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.