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.

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.

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!

Neon Trees for Tu B’Shevat Using Art Materials From Around the Home

One of my favorite art subjects to paint are trees. I love Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt and I used that curvy, linear tree he depicted to influence these three simple trees my two year old and I made this morning using materials found around the home.

For these trees I used Crayola neon tempera paint, cotton balls, white card stock, a toilet paper roll, a Sharpie marker, and a household sponge.

To start I drew simple curvy, linear trees using Sharpie marker on 9″ x 11″ card stock. I copied the tree 3 times. Permanent marker is a must as it won’t smear when paint is applied on top.

For the first tree I used a cardboard toilet paper roll and cut slits all the way around using scissors, folding the ends outward to create a brush. Then my son dipped his brush into the paint which I laid out on a plastic lid. Then he stamped the tree with it.

For the next painting he used cotton balls to “dot” paint onto the trees and for the third a piece I cut from household sponge. It’s important to dampen the sponge before painting with it.

We did these paintings in conjunction with the Jewish birthday of the trees-Tu B’Shevat. The boys have been learning about this holiday in school. I like to support their learning with books and crafts at home.

Tu B’Shevat is January 30th this year, and it’s the first of several Jewish springtime holidays. In Israel it is celebrated as also a day of ecological awareness.

Going along with that theme of caring for our planet, incorporating the concept of recycling in art, we used simple household materials for these projects. Whether you’re a mom on a budget or an art teacher trying to create an art program on limited funds-art can be an affordable, meaningful activity. You don’t need expensive materials to have fun and be creative!

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!

Art History Gameboards

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I am truly an art nerd.  Who couldn’t be when artists have such interesting lives?  From Frida Kahlo’s bus accident and tumultuous relationship with Diego Rivera to Leonardo Da Vinci’s flying experiments kids are fascinated by the lives of famous artists.

One year I broke my art club into teams of 4 kids (I had 40 art clubbers).  Each team would research an artist in the library, come up with a timeline of that artist’s life, and create a game board game based on their research.  The school librarian helped the kids research the artists they chose and write their timelines.  When I approved their timeline they began building their game boards using cardboard boxes, duct tape and white butcher paper.  Then they had to design their game board in pencil using facts from the artist’s life, a portrait of him/her, and motifs found in works of art by that artist.  They used Crayola Model Magic to model the pieces that would move across the board and tempera paint with glue to paint the pieces. Once all the game boards were finished we had a party and the kids played the games while they munched on chips and drank soda.  We hung the game boards around the art room for years to come as they were full of factual information I wanted my students to learn.  This is a lesson I loved and would definitely do again!

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Eight Posts for Hanukkah-Burlap Hanukkah Card Craft for Kids

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Want an easy and stylish kids craft to do this holiday season?  Burlap is everywhere.  I see it on garlands, tote bags, pillows, you name it!  To make this easy craft you’ll need:

1 piece of burlap 4 1/2″x 3″

1 piece of brown craft paper 4 1/2″x3″

1 chisel tip Sharpie

puffy paint or homemade paint (the recipe is here)

Clear Krazy Glue

Directions:

Glue the piece f brown craft paper inside the burlap.  Once the glue is dry (30 minutes or so), fold the card in half.  Kids often need a lot of help lining up items to glue and folding-plus you’ll have to use the Krazy Glue.  Older kids can draw a menorah or write Happy Hanukkah with the chisel tip Sharpie, younger kids will need an adult to do that.  Then they can decorate with puffy paint or if they’re little like Ben (2 years old) they can use homemade paint and a Q-tip to apply paint. Let it dry. img_6691

 

 

Fall Sensory Bags-Pinterest DIY Tryout

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I saw this post on Fall Sensory Bags and tried it with My Petite Picassos Playgroup (ages 2-3) this week.  I used a Ziploc sandwich bag, hair gel from the Dollar Tree, red and yellow food dye, fake fall leaves, cinnamon sticks, and red and gold glitter. To seal them I used packaging tape.

I really like the fact the kiddos got to see the colorful leaves as we don’t have much of that here in Las Vegas.  Overall the activity went well.  I recommend only filling the bag 1/2 way with gel before adding your food coloring, glitter and fall items so it won’t be so full you can’t see through it.

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