Friday, January 30, 2015

Snowflake Fabric Batik Banner

No two snowflakes are alike and no two second graders are exactly alike either!
One of my 2nd grade classes created a winter fabric batik banner for the auction night at school. We followed Gail's instructions from That Artist Woman by using gel glue, cotton fabric, and watered down acrylic paints. Each student in the class designed their own snowflake for the banner. It turned out really well and I highly recommend this as a great, collaborative project for your Littles. 

How to Make Your Own Snowflake Fabric Batik Banner

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Clay Owls in the Making and Thoughts on Craftsmanship

2014-2015 marks my 4th year teaching full-time elementary art! Now that my curriculum feels pretty established, kids remember certain projects displayed by older students and look forward to making insects on leaves, Laurel Burch-inspired cats, and clay owls.

Clay owls created by making a pinch pot body and scratching-and-attaching
slabs of clay for the wings, eyes, and beak.
The initial inspiration for this project came from seeing a 4th grade example on the One Crayola Short blog. I decided to adapt this project to do with my 1st graders because it fit so well with the foundational clay curriculum: 

  • Pre-K learns how to make pinch pots
  • Kindergarten's clay project focuses on coils, learning how to scratch-and-attach, and add texture, 
  • and this 1st grade owl project incorporates pinch pots, slabs, scratch-and-attach, and texture. 

One class finished building their owls this week and they turned out so well! One of the main differences this year is that I taught the kids how to smooth their clay with a small natural sponge before adding texture. In previous years I did not make a big deal about craftsmanship with this project, and instead focused on successful clay hand-building techniques. I felt that the project itself was appropriately challenging and I did not want to contradict our classroom motto, "There are No Mistakes in Art!" Luckily, the kids did not balk at the idea of spending time practicing good, clay craftsmanship skills. The difference in outcome is remarkable and the kids are all really proud of their work! You won't know until you try, right? 

This change left me wondering...
How do you approach craftsmanship with your Littles? How do you think process affects product? Leave a Google+ comment or send me a direct message on the lower right side of the page!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

African Pattern Squares for 1st Graders' "Adopted" Baby Elephants

1st grade has completed their elephant sculptures based on real orphaned animals taken in at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust! The baby elephants wear blankets in the orphanage as you can see in this video clip. This video will make your day! My 1st graders quickly fell in love with these adorable, big babies and I think you will as well.

We decided that we should make quilts in which each student makes one square based on traditional African textile patterns since they are African elephants. I started a new African Textiles pinboard to gather inspiration for these geometric, dense, vibrant patterns. Parent volunteers will soon be sewing these quilts together.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Update: Cairns Installation in the Snow and An Accidental Favorite Book

We enjoyed a light dusting of snow here in PA which provided the perfect opportunity to photograph Kindergarten's cairns installation with the new stone marker.  If you work with young kids, collecting stones, painting them bright colors, and building cairns (stacks of stones) to mark a path is an activity that your children will love. Install your cairns a small journey away so that you and your Littles can trek and see their work in all seasons.

Stone marker in place!

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year, New Lights

My students loved having the fluorescent overhead lights off
Happy New Year! Light is an important symbol of the season and an important aspect of any basement classroom! This year I got icicle lights from Target to hang in my classroom. I put them up before my school went on winter break and the kids and my colleagues enjoyed the lights' warm, calming glow.

On Monday I am looking forward to seeing them again and adding new seasonal decorations in place of the holly. I'll be doing a snowflake project with Pre-K and making cut paper snowflakes with 1st grade.

I am hopeful that the holiday lights will make a seamless transition from winter holidays to eclectic, fun, basement art room!

What decorations do you keep up year round in your classroom? Any ideas for how I can make my lights look like they belong during the rest of the year?