Sunday, September 30, 2012

I Can't Live With Out. . .

My drying rack!

My host teacher while student teaching had one of these. I thought it was a great idea! I love having my drying rack. I do not like to put things up wet, and I'm not going to waste paper towels and time hand drying everything. I know some people leave items out on the counter to dry, but I covet my counter space. Everything fits so nicely and organized in my drying rack. What item do you think you couldn't live without in your art room?

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Art Criticism and Aesthetics

We found out at school last week that twice every nine weeks, each grade level is going to get an hour and a half extra planning time. The specials teachers get the students while the teachers plan.  We started this schedule this past week. I know that I rather enjoy getting to see the students a little extra because it means that we can have little art intensives.

In the past, when I've done criticism and aesthetic activities with my classes, they take the whole time. Also, the students get very put out that they didn't make or produce anything. In their eyes, they didn't really have art class. I realized that this extra time is going to be great for crit. and aesthetic activities.

I saw this pin on pinterest and I knew immediately that I wanted to do this with my students.

I teamed up with the music teacher and we did this activity with the fourth grade. We had three groups of fourth graders for thirty minutes each. The first thing I did was tell them that they would be split into six groups. Within those groups they were to think about what art is. Now the picture above asks why is art important, but I think a person need to answer what is art first. I also wanted them to focus on the arts as a whole, not just visual art.

I told them to write however many ideas their group came up with on post its. Next I went over the rules.

I split them into groups making sure that boys and girls were group together, and there wasn't one big group of friends.

I gave them between ten and fifteen minutes to discuss as a group and write down their thoughts. Lastly, one person came up from each group to share the opinions and post them to the board.

Here is what our fourth graders thought. Note: I am writing the responses just as they had.
  • Art is fun.
  • Art is colorful.
  • Art is something where you can just be yourself and be creative.
  • Art is something with creativity. 
  • Art is a mystery.
  • Art is shapeful.
  • Art is creative.
  • I think art is the one way that you can express yourself.
  • Art is when you draw, sing, write, sculpting, painting, and sports.
  • Art is line shape and texture.
  • Art is something you create or make and it's your idea.
  • Taking your thoughts and making it into something really beautiful.
  • Something colorful.
  • Art expresses feelings.
  • Something with your own style.
  • Art is something unusual but amazing.
  • Before it was a thing, it was an idea.
  • Art is everything.
  • Art is peaceful.
  • If art wasn't invented nothing would be creative and nothing would be pretty.
  • Art shows your imagination and talent.
  • Without art, the world would be blank.
  • Art is a way of recording history.
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Monday, September 24, 2012


I like to start the school year off with portraiture. I especially wanted to do them first thing this year because I am brand new to my school and wanted to see my students' style. I had a pre-assessment assignment where I simply told them to draw a self portrait. That was it. No more information was given.

I had lots of pictures with circle and dot eyes. Pictures with pointy noses and smile lines. Some students drew the whole body and some had a landscape orientation. In each class there was at least one that didn't even resemble a person.

My next step was to teach them a guided self portrait. I talked about portrait orientation, how much of the body is shown (think school photo), shape of the eye, shape of the nose, shapes for lips, and shape for hair. I kept telling them that the other ways were not wrong. I said the other ways look like cartoons and we were learning the artist's way of drawing a portrait. I also talked about craftsmanship and how to color with crayons.

This is the bulletin board outside of my room. I have the third and fourth grade showcased work on this board. I put laminated black paper up as the background so all I have to do now is put the artwork up with masking tape and there is an instant border. It's also very easy to switch out the artwork since it's just taped up. 

Here are the close ups. I love the backgrounds and different details the students added to their portraits.

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Science Experiment in the Art Room

I really enjoy subject integration. I feel that it helps the students' learning come full circle. Integration helps them relate particular subjects to life, especially when art is integrated because art is everywhere. My main science integration comes in when we do crayon or oil pastel resists. There are many other lessons that weave in science, but I have to say that this was not in my curriculum.

Molded tempera. What?! I have been working on color and color mixing with my students. I decided that I would just fill old baby food containers with the primary colors and let the students share them. They each get their own paint pallet and learn paint mixing techniques. I had been using the containers for about a week in a half just fine, and then one Monday I walk into this.

I like to mix science and art, but i did not expect to grow spore samples. Now before I go further, I just want to note that my paint is VERY old. It's from 1999. 

This is an image of what I mostly have next to a new bottle. I did get a gracious budget, but I spent the money on things that I didn't have at all like watercolor, oil pastels, construction paper, and a couple of bottles of purple and orange paint. The closet was FULL of all the other colors. I shook them up, tested them and they seemed OK. Very runny but no obnoxious odor or anything so I figured they'll work. Everyone I've talked to says that they would just throw them out, but if I did that we would have no paint. I make it work.

I called Dick Blick to try and trouble shoot the problem. The person I spoke with said that tempera is a great base for growing mold. I did not know this. She also said not to have multiple students dip into the same container. My thing is that my paint is too runny to put on a paper plate or magazine page. I also have multiple classes paint in a day and I don't have the time to clean out pallets in between classes. Lastly, she said that the container the paint was in, or the original bottles may have had mold spores already in them. This is possible especially since the containers were baby food containers.

My solution; I still use the baby food containers, I just don't fill them up. I put a small amount in that usually last a couple of classes. I have to fill them up periodically throughout the day, but that would be no different then if I had to make new pallets for every class. While the paint will not last several weeks, it will last a couple of days. This way I can still put the top on them and use them again.

Have you had any odd or unexpected events happen in the art room? Share in the comments!

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Yay for Pre-K: Brown Bear, Brown Bear

This year I am teaching pre-k art. This is only my second year teaching, but in all of my teaching endeavors  I've never taught an age this young. I have to say I was a touch worried as to how our time together was going to go. I envisioned paint splattered walls, glue in hair, and ruined paint brushes. That is not at all what happened. The class is calm and I have wonderful kids who love to create and are eager to learn.

Our most recent project was an assemblage based on the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle.

I collaborated with their teacher and found out that they focus on one book each week and this was one of the books. I wanted to focus on a lesson that encompassed painting, cutting, and gluing. I printed a circle and two ear shapes on card stock. The first class I gave them their papers and instructed them to paint inside their shapes trying to stay within the lines.

Let me note here that all through my education of art ed I was highly against templates and tracing. As time has gone by I have become more open to it. I don't think they should be used all the time. I do however find that there is less frustration from the students and less time consumed on elements that aren't part of the lesson objectives. There is also somewhat of an insurance that the art will come out looking as intended and not just a big blob.

The next time we met they cut out the shapes and assembled them onto a black piece of paper. We counted out ten small dots for the face and three small dots for the ears. Next, they glued down google eyes. Again, like with templates and tracing, I don't always use google eyes. Sometimes the project just calls for it though. They used black crayon to add the nose and mouth. Lastly we worked on letters and spelling the word brown.

I really like how they came out. We need to keep working on the glue, but I think these look awesome for pre-k.

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