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!

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.

Process Art Masks for Toddlers


With Halloween coming up there so many cute Halloween craps out there. I wanted to do something with these Do a Dot markers that we received in the mail recently from Melissa and Doug. I also want it to be a process art activity where the boys would have total freedom and creativity.

I settled on the idea of making masks. It could combine collage, paper crafts, wearable art, and the markers.  


I have to say I was really excited about these Do a Dot markers because not only are they easy, non-toxic, and come in a variety of colors -even silver! The green box has fruity smells to the markers! The boys really enjoyed that!

To make the masks I simply cut out a face shape from white card stock. Then I gave the boys the markers to choose colors from and they began making their dots.


After they finished making their dots I gave them red pom-poms and googly eyes to add details to their masks.  For this step I did most of the gluing, however I did allow them to experiment holding onto the glue bottle and trying to squeeze out some glue.


After that they added the hair I cut out of yellow card stock to the back of their mask.

Often times when making crafts and art projects with little kids adults feel the need to steer children in a direction towards a finished product. The great thing about process art is that there is no definitive look to a finished project. The child can create their project however they wish-this gives younger children a lot more self-confidence in their decision-making while creating art. This self-confidence can aide children in continuing to be creative down the road whether it’s in visual arts, music, or writing.

The next time you do a craft or art lesson with your child consider letting them take the reins. Maybe they’re making a self-portrait and their lips are painted on their foreheadand their eyes go on their chin, that’s fine. Pablo Picasso did that after all!

Legoland Fun in San Diego

If you follow My Petite Picassos on Instagram you’ll know that we recently went to Legoland, California. We had an amazing vacation and the boys had so much fun!

Compared to other theme parks in SoCal Legoland is really affordable!  We were able to go for $123.99 all together!  We had a Bogo coupon for buy one adult hopper ticket get another one free. Hopper tickets allow you to go in between Legoland and either the aquarium or the splash park. We chose the splash park, however we were only at Legoland one day and we didn’t end up going there.  Kids under three years old are free at Legoland so the boys got in with for free. This was a lot cheaper than last year when I paid $300 a day for myself and my husband at Disneyland. Legoland is not as magical as Disneyland nor as large, but it definitely is a great theme park!

We went on a Saturday in July and while it was crowded it was not overcrowded. We downloaded the Legoland app to find out which rides had the shortest wait time. We only waited a long time for a boat ride. Even though my boys are young toddlers they were able to enjoy a variety of rides and activities. They had several boat rides and cruises through at the same park that the boys could go on, a carousel, a train ride, and little car rides. A lot of the boat rides and such are going past full Lego exhibits such as the Lego towns/monuments or fairytale stories.  I loved seeing Las Vegas made out of Legos, so much detail-they even had a pool party at one of the hotels!

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It was more challenging to find things for Adam to do than Ben. Ben even got to ride some rides by himself! A lot of rides are appropriate for ages three and up however they do have a whole Duplo Town for little guys . Duplo Town is where we rode the train and there was a large playground.  When my husband to take Ben on rides I would walk around with Adam and take him to the area where you can build with large Legos or go in search of characters. One of the favorite places in the theme park for the boys was the area where they could build Lego cars and race them!

Th hands on activities kept the boys busy for at least 45 minutes to an hour and we found ourselves prying them away to check out rides or get something to eat.

Georgia O’Keefe Unit

georgia-okeefe

Georgia O’Keefe is so inspiring as a woman and nature lover.  I did this unit as part of an Environmental Art art unit exploring the Enduring Idea of Nature and Art.  It took the better part of the spring to finish, but my students were very familiar with her work and what inspired her afterwards.

 

Art Unit: Georgia O’Keeffe

Grades: 4-6

# of lessons: 3

Art Resources: Artists in Their Time Georgia O’Keeffe by Ruth Thomson, examples of pueblos and adobe homes in photographs, photographs or actual animal skulls, examples of Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower paintings, pictures of flowers (I got mine from a calendar), and teacher products.

Art Materials:1 sheet of white 9”x12” paper per student, watercolors, water cups, pencils, paintbrushes, glue, 2 sheets of 8”x8” white paper per student, 1 11”x14” sheet of black paper, cups of glue and water mixed together, oil pastels, and 1 11”x14” sheet of white paper.

Objectives- Student will:
– create a multimedia southwestern landscape
– create an observational collage and pencil drawing of a flower
– create a painting of animal bones of flowers
– learn about the process of collaging- use various watercolor techniques
– shade using a pencil and create a grayscale
– draw using oil pastels
– learn about the life and art of Georgia O’Keeffe
– work in groups and individually
Interdisciplinary Connections: Science and Social Studies
Vocabulary: Georgia O’Keeffe, still life, landscape, Southwest, grayscale, shade, and adobe.
Lessons: The unit will consist of the following components:
A. Multimedia Adobe Landscape– Each student will paint a watercolor sunset on 9”x12” sheets of white paper. The student will then draw adobe homes using oil pastel.
B. Georgia O’Keeffe Flower Study– Each student will create an 8 square grayscale using pencil on strips of scrap white paper. Student will share a photograph of a flower with a group of 3 students and individually draw/shade a flower composition on 8’x8” white paper in pencil. Then he will redraw the outline of his flower composition on another 8”x8” white sheet of paper and collage with tissue paper scraps. Student will mat his work on 11”x14” black paper with glue.
C. Flower and Bones Painting– Student will draw in pencil on 11”x14” white paper a skull and a flower from studying photographs. Student will paint the picture using watercolors.

Psychedelic Self-Portraits

On of the most exciting periods of music and art to study when I was a teenager and pre-teen was the Psychedelic era.  It seemed radical, revolutionary, and free.  Freedom is what those pre-teens and teenagers are craving so why not peak their interest with a lesson on John Lennon and Richard Avedon?

 

psychedelic

Title:Beatles Psychedelic Self-Portraits

Grades: Gr 4-8

Art Lesson Plan-4 50 minute sessions

Enduring Idea: Heroes and Heroines

Rationale: Throughout, time humans have created or selected heroes to teach lessons that portray virtuous characteristics and noble archetypes that help an individual, a nation or a culture survive and thrive.  Artists, have often been influenced by heroes and have portrayed real or mythological heroes in their artworks.

Materials: pencils. erasers, markers, 12″x 18″ white paper

Resources: Beatles by Avedon, John’s Secret Dreams: The John Lennon Story, examples of psychedelic art (Peter Max, Richard Avedon, concert posters), self-critique form

Preparation: precut white paper to 12″x 18″, gather examples of psychedelic art, and create an exemplar, create a self-critique form students can use to check their work according to the criteria they were given to complete the assignment

National Arts Standard Anchor (s):

#2. Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
#8. Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.

Objectives:
*Students will learn about the life of John Lennon and the Beatles
*Students will learn why John Lennon is considered a hero
*Students will become familiar with the psychedelic art of the 1960’s
*Students will create a self-portrait in the style of Richard Avedon’s portraits of the Beatles.

Vocabulary:
Psychedelic, Abstract, Self-Portrait, Repetitive Pattern

Interdisciplinary Standards:

  • Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).

Procedures: Day 1:  S will view teacher exemplar. T will review the lesson steps. S will listen to the book John’s Secret Dreams: The John Lennon Story. T “Why did John Lennon stage a bed in?” “What did John Lennon believe in?”  “What can we learn from his actions?”  S will pair up and trace their heads on a white paper in pencil.  Day 2: T will review the lesson steps.  T will review with class the examples of psychedelic art using the Elements of Art and Principals of Design.  S will use a ruler and pencil to add a psychedelic pattern to his/her self -portrait.  Day 3: S will review the steps of the lesson and vocabulary.  S will begin coloring in his/her self portrait with bright colored markers.  Day 4: S will finish coloring in his/her self-portrait.  S will use the self-critique form to self-critique his/her project using the elements of art and principals of design. S will hand in his/her project along with the self-critique form for grading.

Assessment:

S neatly and carefully drew the outline of his/her head on the paper and added a repetitive pattern. 3/10
S neatly and carefully colored in his her self-portrait using bright bold colors to create abstraction.  4/10
S answered all the questions on his/her critique form, demonstrating thoughtfulness as to how they describe their project using the elements and principals. 3/10

 

Envelope Animals

envelope-animalsThis was a simple rainy day activity.  It’s gotten to be pretty cold here in Las Vegas believe it or not. This morning it’s 39° out -i’m from Buffalo,  New York that’s cold to me. Even though it’s called the sun is out and shining and it’s a beautiful winter. It even snowed a couple days ago. So as the kids have been inside more we’ve been doing more arts and crafts activities.  The other day as I was paying bills I put some envelopes inside and took out construction paper. I cut out different shapes and show them to Ben and we talked about with the shapes were.   He repeated after me triangle an oval. Then I helped him glue them onto the back of the envelope to create years. I took out some googly eyes we glue those on to the top of the envelope to make guys. Then I added some details to create the face so he could see the animal. I told him what type of animal it is in English and in Hebrew because he’s bilingual.  Then he had fun playing with his new markers and coloring them in.  You could easily include a book like Where the Wild Things Are to this activity.  You can make a whole zoo!  It’s a really cute, fun, cheap art activity with supplies you already have around the house!

Galaxy Salt Dough

galaxy-salt-doughWith the My Petite Picassos Playgroup this last meeting we made salt dough keepsakes. We printed our babies’ handprints and footprints in colored salt dough that we colored with food coloring. As we were coloring with the food coloring we noticed that it created a marbled effect until we blended consistently throughout the salt dough. So the other day when Ben was bored and the weather was terrible outside, I decided that he could make galaxy salt dough.  We used the leftover salt dough from the playgroup and added a drop of blue,  a drop of purple, and a drop of pink food coloring to it.  As the mixed the colors together and created a galaxy a fact. Ben played with it for two hours that morning and the following morning he played with it for two hours.

To make salt dough all you have to do is combine one part flour with one part salt and half a part of water. For a large group like our playgroup I do it in my standalone mixer. After we use it it can be kept in the refrigerator to be used again. We still have leftover from last week that is soft and malleable. For older children who want to make a keepsake or if you want to make a keepsake you can air dry it and bake it in your oven at 200°F for three hours. 

Mama Monday's Pin Party

The Best DIY Teacher Gifts On Pinterest (Approved By A Teacher!)

 

As an art teacher and art club organizer for 17 years I didn’t receive a lot of holiday gifts over the years, nor did I expect it.  Who has money to spend on all of their kids teachers?  When I did get presents it really meant a lot to me and I treasured every DIY gift I got because I truly believe it came from the heart.  I have enjoyed researching DIY teacher gifts on Pinterest so much this weekend and I thought I would share my  5 favorites with you.  You can click the images to be linked directly to the pin.

 

  1. I found this on Craft with Angel and thought it really elevated the crayon wreath idea.  I would hang this in my classroom all year long!

teacher wreath.. bought the stuff to make this with Landon for Mrs Nicholson! hopefully we'll get it done this week!:

2.What teacher doesn’t want cute supplies? From Scraps of Shirlee.

Scraps of Shirlee: school supply cake teacher appreciation gift:

 

3. I’m dying to make this when I go back to teaching as my daily tote! From G is For Gift.

Teacher Appreciation Gift:  Decorate a canvas tote bag - the link is broken but the photos look pretty self explanatory. (I wouldn't just limit it to a tote either...this would make a great bandana or scarf print etc etc):

 

4. Such a nice gift to remember that amazing class! From So Festive.

Apple Themed Teacher Gifts   Free Printables:

 

5. I love the chalkboard pots idea and think of all the gifts you could put inside!  From Snowman Crafts. Co.

Thanks for helping me Grow | 20 + DIY Christmas Gifts for Teachers From Kids:

I hope these give you a little inspiration and imagination to go out and make something special for the grown ups who make your kids’ day special.

Snowflake DIY 

I am a huge fan of What’s Up Mom’s. I love all of their videos and their really happy energy. They definitely influenced my decision to become a blogger. So here is one of their DIY projects from their YouTube channel that I tried out. You can see their tutorial here.

I tried having Ben paint the popsicle sticks first and he was not at all interested. So then it dawned on me to have him paint the finished product. I built the snowflake but every time I built it I noticed that one end was a little bit crooked or one of the sides was not parallel to another side. I was popping off popsicle sticks left and right and starting over. Even now as it’s finished I still see areas that could use a little tweaking.

 I would  recommend if you’re going to do this project to do it on some sort of a grid or on a table with straight edges that you can better plan out your snowflake and make sure that everything is straight and parallel. I also recommend using wood glue, it dried faster than Elmer’s glue all.

If a child is helping you paint the snowflake-turn areas that could use paint towards them so they can reach new areas easily.

Overall I think our snowflake came out really nicely.  It’s definitely a craft for home or small groups with large work areas.  A classroom desk would not be enough space for the finished snowflake.

What blogs or vlogs influence you?Please share your answers,