Friday, May 30, 2014

Great Professional Development Opportunity!

I don't know how you feel, but I think that finding professional development is difficult for art teachers. I can't recall any time that a whole building PD session had anything remotely to do with teaching art. I rarely get to meet with other art teachers. Honestly, it's one of the reasons I got into blogging in the first place. Art ed blogs are my PD. I would love to go the national convention sometime, but there is a lot of expense involved, so it's not the easiest option.

I noticed over the winter that The Art of Education was hosting an online conference. I was very interested, but it didn't work with my schedule very well. They are hosting another one this summer and yours truly (and many other amazing art teachers) will actually be presenting about a 1st-5th printmaking curriculum! I'm excited to present, but I'm even more excited to be able to see all of the other presentations. Click on the image below to find out more details about the conference. It will be awesome. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

1st Grade Clay Owls

I think I've done three different first grade clay projects in three years. I hadn't found one that I was super thrilled about, so I tried another one this year. This particular project was borrowed directly from another great blog, "artsmudge." 

I usually like to explain how I made everything, but I'm going to refer everyone to the original link I found. Full step by step instructions can be found on the artsmudge page here.

The owls are another take on a simple pinch pot project. It was a simple project that we got done in one day. My students absolutely loved working in clay for the first time. I really like all of the texture in the clay. 

I'm still looking for a first grade clay project that I really love. Please leave a comment if you have a great one!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

5th Grade Clay Tiki Mugs

Tiki Cat!

Without having a student teacher this year, I actually was able to fit in a 5th grade clay project! It had been a couple of years since I had done clay with 5th grade simply because I ran out of days in the school year.  

For this project, I went back to a lesson I wrote several years back about tiki mugs. They were easy to construct since 5th grade students had done slab construction in 4th grade. The big educational addition to this project was the idea of both additive and subtractive sculpture with a slab form. 

Students all designed their own tiki faces and used a variety of clay tools to create the finished mug. Students who were most successful used loop tools to carve away details for their mugs. The loop tools just make wider and deeper lines than our other clay tools. They wind up being more visible after glaze has been applied. 

Download my lesson plan!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

2nd Grade Fairy Tale Puppets

This is another new lesson from this year. I'll say right off the bat that I had mixed results for this lesson. I liked the vast majority of the project, but there are some things that I'll change if I use it again next year.

I loved how this project allowed the kids to be creative in different ways. The 2nd graders had just finished a fairy tale lesson in their regular classroom. I built off of that and had small groups within each class write their own alternative fairy tale. You can find some good examples in "The Stinky Cheese Man." Students took a basic idea from one fairy tale and changed details or characters or plot details in order to make their own original story. Students then chose one character from their story to make a puppet of. 

The puppets were simple paper bag puppets covered with construction paper. The puppets turned out great. You can see all kinds of cool examples at the top of the post. I had dreams of kids acting out their original stories with their original puppets and it being super cool. It wasn't exactly that. Most of the actual performances were a little disjointed, even with extra practice. I'll have to rethink that part for the future. 

Download my lesson plan here!

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Sometimes I'm just blown away in my classroom. Today was one of those days. A student with Down's finished a project early and the amazing paraprofessional who works with him asked if we could get out some watercolor paints for the student to work with. The student worked for 25 minutes, fully engrossed in what he was doing. When he finished, he wanted to tell me about his painting. He told me he had painted a storm. It's cool how moments like these aren't ever planned or predetermined. They just happen. It makes me happy.

Monday, May 19, 2014

5th Grade Plush Monsters

The monster on the left is holding a miniature
version of the monster on the right! Brilliant!

Sewing? Really? Boys, too? Oh, yeah. We recently got our Martha Stewart on in 5th grade and broke out the felt, thread, and needles. I'm always surprised at the number of my students who have done at least some kind of sewing before. It's super helpful to have a few extra "teachers" at times during the project. 

We start out, of course, with some sketches. This year, each student got two sheets of 9x12 felt. In the past, I've had students make their plush monsters out of one sheet of felt. I thought going a little bigger this year would allow students to add some extra details. 

After the monsters were sewn and stuffed, students used felt scraps and fabric glue to attach details. These always come out really nice and my 5th graders really enjoy being challenged by an entirely new medium. 

Download my lesson plan!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Clay Castles and Coat of Arms by 4th Grade

This student had just moved from Japan.
What an amazing example of a Japanese castle!!!

 I love clay. I like how it feels. I like how it smells. I like how many things can be done with it. The custodian does NOT like how, even after a thorough cleaning, it still gets tracked out of my room and down the hall. 99.9% of kids tend to agree with my assessment of clay. It's just plain fun.

Castles are an ever popular project at Thomas. It's a lesson I wrote while I was student teaching many moons ago and is the only lesson from that time that I've held onto. By 4th grade, students at Thomas have had experience with basic forms, attaching with scoring, wedging, and basic sculpture. This combines some of those skills and adds the concept of slab construction. 

I really like to use square dowels from the hardware store in order to get the thickness for the slab. There are other products out there, but the dowels have always worked perfectly for my students. 

The variety of artwork is pretty awesome with this project. No two castles are ever the same. Some students get more advanced and wind up with time to make a removable roof (lid) for their castles. The coat of arms winds up being a fancy way of making a name label. It adds some class to the whole project. 

Click here to download my lesson plan!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Clay Gnomes by 3rd Grade

Admit it. Gnomes are funny. Even the spelling of the word gnome makes me laugh for some reason. Maybe I'm just a nerd. I'm cool with that. The clay project this year for third grade was making garden gnomes. They turned out wonderful and my students had a great time making them. 

The basic shape of the gnome was achieved by wrapping a slab of clay around a yarn cone. Additional details were made with both additive and subtractive sculpture techniques. Students added items with personal meaning instead of traditional tools that gnomes often hold. The nerd in me particularly appreciates the Gandolf gnome (the grey one with a staff). 

Download my lesson plan!