Monday, November 10, 2014

Why Veterans Day is My Favorite Holiday

I'm not super keen on "hallway projects."  You know, those projects to just decorate the hallways to coordinate with holidays or school themes.  It's just not my style.  I think they're cute, and encourage teachers in my school.  I'm always 'consulting' with the kindergarten team to help them figure out projects.  Cute is generally just not for me and my curriculum.  It's not natural.  I have to work on cute.

What is me is honoring our Veterans.  My grandfathers is a World War II vet.  A solider.  A hero.  I had the incredible experience to be his chaperone on an honor flight.  If you have a veteran in your family, sign them up!!!  This is an incredable organization!  Grandpa and I were moved to tears all day.

Grandpa and I at the WWII monument.

Our school invites Veteran's every year for a school assembly, so I wanted the hallway to look patriotic for them and get a chance to talk to the kids in class about veterans and what the day means. Here's my conundrum.  A holiday project?!  Can I possibly do something cute that teaches the lessons I need taught too!  I found out, YES!

The idea to change the palette to red, white, and blue.  
I had been doing a lesson previously with kindergarten that was similar.  Students would draw horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines, then discover they had made shapes. They would paint in each shapes and then once they were dry, add lines designs with oil pastel. When I saw this similar idea on Pinterest and then on this blog, but in the red, white, and blue palette, I knew immediately what to do! I had a lesson and a cutie-pa-tutie art project!  The foil star is a cute idea, but not ideal to do with so many kindergarten students.  Instead, I used the Ellis machine to cut out stars from mirror paper and students used 3D foam dots to attached them to their art.  In the white space students added glitter, because what is elementary art without a little glitter?! Thank you Christie from for sharing your idea and inspiring me! 

See more photos on Artsonia 

At the end of the school year, Scholastic was having a dollar sale and I happened upon this flag notebook paper for wait for it....$1!  One whole dollar for a pack of 50!  You can hardly buy a ream of paper for that cheap.  So I added it to my shopping chart.  At the beginning of the third grade, I like to do a lesson on drawing people using double arms/legs and paying attention to details.  So the students draw their person under the flag.  They can say the Pledge of Allegiance, Boyscout salute, cheer, or say thanks to the veteran's.  Students unlearn some of the bad habits when drawing people, learn about Veteran's day, and it's a cheap and quick project with great results!  My volunteer who hung them up did so in an American flag pattern.  So so cute!  Yes, I used the word CUTE!

See more on Artsonia

And here's a few of my favorite photo's from Grandpa's Honor Flight...

This was one of my favorite moments.  You can see in the reflection Grandpa is pointing at a battle where he remembered the sound of the planes overhead, as he was on the ground fighting.  The sounds of the planes meant there was a chance for survival.  Such a meaningful moment, the kinds I love to share with my students.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Two Pins, One Lesson. Fourth Grade Zentangles.

Part 1 of the inspiration found on Pinterest and from Painted Daisies

Part 2 of Inspiration for Fourth Grade Zentangle Leaves
Sometimes one pin just isn't enough.  Thank goodness we can organize with boards on Pinterest because it was two pins on the same board that sparked an idea for my fourth grade students.  A couple of years ago my student teacher introduced zentangles to our high school classes.  It was so successful that we (and by we I mean WE because this relationship was the most awesome collaboration of lesson planning for the both of us!) decided to try zentangles with our fourth graders.  Mrs. S came up with the idea to have the kids do zentangles inside of a leaf outline. The students were in the middle of a Nature unit, so it fit the curriculum perfectly.

Just after we completed the high school lesson,  I saw the pin with the zentangle on brown craft paper with the white and was instantly taken by it.  The artist is Teri Casper.  I wrote a note to include it in my high school art school lesson the next year.  I never got the chance, as the next year I became full time elementary.  No complaints here though. (Although I love high school students too!)  Next came the leaf pin, and I immediately thought of the 4th grade zentangle leaf lesson.  For the first year, the students had drawn them on white paper and used a sharpie for the zentangles.  These two images really inspired me to take the project to a new level.  I have basically morphed together the two images to form a new lesson for fourth grade students, and they love it.  You know those days when the kids stop talking completely on their own because they're so absorbed with the lesson?  That's what happens here.

I've collected a lot of good materials over the years, which definitely makes a difference.  The kids use the micron pens and that helps them be successful at such little and detailed lines.  I have 10 packs of black and it was an investment, but they have lasted two years and the kids do a great job of taking care of them.  I tell them if they use professional supplies they have to treat them like a professional artist.  For the metallic coloring the kids use Sargent Liquid Metals which have lasted well and are very reasonably priced per wear.  I got a free pack of the Crayola brand, and I'm impressed with those too.  I had to really keep an eye on the kids that they didn't completely cover their zentangles with the markers.  We talked about how artists have to be good editors and make choices, even though the materials are fun to use! 

After mounting the leaf zentangles, students decorated the black background will gel pens, which they also could use on the leafs.  I am super excited about the results, and it's even cooler to look back on my Pinterest board and now see the end result of what started as a pin and idea.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Prehistoric Art for Contemporary Kids

Our contemporary project inspired by prehistoric art. 
Each year I do an ancient culture at the beginning of the school year.  Ancient Greece fits into our hero unit, ancient Asia is belonging and prehistoric and ancient Egypt are my go to art history lessons for storytelling, which is the big idea we are studying this fall semester.  I wasn't in love with my fifth grade lesson, and really wanted my students to connect to the lesson, not just replicate it.

I was looking for inspiration on Pinterest and wasn't finding anything, but I did see a lot of new ideas along the way!  Second grade added flashlights to our lesson to create a fun atmosphere thinking we were in a dark cave.

2nd Grade plays with many materials to tell their story like the cave artists.

I came across a lesson using air-dry clay and referencing rock art.  I've been saving a School Art's lesson on it, so I was able to put it all together.  I added inofpetroglyphs to my power points and lessons and the kids really liked learning about ancient art closer to home.  (Even though Utah sounds just as far as France to a first grader!)  On a side note, our Crayola terra cotta air-dry clay cracked and broke for a few students, so I painted their petroglyphs with glue to help them get home in one piece! We used the air-dry because my kiln is in my room, and without AC, it's too hot in the fall to do ceramics.  

I had first grade drawing in the hallway, second grade playing with flashlights, third grade making petrogplyhs, and fourth grade illustrating their name, but I still needed a fifth grade lesson that was about the kids.  I really didn't want them drawing animals that they couldn't relate to or only watch on Ice Age.  

That's when I came across a blog about a book review on Cave Baby by Julia Donaldson.  The reviewer had her children spray/splatter art. (The blog was Playing By the Book, but as of tonight it is not working. Maybe it will work for you?)  And BINGO!  That was it!  The idea moment!

I asked students to draw images that would tell a story about them. "If someone came across your art 100 years from now, what story would you leave for them?  What story does your art tell about you?"  Then I had student simplify their ideas into shapes.  I mixed liquid watercolor with some tempera paint and water, and asked the custodian for spray bottles (thanks Mr. D!).  During one class period we sprayed....AND THE KIDS LOVED IT!  AND I LOVED THE RESULTS!  A contemporary project for contemporary kids about prehistoric art.  

This lesson isn't about animals, or how long ago something was made.  It's about humans telling their story, past and present.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

From Lines to Laughs: Kindergarten Bed Head

The Original Lesson

One of the first lessons in kindergarten is learning about horizontal and vertical lines. We use our hands and do the "horizontal hulu" which I stole from Janine Campbell's session at NAEA.  (Thanks Janine, the kids love it!). This lesson also teaches kids how to use brushes without paint. We use starch and tissue paper, so it's a great intro the the materials and how to put wet brushes away, before they are covered with paint!  Procedure, procedure, procedure makes everything easier! I've been doing this lesson for three years, and the finished product was beautiful.  Besides lines and pretty, that's all we got from it.  This lesson, "Tuck Me In" by Sheryl Depp in School Arts magazine, inspired me to use these pretty horizontal and vertical lines as quilts.  


The inspiration that gave a project new meaning.

Last year, the kids made themselves tucked into bed, and just glued in crazy hair. Straight lines going in different directions. After I hung them in the hallway with a sign that read 'Kindergarten Bedhead', a second grade teacher gave me a book called Bedhead.  I love this collaboration because the grade level teachers are the experts on children's books!  I added the book this year and the kids loved listening to it. They laughed so much! When it was time to make their own bed head, we used zig-zag and curvy lines to make it. Students wrapped paper around crayons for curvy and folded paper back and forth to make zig-zag lines that turned into their crazy bed head.

Mrs. W gave me her book from Scholastic 
This lesson has evolved over the years from just tissue paper lines to a project with a narrative and a laugh.  The inspiration from the School Arts lesson that turned my horizontal and vertical project into a quilt quickly snowballed into a new and more meaningful lesson where the kids get to create a story and learn about materials, lines, and procedures all at the same time!   

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Light "Blog" Moment with Circles

A few weeks ago a fourth grade teacher, Mrs. B, approached me about circles.  "We're trying to use a compass Miss Hatch and it's not working out too well.  Do you have any ideas?"

I didn't.  I was a total blank.  The teacher wanted something to make creating circles with a compass more interesting.  The kids were getting frustrated, and there was no motivation.  I had nothing in my arsenal....
The light "blog" moment!

Until I added the blog, Cassie Stephens to my blog reading roll.  I saw the pictures of relief circles and was intrigued now that Mrs. B had put the circle idea into my head.  Cassie Stephen's prep project is what particularly caught my attention.  The step by step was perfect.  I could write it up, and give it to the teacher.  It's something the kids can work on in her class (I'm booked for lessons with my art show in December!) and it's a way for me to reach my students without actually having them in class.

I showed Mrs. B and she is just as excited as I am to include the lesson in her classroom.  She planted the idea, a blog gave me the inspiration, and now I can't wait to see the fourth graders go!
My version of the lesson, with instructions to use a compass.

Monday, September 29, 2014

How to Use Kindergarten Scribbles

See more on artsonia!
The inspiration for this kindergarten project was pinned three years ago as you can see.  I followed the example for using masking tape....and it took FOREVER!  And it took FOREVER to take all the masking tape off.  After lots of tears almost tears and a massive ball of masking tape, I decided there had to be an easier way and I'm happy to report, there is!  I (or an awesome volunteer!) uses the Ellis machine to punch out all the letters!  I love asking the kids which letter they get.  They proudly announce their first initial!  During the demo we talk about blending and overlapping and trying to use all 24 crayons.   I just love kindergarten brains.  The response to having 24 colors to use was, "Holy Chicken!"  Don't you just love them!