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!

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!

My Favorite Fall Pins

Fall LeavesYes fall is here, at least in my heart.  Why the rush?  We’re going to Israel for the High Holidays so I miss a chunk of my favorite season and it’s American traditions: apple picking, pumpkin spice everything, and Halloween for a month.  This year we’ll be coming back two weeks before Halloween so I’ll get to feel the holiday a little more.  It is my favorite holiday and the memories of my children these past few years celebrating with me are so precious.

With my early fall celebrations I’ve started pinning crafts, decorations, DIY projects, and recipes to enjoy when we get back.  Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Popsicle stick monster craft.

Craft Stick Monsters - Kid Craft More

2. Metallic foiled pumpkins

Painted Metallic Foiled Pumpkins. It makes your pumpkins stand out and brings a new decoration to the home!

3. Acorn Donut Holes

This acorn donut hole recipe is a fun way to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of fall!

4.  Speaking of donuts, Maple Glazed Donuts!

Baked Maple Donuts Recipe with Maple Glaze

5. Bronze Pumpkin Stack

You won't waste your $1 buckets on candy when you see her porch trick

6.  For the High Holidays there are so many edible Torahs and Sukkahs!

Design Megillah: Edible Torahs for Children

I have linked all of the images back to the pin so you can explore these ideas.  Please be sure to follow My Petite Picassos on Pinterest for more autumnal awesomeness!

 

 

Tie-Dyeing Tips for Large Groups


This week at camp my boys tie-dyed for the first time. Growing up this was one of my favorite camp activities! I attended summer camp from the time I was five until I was 15, and even after that I was a counselor.  So seeing my little boys making their tie-dyed napkins at camp was definitely nostalgic for me.

In the past as an art teacher I have done tie-dying for field day. I did it with all 850 of my students! So this advice is for teachers or group leaders that are doing a tie-dye project with a large amount of kids.  I hope these tips and tricks make it easier for you!

  1. Figure out where your T-shirts are going to come from. They need to be white T-shirts. Either the kids can bring them from home or see if there is a budget for these. The PTA might be able to come up with some money for it especially if it’s going to be a huge order of 500+ T-shirts.
  2. There are all kinds of dyesavailable. I recommend buying dye in large bottles rather than small spray kits.  I used old-fashioned RIT dye from the corner market and it worked perfect!
  3. For sizing T-shirts the P.E. teachers held up T-shirt samples to each student as they did attendance and wrote down the size before ordering. This was a lot more efficient than waiting for a written slip from home.  
  4. Have large buckets, rubber bands, and rubber gloves ready.
  5. You’ll need either a tarp or deep sink to place your buckets of dye.  Another option if the weather is good is to work outside on grass.  
  6. Have samples of different tie-dye techniques ready to show the kids.  This is also really good opportunity to practice these techniques!
  7. Have the kids rubber band and fold their T-shirts on their own or with help from an adult.
  8. Place the T-shirts in the dye bath of their choice and once the dye has settled in put the T-shirts in plastic bags with the kids name on it to take home.
  9. Another option is to have the T-shirts placed in plastic bags per class and give them to the classroom teacher to allow dry or wash.
  10. With our T-shirts we used five colors of dye, however red white and blue works great or school colors is another option.  Having limited colors can simplify and streamline the process. I do not recommend asking students to choose which color of dye they want-if you’re working with a huge group like I did that would take a lot of time!

I hope these ideas will inspire other art teachers and group leaders to have fun tie-dying with their students. My students always looked forward to this every year! They wore the T-shirts throughout the year, and they were always excited leading up to this project.  Below I have included some pins for more tips, techniques, and inspiration!



My Favorite Books on Art for Toddlers Right Now

As I’ve mentioned before I read A LOT to my boys. We are working towards 1000 books by kindergarten. I keep a log and every time they read another hundred books they get to put their names up on the board at our local library. Of course I love to read to my boys about art.  I am sharing with you some of my favorite books that we are currently reading about art. Many of them are not just for babies or toddlers but could also be appropriate for elementary school age children as well.

1. Artsy Babies Wear Paint by Michelle Sinclair Coleman-this is a great all-around art book for a baby to toddler age child. It discusses the concept of creativity, has cute illustrations, and is very colorful. Children at a very young age can start to learn about media as they begin to experiment with it .

2. I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel by Caryn Yacowitz -a tongue twisting story with incredible illustrations that reference famous works of art by Andy Warhol, Van Gogh, and Andrew Wyeth.  This is my favorite book to read at Hanukkah!

3. Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre -a fun romp through the art room turns into a disastrous mess!  I have a collage project that I do to accompany this story.  I adore this book-great for kids who go to school already.

My Favorite Tried and Tested Busy Bags from Pinterest

This past fall I had the daunting task of taking a 24 hour flight with a 2 year old and a 9 month old.  My 9 month old I figured would be happy as long as I held him, but the 2 year old would need toys.  Toys not just for the plane, but for a month long vacation on the other side of the world!  So I put together a backpack with 15 busy bags and here is a list of some of my favorites from Pinterest.

  1.   Colored crafts sticks with Velcro dots to make shapes with. Both Ben and Adam loved these and still use them for restaurants and other outings to stay occupied. From the Tip Garden.
      DIY Toddler Activities - craft sticks and Velcro dots... "Busy bag" okay weird…:

2.  My niece and nephew loved this activity which not only makes kids match patterns, but also colors and fractioned shapes.  From No Time For Flash Cards.This is a simple activity with great cognitive benefits. Matching is the…:

3. This busy bag idea came with a free printable, but I just made my own cards with a sharpie and card stock.  From Teaching Mama.Snowflake Busy Bag {Free Printable}:

4. Lastly, I’m choosing to share a busy bag idea I didn’t make yet, but will for our next trip.  Ben and Adam love building, so I think this will be right up their alley! From How Wee Learn

quiet time activities for 3 year olds:

These ideas are cheap, reusable, and easy to make.  These activities don’t need to necessarily just be used for busy bags and outings or travel, the could just be quiet time activities for a rainy day.  What busy bags do your kids love?

 

Eight Posts for Hanukkah-Footprint/Handprint Art Apron

I like to do keepsake crafts on holidays with my baby boys. Footprint art is an easy first art experience to do with a baby. I did handprints with Ben because he’s two and a little bit more mature -he has had some experiences with art. As Adam is less than one I only used his footprint.

Footprints and handprints can get really messy so I like to set up my station with wipes right next to me, lots of paper towels, and making sure that all the surfaces around my baby are easily washable.  To make the menorah I painted Adams feet blue and his toes yellow. I painted and printed each foot separately and I did it as quickly as possible. Are used a good fit come out of paint on the flat so as to make sure it doesn’t dry before I got my footprint.

I like Martha Stewart craft paint because it can be used on several surfaces and it won’t flake off after it’s been through a wash

Afterwards,  I did touch up the footprints a little bit with a small paintbrush. Then I printed Ben’s hands underneath using a darker shade of blue and the same yellow on his fingertips.

Using an oil paint based Sharpie marker I wrote their names and ages next to their prints.  I also wrote the year. Underneath their handprints and footprints I wrote “My Little Miracles!” I can’t wait to wear this when I making latkes this year and for many more to come!

Eight Posts for Hanukkah -Pinecone Driedels (Easy D.I.Y.)

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Rustic style is very “in” this year: burlap, chalkboards, wood, vintage elements.  I’ll be exploring in my Hanukkah posts how to incorporate these rustic elements into your Hanukkah decor.

dreidel-youll-need

One easy way to incorporate a rustic looks is experimenting with pinecone dreidels.  I gathered a bunch of pinecones for a Thanksgiving D.I.Y. that never happened. To make the dreidels took 5 minutes, not including the time it took to spray paint them silver and light blue.  All I did was trim off a two inch section of a twig and hot glue it to the top of the pinecone.  I had to hold the twig in place while the glue dried.  Afterwards I had 10 pinecone dreidels.  I spray painted mine silver and light blue. I’m including a picture of them without the spray paint below so you can decide for yourself how you want to yours to look.  I plan on using them in future projects that I will be sharing on the blog this week.img_6610

Eight Posts for Hanukkah-Kinetic Kids Menorah

agam-3

I’m going to post this in both my blog under Hanukkah and Art Lessons for Educators and Homeschoolers which will link straight to Lesson Plans.  This time I’m not writing a full fledged lesson plan I am, however I am sharing everything you’ll need to write your own. I do have a full lesson plan on his Agamographs I will share as well.   The Kinetic Kids Menorah is based on the work of Israeli artist Yaacov Agam who founded the Kinetic art movement.  Kinetic literally mean “movement” and he is interested in creating art that looked as though it were moving.  He tricks the eye with color placement, different sizes of the same shape or object, and images that change based on where the viewer is standing.  He created Agamographs which are printed that almost look like they’re woven and depending on if you’re standing to the right or the left you’re seeing 2 different pictures.  He is highly celebrated in Israel.  He designed a fountain and a hotel in downtown Tel Aviv.  My photo of the hotel is below, but it was at night, so you can’t really see the colors clearly.

agam-4

To create the Kinetic Kids Menorah you’ll need:

*scissors

*cardstock in red, orange, gold, and two sheets of two shades of blue

*a hole puncher

*nylon filament

*glue (I used a glue gun, but Elmer’s Glue All would work too)

*a ruler

*a pencil (I used pen so you could see my work more clearly)

*optional-I had Ben free paint on white cardstock with red, orange, and yellow paint prior and used that painting for the flames.

agam-2

To start I measured out my candlesticks on the blue sheets of paper.  The piece with the slits were 2″ wide and 6″ tall with a 5″ slit.  I cut them out.  The pieces that fit inside the slits were 5″ tall.  This left a little space at the bottom for a hole to connect the candles later.

agamagam3I slid the 5″ pieces into their slits, securing with drops of glue.  Then I cut out 8 flames from Ben’s painting he had done the day before.  Side note: you can use glitter, glitter paint, regular cardstock if you want to add to the flames.  You are the artist, let your creativity shine!

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I traced around his flames onto orange cardstock 8 times and yellow 8 times.  I cut out all the flames.  The yellow ones are a bit larger to frame Ben’s and the orange ones.flame

I cut a tiny slit in each flame and the top of each candlestick, then slid the flame into the candlestick securing it with glue.

agam-2

I created a much larger flame with leftover scraps.  I punched holes in the tops of all my candlesticks and three holes in the bottom of my large flame.  I also punched one in the top of my large flame.  I strung the hook at the top of my large flame with nylon filament I picked up at Joann Fabrics and the candlesticks, alternating colors (some needed a hole punched at the bottom, but do that as you go).agam-1

This project took a couple of hours for me to create.  I would recommend it for middle aged school kids or if you’re doing one on one you could do it with a fourth or fifth grader.  I did most of the work, but Ben did contribute-so it can also be a fun decoration for the holiday including your younger child’s work.