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!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Finished Dinosaur Demo

Alright. It's absolutely frigid outside. The actual temperature here in Columbus, Ohio on Friday was -10. I couldn't feel my face during outdoor duty this morning. My view from my room is a massive pile of snow that has been plowed from the playground. It's Monday. We all need a little levity. For that, I present to you my finished example piece for my Art Club students. If a bright pink paper mache dinosaur head mounted to the wall doesn't make you laugh, I'm not sure what will. Enjoy. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Art Club Update

I thought I'd tell you all a little more about Art Club. What's the first rule of Art Club? Tell EVERYONE about Art Club. 
I have a total of 20 4th and 5th grade students in Art Club. We meet every Thursday after school until 5:00 for 12 weeks. There was a small fee involved to pay for materials and the club t-shirt (that we screen printed ourselves). Students had to apply to get in and I based entry on the application as well as overall classroom behavior. I limited the group size to 20 because I wanted to work on bigger and more difficult projects. It's also nice not to have 30 kids in my classroom.

We're currently working on paper mache animal heads that will be mounted on wooden backing boards that will be able to hang on the wall. It's kind of a riff off of taxidermy. Anyway, here are a few in process examples. Enjoy.
There's nothing like a big pile of animal heads to give your art room that unique touch.
Saber Tooth Tiger
Of course I had to do an example
piece. This pink Brontosaurus will
wind up in my daughter's room.

Monday, February 9, 2015

2nd Grade Wild Things Printmaking

I wish I had more time in college. There were so many courses I wanted to take when I was in school, but there just wasn't enough time. I never took any printmaking classes. I really enjoy printmaking now and I made it a point last year to make sure I have a good printmaking lesson for each grade level. I wound up presenting about my printmaking curriculum at the AOE summer conference last year.
This is a project I've done for the past several years. My friend Drew Jones, another elementary art teacher in my district, wrote this lesson a while back. Since Drew is a cool dude, he shared it with me. 
This project uses the simple styrofoam printmaking material. After reading Where The Wild Things Are, each student does a ton of sketches in order to design their own original wild thing. The best one is pressed into the foam. Printing takes place over the course of two classes and the project is finished by mounting the prints on black paper and adding some words with construction paper crayons. It's a winner every year!

Click here to download the full lesson plan. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

1st Grade GERMS!!!

If you don't immediately see the irony in this post, then you don't know first graders. To top it off, I sit here writing this; my body full of Mucinex D (the big kid kind), nasal spray, and a bit of coffee for good measure. How ironic is this post? I don't even want to think about it.
On to the cool art. This project was super fun to work on and the results were almost 100% successful for all students. I've got a thing for incorporating science into my art lessons and I was intrigued by the look of different strains of bacteria and viruses. We discussed how some bacteria is good while other types of viruses and bacteria can be harmful to our bodies. Each student did several sketches and choose to create either a good or bad germ.

This is one of those projects that the students can just go nuts with. It's very open and allows a lot of choice. It also allows me to to talk to my first graders about proper germ defense. Trust me, they need it!

Download the full lesson plan here!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Art Club is the Greatest

Art Club might be my best decision in many years. I decided to start it this year and, so far, we've had three meetings. Art Club meets on Thursdays right after school until 5:00. I have 20 4th and 5th graders who all had to apply to join. Of course I got all kids who are in love with art. 20 super talented students and no behavior issues. It's like art teacher heaven. 
1/4 of Art Club in their sweet shirts we screen printed last week. One of these
days I'll remember to take a picture before we get busy making awesome art. 
A big reason for starting Art Club was to give my students some extra opportunities to continue to improve their art skills. I'm able to have them work on projects that would either be too difficult for a whole grade level or impossible to store with 120 kids working on large projects. 

Our first project is animal head sculptures made out of paper mâché. They'll eventually be mounted to boards I cut out of MDF. They'll look similar to taxidermy mounts. The pictures below are a few in-process works. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

There's always something going on in the art room.

One of my goals this year is to post more often. So far, I've not done so well with that goal. (Or as the kids would say, EPIC FAIL!) I think I figured out the problem, though. I tend to only post about finished projects. Between photographing work, writing the post, and attaching the lesson plan, it takes quite a bit of time. During the course of a day, I only have so much time, and the blog often gets pushed to the back of the list of priorities. My new plan is to update more often with random things that are going on in the art room, much like I do with my Instagram feed. These posts will be quick and easy.
One of my favorite third grade projects is going on right now. Collagraph quote prints. My 3rd graders are working really hard to get their printing plate ready to go. We'll start printing this week. As I was unloading the drying rack, I just noticed that every single piece I saw was outstanding. 
I also have a student teacher from The Ohio State University who started recently. He has taken over a couple grade levels so far and is working on self portraits with 2nd grade. Day one of his lesson involved some practice and one girl totally knocked it out of the park. She is supremely talented and is a very, very sweet girl on top of it. Great work Zoie!

Monday, January 19, 2015

It's Voting Time!

It's that time of the year again, folks! The fine people over at The Art of Education have just announced their finalists for blog of the year. There are a whole lot of super amazing blogs that you can vote for, but I sure hope you'll vote for Thomas Elementary Art. Somehow I won last year, so I now feel like I'm defending a professional sports title. (It's the same, right?) Let's go for the repeat win! You can even vote once per day!

Click here to vote!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cardinals - Charley Harper Style

If you're reading this, you likely know that I don't do holiday art. It's not my style. Winter art works just fine, though. This is the second year I've done this project with my students. It is based off of a few topics and comes together very nicely. 

The project focuses on the state bird of Ohio, the cardinal. Cardinals are a type of bird that stays around in the winter, so they make for a good subject of a winter themed project. We also study Ohio artist Charley Harper. If you're not familiar with Harper, his career focused on graphic artwork about animals. If you haven't ever seen any of his work, you should definitely check it out. 
The coolest part of this entire project had to do with my Instagram feed. I try to post something every couple of days on my classroom Instagram account. It's a quick and easy way of sharing when I don't have time to sit down and write a whole blog post. I posted the picture above during the school day. When I got home that night, I realized that the official Charley Harper Art Studio had commented on the post! Huzzah! At their request, I wound up sending them several more examples that were then posted on their Facebook fan page. My students were amazed that their work was being recognized by the studio of a famous artist! 

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Counters, Happy Art Teacher

It's not often that the art room gets something new other than art supplies. A short time before break, I learned that, to my complete surprise, the counters, shelves, and sinks in the back of my room would be torn out and replaced over winter break. Huzzah! I then realized that I would need to move EVERYTHING out of the old one- including 900lbs of clay. 

A job that could have been a big hassle wound up being beneficial. I went through all of the materials that had been sitting on those shelves for years and wound up being able to give away, recycle, and throw away several items that I hadn't used the entire time I've taught at Thomas. (Hamster bedding…really?) I came in over break to put everything back. I ACTUALLY HAD EMPTY SHELVES. Yeah, you read that correctly. Holy cow. 

In all, I'm super happy with the new shelves and counters. The arrangement stayed exactly the same as it had been and I'm hoping to get some doors on a couple of the shelves to keep it neat. I'm psyched! Hopefully everyone else has an exciting start to 2015 as well!