Friday, October 31, 2014

Party Day!

I really enjoy our "Fall Harvest" party day. It's a nice break from the first two and a half months of regular school days. With all of the testing that goes on, kids don't really get to have too many fun days anymore. The related arts teachers at Thomas have several traditions, but the best is our Halloween costumes. It has been a tradition for over 18 years that the related arts teachers dress up as a group of three. Why only three? The tradition predates the addition of library as a related arts class- back when our school population wasn't as massive as it is now. Never in all those years have we repeated a costume. (Feel free to comment and suggest groups of three that aren't obvious.) This year we were face cards from a playing card deck. Seeing that my name is Zach, I redrew the jack to add a little joke to the costume. What did everyone else dress up as?

This picture makes me look like a giant.

Not too bad for making these mostly the day before and the day of the party.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

First Grade Mondrian Inspired Fish

First grade. Whoa. Sometimes I feel less like a teacher and more like a ringmaster. It's incredible how much they grow up throughout the year. For me, first grade is all about skill building and getting the basics down. For example, this particular project is all about primary colors. It is also an introduction to painting with tempera paints. It's a whole new world for many students. 

This lesson is so simple that I don't think I really need to post an official plan. We start out by describing the characteristics of Piet Mondrian's work. We also discuss why he paints like he does as opposed to creating realistic work. Students then draw a large fish on 12x18 paper and draw shapes with horizontal and vertical lines. On day two, they paint primary colors. I encourage them to leave some white spaces, but many are too psyched about painting and they paint the whole fish. On day three, students cut out their fish, glue it to a black piece of construction paper, then cut the black paper to create a border for the fish. Some students then finish a bit of painting and the others work on a Mondrian vocab word search I made. Overall, I'm really happy with the results of this project. Of course my first graders love it as well. I think some of them would paint all day every day if they were allowed. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

3rd Grade Ancient Maps

Ahoy landlubbers! It be map time at Thomas Elementary. This is the second year I've done this project with 3rd grade and it's a lot of fun and also integrates quite a bit from the social studies curriculum.

We start the project by looking at a lot of old maps. If you haven't seen any of these before, check the Google. They're pretty rad. There are maps of North America that actually show California as an island. Some maps have sea monsters. Many older maps actually have quite a bit of artwork on them simply to make them beautiful to look at. 

We discuss the main parts of a map (a part of the 3rd grade social studies curriculum here in Ohio) and also look at various landforms (a part of the 4th grade curriculum). Students are required to have a certain amount of landforms in their map as well as a title, key, and compass rose. 

My students are each charged with the task of creating a map of a fictional place. Most choose to create their own, but some like to to make maps of places in their favorite book, tv show, or video game. I love to see what they come up with. 

The last part of the project is to crumple the paper several times to make it look old and also "burn" a part of the map using wet on wet black watercolor. I like the burned edges, but I think the crumpling takes something away from the overall project. I probably won't give that as an option next year. 

Click here to see my lesson plan!
Here is the handout that I put together for this lesson. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

4th Grade Totem Poles

It has been entirely too long since I've posted. I won't bore you with excuses. To make up for it, I'll post a yearly favorite. 

This totem pole project has evolved quite a bit over the years. It was originally a painting project. The problem with that is that kids would have awesome drawings, but not have the painting skills to pull off the final artwork. I switched it over to a collage project and immediately got significantly better results. My latest improvement happened last year. I make handouts with better reference materials. I've always had my students draw from real images of North American animals. I now have them use that reference (in the form of a huge stack of books from the school library), but I also copy a reference handout with images from Students find inspiration from actual animal images as well as from the traditional shapes found in the handout. 

I had some more amazing results this year. I think limiting color use does so much for the work. I have my students limit themselves to four total colors and their work shows greater maturity than I would ever expect to see from 4th grade artwork. Send me pictures if you every try this lesson. I'd love to see work from other students!

Download my lesson plan!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Follow @thomas_elementary_art on Instagram!
I'm sitting at home today. I had to take a personal day to have some electrical work done on my 100 year old house. Consequently, I have some extra time on my hands. I've been working on some staff t-shirt designs and I also decided to start an Instagram account for my classroom. My intention is to use it for some quick daily posts of cool things that are happening in the art room. I was also inspired by Hope Hunter Knight's IG feed in which she's using her IG account as a tool for students to interact with. She posts challenges and students can upload their artistic responses using a particular hashtag. 

As of right now, I have a grand total of ZERO posts on the new account, but I expect that you'll see a pretty constant feed if you check back often. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pencil Sharpener Winner!

Congratulations to the winner of the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener, Misty K! Misty has been contacted and will be able to select her favorite color of pencil sharpener. Thanks to everyone who entered. It's great to find good supplies and also support a small American company run by a teacher! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Last Call for Pencil Sharpener Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway for a Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener has brought in an astounding 531 entries so far. If you want one of these sweet sharpeners, get your name in before the end of the day tomorrow. I'll be announcing the winner on Monday or Tuesday!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

5th Grade Flip Books

Flip book time! I usually like to use flip books as the last project of the year for my 4th grade students. It provides a good introduction for animation and is an ideal end of the year project. Somehow, we ran out of time last year. I'm not entirely sure what happened. You know how it goes. 

My 5th graders started out this school year with a three class flip book project. I require that the books be at least 20 pages. Less than that doesn't allow the animation to be flipped very easily. I just use copy paper that I cut into quarters. It is transparent enough to allow students to see through in order to create movement in their work. 

I usually don't post my teacher examples, but this one is just too much fun. What do you get when you cross a potato with a top hat, a banana peel, an ice cream cone, and 50 pages of flip book animation? This!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Free Pencil Sharpener!

Get your dancin' shoes on. It's giveaway time at Thomas Elementary Art! You guys may be familiar with my ongoing search for the perfect pencil sharpener. I posted about it originally here and got a bunch of good feedback. I was later given the opportunity to review the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener. Well, the fine folks over there were kind enough to allow me to host a giveaway for one of their fantastic sharpeners. You can check out all of the pencil sharpener options here!
I actually just ordered another sharpener to use in addition to the one I received to review. I really like the simplicity, ease of use, and quality of the sharpeners. I think it will be a long term solution for my 600+ students.
Enter the giveaway below. The only requirement is that you must like Classroom Friendly Supplies on Facebook. There are other options that you can also do to increase your chance of winning. Not too bad for a chance at a sweet $25 sharpener! US entries only, please. Classroom Friendly Supplies doesn't ship internationally.
Pencil Sharpener Giveaway on Rafflecopter

Friday, August 29, 2014

Teaching Art Like a Child

I hate it when people call me artsy. I'm not artsy. I'm not the type of teacher who gets pumped up by sweet borders and cute posters- not that there is anything wrong with that. It's just not my style. My art and design education is too ingrained to allow me to put up something in my room that I consider to be poorly designed or executed. When I decorate my room, I want to keep it simple and clean. 

Early this year, I invested heavily in some time, construction paper, and x-acto blades. My inner 9 year old was screaming to make something cool. I did an 8-bit portrait project with my 4th grade students last year. As part of my demonstration piece, I drew myself as an 8-bit character. I thought it would be cool to combine that with some old school Mario elements to use as a door decoration for my room. I've got to say that I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. 
The next thing I decided to do is swap out a piece that I use for classroom management. On my board, I have the letters A-R-T on separate cards. The goal is to have it still spell ART at the end of class. The letters can be flipped to reflect poor choices being made by the class. The A is a warning and can be earned back with good choices. The R being flipped results in some silent working time (because it usually gets flipped for too much noise), and the T being flipped results in a screeching halt to the art class. Of course that happens so rarely that I really don't worry about it. 

The A-R-T letters I have been using for the past few years were starting to fade and the lamination was coming undone. To go along with my door decorations, I used the Mario theme again to make the letters look like the question mark blocks from the game. When a letter is flipped, Boo, the ghost from Mario Bros, is on the back. Making these made me very happy. All of the decorations and ART letters were made from cut construction paper. I think I earned my black belt in x-act cutting. 
I couldn't help but have a little fun with the ghosts I made- mostly because I'm a pretty big dork!