Musings about the importance and impact of art and art education in the 21st century.

Musings about the importance of art and art education

4th Grade Henry Moore Unit -Part 1: Clay Abstract Sculptures

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in

I stated the school year by having all of ky classes create abstract assemblage sculptures using a random assortment of things from my supply closet.  You can check out the details on the post I wrote about it by searching "First Week Activities" in my searchbar. Soory, but for some reason, I can't figure out how to make a hyperlink using this blogger app! 

Anyway, the first day activity acted as a lead-in for all the 3D projects I was doinf with all my classes. Ot was an especially effective introduction for my fourth graders because it really helped the kids understand the coxnept of abstraction, which is the cornerstone of Moore's work.  

For this project we viewed a PowerPoint on Moore's life and work, discissed abstraction and positive and negative space, and then, without a demonstration, I set em' loose.  The sculpting took 2 4 40 minute art sessions. On the second session I did use a demonstration where we looked at 3examples of Moore's sculpture and defined the characteristics we noticed, one of the key ones being the smooth texture, Whoch I showed them how to achieve on their clay by using a bit of water.  After The projects were fired, we glazed  them.

The glazes I used were Sax True Flow Cystal Magic in Sassy Orange, Pagoda Green, Royal Fantasy, and Black Onyx. The color quality is really nice, but be prepared to spend some time mixing them because the textured color granules settle and solidify at the bottom. I got quote the arm workout between all the shaking, squeezing and stirring I had to do to disperse the texture throughout the glaze. 

2nd Grade Wayne Thiebaud Unit Part 1-Clay Melting Ice Cream Cones

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Second graders are finishing a unit based on the artist Wayne Thiebaud. The unit consists of clay melting ice cream cones followed by a two dimensional project where students create painted stacked ice cream cones. The kids love Wayne Thiebaud and are usually really engaged in the projects when I teach his artwork. Here are how the clay lesson went:  

 The clay cones took two days to sculpt and one day to glaze. After going over all the rules and directions for handling clay and washing our hands after using it, I spent the rest of the period showing them how to create two pinch pots and attaching them using a toothbrush and water. I found that just scrubbing the clay with the toothbrush and water was enough to get it to stick, and that I didn't need to make slip and use a fork and a brush like I usually do. 

After the kids made the two pinch pots, they attach them together and then squished the edges to make them look like melting ice cream. On the second day I had the students lightly pound a piece of clay on pieces of Carrugated cardboard. They pounded the clay with the cardboard facing in one direction and then carefully picked the clay up and turned the cardboard 90° so it was facing a different direction, after pounding the clay again, they were left with a crisscross textured shape. They then used a wooden stylus to trim the slab into a triangular shape and very careful rollled it into a cone shape. 
They used a toothbrush and water to attach the two sides together. At first I had the kids join the two sides but after doing it a few times I realized that if they had the edges overlap instead of just touch, it was much easier for them to create the actual cone shape without it coming apart. Although, you do have to emphasize to the kids that they have to smooth the two pieces together carefully so that they don't lose too much of the texture while doing it. 

Lastly, they attached the cone to the scoops. When class was over, before I put the cones in the back to dry, I checked each one and poked a hole with an awl through the bottom of the scoops up into the cone to make sure that there were no air bubbles that would cause the clay to pop or crack,. This year, I also had the kids simply make a paper label using sharpie (so it doesn't run if it gets wet) to write their name and place it under their sculpture and when I put the sculptures away to dry, I would write their names on the bottom. In the past I've had the students write their names on the bottom or simply write their initials, but somehow with the initials and the sloppy handwriting, there were inevitably some students whose work got lost in the shuffle. So far, writing their first names myself has worked out much better.

For glazing I used Mayco Stroke and Coat. The kids had seven colors to choose from. The colors were JavaBean and Tigertail for the cone, and honey dew, cottontail,  tu tu tango, orange a peel, and blue yonder for the ice cream. Stroke and Coat is great because you don't necessarily need to have three coats for the color to be really vibrant and in most cases, the color of the glaze unfired is pretty similar to the fired results, so you don't have to worry about the kids getting confused and choosing the wrong colors or colors they don't want for their project, if you don't have time to make samples.

Conference Day Ideas

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It's so infrequent that I get the opportunity to just sit down with my peers and discuss art. Today, was our superintendents conference day and I have the pleasure of being able to sit with two of my elementary art teacher and colleagues and just discuss teaching art. We talked about everything from handwashing procedures to accommodating students with special needs, lesson materials, power points and notebook software we've created, and even just vent to one another about the day-to-day challenges of being an art teacher. I can't tell you how enjoyable it was to just have some downtime quote with my peers. Sometimes, just having the time to talk is more beneficial than a whole days worth of structured Professional development. Here are a few pictures I snapped with my iPad of some of the things we discussed.

Before pictures above are a fifth-grade Zentangle relief style project. The project is started with some simple wavy lines, or you could say, "taking lines for a walk". You then discuss with the children exactly what is Zentangle is in the way patterns are created. Some children are going to need more coaching in this than others. You also have to really explain to them that patterns are everywhere and having an activity like a pattern search, or having them walk around the classroom and observe and all the different the different patterns all around them, would also help to inspire them. After that they fill in the loops that they've created with their overlapping lines with the  zentangles using a fine point or extra fine point sharpie, and then color them. Lastly, they decide where they're going to cut their drawings in order to make parts pop up and then glue them onto a rigid backing.  Another good tip that was shared with us were the new adult coloring books that you see everywhere nowadays. This particular  teacher picked hers up in the dollar store and passed a few books around so the students could use the images as inspiration

This project above, is a Debuffet inspired card stock sculpture using X-Acto knives and sharpie markers with Elmers glue. This project was completed by 6/7 and 8th graders.

The two above adorable pictures are pinch pot birds made from clay and raffia tied nests. I even love the red and turquoise glazes she used on the bird.

This project is one of the first project of the year this teacher teaches in kindergarten. It's based on the idea of "taking online for a walk".  The students paint simple freeform lines with a chubby brush on the first day and then on the second day using, tempera cakes, the students get a slightly smaller brush, choose three colors for unity, and fill in their lines with the paints. On the third day, the children can go back in with an even smaller paintbrush and add different patterns. This is a great lesson that teaches line, shape, color, and helps the kindergarten students develop their fine motor skills with different sized paintbrushes. It also helps to teach them the routines of handwashing, brush washing, and how to paint in general.

This artwork was done by first grade. It uses one Joam Miro as inspiration for the design. And tempera cakes along with oil pastel to fill-in.

 This is a great all-purpose are rubric that was posted in her classroom.
 Lastly, the image below I snapped because I absolutely love the Mondrian inspired deer head. This wasn't a project, but was something she picked up through the website Zulily, which occasionally apparently has these odd off 3D cardboard puzzles that are inspired by artists. At the time, she had some middle school student put it together and said that it only took them about 20 minutes which is pretty awesome considering how complex it looks!

We Get the Joke-2nd Grade Classroom Mini Collaboration

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in

I love the opportunity to collaborate. It doesn't happen as often as I'd like unfortunately, but it's always fun when I get the chance to work with some classroom teachers. What you're looking at is A second-grade bulletin board. I didn't work with this particular teacher but worked with another one to create the same idea. I spent one period with her class helping them to draw out the sketches for their jokes. We both agreed that having some photo reference would be super helpful for the kids, so she was nice enough to search and print out one or two pictures to go along with the jokes that each student had. The kids used 14 x 18 or so sized paper and crayons to color their work. They began by using pencil and then outlining their drawings and sharpie, erased whatever pencil showed underneath. For coloring, I emphasized overlap in different colors, using dark outlines,even pressure when coloring, and coloring in one direction. I always try to emphasize the use of details in artwork, which helps make the pictures better. The kids finished coloring their drawings in their classroom and then the classroom teacher posted this board. I love the attention to detail in it, and the way she even color mounted the jokes themselves. Even the font on the banner works really well with the whole theme. I don't often see classroom bulletin boards that I like as much as this one. I'm glad I had a small part in it!

Bulletin Boards for the New School Year

♠ Posted by ArtMuse

At the end of every school year I save a few of the last projects for the following September bulletin boards.  I remember the panic I felt my first year at my current school with 3 large boards to finish and no artwork to put on them.  I remember the anxiety I had worrying about what I could possibly fill the space with.  Now, each year I look forward to filling the boards.  I am responsible for three boards and two showcases and so I start each year off by hanging student work on the two smaller boards and by creating a "welcome back" piece on the largest main board in the front lobby. In the past I've used Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle as inspiration. The Eric Carle boards post is HeRe and the Dr. suess boars post is HeRe.


This year, I used the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems as inspiration. A year or two ago our school librarian told me that the kids LOVED this series, and since then, making a board using it has always been in the back of my mind.  I leafed through a few of the books, created a short story board of what I wanted the characters to say, and then drew the images based on that.

On the main board I usually laminate my work and when I hang student work, I try and rotate the work on and off the board every four weeks max, otherwise the work always get shredded up. Do any of you find you have problems with kids tearing or shredding work on bulletin boards? I don't feel like the kids do it intentionally, but the boards do seem to get pretty gnarly pretty quickly in my school!

 Here's to another great year everyone!

First Week Activities

♠ Posted by ArtMuse

After giving this much deliberation and changing my idea oh, about 100 times, I settled in on a sculpture challenge.  This year I am staring off the year with all clay projects...say WHA?!!! (Yup, I'm feeling particularly saucy this year!) and so,  I wanted something that would tie into sculpture in some way.

Initially I was thinking of doing a drawing challenge based on a workshop I took at the NAEA convention a few years back.  It's basically a challenge where the students draw a dot on their paper and then turn it into something. I wrote a post on it HeRe

The challenge went something like this: I began the period by going over some rules for the art room. Specifically, hand raising, staying in seats unless you raise ypur hand and ask to get up, and how to respond to the chime I use as my class signal.  I generally don't go over procedures like handwashing and handling materials until we are actually doing/using them, otherwise I feel like it's not quite relevant.  I also spent a moment going over my new table labels and cooperative group numbers.

After the rules, I introduced the releveant vocabulary which will connect to their first project.  We discussed 3-dimensional, sculpture, abstract, representational, and assemblage.  This activity was done with grades 2-5 grade and so the last 3 vocab words were tiered as the geade level increased.

The Challene was basically to build something. I encourage them not to think of anything specific, but to simply start building and see what came of it. It was interesting to watch, as some of the students really thrive with the freedom to create anything they want, while others struggled because of that same freedom. 

Overall, the activity was a success. It got the kids creative muscles working and forced them to think in ways that they normally don't.  Interestingly it was pretty much equally successful on every grade.  It also worked well as a way to introduce the vocabulary for their first full project.  

Welcome Back!!

♠ Posted by ArtMuse
One of the best parts of being a teacher, of the many great parts, is the beginning of each new school year and the possibilities that it brings. Just think, we get to go "back to school" shopping every year!  As hard as it is to go back after the summer break, there is always an aura of excitement and anticipation that the new year brings.  We teachers have 2 new years each year, the traditional January 1st new year, and the first day of school "new year".

Despite some new challenges this year like a smaller art room, a huge influx of new students, making my schedule busier than it's ever been, and having this be my first full year back as a mom, I am still optimistic.  There's something eternally hopeful about the opportunity that a fresh start brings.

Getting back to what I mentioned above...I lost about one-third of my art room at the end of last year to make room for a larger more functional ESL space (and all of our new students).  On the upside, my art room was huge before, and so now, it isn't tiny, but probably the size of a normal classroom.  For years I had a  6 foot rolling partition that divided my room into 2 spaces, an ESL area, and art. Now, I have a finished wall complete with two eight foot bulletin broads, although  I now have less space, it does look a lot nicer. When all this was happening last year, I was upset at the thought of loosing my space, but seeing as how I didn't have a choice, it was a case of making lemons out of lemonade.  Dare I say, it may even be nice, having a more functional space instead of a larger, less utilized room.
                        The above picture is my old room and below is my "new" room

As a result of the change, furniture got rearranged, supplies shuffled, and items given up. Given the new layout,  I tweaked a few of my classroom management procedures and routines as seen in some of the pictures below.

I backed all my classroom bulletin boards with fabric. This will eliminate the fading and the need to change   the paper every other year.

My table labels, and class folders went from R1, R2, Y3 (representing red table 1, red table 2, yellow 3 and so on) to cooperative group table colors using paint swatch squares, based on the colors red, orange, yellow, green, purple, and blue with numbers 1-4. Meaning that 3 tables will go by their actual color and three Will be the secondary colors and not the actual color of the table.

I labeled my sinks...thank you pinterest!  I had come across a post where the art teacher was venting about the kids always lining up at 1 sink and leaving one empty and I thought, "YES, that happens to me all the time! She combated this by simply numbering the sinks and coloring them with corresponding table colors.  I can't wait to try this!

    My class rules are the same as well as some of my posters and anchor charts