Sunday, April 6, 2014

Straight From the Art Room

Sometimes teaching elementary students simply makes me laugh. Earlier this week, a 5th grade girl sidled up to me with her hand in her jacket pocket. She gave me a sly look, then took her hand out of her pocket. She was holding a box of Milk Duds (widely known among my students to be my favorite candy) and several photographs of her pets. She proposed a trade. I draw her pets all in one picture and I get the Milk Duds. Ha! I bet none of you have been paid in Milk Duds for your art! I know all of my art school friends from college will be jealous now.
Delicious Milk Dud candies!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

3rd Grade Collagraph Quote Prints

Finished board - letters placed as mirror image.
Finished print of the board above. Sweeeeeeeet.
I can't tell you enough how much I enjoy printmaking. It's just fantastic. I graduated from Columbus College of Art & Design without ever taking a single printmaking class. I was an illustration major and simply didn't have time to fit any printmaking classes into my schedule. I've slowly created a pretty good printmaking lesson for each elementary grade level I teach. This is a new lesson for this school year and I think the results speak for themselves. I got the idea from The Calvert Canvas Blog through Pinterest and modified it to fit well for my 3rd grade students. 

This has been the year of writing new lessons for each grade level. One of the goals I had this year was to create at least two new lesson plans for each grade level. It looks like I'll be able to hit my goal pretty easily. Every time I add a new lesson, it's like a little burst of fresh energy into the art program. I added this lesson for two main reasons. First, I hadn't had a 3rd grade printmaking project previous to this year. Second, collagraph printmaking was a nice step up from the 2nd grade "Wild Things" project.

The goal for this lesson was for students to choose a quote that had personal meaning. After choosing their quotes, students did two typography layout sketches, did a quick critique with a friend, then did a final sketch. Each student got a piece of foam (see the top image) and drew out their quote as block or bubble letters. They then cut them out (with me cutting insides of smaller letters with an x-acto knife) and arranged them as a mirror image of their quote on a piece of chip board. This was a pretty challenging step for many students. I think next year I'll get out a few mirrors so students can self check their work. 

Once I OK'd the mirror layout of the typography, students glued down the letters with a glue stick. I had everyone do a clear coat of acrylic medium on top in order to seal the chip board. I had dreams of them being easily cleaned off, but I realized soon after the first class printed that we wouldn't be able to save the printing boards. I do think that the acrylic helped to provide extra adhesive power for the letters. A few kids that didn't coat their work well with acrylic did loose a few letters when inking their board with a brayer. I may try substituting Elmer's glue for the glue sticks next year and skip the acrylic. I'm still super pumped about this lesson. It will be an art show star this spring. 

(The full lesson plan will be coming currently exists as some notes and sketches on a scrap of drawing paper. You know how it is...) 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Storing In-Process Clay Projects

I have gotten several questions recently about keeping clay projects moist for longer periods of time. I've got ten minutes, so I'll give you a quick overview of what I do. I'm sure this isn't the only way to do it, but this method has worked for me for many years. 

Step 1 - Put clay projects onto a cafeteria tray with a layer of paper towels
underneath. I always label the tray with the teacher's name on a piece of tape.
Step 2 - Grab 4-6 paper towels per tray. Wet them,
 then squeeze them so they aren't too wet.
Step 3 - Drape the damp paper towels over the projects.
Step 4 - Place the whole tray in a plastic garbage bag.
(I get mine from our awesome custodian.) I then fold the open
end under the tray and label the bag with the teacher's name. 
Using this method, I can keep clay projects wet almost indefinitely. Just re-wet the paper towels a bit after each class. If there is a longer break in the middle of a project, I'll just squirt a little water into each bag to make up for any loss of moisture. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

1st Grade Cave Art

Cave art- the perfect project for young artists. Primitive art simply comes naturally to a first grader. My first grade students recently finished a cave art project. We learned that a group of young boys from France actually discovered the famous cave at Lascaux. First graders got a chance to discuss why people make art. We decided that early humans made art to tell stories about their lives. A big part of their lives were the animals that they lived around and hunted. 

To get in the proper cave art mood, certain steps are necessary. One can't make good cave art in a modern art room with bright fluorescent lights. The lights must be off and the shades of the windows must be closed. Next, a dark cave needs a fire to provide light for the artist. I found a video of a camp fire online that I played on a loop. The crackling sounds of the fire allowed my students to be fully immersed in the idea that they were in a real cave. 

I gave my students a handout with several animal choices. Simple ones included step by step instructions while there were also more challenging animals on the back page. Each student drew and colored their animal and "signed" their work with a hand print. The final work was crumpled and carefully torn around the edges to make it look like it really came from a cave.

Click here to download the lesson plan!

Click here to download the drawing handout!
(The handout was partially compiled by a former student teacher. I tried to find the source of her handouts, but was unable. If you know where they came from, let me know so I can give credit!)

Click here to download my artist statement!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

1st Grade Color Projects

I'm the type of person who likes to make and use lists. It makes me strangely happy to check things off as I complete the tasks that need to be done. One of my lists includes all of the various projects that need to be posted on here. You know how it is, though. Between daily prep, lesson planning, state assessments, having time for my daughter and staying sane, some items from the list get neglected. 

This is a catch-up post. Both projects are from 1st grade and both relate to basic color theory. This first one is a lesson I've used for several years, but changed a little this year. Nearer to the beginning of the year, I teach 1st graders about primary colors and Piet Mondrian. This year, I went away from the basic rectangular format and used basic fish shapes. Students drew a Mondrian style composition inside and painted with primary colors. The finished work was then cut out, glued to black construction paper (to emulate Mondrian's linework), and cut again.

 The second project in this post is my 1st grade introduction to secondary colors. I found this awesome YouTube video from Sesame Street to show my students. 

The video is another classic from the band OK GO. If you're a follower of this blog, you may recognize the band from an amazing video that I use with my machine brain project in 3rd grade. 

For this project, students set up their paper with six squares. Each square has three circles inside. This gives the kids plenty of room to try out their colors. I think the best part of this project is seeing how my students react to how paint colors change as I mix them. They are absolutely mesmerized by the transformation. I give students 2 classes to paint. They get to use the mixing trays on the first day, then they "graduate" to the full paint trays that the older kids use. 

Download my lesson plan! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sharing Lesson Plans

Sharing is a good thing. I try as hard as I can to post my lesson plans at the end of each blog post. I know how long they can take to write. Since I've already done the work, why not share the love? I've been posting links for files I upload to Google Drive. The links take you to the Word or PDF document. They are downloadable (File --> Download), but I get a lot of requests to "share" the files. I set them up so everyone has access, so I can't share more without giving other people the ability to edit my original files online. If I did that, the files wouldn't be in their original form for others to view. 

Tonight I'm trying out something different. I've Googled my head off looking for a way to make my files download instantly from my blog. They are still the linked files from Google Drive, but I've figured out a way to make them download immediately. After the links are downloaded, you can edit them in order to adjust the lesson to your liking. My question for all of you who use them is this- which version would you like?

Here are both links to try out. I'm using my popular Totem Pole lesson as an example. What fun! PLEASE comment to let me know which way you prefer. Thanks!

Old School Way (Link directly to Google Drive Document - Click on File -->Download to put it on your computer.)
Check out the lesson plan here!

Immediate Download (Exact same file, but it downloads directly to your computer.)


Sunday, February 9, 2014

And the Winner Is...

WHAT??? How did this happen? When I found out last week that I was a finalist (for the first time ever) for Art Ed Blog of the Year from The Art of Education, I was thrilled. I hoped that I'd get enough votes to get into the top ten so I could get a rad blog badge. Never for a second did I think that I would win. I'm truly humbled. Thanks to everyone who voted for me. Wow.

There are so many amazing art ed blogs out there. Make sure to check out the rest of the winning blogs for 2013. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Vote For Me!

I just found out this evening that this blog is a finalist for "Art Ed Blog of the Year" from The Art of Education! Huzzah!!! If you're reading this blog, it means you are obviously incredibly intelligent, creative, awesome, and super cool. Please click on the link below to vote for me! Click on the big red "VOTE NOW" button at the bottom of the page, then select "Thomas Elementary Art" and vote on the next page. Thanks so much for your support! If you're even more amazing, spread the word and ask your friends to vote for my blog. Voting is open through the end of the week. Click here to vote!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Got a good art sub?

Coolest sub note ever.
Demo collagraph prior to letters being flipped.
I don't miss many days of school. I probably miss fewer days than just about the entire staff at my elementary school. Writing accurate plans (just like Mr. E. blogged about earlier this week) takes hours. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to get an art certified sub. I was out on Monday and I came back to a very nice full page note that was written (and cut) by someone who was obviously an art certified sub. She that saw my demo collagraph piece was a quote taken from Harry Potter. (I'm pretty nerdy.) She actually used an x-acto to cut my name out of her note to me. Sweet!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Upcoming Super Fun Time!

Stop Motion: The only project in which a 7 foot cardboard shark eats a 5th grader.
8-Bit Portraits
More stop motion hilarity.
Collagraph quotes. Awesome. 
 I'll be that first picture got your attention. What is it? Oh, just a 7' cardboard shark (complete with a hinged jaw) eating one of my 5th grade boys. This is reason I love totally opening up my stop motion project. Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm in the middle of a bunch of really fun projects that aren't finished yet. I'm too excited about them, so I'm posting a few preview pictures. 

5th grade has been working on stop motion forever. (The flying cat is also from the stop motion project.) Most classes are nearly finished filming, so all there is left is to edit in iMovie and add voices. I'm excited to see how the animation turns out this year. 

4th grade is nearly finished with a new lesson I wrote. Growing up in the 80's I was totally into some of the early video games. I based a portrait/character project on the video game graphics of that era. Each student is making an 8-bit version of themselves. Very fun.

3rd grade has recently started a collagraph printmaking project that I adapted from something I saw on Pinterest. They are choosing a quote that is personally meaningful and working with foam and chipboard to create the print. This is the first time I've done the lesson and I'm thrilled with the work so far. More pictures to come!