Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Art and Science of Poetry contest

A local university sent me a postcard about a contest they were sponsoring for grade school kids that combined science, poetry, and of course, art - nobody loves an integrated lesson like me so I was all over it. I sent the info to my classroom teachers and many were interested, but after so many snow days recently just couldn't squeeze it in in time, except for Ms. Keller's first graders, who jumped early and we made the deadline by the last minute! In their classroom, the kids talked about the theme "Science is Everywhere" by reviewing concepts they'd learned this year - magnets, water cycle, light and shadows - and types of poetry like cinquain, haiku, and acrostic. After writing their poems, they brought their posters to art class where we brainstormed illustration ideas. One of the favorite topics was "the experiment", which we agreed was messy and fun, so we did some paint dribbling and spattering on all the posters. The students worked in pairs, like the girls above with their magnet themed illustrated poem.

Zac's haiku is so descriptive!

This one is all about the mysteries of outer space.

I love the line "I like shadows more than light." 

This one shows the students in the lab setting.

Tye and Mikhail want to build rocket ships!

Nice haiku here - my favorite kind of poem, I must admit.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Pop-Up Architecture in Kindergarten

Kindergarteners drew a variety of different types of buildings and learned about the job of the architect. We also created folded paper backgrounds with a pop-up tab, so the building stands on its own when the paper is opened - pop!

We also experimented with folding, curling, and bending paper strips to create paper sculptures. Making 3-D art is a favorite with these young artists.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Two new student planners!

I'm a planner. I've noticed that when my students have the opportunity to plan, sketch, and practice before jumping into the project in-depth, they do much more critical thinking and end up happier with their results. So, I've thrown together a couple of sheets that are helping my kids in this area and they are available on Teachers pay Teachers if you'd like to try them too!
Both sheets are hand-drawn to give a sketchbooky, loose, whimsical feel to go along with the mindset of brainstorming. They are most appropriate for 3rd grade through middle school, I would say. One sheet, called Make it!, walks students through some planning choices, provides a place for thumbnails, and has a space for reflection at the end, which could be for themselves or peers. The second sheet, simply called Thumbnails, gives tips on using thumbnails effectively and creating variety within the set. 
They are a great addition to the student portfolios I use or would be great in sketchbooks too. Thanks so much to all of you who check out my TpT store - I love getting the feedback from all of you and it has helped me get a little "college fund" started for my daughter who is graduating in just a few short months!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

One point, two point Perspective Drawing

Fourth graders began with one-point perspective, a method of creating space using a single vanishing point on the horizon line. We used some of artist Peter Max's style characteristics with colorful sky/space themes.

Fifth graders added a second vanishing point to increase the challenge! We looked at photos of cities to help us understand this point of view. Straight edges made from mat board scraps are perfect for drawing straight lines and connecting to vanishing points - they are much quieter than metal or wooden rulers.

Chinese New Year lanterns

This week brings in The Year of the Goat during the Chinese New Year celebration, and my 2nd graders enjoyed learning about the traditions involved, like the home organization, banner hanging, family time, and of course the parade! We looked at many pictures of lantern-lined streets, beautifully glowing with the light from the red papers while the dragon comes forward, scaring away any bad luck with its crashing drums and popping fireworks - quite a display!
We joined in the celebration by creating our own lanterns and symbols of good luck in the New Year. After a guided drawing of the folded paper cylinder, students learned to change values when adding the red color to create the look of a 3-D form, aka "shading". As we worked, each of us shared how we hoped our lantern would bring us good luck in the new year. Gung Hay Fat Choi! Photo above from

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Native GA birds in atmospheric perspective

Third graders enjoyed getting to know some of the beautiful birds that live here in Georgia, like the Brown Thrasher, the Summer Tanager, and the American Goldfinch. We drew the birds in bright, clear detail using watercolor pencils since they were in the foreground, and created a blurred, out-of-focus effect for the background using wet-on-wet watercolor brush techniques. This is one way of showing perspective, or the illusion of space on a flat surface. The older students use perspective techniques with vanishing points.
Looking at photos helps the students understand the atmospheric perspective, because they actually see the contrast in clarity. Some painted the backgrounds using the same colors they observed, while many used artistic license and imagined colorful gardens in the distance.