Monday, April 27, 2015


Have you ever had a class who hasn't liked learning about Wayne Thiebaud? I certainly haven't.  However, after that first day of looking at his work some students do look as if they could kill me with their eyes---No, sorry guys I did not bring all 170 4th graders a slice of cake! Sorry not sorry.  But they get over it....kind of.   

I've done a lesson about Thiebaud every year with 4th graders, but it has certainly varied from year to year.  Check those out here and here.  This lesson is a combo of the two.  Thiebaud's work is a fantastic example for students to see the difference between geometric shapes and forms, and of course we hit on repetition, shadows, value, edge of page, composition, and balance. Really, it's a loaded lesson.

I'm totally biased, but I think these 4th graders created some pretty fantastical stuff.  It's rad.  Speaking of rad, check out my rad sweatshirt.

OH EM GEE when the kids realize what painting is on my sweatshirt, THEY FREAK OUT.  Have you guys heard of this company, Rad?  It's the greatest.  They take paintings and put song lyrics over top of them, it's an artistic mashup so to speak.  Some of them are just straight up hilarious.  I'm thinking about getting this one next.  

Well, now I'm off to eat the only thing that I can bake---tie dye cake.


This one time at summer camp (circa 2010) I did and it rocked. Best day of my life.

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

What Did You Problem Solve Today? --Ponytail Crisis of 2015

When I was in college going through my art methods courses, I felt like I was programmed to believe that we teach art to promote critical thinking and problem solving skills.  I was kind of at the point where this just became my automated response--it sounded good, but recently I've really been reflecting on what it really means.  

It all started a few weeks ago.  I was on mile 6 of 8 on my run and all of a sudden I could feel my long, blonde locks blowing in the wind as I was gracefully striding down the trail.  Okay fine, I was panting for breath, probably wheezing, and could feel my hair plastered to my forehead and neck.  My ponytail fell out AND WAS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND.  I had a slight moment of panic...because guys, I have A LOT of hair.  I stopped, circled around like a dog chasing his tail, looking for SOMETHING to help me out.  Luckily, we've had some crazy rains and that grass is growing green and strong. I started picking out the best pieces of grass I could find, tied 4 of them together, tied it around my hair, and voila--makeshift ponytail.  I survived the last two miles, it was weird, but survival nonetheless.  As I finished the run, listening to the Beach Boys Greatest Hits, I thought to myself--that's problem solving, yo. 

How many times do we see our students do something like this in class?  I see it all the time without even realizing it.  Whether it's using their reasoning skills to mix a color they've never created before or discovering why watercolors and crayons don't mix--problem solving and critical thinking are REALLY happening. Pretty rad, right?

What does this have to do with the lesson's I am sharing? Absolutely nothing.

So please do enjoy the work of these fabulous 5th graders, as we took the time to explore the differences in form using 2D and 3D materials. The drawing lesson was very similar to this one here.  The clay tiles took a more personal look at each student, as they created a piece "about me."

***Note to self: When photographing clay initials pay attention to what words you are spelling...I certainly didn't my first go 'round. ***   

What does problem solving and critical thinking look like in your classroom?
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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Steal Like An Artist--6th Grade Clay Looms

I'd consider myself to be what you call "trendy."  I really live life on the edge...I mean you might see me in socks and sandals one day and the next I'm wearing stripes on plaid.  Okay, so maybe our definitions of trendy are different, but I'm definitely not afraid to own a really bad style or trend, or to even try a new one!  But the art trend (which really isn't really a trend, but really popular in which students love) that I just haven't jumped right on board with is weaving.  It seems a little strange means I can make every design of a friendship bracelet and loved making a good God's Eye  in my youth (I used to even sell them at garage sales and lemonade stands).  I just wasn't confident and doing this with my students for some reason--WHICH WAS SO CRAZY OF ME, because I found it to actually be quite simple and fun.  After watching the weave-lovin' Cassie Stephens YouTube video like a trillion times I felt good to go.  Because of my low weaving self confidence, I totally stole this lesson from Beth over at It's Art Day!  Like straight up stole, so thanks Beth!

I used my favorite air-dry clay coloring technique--oil pastels with liquitex clear gloss over top.  This lesson was actually kind of amazing.  I had planned several days for students to do the weaving portion, as I knew it would take some time.  I kid you not, without me asking just about every single 6th grade student (except for like 5) almost begged to work on their project outside of class time. Yeah, that was real life. Amazing.  I was almost getting sick of the students coming down to my classroom to get more yarn!  It was simply awesome to see them so excited about it.  I know this was a rather simple lesson for 6th graders, but prior to my arrival (3 years ago) they only had art once every 16 days, so we still have a little catching up to do in some areas.

Don't forget to steal like an artist:

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Artist Studies-The Floral Kind

Spring=Flowers, am I right?  After winter we're all ready for a little bloom and pop of color, and the idea that summer is so very near (I heard there's only 31 day of school left).  

1st graders took on Van Gogh's,  Red Poppies and Daisies.  I think they darn well rocked it.  This two day lesson certainly blew my socks off.  The students loved making their textured and patterned backgrounds using foam rollers and funky brushes.  And who knew saying the word "poppies" over and over in 1st grade is soooo fun?!!?

3rd graders explored the world of Georgia O'Keeffe, I was inspired by this lesson.  Before I go any further, let's talk about "analogous" colors....and how painful it is for students to try and remember what (and how to pronounce) the word.  As long as they can tell me what they are and how to find them on the color wheel--we're golden! 

Anywho, if your school happens to have access to BrainPop there is a pretty awesome one on Georgia O'Keeffe and the kids will pretty much BEG you to take the quiz at the end.   


All right, this lesson here I WAS SO EXCITED about, but it kind of seemed to be a bust.  We win some, we lose some I guess...but boy do I hate losing.

We started by looking at this painting by Renoir: 

Students drew beautiful tulips in their vase and we outlined them with glue.  I'm kind of over oil pastels for the year--I'm just sick of using them for this school year, and for pete's sake who keeps taking all the black's and white's???!!  So I experimented with soaking chalks in sugar water and absolutely loved it, but the result didn't really transfer over that well with the 2nd graders.  I probably should have stuck with the oil pastels, but if this lesson wouldn't have flopped I would have never known! The more you know.  

I have two classes that are a little behind on this project so I think I'll go ahead and try out the oil pastels...I'll share those results later.

I'm yet to see the sun in the sky this week.  I know the clouds are doing their job to bring us our pretty spring flowers, but I need a little sunshine.  The second I see the sun, you'll know where to find me.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

2nd Grade Desert Landscapes

As I'm on my way back from New Mexico I felt it only appropriate to share this lesson.  I've just spent the last five days in 90 degrees and sunshine, needless to say I'm SO READY for summer.  If I could grow a cactus in my yard in Nebraska it would already be done.  My sophomore year of high school my job in biology was to water the cactus.  I KNOW, I KNOW easy job right...give it a little sprinkle of water every month or so and done.  Yeah...about that I forgot about it the entire year and needless to say it's end came much shorter than anticipated.

Enough about my glory days of high school and more about the rockstar work of these 2nd graders!  The concept here was space, here is last years lesson where we explored foreground, middleground, and background.  A little magic with some salt and watercolors really sold 2nd graders on this lesson.  

Well I've still got a few days left of Spring Break and I'm going to enjoy every second of it. But first please do enjoy my favorite cacti from my New Mexico vacay.

And to end things on a good note please enjoy this photo for the next several seconds. Does anyone have a thigh master I can borrow? 
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