Glow in the Dark Mittens Collage

This past fall I have been working on a series of classes with my kindergarteners and first graders. This final collage using brightly colored paper for a glow in the dark effect is our final, culminating project before the semester ends.

To prepare for this project I pre-cut white paper into 5″ x 5″ and 3″ x 3″ squares. I also drew by hand the mittens on a 11″ x 17″ white piece of construction paper. I put it through the Rizzo at school to print on neon colored paper.

To introduce the project I showed the students a YouTube video on pattern. You can view it here: https://youtu.be/gAh1J3Ljj-M this video reviewed what a pattern is and how pattern can be made using texture, line, shape, and color. It also reviewed the concept of symmetry that we had gone over while crafting our Sugar Skull Masks this past fall.

I demonstrated on the board how to build a symmetrical pattern on both of their mittens. Then I allowed the children to choose which color they wanted their mittens to be and they used Crayola Construction Paper Crayons to color in their mittens. Crayola Construction Paper Crayons are brightly pigmented so they show up super bright on colored paper.

We completed this project in three, 50 minute periods. During the second class I demonstrated to the students how to cut snowflakes from white paper. I gave each student two 5″ x 5″ papers and to 3″ x 3″ papers. My god was that each student would have at least three snowflakes to add to their collage.

During the last class I passed out black construction paper in 11″ x 17″ size. Students used the construction paper crayons to draw a moon and clouds. Then they cut out their mittens and glued them onto the black background paper. Lastly, they glued on their white snowflakes. During this collage project I also taught my students about overlapping to create the illusion of space. So my expectation was that my students would feel comfortable overlapping their mittens and snowflakes on their black background papers.

This is a great winter time project to be done in December,January, or February. I chose to do it in December as I have several students who do not celebrate Christmas. I do try to stick with a winter time project with my December projects rather than going into the holidays. Several students will also be displaying their projects in our multipurpose room for the December winter musical performance.

Please check out my Instagram to see what other products we are doing in December and January. We’re going to take our exploration of space into the third dimension next month with clay projects.

Shape and Line Collages

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Being a working mom has been more busy than I had anticipated. I’ve had the flu fairy visit us this month, I’ve been training for a 10K, and of course being a full-time teacher on mom takes up a lot of time. So this weekend I’m getting giving a little love to my blog and posting two articles.

For kindergarten and first grade I feel that it’s really important that students get a good handle on how to use scissors and glue in my classroom. This project combines collage and painting in one lesson. It also reviews the elements of art with the students.

In the first class students created two paintings: one of shapes and one of lines in a step-by-step tutorial that I lead. During the tutorial I go over direction of line, types of line, the color wheel, and what geometric shapes are. I also go over how we treat our materials when we are water color painting. I talked to them about how their brushes should look when they’re painting so they’re not misusing their brushes, I talk to them about not mixing the colors in the palette. You would think the kids wouldn’t like a step-by-step and paining, however kids are just really excited to paint. They didn’t really seem to mind much that I stopped and taught all along the way.

In the second class I taught students how to cut zigzags and curvy lines with their scissors. Students cut out the five shapesshapes that they had made in their previous class: circle, rectangle, square, and triangle.

When students finished cutting out all the pieces we glue them down on a 12″ x 18″ sheet of construction paper in a pleasing composition. This is where the creativity comes in with this project. While the first class is very step-by-step, the second class brings the creativity and makes each project unique to the child. We talked about craftsmanship during this class and how we can glue our shapes and lines down carefully without adding too much glue to our project. I taught them about cutting out their shapes and lines neatly not leaving any little pieces hanging off. Overall students learned a lot in one quick lesson that was only two class periods.

Please make sure to check out my Instagram for more information on what’s going on in my classroom. I update twice a week on Instagram. I’m much better at Instagram than I am at blogging. If you are interested in getting any lesson plans from me please just comment below or you can private message me on Instagram. I’ll be more than glad to email them to you.

Three Day of the Dead Art Lessons for Elementary Aged Children

 

I first learned about Day of the Dead as a student teacher at Buffalo State College. I was intrigued right away by the imagery related to the holiday. When I moved to Las Vegas I began teaching at schools where at least 50% on my population was Hispanic and most of my students were Hispanic had a Mexican background.

Fast forward 13 years and I am teaching at a school now where half of my student population actually celebrate Day of the Dead! This is a first for me. In previous schools my students didn’t really have much information about the holiday. So having students who do have a background with the holiday, does bring some new challenges. As a teacher who is not Hispanic, I do have to have a lot of knowledge of the holiday, Mexican culture and history, and art. Also given that my student population actually celebrates the holiday, in a city that does recognize the holiday, I do feel that moving forward you need to do some kind of public art display.

To start with I had a PowerPoint on the holiday, some Mexican history and art. My students were really impressed that I knew so much information about their culture. This made them really excited to work with me and we were able to move forward and create all these awesome projects.

For Day of the Dead my second and third graders created Frida Kahlo Calaveras using Crayola Model Magic. Calavera is Spanish for skull. We started by readingGetting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists: Frida Kahlo as a class. Then students created their skulls out of model magic.

Once they modeled their skulls, they glued them on to a 12″ x 18″ sheet of white paper. We read the book into class periods after the second class. Students wrote their first copy of a letter to Frida Kahlo. I reviewed the steps of writing a friendly letter in my class. Students were asked to find things they had in common with Frida Kahlo such as her love of art, Mexican culture, pets, and science. I reviewed and graded the letters as a formative assessment.

While I was busy grading, and correcting the papers students continued on their projects by drawing Frida’s body, and a detailed, pattered border. Then students added their letter with corrections as a background to their piece and colored in their border along with Frida with marker. To classes will be hanging up their finished works of art in our February music program which will highlight cultures from around the world.

Fourth and fifth graders created Calavera masks this past month using paper. I have a template that I will share below for a skull with slits on the side that can be cut and folded to mold the paper into a 3-D mask. Students first of all colored in their templates using marker. I required that their designs were symmetrical and highly detailed. I showed them examples of real sugar skulls in class to further bring home the points of symmetry and detail.

Then we added hair, eyelashes, hats, bows, and other details with scrap paper. I showed them how to curl the paper using scissors or by twirling it around a marker. I also taught them how to fan fold the hair into crinkle cut pieces. I gave students a lot of creativity with what they added to their mask but I did explain to them the difference between adding 3-D elements into the elements. If they cut out a flat hat and added it to their mask it would not go towards the criteria of having 3 3-dimensional elements in their mask.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

To finish we popped out the noses and teeth, folded and molded the mask so it popped out, include our masks on two 9″ x 11″ construction paper for matting. Students were asked at the end of the lesson to check their own work against the criteria of the project before turning it in for a grade.

I received so many compliments on the masks made by my fourth and fifth graders. For kindergarten and first grade I also made Calavera masks with paper, except I simplified the project. They also had to make their masks symmetrical. However their masks are flat.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Students drew on the skull template in marker a symmetrical design. I modeled for them how to do that before they went ahead on their project. Then the next session we used glitter and sparkles on our masks after we matter them on 9″x11″ construction paper. Some of these projects are being chosen to be hung for a holiday display at the Smith Center of Performing Arts downtown.

We had so much fun creating these projects. If you need any materials or lesson plans feel free to comment below or in my Instagram. I’ll be more than happy to email them to you.

Fall Projects

I love teaching Day of the Dead for October. Working with students from a Hispanic background, many of them are Mexican-they are already familiar with the holiday. Many of my students have actually celebrated it in Mexico! I do review a PowerPoint on the holiday and its’ traditions prior to starting the lesson.

I have a skull mask template that I make photocopies of and then the kids draw using markers their decorations. We have just started this project and I’m finding sharing actual sugar skulls with my students is very inspirational while they work.

My requirements for my 4th and 5th grade students are that they include repetitive patterns, symmetry, along with the typical bright, colorful designs that are found throughout traditional Mexican art work.

I’ll be sharing more about the finished product as the month goes on.

The other lesson I’m starting for October is a Day of the Dead tribute to the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo with my second and third graders. I read to them her biography, then they need to write a sloppy copy of a letter to her showing what they have learned about her. They can incorporate ideas like pets, art, Mexican heritage in their letter to her to find some common ground. They create the skull using Crayola Model Magic and glue it onto a 12″ x 18″ paper. My students will finish the project by drawing the rest of Frida, writing the letter in fancy handwriting around their Calavera, and creating a frame.

I will share the finished product of this lesson as well. Happy October!

Starting off With a Bang!

What could motivate kids to spend four weeks on the same drawing? A big contest! I have the kids doing a local contest in which their artwork would be hung up in our bank, published in a calendar, and could win $100 for both the child in the school!

The contest is through the teachers credit union. The kids have to draw what makes them happy. I have added that whatever makes them happy cannot be something trademarked or with a logo.

During the first two weeks on a project my students work on the in pencil. Now they’re trying to add color with crayons and markers. I really pushed the idea of adding details by introducing MC Escher’s work. I also require that the stains out of background, foreground, and middle ground. I shared with my students my rubric to make my directions clear.

I’m really excited about how the project is going! It’s a great way for me to learn more about my students and their interests. Especially as a new teacher coming to a new school, these personal projects really help us start to build a rapport.

Van Gogh Sunflowers

For the beginning of the school year I like to choose a project that is communal, and small for each child to participate in. This leaves a lot of time for them to learn all of my procedures and rules during the class period. any good teacher and as of the first two weeks of school it’s all about rules and procedures so that the rest of the school year can run smoothly. This year I created a new lesson based on Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Each child was responsible for creating a sunflower in two class periods. Also, during these two class periods we would go over all of my procedures, safety, and rules for the art room. We also reviewed the fire drill.

To start the project I presented the students the Sunflowers painting. We talked about what they saw. They told me about circles, I taught them by geometric shapes. They told me about cylinders and the shape of the vase. We talked about warm colors, analogous colors, I showed them the color wheel. I asked them What the subject of the paining wise: self portrait, portrait, landscape, or still life? I was actually pleasantly surprised to find that all of my kids knew that it was a still life! This is one of my school districts objectives: to teach the subjects in art. Kids should learn the four subjects in art upfront, so that way they are familiar with them throughout the school year.

The students also mentioned to me that there was blue in the background of the painting, this was a cool color. This also gave me a moment to explain to them that I expect to always see a background in their artwork. I don’t want them just to draw the main idea of their project and leave a lot of empty white space.

I passed out 6″ x 6″ white sheets of paper to each student and a pencil on the first day. Each student to their sunflower. On the second day we read Camille and the Sunflowers, to get a better idea about the artist life, and his intent and painting this work of art. This is a really great book to introduce students to life and art of Vincent van Gogh, however it keeps out some of the darker parts of his life. At the very end of the book if your students are older there is a very straightforward biography about him. However with my students being kindergarten through fifth grade I want to keep it a little bit lighter.

On the second day of class we also colored in and cut out our sunflowers. Kindergarten needed some assistance, however I was pleasantly surprised most of them could cut out your sunflowers relatively well. I did remind students of the work of art is a pretty realistic work of art, therefore I expected them to use the warm colors we talked about in class. Afterwards, I used butcher paper to create the background and vases for each of my five murals in the hallway of our school. All together there are 800 sunflowers in these murals. I spent one prep every day for a week stapling up my sunflowers. Luckily they were up in time for open house!

My other lucky little bit during all of this was that our school’s brand new community garden had two large blooming sunflowers while we were creating our works of art! They definitely inspired my students!

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to a new school year! I took off the whole summer to focus on the renovation in my home and transitioning my kids into their new preschool. I also spent some time setting up my new classroom and getting ready for the new school year. I am back to being a full-time art teacher at an elementary school in Las Vegas. The blog is gonna take a little bit of a different turn now, it’s gonna be directed towards what I’m doing in my classroom and less what I’m doing in my personal life. My Petite Picassos are going to be my students, and there’ll be a lot less about my own children.

My classroom is pretty large and we have a computer, laptop, a smart projector, a kiln, and a storage room. The kiln has its own separate storage area. I have lots of storage in my classroom with cabinets under my two sinks and two cabinets that roll.

I found this idea of dripping paint on Pinterest for my bulletin board. Took about an hour to cut it out perfectly, but I’m really pleased with the results. I have one bulletin board set up to be the one that I present our new lesson plans on. The other bulletin board I’m using for our art vocabulary word wall. With the art vocabulary word wall I simply printed out the vocabulary words such as diagonal, bright, photography, portrait, etc. on computer paper and cut them out and laminated them. They’re stuck to the word wall with sticky tack so I can easily remove them from the word wall and attach them to a reproduction that we are learning about.

I also like the way I set up all of our tables this year. I continued the drippy paint idea and cut out blobs of paint from construction paper in different colors and tape them to each table to signify each table, and better organize the kids. I also have the tables set up in sort of a C-shape. This allows for a lot of community discussion, however I can going to the center and pass out materials or teach from the center of the C.

For our first project back to school I like to do something very small, easy, and communal. At our school we have a community garden that I’m tying into a Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflower’s art project. I’ll be posting more about that next month.

Also in the beginning two weeks of school I really like to lay out all of my procedures, rules, and expectations for the students. I use CHAMPS in my classroom for laying out my expectations as we move through transitions. I only have three rules in my classroom which is to respect me, each other, and the materials in the art room. I go through what that means, as I walk around the classroom and show the students how to safely use the art room. We practice drills, we practice passing out materials, we practice cleanup.

I’ll be posting every two weeks during the school year. You can also follow my classroom on Instagram @mypetitepicassos. Happy New School Year!

Break

I’ve decided to take a break from blogging for a little while. I’m going through a transition from working at home to working outside the home and over the summer back to teaching. Once I go back to teaching I’m sure I’ll start the blog in a little bit of a different direction focusing more on teaching art from the art teacher’s perspective along with some parenting articles. If you have been following this blog for some time I just wanted to give you a heads up and let you know what’s going on with me and the blog. Thank you so much for following and see you in the summer!

Vegan Shakshuka

I have been vegetarian since I was 13 years old. I’ve always eaten eggs and dairy with brief moments of being a vegan. As I got older I am more interested in becoming a vegan as it has become more accessible and more of a health concern for me. My egg eating has become a concern for me with my classroom and my digestion. So I’m giving veganism another shot.

I’m really enjoying all of the new vegan restaurants in my town and vegan options that are out there including vegan donuts. My oldest son and I stop at Whole Foods and grab one every Sunday on the way home from swim class. I have switched out the margarine, butter, creamer’s for my coffee, to vegan options. My youngest son likes the chocolate almond milk, however my oldest son only likes the chocolate soy milk. They are both lacto-ovo vegetarians , however with me introducing some dairy free options I’m hoping that their colds will be easier to manage. They say that cutting back on dairy will loosen up any mucus causing illnesses. With both of my boys in daycare we’ve had a lot of colds this year.

My husband is a flexitarian. He still eats meat and fish from time to time, however he does enjoy my vegan and vegetarian options. As the cook in the house I only prepare vegan or vegetarian food so he only eats vegan or vegetarian food 75% to 80% of the time.

So one of the challenges lately is that he wanted something different for Shabbat dinner. I had been cooking a lot of quiches prior to going vegan, with my new dietary restrictions comes new recipes and challenges. Last week I looked on YouTube for some good ideas on how to cook an Israeli food favorite: Shakshuka vegan style. I came across a video featuring an actual Israeli woman named or Ori Shavit who is a vegan activist and cook in Israel. She uses sweet corn meal to replace the eggs in the shop sugar. She mentions that polenta is made from a technique that she’s using. You can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/jrfiaIizzns. With it being Shabbat, for which I cook several dishes and being short on time I decide to go straight to the polenta.

I have never been a fan of polenta, I never really knew so much how to use it. After watching a few episodes of Rachael Ray, however I did learn that it should be creamy and it can even be cheesy tasting! So I took a store brand Trader Joe’s log of polenta, crumbled it in my hands, put in a pot with some coconut milk and nutritional yeast cooked until it became a grits-like consistency. It was delicious on its own. I was so pleased with how it came out. It was so easy and quick to put together as well!

The final test came at the dinner table. I was already really happy with how the shocks you collect, have a tomato sauce tasted, but the final decision had to come to my Israeli husband. He absolutely loved it and we even had the leftovers last night!

Ingredients:

4 large-medium sized heirloom tomatoes (I used red mainly, but also green and yellow)

1 log of store bought polenta

1 tbsp. nutritional yeast

1 tbsp. Smoked Paprika

1 small can of tomato paste

1 tbsp. minced garlic

1 orange and 1 red bell pepper, washed and diced

1/2 c. coconut milk

1 c. water

2 spring onions

7 white mushrooms, chopped

1 tbsp. Olive Oil

1 chili pepper-use only the bottom, sweeter half and chop

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a pan over med-high heat. Add garlic, peppers, and mushrooms to sauté until softened. Chop tomatoes into medium sized cubes and add to the pan along with water, paprika, and tomato paste. Lower the heat to simmer, partly covered on medium heat. Allow the tomato’s to soften, the water to evaporate, and sauce to thicken until there are no more bubbles around the edge of the pan.

While that is happening, into a saucepot crumble your log of store-bought polenta. Add your half a cup of coconut oil and tablespoon of nutritional yeast. Cook on medium high, using a potato masher to further mash the polenta and coconut milk together into a thickened, grits- like consistency

Once there are no longer any bubbles in your tomato sauce, spoon the polenta into the tomato sauce in oval shapes around the pan. It should be mimicking what an egg would look like if you were using eggs. One of the key components to Shakshuka is it’s red and yellow look. You can eat it with pieces of sliced up bread, warmed pita, Challah, or on its own. It’s a delicious and warm salad entrée.

Ten Ways I Show My Kids I Love Them

With Valentine’s Day around the corner we are thinking of showing our loved ones we care. Prior to having kids my husband and I went BIG on Valentine’s Day with special dates, dinners, and surprises. We agreed we had to, after all our last name is Amor.

Now with two little boys we try everyday to show we care and love them. As an attachment parent I truly believe in building a strong relationship and foundation of family is the essence of building self-esteem in kids. I want my boys to know that I have their back no matter what, and that I truly have their best interests at heart. Home should be a safe, nurturing space where my boys can relax and put their cares away.

1. I try to make one on one time with each boy. For my oldest it’s swim lessons every week, for my little guy it’s cuddling at bedtime.

2. I have dinner with them every day. We sit down at eat together.

3. I ask them about their day and listen to their answers.

4. I try to make time to do activities every day after school with them-time at the park or Gymboree, cooking together, cuddle and read a story before bed.

5. I tell them how much I love them and how special they are to me.

6. I give them small treats-a donut after swim, a printed coloring sheet I brought from work.

7. I apologize-if I lose my temper or make a mistake I say I’m sorry and talk to them about it.

8. I let them make choices:jeans or sweatpants; hotdogs or pizza for dinner-it shoes I respect their decisions and value them.

9. I start my day with a cuddle. When we first wake up we put on a cartoon and cuddle for 20 minutes. It’s the best way to start the day.

10. I try to challenge them at their own pace. Kids need to grow and develop but I don’t want my boys to have anxiety about new experiences. I recently weaned my youngest-it took 9 months. It felt like it never would happen! My oldest weaned in a matter of weeks! Different strokes for different folks.

Hug your littles and let them know they’re special this Valentine’s Day! Share how you make your kiddos feel loved in the comments below.