Friday, February 28, 2014

Olympic figures, 4th grade

 Seeing the pictograms of the athletic events this year reminded me very much of the Keith Haring-style figures my fourth graders made back at the beginning of the year, so I thought it might be a great time to revisit the subject using the biggest current event going.

The patterns have that folk-art quilt feeling, and I had a great big scrapbook paper pad filled with similarly patterned papers. We stamped out backgrounds using the Olympic Rings theme, then placed our figures on top with some colorful banners about the event. A fun way to make real world connections and reflect on learning from earlier in the year.

Critiquing this lesson, I would probably change the rings design to just around the edges or maybe on an outer frame, because it gets a little busy. But it sure was fun!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Blue Dog art, celebrating George Rodrigue

Louisiana artist and creator of the Blue Dog series, George Rodrigue, passed away late last year. I do pet portraits in some form with my second graders every year, and upon learning the sad news, I knew we would pay tribute with Blue Dog inspired pieces this year. Mr. Rodrigue's dog Tiffany was the inspiration, and she was first painted blue to symbolize the sad event of her passing and the reflection of the moon in the Bayou country. George Rodrigue's dog paintings helped him donate money to many charities in his home state, including families affected by Hurricane Katrina.

However, Blue Dog wasn't always blue - if the artist fell in the swap, he painted her moss green, and a cherry red dog would appear if he baked a pie. So, self-expression through color is important here, and students will also write a description of their color choices and experiences to go with their finished water and pastel doggies.
Positive and negative shape is also very easy to spot in his work, as seen here:

This guy really has an expression! I can't wait to see what this student writes next week.

Find powerpoints, printables, and much more info at

Sunday, February 23, 2014

City streets, 1st grade

This is a fun first grade combination of stamp printing with bubblewrap and toy cars, and layering with hand drawn vehicles.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Tulip fields of Holland in perspective

Recently I saw some amazing photos of tulip fields from a birds-eye view; they reminded me of a colorful quilt and it was amazing to think that they were actually fields of flowers. Holland is known as "the world's flower shop" because of its stunning variety of tulips which are harvested and shipped around the globe. We found many images on Google (thanks Carribean Living blog and Truus' blog) and we discussed the qualities of this point-of-view - no sky, no horizon, the sense of space was a little trickier to identify, although we still found some size and placement differences. 

Next we looked at some examples that show one-point perspective and based our drawings on the horizon line, vanishing point, converging line technique to show space in our landscapes. These beauties are perfect for our "wish it was spring" fever!


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Winter weather, Spring plans

Here in metro Atlanta, we are in our second round of severe winter weather days - school is out and snuggling is in! I am one of those people that wants to hibernate if the temp drops below 50 degrees - but I've had enough hibernating at this point and am now getting excited about planning my spring projects!

We make several varieties of clay containers in the spring and I have been wanting to, for several years now, get some plants in those pots before they go home. I decided to do a sampling of succulent cuttings, as they don't need water more than once a week, and also because they are just so beautiful. So... I ordered a set of cuttings from Etsy and they came in the mail, just perfect and adorable - see here!

I also bought a seed packet of sedum to start, but I am going to let the kids plant those seeds after we get past this winter stuff.
In a stroke of luck that reassured me I was on the right path, I had happened upon two bags of cactus soil on major markdown at Target the week before - what luck, and they just happened to be in a random area where I was shopping. I just LOVE Target clearance.

Next, I had a variety of ceramic pots, but no holes in the bottoms, so luckily I had some plastic cups and tubs saved that were perfect to poke a drainage hole in and pop into my ceramic pots.

So here they are, so cute and hopefully they will thrive so that I can use this method with my students. Rooting the cuttings seems easy - just use the right soil, water it, place the cutting on top, water again weekly, and give them plenty of light. Fingers crossed!

Sadly, my 3 month old puppy Peanut got a hold of this one already - RIP

I am also preparing for upcoming stitchery projects, which everybody loves! I brought home a bunch of embroidery hoops and fabric to load this week, so there's that to look forward to.

The dogs follow me around, so they decided to start eating breakfast as I started my project. This is Peanut the Barefoot Contessa and Daisy - Dexter is still snoozing.

I also want to say a great big (and slightly belated - the snow slowed me down!) THANK YOU to all the families, friends, and colleagues who took the time to vote and say nice things about this blog in the Art Ed Blog of the Year contest - I am proud to announce we placed 6th among some amazing blogs and it is the third year to be in the top 10! I feel very honored, and lucky to be a part of this group of art educators.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Stamp print hearts for K!

Instead of my standard "stamp print architecture" lesson, this year we stamped hearts instead - I couldn't resist since the timing was just before Feb. 14. We had fun with our "pop-up architecture" this time around, though!

For the hearts, we started with 12x18" paper and drew really big hearts in pencil. Next, we rotated around our six tables, each with its own color tray and a varity of gadgets for printing - empty tape spools, Legos, marker caps, plastic geometric shapes from an old math set, etc. I also had a few homemade stampers made from wooden spools and foam stickers. Teacher tip: I left all the stampers on the trays all week without washing them and they worked fine every day - that way I only had one messy washing session, after dumping everything in a bucket and letting it soak about an hour.
The next week we cut out the hearts, pasted on a bright red background, and added emphasis with some line patterns around. I hope these are on many fridge doors on Valentine's Day this year!


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Valentine Monoprints, 2nd grade

 This is a fun one-day printmaking project, although we will spend a second session retouching our smudgey prints with a little oil pastel. Printmaking is an indirect method of creating an image, often in multiples, and we learned that adding the prefix "mono" meant that our prints would be single and unique. It has a certain quality that can't be achieved through direct drawing/painting, and I just adore it. We used laminating film ends for our printing plates, after collecting plenty of ends by keeping a collection box by the laminator! I traced rectangles on each one with a sharpie to maintain the border, and we brushed the tempera inside. We used Q-tips, forks, Popsicle sticks and paint scrapers by Roylco to create our textures, lines and shapes. We each printed two white and two red, rotating to different tables. Clean up involved a spray bottle of water and a good paper towel wipe down, so the plastic plates would be ready for the next day's use.
Count on at least one smudgey print, but everyone got at least one great one. Some even figured out how to do the backwards writing! Such fun.