Monday, February 25, 2013

Dali Portraits

I laughed out loud when I saw this project on There's a Dragon in my Art Room. How great are the expressions and the mustaches on the portraits and photos alike!?

I used two(ish) days to do this project with my second graders. On the first day, we had to add gloss to our Pinch Pots, and I knew that doing that as well as introducing and attempting to complete this new project was too much. So, on the first day, we finished our pots, then discussed Salvador Dali and his wild ways. The kids really liked his Surrealist paintings and LOVED his funky mustache! Also, I'm pretty sure some of my students will be asking for a pet ocelot.

As each kid finished their pot, they began sketching portraits. We talked briefly about facial proportions as well as facial expressions. Admittedly, some of the sketches made me think that these may not turn out, but on we forged.

On the second day, kiddos drew their Dali portraits with black crayon. And to my relief, those black crayons were like magic wands, drawing beautifully expressive Dali-esque portraits on each page! The drawings were cut out and glued onto the 9 x 12" colored paper of choice, given a pipe cleaner mustache, and sent on their way!

And of course, we made paper mustaches of our own. The whole thing was a BIG hit with the kiddos! And I laughed audibly for the duration of the time it took me to hang them up. So now people think I'm even nuttier than they did before. Oh well.

Happy Monday, all!

Thursday, February 21, 2013


This week has been an odd one. I woke up on Monday with a tightness in my chest that told me it might be a tricky few days, and despite setting my attitude to 'positive,' my instincts were right. It hasn't been a bad week, per say--just not sunshine and rainbows.

Yesterday, when things were not looking so good at school, I was perked up by a fabulous delivery:

It felt like it was my birthday or something! Very cool.

And that was just the icing on the cake--before that, I had checked my RSS feed to find a sweet post by one of my favorite online gals, Jen, who had shared a list of blogs to check out, and included mine! I felt famous. And I felt so good!

So thank you, Sax Arts, for your bountiful gifts, and thank you, Jen, for your undeserved kindness. (By the way, if you don't read Jen's blog, you're nuts. Stop being ridiculous and go subscribe. And look at the other blogs mentioned, because theirs are fabulous.)

I'm not sure this counts as paying it forward, but for those of you who are like me and can't find the time (or the attention span, hehe) to sit down and watch the news, or read the newspaper cover to cover, here's a little something for you. Each morning, as I check my email and prep for the day, I also take a few minutes to read The Skimm, a daily summary of important news stories sent right to my email account. Since I started reading it a few weeks ago, I am much more up to date on current affairs, and more understanding of the big headlines. If you want to check it out, visit to register your name and email. It's free and it's fantastic!

Now, let's make the rest of this week wonderful!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

(Jump Rope for) Heart Collages

Happy Valentine's Day, friends! Oh wait, that was last week. Looks like I've fallen behind. Or I'm intentionally extending the looooove. You decide.

This is one of the only times I've ever done a project that was somewhat related to a holiday. Ukrainian Pysanky around Easter, check. Chinese Dragons at Chinese New Year, yup. And now some hearts at V-day... but they have so much meaning, I promise!

This was not an intentional Valentine's Day tie-in at all, actually. When I saw this project on Draw the Line At, I immediately changed my plans for that day's first grade art class so we could do this! It's a great and inclusive project that covers geometric shapes (which we were slated to study), collage, overlapping, symmetry, cutting, and more. And it's a great tie-in for those of you whose schools participate in the Jump Rope for Heart program like my schools do!

For details, check out Jen's post, and/or this post. I followed along with these ladies' instructions, though I used 9 x 9" poster board for the base (making the square paper 4.5 x 4.5") and Mod Podge as the adhesive.

Here are my first graders in action, and a few results!

I did not have stencils/tracers for the kids to use; some students needed help drawing a half-heart before cutting, while others dove in and experimented till success. I'm so glad I had the kids make their own heart shapes, as it brings individuality to each project.

I ended the lesson with a few slides of Jim Dine's work, to show the kids that a simple shape can be transformed into a beautiful work of art.

This is one of my favorite new projects. All 100-plus projects turned out beautifully, and that is really something!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Chinese New Year!

While the Chinese New Year was celebrated over a week ago, on February 10th, my kiddos needed some extra time to get their dragon puppets put together! My darling fourth graders execute the following steps to complete their fierce projects.

Fold a 12 x 18" sheet of fadeless paper (the type that's white on one side)
into thirds, then accordion style:

Glue and tape the accordion, as well as popsicle sticks, to the wrong side of a head and tail:

Add tissue paper if desired--NO, NOT tissues, tissue PAPER (oh dear heavens, child):

Make a huge, colorful mess (hmm, you're very good at this, I see):

Glue the other head and tail on top, sandwiching all that tape and glue on the inside:

Add some staples for extra durability before trimming off any overhang:

Step back and admire your beautiful Chinese New Year Dragon Puppet!

When possible, I walked my kiddos back to class a few minutes early so they could parade their dragons around the hallways. (One year, I played some Chinese music to go along with our mini parade--this year's fourth grade group couldn't handle that, womp womp.)

Did you celebrate Chinese New Year? My husband and I spent that Sunday evening with our best friends, whose beautiful baby boy celebrated by taking a few first steps--while his parents and friends ate Chinese takeout, of course.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Art on the news!

Does your school have a closed-circuit news station? Each of our district elementary schools features a small news studio, run by the kids with the help of a teacher. One of my schools broadcasts every other day, while the other school has a broadcast every morning, which all classrooms watch as part of their morning routine. For those students who run the station--from writing to filming, running the equipment to anchoring--it's a great creative outlet. And it's a big hit with the smaller kids, who get really excited to see their friends and siblings on the TV!

A few months ago, one of the building news crews approached me about doing a weekly art segment! We've been running it ever since, and it has been a great way to share student artwork with the entire school. Every week, one of the broadcasters comes to interview me (via a questionnaire sheet) and to take pictures. The kids came up with the questions, which typically include the following:

- What was the inspiration for this project?
- What materials were used? Were any special materials or techniques required?
- What did students find most difficult about this project?
- What did students like about this project?

The kids use my responses to create a script that the broadcasters use to do a voiceover as photos of the student artwork is shown. It is absolutely fabulous! Since starting it, many of my smaller students have commented on projects they've seen that they want to try, and my older kiddos get really pumped to see their artwork featured! I love everything about it, including the advocacy part--it's nice to know that kids and adults alike are hearing the 'why' and the 'how' behind all the beautiful art in the halls.

For next year, I want to come up with other art bits--maybe artist interviews where my Art Enrichment kids dress up as famous artists and get interviewed on the news live (!!!), or student artists talking about their own artwork.

Does your school do a news broadcast? Is student art ever a feature? I'd love to get more ideas!

You stay classy, Dillsburg!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Pinch pots, now with paint!

Our no-kiln pinch pots are progressing quite nicely! In case anyone else is a poor unfortunate soul without a kiln, and wonders if it's even worth doing clay projects without one, here are some of my second graders' painted pots in progress.

On the first day of painting, I encourage the kiddos to stick to a limited color palette, focusing on the initial layers or background of their design. Some of them totally get it!

Some of them do not. Oh, sweet darling children...

One huge benefit of using air-dry clay and regular paint (as opposed to glaze) is the huge variety of colors, designs, and creativity that the kids demonstrate. I give them a second day to paint any designs and details:

I think this is two pickles holding hands... Dillsburg, baby!

With the groups I have this year, they've been using regular tempera paint to color the drab gray of the clay. I'd consider using acrylic, as the plasticity of the paint may give unfired air-dry clay more stability, but again, with the groups I have this year, I wasn't touching non-washable paint with a ten-foot pole paint brush.

We do add a layer of acrylic gloss medium at the end to show some shine (and I think it may hold 'em together better, too).

Not too shabby. To my fellow kiln-less friends, consider a visit to The Art of Ed to read up on some of your air-drying clay options (here and here). But if you do have a kiln and want to get creative, go over to my girl Jen's blog, where she's making everyone hungry and envious with her precious cupcakes!

AND, exciting news! Recently I won a giveaway from the Art of Education--I was so excited that my husband thought I had won a large cash prize (sorry, honey)--and soon will be receiving a sample of colored air-drying clay! I can't wait to try it out with some of my kiddos, and you bet your bottom I'll share my thoughts.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Keith Haring for kids

Yawwwwwn! Mondays are rough enough, but Monday morning after the Super Bowl? Fahgeddaboutit. While I really did not care about the game itself (I'm a STEELERS girl), I wasn't going to say no to a random opportunity for fabulous food with friends. And OBVIOUSLY Destiny's Child was going to reunite, so I had to see that. The commercials were so-so, though I did get misty over that sweet Clydesdale. And the power outage was interesting. Anyway, here's a project to perk you up!

I forget where I originally saw this project, or something similar that inspired this project. But it's been done all over the place, including here and here. I used to do this with fourth graders but this year bumped it down to third, and they are LOOOOVING it!

Keith Haring hails from Reading, Pennsylvania, so despite his fame coming from his time in NYC, this project fulfills our "study the art of a PA artist" curriculum requirement. Score!

We start by looking at Haring's kid-friendly works. The kids and I both particularly enjoy photos of Haring doing his subway drawings.

After I show the students how to 'beef up a stick figure,' they work on some sketches before working on their final compositions. This year, I went with 12" square paper.

Every figure is traced with black Sharpie before it is colored in with markers. This part usually takes us into the second day, when kiddos then use a variety of lines to outline their figures.

Those 'bumps' are supposed to be crossed arms. Mmm hm.

Keith Haring, third grade style. This project covers simple figure drawing, composition, repetition, rhythm, movement, variety... and general awesomeness.

By the way, for those kiddos who finished their last project early, I did a quick demo on this Bad Hair Day project so they'd have some practice with repetition, variety, and lines out the wazoo, which really helped prep them for this Haring adventure.