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!