Monday, September 1, 2014

Treasure, on the cheap

I am a bargain shopper. I think of it as my version of sport.
I thought I'd share a few new things from my classroom that were free, upcycled, or super cheap.
The end of the year can be a real smorgasbord for art teachers, if you don't mind a little trash-can-diving. I found entire boxes of transparencies and overhead projector cardboard frames, since our overhead projectors have been collecting dust the past few years. I thought these would be great for some new display frames for my six hallway bulletin boards around the school, one for each grade level. I display examples of every project we do all year, so there's always a show going on. These have become new signage frames for my art displays - now I can just slide a new sheet in every time I change the board, listing our new objectives, vocab, artist of inspiration, etc. The little wooden glasses and circles were part of a massive clearance I found at Michaels, where I basically backed my car up and loaded as much as I could :). Pennies on the dollar, seriously - 80% off plus coupon - and Liquitex spray paint, too! A match made in heaven.

Here's more of my clearance loot - you can see more of these in action, like my Following Wall, in my earlier post:

I made some Free Art Friday cases from old cassette boxes that were being thrown out as well. They are the perfect size to hold some cool handmade woven bracelets that my friend Claire made. We are having fun with our collaboration of sharing art in the world!

Kellen was one of the lucky Free Art Finders this week and the kids are excited that this will continue most Fridays this year - I am encouraging them to participate as sharers as well.

I have lots of art learning and production to share with you next week - here's a sneak peek of my 4th graders getting into their observational still life drawing! They are gonna be SO good.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Two weeks in

The first couple of weeks of school is all about settling in, getting our feet under us (especially me!), and  finding our inspiration. We're starting off by finding our personal interests and connections using writing and visuals. We're also making new portfolios, not only to contain our projects but also to track our art learning - three levels this year! SLO's are underway for the first time ever for my first grade artists. Enjoy these pics from our first two weeks, and check back soon for upcoming posts on an Instagram challenge and a new after-school club. Thanks for stopping by!

Our collaborative "Pinspiration" board

An idea sheet to refer to during the year to ensure we are using personal voice in our art, no matter what  problem we are solving

Newly designed portfolios for K-1, 2-3, 4-5

Getting started on our positive and negative dots from The Dot

Fourth graders studying observational drawing with gesture, contour, and mannequins

Monday, August 11, 2014

Welcome back! See what's new...

It's our first week back to school and all of my smartest artists are working on new portfolios and a Pinterest-inspired inspiration board group project. I am really lucky to have an amazing art room and I made a few updates this summer, just to freshen things up a bit, including a new rug and bench in the reading area.

I created a small workspace for two called "the QT", or the quiet table, for kids who want to work away from the others for a bit. The QT is surrounded by little plants, adding to the peaceful quality, and topped off with some beautifully illustrated motivational posters by Pop! Prints - Scholastic.

I have updated my portfolios and now have three different levels - K/1, 2/3, 4/5 - with word walls, media tallies, color wheels and more.

I will be using the "ART" noise level again this year, and the stack of papers under the paperweight is called an Art Starter Idea Sheet, which is a space for making personal observations and recording favorite memories, and can be referred to throughout the year when starting new projects. Each student should be connected to their art and able to make personal creative choices.

I updated the look of my classroom bulletin boards as well, although most of the info hasn't changed. I did move my hand painted elements of art to a new space and am in the process of making the principles of art to go with them.

Couldn't resist these happy lil paintbrush faces...

Here's the side of the room I can show you now - the other corner is getting a mural soon so it's kind of a mess and I will be excited to share that corner in the next few weeks hopefully.

You art teachers will recognize the infamous Michael's frames that everyone bought on the massive clearance this summer! I also made a little sign using the word "challenge" to remind the students that althought they are having a ball in art, they are learning, problem solving, and creatively challenging themselves. 

I spend a good bit of time posting about our art experiences online, so I made a little "following" wall, also with the clearance bonanza wooden shapes :). Please follow us on Twitter and Instagram, just look for the links on the right sidebar.

Thanks for stopping by! Here's to a wonderful, artful, peaceful year.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

My Free Art Summer

It has been the fastest summer ever, hasn't it? One fun thing I did was make tiny art to give away on Free Art Fridays. After participating in a few community and school art hunts over the last couple of years with my students, I started thinking about the kind of art I wanted to give away. Many artists who participate in the FAF movement have nicknames and recognizable logos or street art inspired characters. I decided that my favorite part was the surprise of finding treasure and I added the exciting element of opening a gift, so I decided to go with the project name "Check the Box." This way I can experiment with different kinds of art inside the box, and even collaborations with other artists, while keeping it uniform with the recycled, stenciled boxes - mostly matchboxes, gum/candy boxes and CD cases. 

Here are a few pieces I dropped at the Free Art Decatur art hunt in June, and a few finds, too. I also ran into a teacher from Chattanooga that I have been collaborating with - it was great to meet her in person! She had drops of her own and from her students to share from Tennessee.

Artists and hunters use social networking like Twitter and Instagram to leave clues about the drop spots and also to thank the artists when the piece is found.

The next pieces you see will be dropped in New York City by a lifelong friend of mine who visits NYC regularly because she's the smartest person I know with a super cool job there. I've never been there, but I've always had a feeling it would be my favorite place! I have also sent a few pieces to teacher friends in a few other places around the US, and even in my neighborhood's own Little Free Library :)

I am really happy to have learned about the Free Art Movement and I am loving being a part of it. My students have gotten a real kick out of it too. It really gets to the heart of what it's all about for me.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Thanks Mister Rogers and happy summer, neighbors!

"I'll be back when the day is new, and I'll have more ideas for you.
You'll have things you'll want to talk about, I will too."

There is always so much going on at the end of the year that I get overwhelmed and feel a little burnout. Remembering this song that closed out every episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood always makes me feel better! How many of you were affected by this show as a kid? It was a real centering point for me as a child, making me feel calm, accepted, interested, and generally okay all around! I am only realizing in the last ten years what an impact he still has on my life, especially as a teacher. I've even been wearing more and more cardigans and sneakers lately. Although I am tired and drained now, I will be back, full of ideas and ready to share!

We've had an amazingly productive year, and we continued working up until the last day. We sent home over 900 portfolios, full of art learning, practicing, and products - I so hope they are the subject of many family sit-downs and fridge hang-ups! Here are some shots from our final days of 2014:

5th grade weavings

First grade unit on African art wraps up with Anansi the spider collages and Ndebele house designs (below)

Third graders learn about art of Ancient Egypt

Awesome handmade gift by the talented Miss Leah, complete with upcycled gift box - love it!

Lots of writing and reflecting on goals and growth this year - wish I had remembered to get more pics of this kind of stuff - not used to taking pics of writing ;)

Fun face photography on a pretty spring day

Kindergarteners finish up their prehistoric unit with some cave drawing

Fourth graders try their hands at modeling some succulent plants based on beautiful samples sent to me from Calfornia art teacher Rita Vinetz. It was literally the last days of art so most did the coloring part at home. Luckily Model Magic is easy to color:)

Happy summer to everybody - take time to unwind, unplug, relax and refresh! So much more to share next fall... Goodbye neighbors!