Monday, December 20, 2010

5th Grade Adinkra Printmaking

This is my third year at Thomas and I'm gradually purchasing more tools and materials to use in the art room.  This fall, I bought gauges and "soft-cut" linoleum to use for printmaking.  5th grade was excited to get to do a printmaking project and be the first group to use the new tools.

This particular project was inspired by Adinkra symbols.  Each of the symbols have a unique meaning and are used by the Asante people of Ghana.  Each student chose one symbol that they felt represented their own personality.  The symbol was drawn in both a positive and negative form.  Next, the symbols were drawn on 3"x3" squares of the soft-cut linoleum.  Gauges were used to carve away the linoleum.  The positive image was carved on one side and the negative image was carved on the other side.  When carving was finished, students printed using black block printing ink.  Borders were done using oil pastels.  I'm really happy with how these came out.  I'm definitely keeping them for the art show this spring!  Thanks to my friend and colleague Drew Jones over at for the lesson idea!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Eric Style Collage by 2nd Grade

2nd graders are in the middle of a two project series that focuses on illustration.  This project is inspired by the work of Eric Carle.  The kids get to first make random designs and textures on colorful paper using all sorts of creative mark making tools.  They absolutely loved this part.  Next, they drew an illustration of an animal.  Using their textured papers, the students then created a collage version of their illustration.  I had done this project with first graders a couple of years ago and then decided it would work better with an older age group.  This is one of those projects that can grow increasingly complex if done by older kids.  The results are really cool either way.  

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winter Landscapes by 3rd Grade

3rd grade just finished a project in which they learned all about landscapes. We started out by stating that a landscape in art has nothing to do with planting bushes and trees around a house! We studied photographs and paintings of various landscape artists. 3rd graders learned that there are three distinct levels of distance in landscapes. Those include the foreground, middleground, and background. We then talked about the horizon line and the use of overlapping to make a landscape look like it has more depth. Students also learned about the use of size variation to help add even more depth. Finally, each student drew and painted a winter landscape that included a bear. The bears were special landscape guests this year because the artwork hung as decoration for the 2nd grade musical, A Beary Merry Holiday.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Amazed by a Stapler!

As an elementary art teacher, I spend a pretty fair amount of time hanging artwork in the hallways. It is pretty time consuming, but is worth it. One day after school, I was hanging a project. I have what I considered to be a pretty good stapler. It was a Swingline after all. Even with a nice quality stapler, it would jam relatively often. As I was fumbling with trying to get a jammed and bent staple out of the stapler, a teacher walked by and mentioned that a colleague had a new kind of stapler that was stronger and didn't jam.

After doing a bit of research, I found that it was a Paper Pro stapler. I immediately ordered one and have loved having it. It staples easily into cork boards as well as directly into walls. It also doesn't jam! The mechanism is designed differently than ordinary staplers and almost feels like a staple gun. I thought I'd share with everyone. Here is a link to the stapler on Amazon -->

Friday, November 26, 2010

4th Grade Recycled CD Snowflake Mosaic

I'm incredibly excited about this project.  Each year, I am asked to do a couple of winter themed projects that will hang during a couple school events that are geared toward the holidays.  I always seem to have a tougher time coming up with this kind of project.  I've done snowflake mosaics before with 4th grade, but I've always had the kids use little paper squares.  I always love to include recycled materials in my projects and I've been trying to figure out what to do with two large boxes of old computer CDs.  I finally came to this project.  

In class, we talk about snowflakes.  I like to bring in a discussion of geometry while looking at examples of the six sided flakes.  I showed students how to fold and cut construction paper to make a six sided paper snowflake.  The paper snowflakes were then glued onto chipboard that had been painted silver.  The excess chipboard is trimmed off next.  Finally, the CDs are added.  I spent quite a bit of time figuring out how to break up the CDs.  I tried all kinds of suggestions, but none worked very well.  I eventually decided to cut the CDs into strips with my big paper cutter.  The strips could then be easily broken into smaller pieces by students.  The CD pieces were glued onto the snowflakes with the shiny bottom side facing up.  I love the way this project turned out and the kids loved making it.  

1st Grade Wax Resist Fish

1st grade recently learned about fish that live around the habitat of the coral reef.  Each student drew a fish as well as some of its surroundings.  The fish were colored with oil pastel.  Before I demonstrated how to use the oil pastels, I drew a picture with white pastels.  Once class started, I showed the kids a couple techniques before talking about how the oil pastels resist watercolor.  My white drawing on white paper suddenly turned into magic when I painted over it.  I love how easily impressed 1st graders are.

2nd Grade Egyptian Cats

This has become a favorite project among 2nd grade students.  We study ancient Egyptian culture and artwork before creating these masterpieces.  Kids love anything to do with Egypt and also love using gold paint for the border of this artwork.  Each student draws and paints a cat and then writes their names in hieroglyphics.  These always come out great!

4th Grade Paper Pollock Weaving

4th Grade recently finished a study of abstract expressionist artist Jackson Pollock.  Each student made two paintings in the splatter style of Pollock.  One used all warm colors and the other used all cool colors.  This is one of the most nerve-racking projects that I do.  You can only imagine having 24 4th graders splattering paint for two consecutive class meetings.  I like to try to have each class compete to see which out of my four groups can be the least messy.  Yeah, I like to keep my room clean.  After the paintings are dry, they are cut in a specific way to allow strips from one painting to be woven into the other painting.  This is an extremely successful project and the kids love it.  

1st Grade Primary Mondrian

1st grade students are more excited than you can believe about painting.  Almost every single time a 1st grade class walks into my room, some asks, "Are we going to paint today?"  For this project, they got to do a lot of painting.  We started the project by talking about the work of the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian.  We have already talked about geometric shapes earlier in the year, so the kids were excited to see some of those shapes in famous artwork.  Another big emphasis with this project was talking about primary colors.  Students started out by drawing out several shapes and painted them with primary colors.  Later, they later glued on strips of black paper to finish the project.

Monday, October 18, 2010

4th Grade Totem Poles


4th graders started out the year with a project based on artwork of Native American people of the Pacific Northwest.  We learned about stylization.  Stylization is how an artist changes how something looks in order to make it look different than it does in real life.  Students looked specifically at totem poles.  Each student picked an animal to stylize and then paint.  The finished paintings were hung in stacks to simulate real totem poles.  Many are over 8 feet tall!

3rd Grade Aboriginal Animals

3rd grade students recently finished their first big project of the school year!  They learned about the Aboriginal culture from Australia.  Aboriginal artists have been around for hundreds of years, often making their own paint and painting on everything from stone walls to bark and paper.  Each 3rd grader chose an Australian animal and drew it in the typical "x-ray" style of the Aboriginal people.  The backgrounds are painted with q-tips in order to make a dot pattern.  Great work, 3rd grade!