Friday, December 16, 2011

4th Grade Paper Weaving

For some reason, I never got around to photographing this project while it was hanging in the hallway. The fourth graders have moved on to two different projects since they finished this one. I suppose the images will be strikingly similar to those I have posted from previous years of this project. That isn't a bad thing in this case. This project produces some of the most consistent results of any of the projects I do during the entire year. I find it's pretty rare to have a project that is nearly 100% successful, but this is one of those projects. 

After studying the work of Jackson Pollock and watching a short video of Pollock actually working in his studio, each 4th grader got to make two paintings in his style. Honestly, for me, this is the best and the worst part of this project. My art room is almost obsessively organized. I think that it sets a good precedent for my students if I keep the room clean and organized. Allowing 24 4th graders to make splatter paintings takes me a little out of my comfort zone. The flip side is that the kids absolutely love it. This year I condensed it to just one day of painting. It worked better and was a little less stressful for me!

The paintings were then cut up on the second day and woven together. The results are always very impressive. As always, feel free to use my lesson plans and presentations.

Click here for a link to my lesson plans and presentation files!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

5th Grade Claymation

A basement.
A caveman's home.
Really nice city sidewalk set.
A cave woman and an evil bunny!

A minion!
It's high time for a claymation update! I usually start my claymation project about this time of the year, but we're just a few classes from being finished with it this year. I'm very excited to have my first ever student teacher coming in at the beginning of January, so I moved claymation up to an earlier slot in order to accommodate the change of schedule a little better.

What you see above are several sets and characters from the upcoming claymation. 5th grade students are working on making four commercials this year for their project. Each of my four classes breaks up into smaller groups to complete all of the tasks that are necessary for creating a stop motion animation. The groups include writers/storyboard artists, set designers, and character designers. It allows each student to join a group in which they will be most successful. We have just begun filming this week and I'm excited to see the finished animation. I'll post that with full lesson plans when the project is finished.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Recycled CD Snowflake Mosaics by 4th Grade

Recycling is really important to me. Honestly, I think it would be difficult to find an art teacher who wouldn't feel the same way. I try to incorporate recycling into many of my projects and I'm particularly proud of this one. 

A couple of years ago, I had two big boxes of old computer software CDs. They had been donated over the course of a couple of years and I had no idea what to do with them. Every once in a while I would look for ideas online, but I would usually come away empty handed. In the meantime, I had been doing a project with 4th grade that used paper mosaic pieces to create snowflakes. Last year the light bulb (CFL of course) finally popped on. I would break the CDs and use them to create the mosaics. 

The first problem was how to break them. I tried just about everything including smashing them with a hammer and even freezing them to make them more brittle. Nothing worked the way I wanted it to and I finally went to the old standby- the paper cutter. My paper cutter is probably older than me and that means it's awesome. The new paper cutters always disappoint me. They're just not as heavy or sturdy. I simply slice up the CDs on the paper cutter. From there, the kids can either snap them apart into smaller pieces or cut them with scissors. These pieces are glued onto a snowflake that has been cut out and glued onto a piece of silver chip board. They turn out great and end up making a nice piece to take home before winter break. 

Find my lesson plan here!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

3rd Grade Winter Cardinals

If you live in Ohio or any other Northern state, winter is a pretty big deal. Some people love it and others can't stop complaining about it. I personally enjoy big snows on school nights! 

The music teacher at Thomas always puts on a winter program at the beginning of December. I'm in charge of the set and making sure there is winter themed artwork hanging in the halls around the commons. This is one of those projects this year.

I got the idea for this project from browsing As per usual with blog ideas, I changed it around and added to it to make it work with my students. For this project, we talked about landscapes in art. Students learned about foreground, middleground, and background and where to find each level in a landscape. We took the idea of a landscape and condensed it for this project. Since we are in Ohio, we used the image of the cardinal, our state bird. Cardinals do not migrate. Since they are bright red, they are easy to find during the winter months. Students used step sheets and other visual images to draw a cardinal sitting on a branch. Other overlapping branches of varying thickness were added to show multiple levels of depth in the picture. The final product is a multi-media piece that includes tempera and oil pastel. These turned out very well and I've gotten a plethora of compliments from the staff here at Thomas. Feel free to download the lesson plan below!

Find my lesson plan here!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lesson Plans!?!

At the beginning of this school year, I started posting links to my lesson plans when I post images of a new project. I'm more than happy to do that because I think the spirit of art teacher blogs is sharing ideas and making all of our lives easier. I want to know if having the actual plans posted is helpful for anyone. Has anyone been able to go to the Google Docs page and download them? Click on the link below to see all of the lesson plans/presentations that I've uploaded so far. You can also scroll down to projects I've updated recently to link directly to those lesson plans. These are all totally free. No strings attached! I'm not that kind of art teacher!

Art Lesson Plans! 

Once you open one of the lesson plans, you can go to the Google Docs navigation where it reads File, etc. Click on file, scroll down, and you can download as multiple file types.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

1st Grade Rockets in Space

Notice that all of the planets are included (in the proper order and size relationship) in this one.
Wow! This artist has an amazing knowledge of science even as a first grader!

This project has become a favorite for me for 1st grade. We start out with a pretty simple overview of space, planets, and space travel. I also show the kids a video of the space shuttle launching. They are always super psyched to see that. Most haven't seen a shuttle launch before. We like to listen for the NASA guy telling how fast the shuttle is traveling. The acceleration is unbelievable. 

I then have students draw 4-5 planets on a 12"x18" white piece of paper. They color the planets using crayon, but pushing down very hard so the color is vibrant. The next day is spent painting "space" with black tempera. I suppose I could have the kids cut out their planets and glue them on black paper, but I want to give them as much practice painting as possible. They love painting, so I try to give them every opportunity to practice. The rockets are made on the third day and all of the paper comes from my scrap box. The fourth day of the project is spent finishing any coloring or rocket assembly that is necessary before gluing the rocket onto the background and making stars. The stars are simply made using the back of a brush. The results are alway great and my students love this project. 

Here is the link to the lesson plan!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


100 followers?!? It's funny. When I started this blog a couple of years ago, I was just looking for a place to share lessons and art with parents and other art teachers in my district. I really never thought that I would actually have so many people commenting and following this blog. I appreciate everyone's feedback and I hope to continue to make the blog interesting to read. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

3rd Grade Day of the Dead Calaveras

 Third graders just finished a project about Day of the Dead. I'm trying to have at least a couple of new projects per grade level this year and this is one of those new projects. I've got to say that I was really pleased with how this one turned out. 

We started out by discussing the Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Students compared and contrasted it with our holiday of Halloween. There are some similarities, but Day of the Dead is much more involved. Essentially, it involves honoring, celebrating, and remembering friends and family members who have died. 

The calavera (skull) is one of the major symbols of Day of the Dead. Each third grade student drew a large calavera that included many patterns inside. They worked to make their drawings symmetrical as well. I hate to use markers, so these were colored with colored pencils. The kids were so impressed with how bright they could color with the pencils when they pressed down a little harder than usual. They then cut out the skulls and glued them on a piece of construction paper with a simple "frame" made of strips of paper. We kept the background simple in order to make the skull stand out as the star of the work.

In addition to the usual lesson plan link below, I'm putting up the artist statement I have the students complete after they finish their work. They just tape it on the back of their art and I use it to more accurately assess their knowledge. 

Download the lesson plan!!!

Download the artist statement I use for grading this project!

Friday, November 4, 2011

2nd Grade Scarecrows

2nd grade students at Thomas just finished a project based on the book Little Scarecrow Boy by Margaret Wise Brown. After reading the book, we discussed how farmers and farming are important in Ohio. Next, each student drew a simple farm landscape with oil pastels. Each hill in the landscape included a different pattern. The hills and sky were then painted with watercolor. Finally, each student made their own scarecrow. Many of the scarecrows had one of the six super silly faces made by the scarecrow boy in the book. Overall, this was a very successful project.

Click here for the lesson plan!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Having too much fun during conferences...

So....last night was the 2nd night of parent teacher conferences. At my school, parents schedule time to speak to classroom teachers, but I usually don't have too many that stop by the art room. I usually will work on getting caught up on grading work and do other little things that I get behind on during the course of the year. Yesterday I decided to do something a little more fun. You're seeing the results of my not working on grades! Carving like this is done almost entirely with loop tools that are traditionally used for clay. It was a great way to spend my extra hours at school!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

5th Grade Keith Haring Social Cause Posters

This is another project that I enjoy beginning the year with. In 5th grade, I design projects to push the boundaries of what students have done in art before. My lessons for 5th grade are increasingly complex, either technically or intellectually. This particular project is inspired by the work of Keith Haring.

Instead of starting out with a Keynote presentation, I start this one old school. I break out a class set of Scholastic Art magazines from 1998. We start the project by reading a couple of short articles about Haring's life and artwork. After talking about Haring's style, I focus the class on major themes in Haring's work. We talk about major social causes that Haring addresses with his work. Each student chooses an important social cause to make artwork about using Haring's style. It takes a whole different thought process than most students are used to using. I have them focus on boiling down all of their ideas into just a few key images that will get their point across without the use of any text. It is a challenge, but most students end up with very powerful work. 

Download this lesson plan!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

4th Grade Totem Poles

4th graders just finished a lesson about totem poles. Students learned about the significance of totem poles and that they were (and still are) made by native tribes who lived in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. 

The big word for this project was stylize. We learned that some artists stylize their work by changing shapes, colors, etc. in order to give their work their own personal touch. Each student created one stylized animal in the style of a real totem pole. (There are some great resources on totem pole parts online here. Unfortunately, I didn't find this until we were almost done with the project!) In the past, I had kids paint the finished product, but I decided to try collage this year after seeing an example from another blog last year. I really like how clean the collage is. More importantly, the students were more successful using collage.

My lesson plan can be found here
My keynote for this lesson is here
A PDF version of my keynote can be downloaded here.
Feel free to use or modify for your own room!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

3rd Grade Aboriginal Animals

For some reason, I really enjoy beginning the year with this project for 3rd grade. It is a nice combination of drawing, pastel, collage, and painting so it gets the students back into the swing of things. For this project, we study the art of the Aboriginal people of Australia. Each student chooses an Australian animal and begins by doing an "x-ray" drawing of the animal on construction paper. These drawings are colored using oil pastels. Next, backgrounds are designed using a different color of construction paper. This really makes the animals pop. Usually, the simpler the design, the better the background comes out. Finally, students used q-tips and a limited range of colors to paint the background. 

The lesson plan can be found here.
My keynote is here.
Please feel free to use these in your classroom!