Monday, May 18, 2015

1st Grade Pinch Pot Faces

I had my third ever student teacher earlier this year. This is the first of several of his projects I'll post examples of. Student teachers through Ohio State have to write lesson plans that are typically 12+ pages long. I'm not going to post his whole lesson. I'm literally going to spare you the details. 

On to the art! I've tried many variations of the basic pinch pot project with my 1st graders. I like for them to be able to work with the clay and make something that at least teaches a simple hand building technique. 

My student teacher, Mr. D, wrote a lesson that took the pinch pot form, turned it on its side, and made it into a face. I liked the creativity that this lesson generated. No two faces looked the same. I got a lot of monsters, animals, and many other unique creations. After being bisque fired, the clay was painted with tempera paints. Fun was had by all. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

An Ode to the Art Show

It's been all cricket sound effects around the blog lately. Why? Let's think. What event that typically happens in the spring is an all-consuming vortex of time? Oh, yeah. The art show. 

Pre-staging the show in the AM…on the stage.
The art teacher prior to me didn't do an art show. I'm not really sure why. She was an outstanding and well-loved teacher, but the show just never happened. I'm of the opinion that parents as well as teachers and administrators need to know what is going on in the art room. I feel compelled to show off the work that my students have done all year. I'm driven to display two pieces of artwork for every single student even though my numbers have gone up by 100 students in the time I've been at Thomas. I'd display more...if I could just get more to fit. This year, we had nearly 1,000 individual pieces of artwork in addition to the group stop motion animation film that the entire 5th grade created.

The 7th Annual Thomas Elementary Art Show was a big hit. Several hundred students, parents, and families attended to check out the amazing students work and eat some delicious cookies. The show is just up for one evening. While its time is fleeting, the art show is hugely important to my students. For the rest of the week following the show, students were telling me how fun it was and how they enjoyed showing their work to their families. 
Yes the art show is a LOT of work. Things of great importance typically are.

Monday, April 6, 2015

8-Bit Self Portraits by 4th Grade





If you don't like this project, there may be something wrong with you. (Go get it checked out!) This is just pure fun for me. I originally designed the project to be a throw-back to the 8-bit video games I played while I was growing up. I've noticed quite a bit of 8-bit retro style popping up all over the place lately. Many game apps are created to have an older look to hook all of the nostalgic 30 and 40 somethings out there. 

Of course half of my students are completely obsessed with Minecraft lately. The cubic style of that game plays right into the style of this lesson as well. A lot of my younger students even think that this is a Minecraft project.

I love the results of this lesson, but it does get a little tedious for some my students. There is a lot of very precise coloring. Ideally, I would love to do this project on the computer. Does anyone know of a program that would work for this type of a project? 

Download my lesson plan here!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Underground Lives of Ants by 2nd grade

This blogging community is full of super cool people with amazing ideas and lesson plans. Often times, I'll find an idea that is interesting and change it or add to it to suit my student population. It is beyond rare that I find a lesson that I duplicate outright. I've done just that with this project. 

I take absolutely no credit for this lesson. All the props go to Mrs. Knight at Mrs. Knight's Smartest Artists. This post popped up in my Pinterest feed and I immediately repined it to use this year.  

The project is all about the secret underground lives of ants. What goes on in their maze of subterranean tunnels? What if ants were more like us? My students immediately latched on to this project. We initially got all up in the science and talked about ant body parts and habitats. Next, we discussed personification in the illustrations of Beatrix Potter and others. Next, we got to the art. 

My students and I had a blast brainstorming about all of the incredible things that could be happening underground. In the end, my second graders produced some highly creative artwork that we were all proud of. 

Download my version of the lesson plan!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Break Fun & Food

Last week was spring break. Huzzah! It was nice to not only have a short break from school, but to get out of the crazy Ohio weather. My wife, daughter, and I flew to Atlanta, Georgia and then drove to Macon in order to visit family. The weather was in the low 80's and absolutely wonderful. We visited the Georgia Aquarium and I got to view an animal that I've always wanted to see first hand- the whale shark! They actually have four whale sharks in an absolutely massive tank that also holds manta rays and countless other examples of marine life. 

It's hard to get sense of how large the whale shark in this picture is. This one was approximately 30' long!
 After getting back from Georgia, I had some time to relax, read, and have fun with my daughter. I also spent some time in the kitchen. One of my secret "real person" talents is cooking. I absolutely love to cook and would consider going to culinary school if I weren't teaching. I've been on a fresh pasta kick lately, so I decided to include a couple of my creations for you to enjoy. 
Scratch made linguini with spring vegetables.

Scratch made short rib and wild mushroom ravioli served with sautéed brussels sprouts.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mac Barnett Author Visit Today!

Huzzah! The day has arrived. Mac Barnett, author extraordinaire, is at Thomas today to talk to students about his life as an author. Mac is the author of many picture books including Guess Again, Chloe and the Lion, and Caldecott Award winning Extra Yarn. He also writes the Brixton Brothers series among other chapter books. 

When I first learned that Mac Barnett was coming, I was super excited. My two year old daughter absolutely adores his books. I absolutely adore reading them to her. During the course of a typical day, I sometimes read 40 books to her. I tire of some, but Mac's books are so fun that I can read them over and over.

Mac's presentations to students have been incredibly engaging and entertaining. He has a great energy that the kids here absolutely gravitate toward. If you ever get a chance to see him at a book signing or school event, I highly recommend it. If you haven't ever read any of his books, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? I mean, I highly encourage you to check them out. 

Bonus compliment time. Mac told me that the artwork hanging in the halls here is some of the best he has seen during any of his school visits. Score!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

1st Grade Cave Art

Cave art projects are simply made for first grade. What better way to show the simplistic drawing style of Paleolithic people? First graders naturally have a simple feel to their artwork and that style translates perfectly to this project.

Though examples of cave art have been found all around, the most famous is the work in Lascaux, France. There is even a virtual tour of that cave complex that students love to see. Most of the site is in French, but the pictures, of course, work for any language. 

Another cool thing that I like to do during this project is to set the cave art mood. That's a thing, right? I turn off the lights in my classroom and project a campfire on the big screen in my room. One year, a student teacher had the kids draw with all of the tables on their sides. It was really cool, but my tables are incredibly heavy. It definitely took two of us to get everything moved. 

What I like about this project is that it can be as complicated or simple as is needed. This year, it was a two class project because I had a student teacher starting who would be beginning his own lessons. No matter how long it takes, students are always very successful with it. 

Click here to download the full lesson plan!