My Dot Lesson

So for a couple of years I’ve been seeing a lot of posts online about the book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. I wondered what all the fuss about this book was, and why are educators asking students to just draw a dot? How did this turn into an international day? Around September 15th art teachers around the world celebrate International Dot Day apparently.

As I began searching for ideas on starting the school year with a cool bulletin board and some fun introductory lessons, The Dot lessons kept showing up everywhere. So I decided to take out the book from my school library and read it, and I loved the message. The idea that each student is capable of making their mark. I can’t tell you how many times in my career I have had the same conversation that Vashti, the main character, has with her art teacher in the beginning of the story. The little girl doesn’t think that she can create anything or that she’s good at art. She sits in front of a blank paper defeated. I thought this book teaches a great lesson for my students: to make your marks no matter what. I tell my students all the time that they are artists and no one can draw like them; no one can do what they do because everybody is an individual. So I thought this book would be perfect to start the school year off and set a classroom culture of trying our best and believing in ourselves as artists.

Before the school year began I created a bulletin board using oval shaped paper plates that I purchased off of Amazon as watercolor paints. Most of my bulletin board was empty with the intention that we would be adding our dots later on.

Then I read to all of my students the first week the story The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. We talked about the main idea and students used crayons to design their dots. The following week when students returned they painted with tempera cake paints around their dots or inside of their dots. We discussed the principles of design such as unity and emphasis in this project. We also discussed shape and color, focusing on geometric shapes. This was such a simple project that it gave me time to also go over how we take care of our pants and our brushes. Students were also able to go over some of the classroom procedures for setting up and cleaning up from a somewhat messy activity.

As students finished making their dots I started hanging them up on the bulletin board and I actually ended up lining the other side of the hallway to with our dots. Dots that were very simple I cut out and layered on top of more intricately designed dots. I really like how I overlapped and created dimension to the bulletin board by overlapping. The positive response that I got about this bulletin board from colleagues and parents has been profound. I definitely think we will be celebrating International Dot Day again in the future!

Three Pinterest Day of the Dead Lessons I Tried

This year my students have completed or are in the process of completing three lessons I found on Pinterest for Day of the Dead. Two of these lessons I’ve never done before and one I’ve tried before and I learned a lot the first time around. I have linked the pins to the bottom of this article.

The skeleton cursive collage that I did with my fourth and fifth grade students is a bit challenging. This is my second time doing it, and I’ve learned a lot in the process. First of all, this lesson includes the kids writing their name in cursive on a sheet of paper, folded in half, cutting it out, and using that for the skeletons body. The first time I did this lesson about six years ago, I realized students didn’t know how to write their name in cursive. Unfortunately, I realized this way too late because we are already starting the lesson. This time around I asked my students if they knew how to write their name in cursive and then I let their teachers know as a homework assignment that they need to work on writing their names in cursive. Most of my students were able to write their names in cursive, however those who couldn’t get it I wrote their names on the board for them to copy. This prevented me from having to write everybody’s name in cursive for them. I also drew on the board an example of a skull for the kids to copy because I learned the kids don’t know how to draw skulls.

This lesson took five weeks to complete. The first week we traced our hands and drew skulls. I also showed them a PowerPoint on the Mexican artist Jose Posada. The second week the students drew their names in cursive and cut out the skeleton. The third week we glued everything down and begin adding color with collage materials and markers. Fourth and fifth weeks students used scrap paper and other collage materials to have 3-D components that pop out.

Overall the skeletons were a positive experience for the students. Most of them had a successful skeleton. I graded most of the collages with high scores. I also had students assess their own work using the rubric. I find that offering them the rubric close towards the end of their project gives them an opportunity to see where they are and how they can improve on their project.

First second and third grade created Day of the Dead booklets that I found on Pinterest. I had the students review a PowerPoint about Day of the Dead and then they had to complete a writing prompt of their choosing inside the booklet.

After they completed the writing prompt students decorated the skull. Then they had to draw a picture that illustrated their writing. This is a pretty simple project however it did take three weeks. Some students got the writing over with very quickly and some students struggled. I found students who struggled with the writing took longer with the project and those who knew what they wanted to write about immediately after beginning the project.

Lastly, I did a marigold still life with my kindergartners and first graders. This project taught them about symmetry, folding and cutting out a symmetrical shape, drawing flowers realistically, and of course Day of the Dead. This was a pretty simple assignment: the most that the student struggled with were the vases and cutting them out symmetrically. We used large sheets of construction paper for the background, and oil pastels to decorate. I taught them how to blend with the oil pastels to create the marigolds. These came out so pretty and I was very pleased with them overall. Several of the marigold still lives were hung up in our local opera house as part of an exhibit with the school district.

Day of the Dead Cursive Collages: https://pin.it/lvty5idyrw2ncl

Skull Booklets: https://pin.it/obi3qffbod2ou6

Marigold Still Life: https://pin.it/2y64t3tf44ohkr

Klimt’s Cradle

This is a lesson plan I wrote about 5 years ago and I was teaching another school. I have always been a big fan of the artwork by Gustav Klimt. I love all of the details and patterns he used in his paintings and of course all of the incredible gold leaf! However I thought that exploring his artwork might be a little difficult with young children. When I saw the painting Cradle that he did of a baby all wrapped up in a quilt I figured I could use this one as an example for the kids to work from.

I start the lesson by introducing the actual painting with my smart projector. We discuss what a quilt is and all the patterns we would see in a quilt. Then I have the students pass out 11″ x 14″ white construction paper. You want a pretty toothy paper because you’re going to end up painting the background. Then I demonstrate how to draw the babies face and the blanket. We also draw all of the “squares” for the quilt which are not actually square is because it’s bundled up. I allow the students to then proceed by drawing a different pattern in each section of their quilt. I have the students start with pencil and then trace everything with black permanent marker. If your younger students do not use permanent markers very often it’s good to go over some basic rules like not drawing on their hands or on the tables with these because they don’t come off.

Students typically take about 2 to 3 class periods with just the drawing and coloring portion of this project. I meet with my students every six days for 50 minutes. I like having all of my students complete the drawing and coloring portion before we do our backgrounds. While we’re doing the drawing and coloring portion I also bring in some art history. This time I read the book Klimt and his Cat-which I honestly found to be more popular with my second and third graders than my kinder and first graders.

For coloring my students used just regular Crayola or Mr. sketch markers. I had them be very colorful with their patterns. To color the baby’s face we used Crayola Multicultural Crayons. Once students completely finished coloring we used gold tempera paint to add color to the background. I took the time to teach the students using a larger paint brush how to spread the paint and not have any added texture or a white spots. Overall I think that the students really enjoyed this lesson. My kinder and first graders who I did this with could connect to the baby painting very well because a lot of them have a little baby brothers and sisters at home.

Ethiopian Baskets

This year for Black History Month I wanted to represent our school community with our art project. I have a large Ethiopian student population at my school. I investigated what types of crafts and art they have in their culture. I found several examples of incredibly bright and beautiful baskets in photographs online. I had done basket weaving before with students during a Native American unit. So I tweaked my project to include more bright colors, geometric patterns, and raffia.

We used a Styrofoam bowl from the grocery store as our loom. The students cut nine slits into the styrofoam bowl and then tied on yarn. You have to have an odd number of slits so when students are weaving in and out they don’t need to skip any slits. Students would just tie on a new color and continue going around and around the bowl until they reached the top. When they reached the top then they would begin experimenting with raffia.

I told the students to try tying knots, making bows, creating bundles and tying those on, even incorporating some of the yarn and raffia into pom-poms.

Some things to keep in mind with this project is that Ethiopian baskets are extremely bright and colorful. Many of them incorporate both tan and bright colors. So I had pulled out my brightest colors of yarn along with some tan yarns for the students to create patterns with as they wove.

Also, most Ethiopian baskets have a geometric pattern inside. I had the students use colored Sharpie markers to draw a radial design in the bottom of the bowl. When we hung them up I would just staple the bottoms of the bowls to the bulletin boards.

during this project some of my students who are Ethiopian volunteered to share with the class some aspects of their culture in a written report. The students presented the written report to the class -highlighting the different types of food, holidays, and languages they have in Ethiopia. I learned a lot through this part of the project as I am not familiar with Ethiopian culture. The children taught me how the baskets are used in every day life in Ethiopia. They explained that the larger baskets with lids are used to hold bread and keep it warm, while the flatter baskets have different dishes of food set out.

What projects do you have lined up for February? Please share below in the comments.

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.

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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.

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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!