Sunday, May 24, 2015

Wrapping up the year

The year's end is always a whirlwind of activity, from finishing those last projects to wrapping up clay and packing portfolios. We always try to get in a little reflection time in that last week too, by reviewing some of our favorite moments and media from the semester. We have a "media talley" section on our portfolios and we were successful at checking off all of them this year.

 Every portfolio contains a handout with instructions for our "Summer Sketch" activity - a list of suggested topics and directions for posting them online. #dolvinsummersketch
Teachers, I have a generic version of this handout on my Teachers pay Teachers page:

Another big event happening now is prepping for a major renovation in our forty-year-old building. All the framed student art collected over the years was removed from the walls and will be reconfigured, and many of my murals, like the Jack in the Beanstalk inspired one outside the media center, will be painted over - bittersweet, but excited about a fresh start too.

Weaving is part of our final curriculum unit and we didn't get much time to complete these due to interrupted schedules during testing weeks. I sent the looms home with instructions on finishing them up, and this student did a great job working on her own.

Our Artsonia page was super successful in our first year - we are ranked #2 in the state! It was so exciting reading the parent comments that poured in. I have to say that developing this program and watching the kids take it over with our iPads was one of the highlights of the year. Profits from sales will go toward keeping our studio stocked with tools for creation :).

Notes and gifts of appreciation are always a highlight of the year's end, so thank you so much to the students and families who brightened my days with flowers, notes and gift cards!

Happy summer to all - I'm looking forward to seeing those summer sketches very soon! 

Kindergarten lately...

Fish weavings and "April Showers" creations were some of our last pieces in kindergarten this year. The weavings are something we do every year, and the others are inspired from several Artsonia galleries like this one:
I really like connecting our art to seasons, weather, and other real world experiences. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

5th grade clay bowls

Just like my recent 4th grade post, clay got pushed into the last few sessions of art for the year, so I needed something we could build in a day and glaze the next week, and still fit in some clay learning. So, souvenir bowls it was for my soon-to-graduate 5th graders.
On building day, the kids rolled their own slabs and texturized them before pressing into the styrofoam bowl molds. We also rolled coils for the numbers and scored/slipped for joining.

This past week, we returned the newly fired ceramic bowls to the styrofoam for support during glazing and to remind the kids not to glaze the bottoms. We used several coats of glaze and loaded them into the kiln for the second time...

Voila! Beautiful bowls that will serve as a nice memory from their time in elementary art class. Best of luck in middle school and beyond, 5th graders!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Clay cactus in a pinch pot

Clay lessons for my 4 & 5’s were remarkably completed in just two 45 minute sessions and this post is about our 4th grade clay cacti in pinch pots. Why the rush? Testing knocked my art classes out of sync for almost three weeks - yikes! We made it work, however...

Fourth graders used pinching, modeling, score & slipping, and textured slab work to build these little beauties, and after firing was complete the following week we painted with tempera, mixing colors for a natural look or inventing abstract plants. I think they are fantastic! I especially love the variety of greens against the brightly colored pots.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Our last Needle & Thread club

Today was our last club meeting of the year - we started off with snacks the kids brought in, including these adorable cupcakes made by Cadyn and her mom, with buttons and our logo - so cute and tasty!

Next was time for tie-dye out back. It was super hot outside - what happened to spring? I hope to see these shirts once they are finished - I sent home directions for rinsing after the dye soaks in a few hours. Thanks to Michael's for the 50% off coupon I used for the dye kits - the pre-filled squirt bottles are so much easier than the big dye buckets I used as a kid.

My fifth graders will be missed next year - they were really helpful with the younger kids and took on DJ duty some afternoons.

The previous week we stenciled our logo on the shirts before tie-dying, and created no-sew tote bags made from recycled t-shirts.

We learned a lot and had fun together on Monday afternoons - looking forward to more needle & threadventures next year!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Shibori Scarf

"This Shibori scarf is blue
Made with love just for you"

My second graders continued their Asian art unit by creating an indigo-dyed cotton scarf called Shibori. Much like tie-dye, the cloth is folded and bound with wooden sticks and wrapped with rubber bands or string before getting its indigo bath. We made a science connection by figuring out the two kinds of plants needed for this process. Below, you see the flag fold clipped with clothespins and the rolling method on the wooden dowel. There's also the fan fold, which is bound by two wooden sticks, as seen above.

The fabric was cut into long lengths from a big roll of cotton muslin, and after folding we went outside for the indigo bath - indigo has kind of a stinky smell when it is fresh! Another interesting science moment - when the fabric first comes out, it is a greenish color and begins to turn deep blue as it receives oxygen and begins drying, cool!

Once the pieces were dry the next art class, we opened them up and trimmed any long strings, leaving the fringe edges. Next we ironed them and folded them nicely with a presentation card. I hope all the moms enjoy their new scarves as fashion accessories or even as table runners. Happy Mother's Day!
This lesson was inspired by the New City Arts blog -

Saturday, May 9, 2015

My 20th art show at Dolvin Elementary

Fine Arts Night has been a Dolvin tradition since before I started teaching there in 1996; it's a night that celebrates art and music in our school. It has grown by leaps and bounds and it is so rewarding to see families enjoying and talking about our year's work. This year marks my 20th show!
Forgive the boxes in this shot - I snapped this during set up and got too busy to get another shot, but you can get the idea of the professional quality of the display set up by Artome. They do all the framing, setup, and breakdown, offering parents the convenience of purchasing the frame, with a percentage going to our art department. The art, of course, belongs to the artists and is all returned after the show, so no pressure there.

Students are proud to show off the work they chose as their favorite of the year, so lots of variety.

Another activity was an adaptation of the Token Response game, which I renamed "smARTie stickies" - families can respond to a variety of artworks by placing color coded stickies with their name and comment on the works. Always fun to see the variety of responses - our principal was taken with the Seurat, because it looked peaceful during this busy time of year.

Thank you to my trusty volunteers, who greeted, answered questions and helped families find their art and make purchases. Couldn't do it without all of you!

We got lots of great feedback about our Artsonia site, which is new to us this year. We had a slideshow running from our page and a QR code posted for those families not yet signed up.

The photo wall was a spot on our FAN Family Scavenger Hunt, which encouraged families to take pics of their FAN experiences and hashtag them on Instagram and Twitter with #dolvinFAN, or comment on our teaching blogs.

Fan letters were available for friends and family to write a note of appreciation and admiration for the artist, which will be delivered next week. These letters can be found at my Teachers pay Teachers store -

The chorus concert, American Pop Forever, was live streamed from the cafeteria to the big screen in the art show as well, so we were able to see and hear from the other end of the building - gotta love some technology! Here are our talented and sometimes silly music teachers...

Thanks again to the student artists, the teacher volunteers and school leaders, the Artome company, and especially the Dolvin families for continuing to make this night a highlight every year!