence and comfort with taking creative risks has grown. His entire grade transformed a giant cardboard box into a house for the school art show that year. Angrily twisting a piece of black tissue paper, he said "I can't do it. I can't do anything." I remember seeing him, if only momentarily, light up when I attached his twisted paper as smoke from the chimney.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Artist Zaria Forman Shares 1st Grade Collaboration on Facebook

A highlight of the school year was when artist Zaria Forman agreed to have a digital interview with my 1st graders. In January we started this project and, despite her growing success and busy schedule, Forman made time to connect with my students by answering their interview questions. She recently shared about this experience on Facebook! I love how Forman's followers liked and shared the story and appreciated my students' artwork! Check it out, like it, and follow artist Zaria Forman and Say Things With Color on Facebook!

The professional arts meets art education
Is there a living famous person you or your kids always wanted to meet? A favorite author, director, or poet?
Write them a letter or email and see if they respond. Maybe you will be pleasantly surprised!

Leave a comment or send an email.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Weekly Posts are Moving to Friday!

Say Things With Color's weekly posts are moving to Friday!

Check back for more art-inspired activities, materials, projects, good reads, and mindful musings!

QUESTION: What art activities are your young ones looking forward to this summer? 

Leave a comment or send an email!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Printable Dress Up to Color, Cut, and Glue

Step 1 - Color

Who doesn't like to play dress up? After teaching a fashion project to my 1st graders and seeing the annual Moore College of Art & Design Fashion Show I got inspired to make this printable dress up to share! 

Now you and your Littles can become fashion designers as you dress up printed photos of loved ones or people in magazines. Download below, print, color, cut, and let the fun begin!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there! 

A Mother's Day card I made circa 1995

My brothers and I will be spending the day helping my mom get her vegetable and flower garden ready. (My mom prefers manual labor to gifts.) What are some of your Mother's Day traditions?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

How to Use Up Scraps at the End of the Year

What do you do with all those colorful paper scraps at the end of the school year? In Pre-K art we read Color Zoo by Lois Elhert and make scrap animal collages. 
Creating real and invented animals with
scrap paper and stamped details
 is imaginative and fun!


Assortment of colorful scrap paper
Corks (Optional)


Read Color Zoo by Lois Elhert
Discuss what most animals have in common
     heads, bodies, arms, legs, tails
Discuss what makes animals unique
    sharp teeth, fur, scales, size

Sunday, April 27, 2014

How to Collage a Hummingbird (with Downloadable Instructions)

My Kindergarten artists loved making
hummingbirds by cutting and
arranging simple shapes.
In Kindergarten art, we read Little Green by Keith Baker. See one of our first activities we did after we read this lovely, spring picture book. 

You and your Littles can make your own "Little Greens" at home or in your classroom. Start with these free downloadable instructions, green paper, scissors, glue, and other drawing or collage materials of your choice. 

Download These Instructions

Comment below or email and let me know if you try this project, or one of these other spring-themed projects with your kids!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Favorite Spring Picture Book

Keith Baker's Little Green is at top of my list for favorite seasonal picture books. Rhyming words tell how a ruby-throated hummingbird flies through the air. Meanwhile a little artist has been watching Little Green and painting how he "flew and flew." Grab a blanket and read this with your kids in the open, spring air. Afterwards, pretend you are all Little Greens and draw with sidewalk chalk how you fly. Take turns walking and "flying" each other's paths! 

Also, see how you can make your own "Little Green" Hummingbird collage!

Your Littles will love drawing a line for they would fly as hummingbirds!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Zaria Forman - Artist Inspiration and Student Interview

The Inspiration

Artist Zaria Forman's large, realistic, chalk pastel drawings of Greenland were the inspiration for a winter landscape project.

I first came across her incredible work on Colossal's blog. I was so excited to share with my 1st graders a living, local, young, female artist who is enjoying enormous popular success. After starting the project, on a whim, I contacted Ms. Forman and asked if she'd be willing to answer some interview questions from my young artists. Ms. Forman graciously accepted and also included some behind-the-scenes progress shots! You can learn about the project and read the interview below.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

How to Make Egg Tempera Paint in Your Classroom

Making paint is a fantastic early childhood experience. I wanted to reuse egg "innards" from the blown eggs that 4th grade made in the art room next door. Kindergarten just studied Dr. Seuss, read Green Eggs and Ham in their classrooms, and tried scrambled eggs so that ship had sailed. Making food art with eggs wasn't a good match. Finally, I thought...EGG TEMPERA!

Consider what experiences you want your kids to gain. 
I wanted all of my students to 

~ choose colors
~ hammer chalk pastels
~ mix the binder and pigment
~ use the paints they created

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Stick with Wikki Stix

I ended up cutting the 3ft lengths into 1ft lengths. There are many
options for purchasing Wikki Stix.
Wikki Stix are "made of hand-knitting yarn enhanced with a microcrystalline food-grade, non-toxic wax." What does that mean? They are a colorful, bendable, slightly sticky, fun material that your kids will enjoy. My Kindergartners loved using them in their Alexander Calder-inspired Circus projects.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

What's Your Impression? Looking at Impressionist Art via MightyBook Art Gallery

The first signs of spring are here with the just-visible crocuses, birdsong, and damp, slightly warmer weather. Wanting to embrace the light and color of this season I decided to introduce my 2nd graders to Impressionist and Post-Impressionist landscape art using the MightyBook Art Gallery. My 2nd graders loved looking at artwork on my SMART Board through this site.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

New York International Children's Film Festival 2014

The New York International Children's Film Festival is happening now! The festival boasts "four weeks of beautiful, groundbreaking, thought-provoking film from around the world for ages 3-18!"

Can't choose just one? Try one of the three Short Films options which cater to viewers aged 3-6, 5-10, and 8-14. Personally, I'm excited for the stop-motion workshop, screening of Coraline, and Q&A with Laika Studios responsible for Coraline and ParaNorman. I wish I had bought tickets fast enough for Brazilian artist Alê Abreu's Boy and the World. Not ready or close enough to get to New York but still want to view "the best international, classic or unusual movies"? Get your kids out of their TV-and-film-viewing comfort zone and try this DVD guide from past film festivals and other top picks from GKIDS (Guerrilla Kids International Distribution Syndicate).

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Copy Cats - Laurel Burch and Guided Drawing

Looking for a drawing and painting lesson? I needed a quick animal project that my 1st graders could do while they waited for their clay projects to get bisque-fired. Laurel Burch-style cats are colorful, lively, and easy for young students to draw. I created a drawing guide and my 1st graders were all hooked! We drew in white charcoal pencil on black railroad board. Next class I showed them outlining and filling a shape with paint. The real fun came when I showed them how to use the back of the paintbrush to scratch through to make abstract lines, textures, and patterns.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Cool (And Warm) Way To Teach Tints and Shades

Looking for a super successful project to teach warm and cool colors, tints and shades, landscape, and incorporate an artist study? Kindergarten painted lovely winter landscapes using artist Ted Harrison's work as inspiration. I discovered this artist and a similar type of lesson by Crayola for older students on Pinterest and adapted it for Kindergarten. The first two years I taught the project using tempera cakes but after seeing the after school art teacher do a very similar project using regular tempera paint I knew that was the way to go! (Thank you Ms. Kristi!)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Picture Book About Play and Art

Written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Boris Kulikov, Sandy's Circus is a biographical account of how artist Alexander Calder turned play into art in his famous Cirque Calder. Kulikov's rich illustrations give plenty of detail without being overwhelming so your Littles will be transfixed by the images as you read aloud.

"There once was an artist named Alexander Calder. Only he didn't call himself Alexander. And he didn't call the things he made art." 

How many of your kids make amazing things with simple materials available to them? How many of them think what they make is art?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Eat Your Fruit and Veggies - 2nd Grade Installation

In collaboration with Health & Wellness, 2nd graders used images of fruit and vegetables in art class to create marker drawings on tracing paper. The fruit and veggie drawings are installed in the breezeway to remind everyone to make good choices in the cafeteria!

I first showed my 2nd graders some contemporary artists who use many types of food to create sculptures. Click the links below to see these artists' exciting work!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Why I Blog and My Favorite Mommy Blog

As a newcomer to the blogging world I want to offer Here are just a few of the motivations behind why I started

1. Filling a gap between education and parenting blogs is where I feel I can offer something original: my intentions in sharing my world of art education are to inspire fellow educators and empower parents to connect with their kids through art. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014


I went to school on Friday with a bad sore throat. I began my morning classes by telling them a story.

"Guess what? When I woke up this morning I was like this:

[I dramatically stretched my arms as if rising from bed, tried to yawn only to emit a squeaky sound, widened my eyes in terror, tried to speak only to emit more squeaks]

By this point my 1st graders were cracking up.

I told them in my squeaky voice "I had no voice! What do you think it means for art class today if I don't have a big voice?"

I called on 2 or 3 students all of which give the same basic answer: "We have to be very good listeners today." Several students also told me about how they or their family members were recently sick. What followed next was a short (unplanned) discussion of how we feel and what we do when we are sick. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

An Oldie but a Goodie - Fingerprint Art

Ed Emberley's Complete Funprint Drawing Book was the inspiration for a fingerprint project with Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade. 

Benefits of a short, sweet project like fingerprint art...

~ It is a wonderful way to ease back into school after winter or spring break.
~ It is a good change of pace to break up larger art units with smaller 1-2 class period projects.
~ Quick projects give students something to take home. (Our art show is in the spring and therefore we hold most artwork until close to the end of the year.) 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

2nd Grade Insects on "Leaves" Pillows

Each year I collaborate with 2nd grade classroom teachers in an insect-related art project. This year I had the students create invented insect drawings, transfer them to Scratch-Foam, and cut their foam printing plates apart to be able to print the parts of their insects (thorax, abdomen, head and antennae, and legs) in different colors. The process is similar to Kindergarten's fish prints with the replacement of rubber brayers and block printing inks.

We printed on paper for one class to practice the process and printed on green "leaf" fabric the following class. I heat set the prints by ironing the back of the fabric on a low setting. Students cut their green fabric with their print into a leaf shape and cut a matching piece of fabric for the back. I used a sewing machine to sew the two pieces, right sides together, leaving about a four inch space to turn right side out. I let some of the kids step on the pedal of the sewing machine while I guided the fabric...they thought the sewing machine was pretty magical!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Holiday Wish List: Creative Play

My wish for all kids and families is that they got plenty of play time over the holidays. Click to see my new pinboard "Family Fun" where parents will find activities for the entire family. Once I started pinning from within Pinterest I found some great ideas. One of my favorites is taping or drawing to create a city or environment for cars and dolls. I always wished I had one of those rugs with buildings and streets for my toy cars as a kid. I wish I would have thought of drawing my own city on paper!

I noticed that a lot of activities for kids called "Quiet Time Activities" are focused on keeping kids occupied so that parents can focus on their adult tasks and work. As a teacher (I'm not a parent yet!) I agree that kids love age-appropriate activities in which they can work confidently on their own. While providing independent activities for kids is valuable at times, I hope that the goal of some of these at-home activities are not to simply keep the kids quiet but to provide a platform for the entire family to enjoy spending time together. 

Keep checking Family Fun for ideas and feel free to email and suggest some as well!