Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chameleon Sculptures!

My student teacher is working on Chameleon Sculptures with the second grade, and I'm just as nuts for them this year as last! It's great for working those tactile skills, forming a sculpture that the kids TOTALLY DIG, and studying a little science. (For next year, I've ordered Chameleon's Colors and A Color of His Own to use, adding a literary connection.)

This is a popular project that I've seen on several blogs: Artolazzi, smART Class, and Art with Ms. Gram are a few.

Taking a cue from other teachers, we used the following video to get pumped!

That music gets me every time.

Assembling the chameleons is a little time consuming and can be difficult for some kiddos, but it's totally worth it. For step-by-step instructions, I highly recommend any of the websites mentioned above; Ms. Gram provides a nice graphic for assembling these little lizards.

At one point, a group of girls all started to whine about the folding part, saying, "we can't do this!" So I said:
Mrs. Connell: "Oh good, that's what every teacher wants to hear--I can't!"
2nd graders: "Haha, noooo, you're being silly!"
Mrs. Connell: "You're right. I was being sar--"
2nd grader: "Casket!"

It's true; I am very sarcasket.

On the second day, kiddos finished decorating and cutting their bodies before creating legs...

Making eyes...

And adding a tongue to finish 'em off!

For whatever reason, we had very few early finishers this year, whereas last year the kids were manufacturing these suckers like nobody's business. In that instance, I told kiddos to make their new pet a birth certificate. Not only does this incorporate a little writing, but it's hilarious!

This project is awesome. Go do it right now! And if you need any more visual encouragement, here are two videos that my kids love:

I have major doubts about that last one being legit, but MAN-O-DAY, is it cool to watch! Does anyone else say "man-o-day"? My mother has said it for years and it makes zero sense to me. But now I say it. Uh oh.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Cherry Blossoms with 1st grade

Wherever you might be reading this today, I hope you and your loved ones are safe and sound. Hopefully the innocence and artwork of our students is enough to make this day a little brighter despite all the bad going on in the world this week.

My sweet, sweet first graders have been learning about Japan, studying the beauty of cherry blossoms. Of course, there are bunches of ways to do blossom-inspired projects...

Art with Ms. Gram
Creative Jewish Mom

I like the following version for a few reasons. The kids LOVE it, the results are beautiful more often than not, and it's a quickie, taking just one 45-minute period from introduction to project completion.

My student teacher, Miss Caruso, taught this this year, and it was a lot of fun for me to observe! First, she talked to the kids about the blossoms as a gift from Japan and showed a few masters' works--Hiroshige, Hokusai, van Gogh.

Next up, the kids blew watered-down black tempera paint all around their papers. Miss Caruso found that using straws was tricky for some kids, so some of our classes freestyled:

On the morning we did this with one group, the school had hosted a "Donuts with Dad" event, so everyone had sweet, sugary breath. Gross! Haha!

For the blossoms, Q-tips and pink paint were all it took to turn these black spider veins into beautiful branches!

For early finishers, a short video showed them a sped-up version of the same project:

These are always a huge hit in the annual art show. More on that soon!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Beautiful Banyan Trees!

Ohhhhhhh my goodness! This might be my favorite new project!

You've probably seen this or a similar Banyan Tree project in Dynamic Art Projects for Children, or maybe another blog. But I'm going to post it anyway because it is just that fabulous!

Banyan trees grow primarily in India, though you can find some in Florida as well. From its branches grow aerial roots, which stretch downward and plant themselves back into the ground. They're amazing to look at!



My fifth graders worked with oil pastels on their Wayne Thiebaud-inspired cakes project and really loved them. I think I significantly facilitated the sale of oil pastels at the local arts and crafts stores with that project. This project upped the oil pastel ante, as kiddos had to use their previous experience with the medium and further their technique in the form of blending colors.

To begin, I walked the students through the tree-drawing process. Despite giving each class essentially the same spiel, every tree was very different. I love that about art, don't you?

After drawing, kiddos painted their tree trunks and branches with black tempera paint. All that jazz took at least one full 45-minute class; some kiddos had to finish painting at the start of the next class.

As far as coloring goes, most of my fifth graders used up two classes' worth of time (90 minutes total) to color. Every section had to include two analogous or like colors blended together. Some students went the random route, while others chose a specific color scheme or order.

For the bottoms of the artwork, more colors could be used. Some students 'planted' their tree in water, which allowed for a reflection. I highly recommend using the reflective format, as the results are totally stunning! (The photos do NOT do these projects any justice. The vibrancy of the colors will knock your socks off in person!)

This sweet kiddo lacks a lot of fine motor skills... yet this project was her JAM!

This one is nicer than my example... it's humbling to be outdone by an 11-year-old!

I'll do this project again and again--the kids loved it, they learned a lot, and WOW, are these babies gorgeous!

Also, two nights ago I watched "Life of Pi," and there's a Banyan tree in one scene! I'm 28 years old and that alone made me so excited that I accidentally woke up the dog... and my husband. Whoops.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Things the kids say (a.k.a. medicine for a Monday morning!)

Whoa, Monday morning. You're really out to get me! Upon leaving for school this a.m., I was about a block away from home when I heard and felt something strange related to my car. I jumped out to look and tharrr she blew--a flat tire! Thankfully, when I realized something was wrong, I was only in our little neighborhood, not on the busy highway. Thank you, Lord!

At a time such as this--a flat tire on a rainy Monday tax day morning!--I think it's important to take the time to laugh a little. And so I've decided to share a few of the things that the kids have said lately that have really cracked me up... or took my ego down a few notches.

2nd grader: "Miss Connell, someone said a bad word! It started with 'cr-' and ended with '-ap!'"

3rd grader, talking about her family's annual trip to Taiwan: "There is a very large market that we go to. There are LOTS of people. Once, I almost got lost!"
Mrs. Connell: "Maybe your mom should get a little leash and pull you around like a puppy!"
3rd grader: "Do you do that with Mr. Connell?"

5th grade boy: "I was a very chubby baby."
Mrs. Connell: "I was, too."
5th grade boy: "I can tell." (this dude is going to have trouble finding a girlfriend.)

1st grader, talking about Mod Podge: "Mmm, this stuff smells like lavender." (WRONG.)

Mrs. Connell: "A collage is made of many pieces of things combined to make a larger artwork. You might use tissue paper, photos, drawings, scraps--"
1st grader: "And cake?" 

1st grade boy: "Ew, I don't want this pink, that's not a boy color."
Mrs. Connell: "Oh, c'mon! Lots of boys like pink."
1st grade boy: "Well they're disgusting."

2nd grade: "Mrs. Connell, how many kids do you wanna have?"
Mrs. Connell: "Oh, I don't know for sure. Maybe 4? Although Mr. Connell wants 3."
2nd grader: "Well it's YOUR choice!" (8-year-old feminist on board!)

With my student teacher, Miss Caruso:

Miss Caruso: "And this carving is really old, more than 500 years old!"
1st grader: "That's close to 29 years old!" (and then 28-year-old Mrs. Connell cried in a corner)

And my personal favorite:

2nd grader: "Mrs. Connell, are you havin' a baby?"
Mrs. Connell: "No."
2nd grader: "Well it looks like it." (neat.)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Mondrian Animals, Fingerpainting, and Edible Color Wheels

In second grade, we study the primary and secondary colors. Here's a trifecta of colorful projects to introduce the little ones to that wonderful wheel o' colors!

This Mondrian project is all over blogs and Pinterest (yet I originally found it in an old Arts & Activities, pre-Pinterest, if you can remember back that far, ha).

This is a porcupine--hehe! I love its expression!

The Mondrian project takes two 45-minute classes, as I give kiddos a day to sketch animals, really focusing on the basic shapes that comprise the animal's form. (Recently, when our sculptor friend visited, he shared the same strategy for drawing. Boom--validation!)

Next up, I whip out some fingerpaint so the kids can see the way the primaries mix. We watch this awesome video. On repeat. Again and again and again!

The icing on the cake cookies is our Edible Color Wheel project! Kiddos mix primary-colored frosting to make secondary colors, frost a few vanilla wafers, and assemble their own color wheel. It's the most delicious project of the year! As one kid put it, "this project is like a present to us." You and your dentist, buddy.

I wish I could show you all the frosting-covered faces that resulted from this last project. It's my favorite part!

Happy weekend, all!