Saturday, September 29, 2012

New Year New Blog!

I completely redesigned my blog and changed the name and URL.  I probably say "mistakes make art" to my students 100 times a day so I thought what could be a better title than that! My url has also changed to


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Amaco Clay Lessons


After reading Septembers issue of Arts & Activities I was browsing through the Amaco website.  They have a bunch of great lesson plan ideas and what I really like about it is that they have step by step photographs of each lesson with written directions and a materials list that accompany it. Here were two I particularly liked:

Clay Picasso Face

A bisque fired finished pieceThree samples drying

Clay Caterpillar


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Aurtumn Has Arrived!

Autumn is my favorite time of year.  The beautiful foliage, the cool weather, the pumpkins and  Halloween.  Last weekend at a local farmers market I snapped these two photos and they inspired me to post a few of my favorite fall lessons. 

Creative Art Lessons

Ms. Larson's Class blog


Journey to Simplicity

Bark River-Harris School District


My Blog

A Faithful Attempt


Deep Space Sparkle

Sunday, September 23, 2012

U.S. Enterprise Visit and Outer Space Lessons

Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting the U.S. Intrepid Air and Space Museum in Manhattan.  This was my first visit to the Intrepid and I was amazed at the sheer size and mass of the air craft carrier.  Even more amazing was the space shuttle Enterprise.  I was lucky to have an in-depth guided tour from my father in law who for many years worked for Grumman as an aerospace engineer. 

I think anything pertaining to space exploration would be immensely fascinating to students, particularly boys, who are usually a bit tougher to really engage in art making especially if the lesson pertains to Georgia O'Keeffe flowers or Monet's waterlilies, lol. The possibilities of what could be taught are endless: space crafts, lunar excursion modules, astronauts, moon craters, shooting stars, nebula's, planets, supernovas, aliens, UFO's..I could go on and on, AND  it makes for a great cross curricular topic.

  Here are a few science themed lesson ideas I came across,  enjoy!

PuppyJaws Blog

Art Lessons for Kids Website

 That Artist Woman Blog

Second Grade Solar Systems-From my blog

 Kids Artists Blog

 Field Elementary Art Blog


Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Lost Common Core Standard

 Ignite a Fire


I found this post and loved it so much I had to share it.  

It is directly taken from the website Venspired  A website created by a gifted and talented teacher named Krissy Venosdale who blogs about her ideas and reflections on teaching.  

I got to her site from Ms. Leban's Art Blog

Here is her September 15th post, it's so great I wanted to share it, especially because as a special-area teacher we are, to a certain extent, liberated from the common core standards and  can pick and choose which, what, where, and how we want to utilize them.  As such, we have the freedom to explore themes that are sorely neglected in many general education classrooms.  Things like creative problem solving, learning to work with mistakes to create new learning opportunities, exploring options for possible solutions, voicing and expressing our opinions, ideas, fears, and hopes, and of sharing in the organic process of creating collaboratively.  Let me just add that I am saying that it is not the fault of classroom teacher that so many creative things have gotten sidelined from education, to the contrary I have met many amazing, creative, and innovative classroom teachers who just don't have time in their day due to test prep, curriculum benchmarks, and state pressure to provide 'accountable' results on student test scores,  to dedicate the kind of exploitative, hands-on activities that help foster life long learning skills.  As a result it behooves us, the art, music, physical education, and even library teachers, to push our children to be courageous, curious, collaborative, and inspired.

Ms. Venosdale's very eloquently written post is directly quoted below: 

 "There’s one more Common Core Standard. It’s the lost standard.   It’s the one that won’t be tested until far into the future.  It’s the thing we have to make sure is being taught, modeled, and encouraged every single day in our classrooms.  It includes Language Arts, Math, Science, Art, History, Music and so much more.  It’s contains the power to make the world a better place.  It requires our kids to have the confidence to dream and the courage to do.  It insures that our students are more than scores in the newspaper.  It might be the lost standard, but we cannot let it become the forgotten standard."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Monet's Garden


This weekend I had the pleasure of going to the New York Botanical Garden and viewing their exhibit on the gardens French impressionist painter Claude Monet cultivated at his house in Giverny, France.  I knew the  basics about Monet but had no idea what an avid gardener he was.  According to the exhibit at one point he was even quoted saying, "if I wasn't a painter, I'd be a botanist."

I never knew that so many of the landscape and flower paintings Monet did were of his own gardens! It was amazing and beautiful to see how inspiring he made his surroundings, it was practically like living in a painting. Here are a few of my photographs from the exhibit, fast facts about Monet, and some lesson plan ideas I found based on his art.

 Claude Monet - Monet, right, in his garden at Giverny, 1922


20 Fast Facts about Monet: 

1. Claude Monet was born on November 14, 1840 and died December 5, 1926.
2. Claude Monet was born on the 5th floor of 45 Rue Laffitte (the name of the street) in Paris.
3. Was baptized in Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, the local parish church.
4. Monet was baptized as Oscar-Claude, but his parents called him simply Oscar. It is strange that we all call him Claude.
5. Claude Monet was the second son of Claude Adolphe Monet and Louise Justine Aubrée Monet. His parents were second-generation Parisians.
6. Monet wanted to become an artist, but his father wanted him to go into the family grocery business.
7. While attending Le Havre secondary school of the arts, the locals knew Monet well for his charcoal caricatures.
8. On January 28, 1857, when Monet was only sixteen, his mother died.
9. After his mother died, Monet left school and went to live with Marie-Jeanne Lecadre, his widowed childless aunt.
10. Monet painted Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant) in 1872. It depicted a Le Havre port landscape. In 1874 it hung in the first Impressionist exhibition. When art critic Louis Leroy read the painting’s titled, he coined the term “Impressionism”. Leroy meant his assessment to be negative, but the Impressionists at the time approved of description and it stuck.
11. In June 1861, Monet joined the First Regiment of African Light Cavalry in Algeria for a seven-year commitment. However, after two years later, he had contracted typhoid fever. The army agreed to release him from his service commitment at the pleas from his aunt, but only if he agreed to complete an art course at an art school.
12. In 1862, Monet met Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frédéric Bazille and Alfred Sisley while he was a student of Charles Gleyre in Paris. They discussed the effects of light with broken color and rapid brushstrokes which is the mark of Impressionism.
13. Jacques-François Ochard gave Claude Monet his first drawing lessons.
14. Eugène Boudin, an artist and Monet’s mentor, taught him to use oil paints and techniques.
The Woman in the Green Dress (La femme à la robe verte) was painted in 1866. This painting brought him recognition and was one of many works featuring his first wife, Camille Doncieux.
15. At the young age of thirty-two, Monet’s wife, Camille Monet, died of tuberculosis. Even while on her deathbed, Monet took the opportunity to paint his wife.
16.  In 1878, Claude Monet’s second child, Michel Monet, was born.
17. In May 1883, Monet rented a farm house located between Vernon and Gasny at Giverny. He used the barn as a painting studio. The property also had orchards and a small garden.
 18. In 1890, Monet purchased the house and land outright. After becoming the owner, he created the gardens which he would spend the rest of his life painting.
19. Monet also created several series of paintings which included: Rouen Cathedral, Poplars, the Parliament, Mornings on the Seine, and the Water Lilies.
20.  On December 5, 1926, Monet died at the age of 86 and is buried in the Giverny church cemetery.Monet had insisted that the occasion be simple; thus only about fifty people attended the ceremony. His home, garden and waterlily pond were bequeathed by his son Michel, his only heir, to the French Academy of Fine Arts (part of the Institut de France) in 1966.

Lesson Plan ideas

 Dream Draw Create Blog

Grade 2 Monet's Japanese Bridges






Ms. Motta's Mixed Media Blog 


 Backyard Art

Backyard art m1

 Artventurous Blog



New York Botanical Gardens

Video: Monet's Garden with Professor Paul Hayes

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My ''Welcome Back' Bulletin Board-Suess Style!

Every year I do a 'welcome back' bulletin board in the main hallway of my school and every year by the second week the bottom half of the board is ripped to shreds by tiny hands can't help but touch, pull, twist, rub, and outright tear the paper as they pass by.  PLUS, it doesn't help matters that the first and second graders line up in front of the bulletin board in the mornings and after lunch.  SO, this year I decided instead of killing myself making cut-outs only to have them torn down, I would paint right on the backing itself.  


I drew, painted, and laminated the Dr. Seuss figures and stapled them on but the hills and letters I just painted directly onto the background paper.  It's the end of week 2 of school and no rips, tears, shreds or missing pieces...Looks like I'll be painting mini-bulletin board murals from now on!

I just had to add this one last thing... :) 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Creative Problem Solving in the Art Room

 About a week ago I wrote a post that touched on how each year I create an overarching theme that I can develop my teaching through and that I can have my students develop their skills with.  This year I firmly decided on creative problem solving and have spent the first week teaching all of my classes about what creative problem solving means and how it can be used in the art room.  I have also framed all the projects within my curriculum  for grades 1-5, to pose at least one  open-ended art challenge question entitled  "your art problem to solve".

Because I teach on a 6-day cycle with about 5 classes each day, I have had NUMEROUS chances to fine-tune and tweak the lesson structure to best have my students attain my goal of being able to answer the question "what is creative problem solving?" and creating an activity where they can creative problem solve and then share with the class all the different ways they did it.  Here is how I did it:

I had attended the NAEA conference last year and went to a seminar given by a Nebraska art/technology teacher Bob Reeker (who was GREAT), based on the book A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink.  I had read this book years ago and loved it and was excited at the chance to see how Mr. Reeker had implemented right-brain creative activities into his fifth grade curriculum. The PowerPoint he provided the attendees with acted as the basis for my lesson.

I began by asking my students to turn and talk to discuss what creative problem solving means to them.  This was to help me gain an idea about what their prior knowledge was on the topic.  Then I told them an anecdote of how I woke up on the first day of school and prepared myself a cereal breakfast but found that I had no milk in the refrigerator.  I asked them to give me possible solutions to this problem.  I was able to get about 7 answers or so from each class.  I used the variety of answers to illustrate the point that many times we are faced with problems every day that have more than one acceptable answer and  that it is our job figure out possible solutions and then choose the one that best fits our needs. 

Secondly I showed them their design challenge: To work in pairs and invent an object that combines all or parts of 3 unrelated objects: a sneaker, a chair, and a bicycle (courtesy Bob Reeker's Powerpoint).   If you are a Daniel Pink fan this is an example of 'synthesis' in his book....

Students got about 15 minutes to work, they had to label their invention, give it a title, and make sure it was aesthetically pleasing (title, function, and aesthetic).   They were able to add multiples of the objects as well as integrate other objects, as long as they included parts or wholes of the initial 3.

Lastly the class met back up in front by the Smartboard and they each presented their inventions

They came up with some AMAZING inventions and really enjoyed sharing them with one another.  I let them go for the period with a final assignment: to exercise their creative problem solving skills by recognizing all the different problems they encounter in a day and trying to persevere and find multiple solutions them!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

1st Day Back-My Artroom

I meant to take these last week and post them BEFORE the start of school, but better late than never I suppose.  

Here's a few shots of my art room :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Beautiful Oops

Tuesday is back to school day and I've been thinking about what I will be doing as my first day lesson.  Usually, I create a yearly teaching goal/theme for myself and my students to work on and then create a 1st day lesson that introduces the students to the theme we will be exploring all year.  

Two years ago I chose classroom management, specifically, 'how can I make my students work more independently in the art-room?' For that,  I did a art-room scavenger hunt on the first day and we then discussed the rules, procedures, expectations, and what it meant to be independent in art.

Last year I my focus question was 'how can I better teach viewing and discussing artworks?'. For that, I had my students create a list of things to think about while viewing work and we then while modeling and practicing these ideas, we discussed how to brainstorm, generate meaningful questions, and debate topics. 

This year, I'm thinking of the topic of problem solving and challenging myself to focus on the question 'how can I teach creative problem solving skills using art?'  
 I really feel like creative problem solving is something lacking in school these days, mostly because of the tremendous amount of state testing and test prep that has to be drilled in the general education classrooms all year.  I think it's so important for students to be able to problem solve independently, problem solve collaboratively, and understand that many times, there are multiple solutions for problems and that there is not always one 'right' answer, as they are so often taught because of these tests.  Also, it's important for them to understand that working through 
problems takes time, effort, patience, and perseverance, and that making  mistakes are part of the learning process.  

So in the spirit of problem solving I've posted 2 videos from youtube of Barney Saltzberg and his book Beautiful Oops, which illustrates in a very age-appropriate way, that making mistakes isn't just o.k. but an inherent part of the creative process. 

A thanks to Keeping The Mistakes for her mention of the book and her link to the video which helped to inspire this post!