Thursday, November 10, 2011

PreKinder Louise Nevelson Sculptures

 My PreK classes just finished working on our version of Louise Nevelson sculptures.

We started out by talking about recycling and what it is.

I had pre-strung old record albums with a piece of yarn, so that I would be able to hang the artwork up when they were finished. (There were many interesting conversations with my students who come into the art room before school about what records are. They were fascinated and I felt OLD!

Each table was given a basket full of random odds and ends that I was able to collect: wood scraps, puzzle pieces, plastic ware, unifix cubes, plastic
Easter eggs, etc. Pretty much anything that I could find free or extremely cheap, worked for me!

I gave each student a piece of scrap paper with craft glue on it. I showed them how to dip each piece into the glue and then place it onto the album.

I also showed them how they could build up, placing items on top of one another.
 I thought about painting them in the style of Louise Nevelson, but I thought they looked so great as is, that I left them alone.

I have hung them up in the PreKinder hallway and they look amazing!!!

As a side note, living in Houston, I am lucky enough to have a couple of great resources for finding inexpensive materials to use in recycled art. We have the Center for Recycled Art, which is open 1 day a month- only to teachers. You can fill a brown grocery bag with ANYTHING and pay only $5.

I was able to purchase all of the albums for this project for $5, because they fit into a brown paper bag!

We also have Texas Art Asylum. You can donate your old materials to them and they will resell them or do as I do, and pick up whatever extra items I need for a very low price.

If you live in the area and haven't visited these ladies, I highly recommend it!!!

Pin It

Sunday, November 6, 2011

PreKinder Navajo Blankets

My PreK classes are learning how to make lines, so I decided to incorporate that into a lesson on Navajo blankets.

I prefolded black paper and had them use construction paper crayons to draw the lines dividing each section.

In the middle of their paper, I had them write the first letter of their name (I had cards written up for those who are still learning the letters in their names) and draw a circle around it.

Then they made a different line in each different section on their paper- using as many different colors as they wanted.

I made colored "sand" for them. I did this by using white cornmeal, rubbing alcohol and food coloring, all shaken together and let dry. The colors that I got out of this were so bright!

For this next step, we moved outside- I didn't want my room 
filled with colored "sand".

The students traced their lines with glue and then sprinkled the colored "sand" onto the glue. The PreK teacher, assistant and myself helped them pour the excess back into the containers and then they moved on to the next line.

This actually took us 3 class times (I only see them for about 25-30 minutes), but they look so bright in the hallway, it was worth it!

Pin It

Kindergarten O'Keeffe Flowers

 I think this may be my favorite project so far this year- I may even take a couple and frame them for my house! They turned out absolutely beautiful- all thanks to the post that I saw on Art with Mr. E. I saw the flowers that his students had done and had to try it in my room. Success!

We started by drawing a circle in the middle of our paper and 6 lines radiating out from the center.

Then I had plates of paint for each table: 2 colors plus 2 white.

I showed them how to start in the middle of their
paper and pull the paint towards the edge. Some of them got it, others no. However, some of the ones that did not get the "center-out" idea, ended up with the most interesting flowers, so I didn't stress about it.

The hardest part for the students was not having water to rinse their brushes (I probably need to do this lesson before I get into the painting procedures that I have set up for the art room).

The next week,  they used oil pastels to redefine their lines and add details to the center of their flowers.

Thank you, Mr. E!!! I will definitely be doing this lesson again!!!

Pin It

First Grade Joan Miro Portraits

I first saw this lesson on Deep Space Sparkle and decided to adapt it for my first graders who have been learning about lines, shapes and warm/cool colors.

We looked at a variety of different Joan Miro paintings, focusing in on what shapes and lines they saw in his artwork. I found a good sampling of  Joan Miro artwork in a YouTube video and the kids ended up playing a game of "I Spy" searching out all of the lines and shapes.

Then we brainstormed 2 different lists: lines and shapes.

From there, I did a sample drawing showing how we could make the body out of any shape that they wanted to use.

They used 1 line for the neck, 1 line for the arms and another line for the legs, then added a different shape for head, hands and feet.

From there, I had them draw 2 shapes inside the body (trying to use a shape that they had not used previously). 2 lines were then used and I told them that the lines had to go through the shapes.

They added 1 line in each of the hands and feet.

When they were ready to color, we reviewed warm/cool colors and they then had to color each individual section a different color, never letting the same color touch.
Pin It

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Kindergarten Jasper Johns

Kindergarten is learning about American artists this year. Our first artist was Jasper Johns.

I pre-folded paper into 8 sections and had the children decide if they wanted to use letters or numbers. I showed them how to use their pencil to write big in each box. They used a black marker to trace over the letters and the lines so that they would still be able to see them when we began coloring.
I then did a lesson on warm/cool colors. The students who were with me in PK, were excited, because they remembered this from last year. The students who were in the PK center (I only have 2 PK classes at my school. The rest go to a PK center nearby and do not have art classes) picked up on the concept pretty quickly.
I had them choose whether they wanted to use warm or cool colors for their paper. I put a bag of oil pastels on their table and they colored all of their boxes. Usually, this is where they temptation of using oil pastels takes over and I get every color in the rainbow. However, I have to say that this year, they did a really good job of sticking with either warm or cool colors.
When they were finished coloring, I gave them a black oil pastel  and they used this to retraced all of their letters/numbers and the lines.

Then we reviewed the lines that we had learned earlier in the year and they were able to use ANY color (Yea!!) to create a lines in each box.

I have to say, I am really happy with how well they colored these. Usually, I have a bunch that get tired of coloring after about 3 minutes and don't want to continue. This year, they worked on this so hard and the colors turned out really well!

Pin It

Fourth Grade African Masks

Fourth grade's tour of the world is taking them to Africa this year. We started the year off with a very involved project that we are just now winding up- 9 weeks after school started!

I found this project on the Art for Small Hands blog ( and adapted it to work for us. She does an amazing job explaining the entire process and I thank her for that!

We started out by looking at a variety of African masks to find a shape that worked for each student. I had cut pieces of poster board into 2" x 12" pieces and gave each child 2 pieces. They taped these together to form a circle. From there, they were able to create the shape that they wanted, whether it was a circle, oval, square, diamond, etc.

We created a grid of tape on one side of the mask and then filled the form with wadded up newspaper (the newspaper stuck to the tape, keeping it in place). Make sure that they fill their form in with newspaper- you do not want any empty spaces when you begin to papier mache.

Here is where we started to have some difficulties- my school gets really humid over the weekend (no air) and all of our masks were sitting in a warm, humid storage room. When I came back to school on Monday, I had a huge, sticky pile of poster board, newspaper and tape. They tape had come off of many of the masks! My suggestion is that before the students start filling their form with newspaper, take a stapler and staple the tape around the outside. This will help keep everything stable, especially if you live in the humid south, like I do!

For the papier mache, I bought Elmer's Art Paste (we went through about 15 boxes of this) and mixed it up with 4 quarts of water. I put it into disposable storage containers for each table and they covered the newspaper with strips of newspaper/art paste.

I had them do at least 4 layers of papier mache to make sure that it would be strong enough when we took out the newspaper/tape backing.

As they worked on this, I was checking for sturdiness. Once it was strong enough, I gave them a check mark on the back. This let them know that they were ready to add a face.
For the face, I had bins of recycled materials ready: toilet paper rolls, water bottles, plastic caps, empty boxes, poster board scraps, etc. They used these materials to add eyes, nose, mouth, horns, etc. They taped the facial features on and then had to do at least another 2 layers of papier mache.

Once everything was ready, they used their scissors to cut the tape on the back and pull out all of the wadded up newspaper, leaving the form of their mask intact.

For this part, we again looked at examples of masks and noted the colors. Most of the masks that we looked at were 1 or 2 colors and the colors were muted. I gave them the guidelines that they could use 2 colors max and that they had to create a tint or shade of the colors that they chose.

They painted their entire mask with 1 color first and then used a smaller brush to add any patterns and designs that they wanted.

I then pulled out all of my feathers, shells, Mardi Gras beads, sequins, etc and gave a lesson on glue gun safety. Then they decorated their masks, trying to stay with their color scheme in their decorations (easier for some than others- so many fun things to decorate with!)

Pin It

Fifth Grade Russian Nesting Dolls

My 5th graders are traveling to Asia for their art room projects this year. Our first stop was Russian Nesting Dolls or Matryoshka dolls.

I had them draw out at least 3 dolls in descending order that related to each other in some way.

They started out with the large doll and made 2 pinch pots. Some of them added ears, noses, etc, but the majority had the basic pinch pot. Then they made the middle pot and the baby pot.

Once they were fired, I decided not to use glaze on them and we used extra-fine point Sharpies to draw out our details onto the clay.

They used watercolors to paint them. I have a few that I am thinking of using in shows later this year and I might have those students varnish them to give them a more finished look. Pin It

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Salvador Dali Clocks

Our district's art museum (Altharetta Yeargin Art Museum has begun their annual First Saturday's Art Programs. The theme this year is "From Rembrandt to Warhol, Great Artist and Their Art". For the month of October, the focus was on "Modern Masters"-  Picasso, Dali, Matisse, Van Gogh etc.

My sessions were based on Salvador Dali and his painting "The Persistence of Memory".

I found this great video ( on how to make a clock out of an old record album. The video used an oven at 200 degrees. Since we were doing this activity in a classroom, I pulled out all of my old electric skillets (used for melting crayons to batik) and filled them with water. I set them at about 200-250 degrees it worked just as well as heating the albums in the oven.

I had a friend who donated all of her old 80's albums for this project, so I didn't need to worry about that expense. The one thing that I did have difficulty with was finding inexpensive clocks! I hit up every resale shop, Salvation Army and dollar store in my area and found that clocks are not cheap. I did have a few clock donated, which helped out a lot.

The clocks were taken apart ahead of time, but for an older group of students, I don't see why they couldn't learn  how to take them apart themselves. You will need to have some screwdrivers and pliers handy.

Probably the most difficult thing was choosing which album to use. Many of the adults went with the nostalgia factor and there were others who chose their album by the artwork on the album. The children didn't really have difficulty, except for the fact that many of them didn't know what an album was- oh, it makes me feel so old!! When I told them that this is how we listened to music before we had CDs, I even had a couple ask me what a CD was! That gave me a good laugh- I hadn't even thought of how some children have only ever listened to music on their iPods and MP3 players. Wow!

In class, I showed the students (for out 1st Saturdays program, many of the students are adults, which is a nice change for me) how to melt the clock and form it with their hands while it was still malleable. They could always put it back into the water to reheat it if they didn't get the desired bend.

Then I had metallic markers out for them to decorate. The metallic looked really nice against the black vinyl.

Our last step was adding the clock mechanism. Once they were put together, they used a glue gun and attached the battery compartment to the back of the album. Pin It

Friday, September 30, 2011

Second Grade Day of the Dead Calaveras

 Second grade is traveling to Mexico, Central America and South America in the art room this year. For our first project, they created their very own Day of the Dead (Dia de los muertos) Calaveras (skulls).

This worked out well for my 98% Hispanic school. The students were actually able to give me information about the holiday that I didn't know.

We started out by looking at a variety of calaveras to get their creativity flowing. They made a quick drawing in their sketchbook to show what they wanted it to look like.

Then came the fun part. If you have never worked with Claycrete before- I highly recommend it! I order mine from Sax 
and a 20 lb box is usually enough to get me through an entire grade level. I give each student their own individual bowl with a heaping 
handful of Claycrete. I pour about 3/4-1 cup of water into it and about 3 tbsp. of glue. They use their hands to mix it up really well. I go around with a pitcher of water and add water to the bowls that are too dry. It should not be dripping wet, but the entire mixture should be moist.

Once it is completely mixed, pass out a skull pattern to each student. This is just a basic shape that I drew and xeroxed. I also give each student a piece of wax paper with a small piece of masking tape on it (to write their names on).

The wax paper goes on top of the pattern (you can see the pattern through the wax paper, without getting Claycrete all over it). The students put the Claycrete onto the wax paper and begin forming their skull. It should be about 1/2"-3/4" thick and smooth.
By the next week, the skulls are dry and we choose 1 color to paint the entire surface. I use acrylic paint for this (I'm not sure if
 tempera would work or not). Then they add facial features and designs with other colors.

The last step is to use beads, sequins, and broken pieces of jewelry (I have tubs of discarded jewelry that were donated by a local store- Charming Charlie's That was a HUGE hit!!!) I had them glue these on with craft glue, instead of school glue and that seemed to hold the pieces on a lot better.

I have been putting all of the finished projects into a display case in our main entryway. There are still 2 classes that need to finish this week, but I will add pictures of the finished display once they are complete.

Pin It