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Peace Day


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Around this time last year I was well into my second year of teaching and trying to hold on to the momentum I gained in my first year. Most people will tell you that the first year of teaching is the toughest year ever but my experience has proven my toughest year to be my second. I think it was the combination of a really challenging batch of kids and me agreeing to take on everything I possibly could (ESOL endorsement, Critical Friends Training, and Math Club to name a few.)

Any teacher can tell you that it is right around October when the “Honey Moon Period” ends and behaviors begin to show. Last October the Honey Moon Period ended and in came a tremendous amount of craziness. I was overwhelmed in every sense of the word and I could feel that other teachers at my school were too. I saw that my school had a problem and I wanted to fix it. I felt that many students (especially those with behavior problems) were not being supported enough emotionally.

Now here at Mimosa we have 2 counselors who do a terrific amount of work and I cannot imagine two people who offer any more support anywhere else. But in the classrooms I noticed that time that used to be spent on Morning Meetings and collaborative or team building experiences was now being spent frantically cramming Common Core Curriculum into student’s brains before the CRCT.

This frenzy of academia and lack of community goes against everything I stand for as an educator and more specifically — an art educator. I believe that the purpose of education is to create decent human beings who can be successful in the world. How can we expect our students to be good adults if we are not taking the time to teach them how to make the community a better place and how to appreciate the human experience here on Earth? School should not be all about grades and data and standards — there is so much more to it just as there is so much more to life.

So during a run one sunny autumn afternoon last year I conceptualized the idea for Peace Day. It was to be a day where traditional classroom learning was put on hold and the focus shifted to community, collaboration, and emotional needs. With the help of the school counselors, we planned (and planned and planned and planned and planned and. . . .) our event. We had our initial run in February and it was a whirlwind and a success.

Fast forward to this school year and we did it again! This time we didn’t start from scratch (which really helped!) and we had a dedicated team of teachers who joined our committee. Together we executed another amazing event.

From the  packet given to the teachers:

The purpose of this day is to promote character growth and development through team building activities and community service projects. Today is a day where Mimosa staff and students can come together and experience something great. The success of this day depends on the dynamic of your group and it all starts with you. What are you looking to get out of this day and how can you encourage your group to make the most of it? This is a chance to bond, learn, and grow together in an incredibly unique and meaningful learning experience!

So how does it work?

Well, Mimosa students and staff are split up into 6 houses (kinda like in Harry Potter.) On Peace Day, 2 adults and about 20 kids from each house split into groups and travelled around the school to participate in team building and community learning activities. Each group included students ranging from pre-K all the way to 5th grade. It was a great bonding experience and a great chance for the older kids to be leaders and role models for the younger ones.

The activities were designed to engage students in a meaningful and impactful way through working together to help the community. The activities included:

  • Creating care packages (with supplies brought in by students and donated by Target) to help homeless people (benefiting United Way and the Regional Commission on Homelessness.)
  • Creating artwork (also benefiting United Way)
  • Making a Peace Ring
  • Writing thank-you letters to service men and women (benefiting Bert’s Big Thank You at Q100)
  • Buddy Reading with a book buddy
  • Creating a Banner for your house
  • Team Building / Icebreaker activities
  • Exploring career paths with an Ipad QR code scavenger hunt
  • Nature Scavenger Hunt / School Beautification and Clean Up
  • Planting around the school (flowers and supplies donated by Home Depot)

Each group followed a schedule which included recess and lunch. The groups travelled to different classrooms which were set up with the materials and supplies needed to complete an activity.

Care Packages:

The care packages were simply Ziploc bags filled with toiletry items such as toothbrushes and soap. Most of the items were brought in by students during the weeks leading up to Peace Day.

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Creating Artwork for Formerly Homeless People

United Way works with many local organizations to place formerly homeless people in housing. However once these individuals have a home it is often empty and lonely. The goal of this activity was to create artwork to brighten up someone’s home.

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Making a Peace Ring

The base of the Peace Rings are hula hoops. Students wrote peaceful messages or reflected about Peace Day and added their flag to the ring. They were then hung in the cafeteria on display.

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A Big Thank You 

The letters will be sent to local radio show Q100. Their goal is to send a “thank you” to every service man or woman in the armed forces for thanksgiving.


Book Buddies

This activity was a huge hit! The team in the media center graciously lent us books about peace and kindness for students to read to one another.

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House Banner

Each house is a word in another language that stands for a character trait we wish our students to have (for example I am in Heshima which means “respect.” Other houses are Arlighet, Chen Xin, Ubuntu, Wajibu, and Tookindel.) Each House created a banner where the students decorated peace signs and wrote what their house trait means and how they show it.



Team Building

These activities were super fun and silly and great icebreakers. Students had to work as a team to pass a hula hoop around in a circle and line up from shortest to tallest without talking.


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Career Scavenger Hunt

Students learned all about careers and contemplated their own career path with a QR code scavenger hunt. They scanned the QR codes and explored different fields. They talked about jobs and careers with their groups.

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Nature Scavenger Hunt and School Clean Up

Groups went outside and cleaned up trash around the school campus. They also participated in a nature scavenger hunt and talked about what it means to respect nature and the environment.



We were fortunate enough to receive a generous donation of planting seeds and supplies from Home Depot. Students made the front of the school beautiful and learned they had a “green thumb” in this activity.

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Overall, Peace Day was amazing. I heard so many examples of students becoming shining stars and leading their group – students who normally fade into the background or are prone to misbehavior. It was so wonderful to see the school come together and participate in something bigger than ourselves, making an impact on the community and the world. My hope is that this idea takes off and ultimately Peace Day is a nationwide or even worldwide event that all students and schools can participate in. I truly believe that this day is something special and meaningful and will provide students with an empathy and sensitivity to each other and the world.




Teachers Pay Teachers (a.k.a. a shameless plug)


When I first heard about this website my initial reaction was to scoff in the general direction and belligerently ask “well why can’t people just do their own work.” I think that was probably the ambitious snob within me who shows herself every so often. The truth is that as educators we ideally should be willingly and freely helping each other. We also should ideally be paid a whole lot more — which is a whole ‘nother conversation — but selling resources can be a great supplement to our income.

My attitude quickly changed when my good friend Ms. Gram at Art With Ms. informed me that she has made a very hefty amount of money through her TpT store. (Which is amazing by the way) I attended a workshop she presented on the topic at GAEA last weekend and learned some tricks and tips to get started (like how to put in those little oval face kids and the cutesy typefaces). Now, I don’t know if I will make a cool million like this go getter but I am officially on board the TpT train. Please check out my store which I will be updating whenever I get a chance and remember that even though I am selling “products” I will also give them and any of my other “trade secrets” away. . . all you have to do is ask! I really believe that sharing is caring, it’s not just something to tell the kiddos!



There is Only One You

The first day of school for an art teacher is a lot longer than you would think. This is because we art teachers have a Groundhog’s Day kind of situation where we re-live the first day over and over again for 30 times during the first week. It becomes a performance and by the 30th encore presentation you know which punchlines will get a big laugh and which will get blank stares. You know which things to skip over for kindergarteners because they just stare at you like “…….” and which things to skip over for 5th graders because they have been in here for years and duh they already know where the pencil sharpener is.

The first day/week is important because this is when you set the standard for what you will and will not allow and what you will and will not do and who you will and will not be. Its very important to use this time to practice sitting properly in chairs and lining up quietly and walking around safely. I also like to throw in a little bit of activity for the first day. Afterall, it is difficult for me to sit still and listen to someone talk for 45 minutes and I am (technically) an adult!

So after my performance of telling my students all about me (I love outerspace and I traveled a lot this summer and here are the projects we are doing this year) in a lovely PowerPoint, I give them a tour of the classroom. This year I decided to read them a story right after the tour. We read “Only One You” by Linda Kranz which is a beautifully illustrated book about wisdom.


I used this activity to see what my kiddos could already do. Can you create a pattern? Can you use lines and shapes in your art? Can you cut out a shape with scissors? This was a really great informal assessment especially for the kindergarten noobs. I also used this to notice who my Leftys are so I can make sure to give them the correct scissors for the rest of the year. The completed fish were stapled to the bulletin board outside of my classroom. Each fish is so unique and some of them really impressed me with how creative they were (like a swordfish made with scraps or a fish that is half herbivore/half carnivore) This year’s artists are really making a splash!


The other bulletin board was inspired by a billboard I saw when I was driving down 285, I think its a great message.


Here are some pictures of my lovely classroom:


Kinders are learning about Mondrian’s lines and primary colors.
1st Graders are learning about Kasndinsky’s abstract paintings.
2nd Graders are learning about Matisse’s Drawing With Scissors artwork.
3rd Graders are learning about Georgia O’keeffe’s flowers and bones.
4th Graders are learning about Van Gogh’s Starry night. (Inspired by this.)
5th Graders are learning about Mexican Guitars.(Inspired by this.)

Happy 2nd week of school! 🙂


The Third Year and the Second School

Well hello there readers! Hopefully you haven’t forgotten all about the goings on in Ms. K’s room although it has been quite a while since my last post. This summer was busy, busy, busy! I taught clay camp for a few weeks at a local art center, traveled a bit, and got plenty of R&R. It is the third official day of school and between my two schools, things are going great! TWO schools?! You ask incredulously. Why yes! I reply — I am at TWO schools this year.  Initially I was a little apprehensive about this change. After all, it has taken me two years to get the hang of being at one school and I finally got used to things and people and places and nouns in general. But then I was given advice to look at this change as a challenge and break of sorts and with that outlook it has been a tremendous experience. Setting up my 2nd room was kind of frenzy of organizing and throwing things onto the wall to make it look as decent as possible. I think it came out great! I just finished my first day here and I am already in love with the kids. It was much easier than I thought it would be to think of them as “my kids.” So without further adieu, I present to you my 2nd art room! 062   Welcome! 007   This is the view from the door into the room. I attempted to make up for the lack of windows with an abundance of colors. 002 The word wall and colors.     067 The teacher’s desk did not fit comfortably in here so I set up shop on the bookshelf. (Please excuse my mess!)     068 The tables are labeled by shape and the helping table is identified here.     071 Rules and a color wheel.   072 Clock, white board, elements and principles. . .     003 Wall o’ shapes and the first day activity (more on that later!) You can glimpse the shapes hanging from the ceiling here: an oval rug and a rectangle calculator.     004 Sink and standards and examples board.     Mini white board, rubric, and supplies.   001 064   That is the half of my room where students will mostly be. I have a whole other half of a room that is primarily used for prepping and storage. 077 It has a chalkboard and a cart for clay. I thought about covering up the chalkboard but I think I will use it as a “graffiti wall” for early finishers. 079 Shelves of supplies and carts. 080 Drying racks on racks on racks. And a “chillout chair” 076   The paper cutter and prepping area. 078   The teacher desk made a good Choices table! That’s the gist of it so far; there is still some work to be done to make this room more personal but its a work in progress. I will be sharing this room with another itinerant who will be there on Mondays. Meanwhile at Mimosa (my first school) my classroom looks pretty much the same as it did last year.. I am so excited to work with my students again, I really missed them over the summer and I can’t wait to get to know my new kiddos at Love T. Nolan Elementary. My 3rd year of teaching is going to be awesome! Stay tuned for some great projects, artwork, and shenanigans from the art room 🙂


Hey Chicago Whaddya Say?

I went to Chicago and it was amazing!

You can feel the friendly midwestern spirit as you walk down the streets:

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There is public art everywhere:

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Cloud Gate (a.k.a. The Bean) is like a portal to another dimension:

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One of my favorite things about Chicago is the architecture. I went on a river boat architecture tour and it was super cool!

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The terrace of Trump Tower makes you feel like you are dining with buildings:

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The best building though was Sears Tower. I got to go in the glass box and could feel one of the tallest buildings in the world swaying and creaking in the wind.

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And what is a trip to Chicago without a slice of deep dish pizza and a walk around Navy Pier?

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Another highlight of the trip was a visit to the Chicago Art Institute. The art collection is grand with everything from ancient Eastern art to contemporary and modern art. I was starstruck to see so many of my favorite artworks in real life!

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Wrigley Field was also a great experience (even though the Braves lost). It is a really cool stadium!



Chicago is a fabulous city and I can’t wait to go back!

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DIY: Running Hat


Running hats are great for sunny day jogs and I wanted to give gifts to a few runner buddies. I began with plain white running hats from Target.


Using an X-Acto blade and a steady hand, I cut tape into thin strips and tabed off the brim of the hat.


I also taped the top part so that the paint did not get up there.


I used an assortment of practically antique acrylic paints to paint the shapes that the tape lines created. This Blog has tons of examples of beautiful and inspired color palettes.

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After waiting for the paint to dry* I carefully pulled off the tape. For these first few beauties I did not “finish” them with any kind of fixative but I’m sure there is something out there for fabric.


On the back velcro-bit I added personalized details.


The finished product came out great!


*I have made the mistake before of being super impatient about seeing the finished product and ended up creating a catastrophic mess. Patience is a virtue in art! 


Clay Birds with Mentors and Mentees

The wonderful councelors at my school have come up witha  great program this year. They have created a mentor-mentee program in which an adult is paired up with a student in the building and together they participate in activities once a month throughout the year. I was so stoked to have the opportunity to be a part of this and I am absolutely loving the opportunity to get to know a student more! I was really excited when I learned that my music teacher homegirl the fabulous Mrs. Liu also had a mentee. We decided stray from our assigned activities (of course the art teacher and music teacher would be the rebels!) and create somethign with our mentee girls for the holidays. I was inspired by this project from Mrs. Picasso’s Art Room for this littleproject and I must say it turned out great.


We began by rolling slabs out of clay.


Next, we cut out shapes to create the birds bodies and used a variety of fun tools and knick knacks to add texture and visual interest.


Then, we paited our creations with colorful glazes.


When they came out of the kiln they were beautiful!


The last step was to add  string and beads to create a Christmas ornament just in time for winter break 🙂

Happy holidays!


DIY: How to Make a Marathon Medal Display

My BFF over at just completed her second marathon (WOOHOO!!!) I am so incredibly proud and inspired by her awesomeness and wanted to show her some love and support by making her a display for all of her race medals. This ended up being a Generic Winter Holiday (Xmas? Thanksgivikkah? Kwanzaa? . . . whatever) gift and seeing as it is one of the few DIY projects I have not only attempted but also invented and also actually completed [almost] successfully, I figured I would post it here.

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Please excuse the poor quality of this picture I PINKY SWEAR it looks good in real life!

I began by spending an absurd amount of time in a craft store armed only with a vague idea and some inspiration. It was one of those big box stores (which is why I refuse to name it here) that has a very unbalanced ratio of Christmas-decorating housewives to employees. When I finally did track down someone who might have just been pretending to work there they told me I would be better off going to a home improvement store.

Anyhow none of this is really important except that it gives you some backdrop to the situation and you should probably also imagine me picking out all of these materials to some really cheesy Christmas tunes (I’m pretty sure they played a few Elvis songs and at least one Kidzbop carol). I knew I wanted to make something black and white (keep it classy!) so when I stumbled across the drawer knob aisle (yes there was an entire aisle for that nonsense) I spent several long minutes choosing some pretty nifty little knobs. Next it was just a loooooong walk across what felt like several miles of fake poinsettias and faux antique chatchkas over to the wood section where I found a glorious letter (for BFF Meghan.) Then the fun began:


I used a drill . . . knew that sculpture concentration would come in handy 😉 . . . to drill holes the size of the screws in the drawer knobs. Thanks for the supervision, Dad!


Voila! And also Happy Hanukkah. 


After some serious blog stalking I came up with pages of photos of cuteness and friendship la la la blah blah blah.


I felt like a master scrapbooker as I cut and placed all of the pictures in a cute overlappy kind of way. (thats a word, right?) This is the exact moment when I realized that I should have painted the darn thing first. Oops!


So I proceeded to ever so carefully paint the empty spaces with black acrylic paint. . . after the fact. That is the precise reason why I do not ever attempt this kind of thing. 


After it dried (aren’t you surprised I actually used common sense!?) I coated it a couple of times with mod-podge. 


It came out great if I do say so myself (which of course I do.) Here is the recipient herself:


Can you even handle the amount of medals on that thing? What a champ! To read a recap of all those races and more (many including yours truly) as well as see some yummy healthy recipes and get workout and fitness tips, head over to FITNESSCREATURES.COM FITNESS CREATURES.COM FITNESSCREATURES.COM

Oh and happy Generic Winter Holidays to all of my readers!


What a great way to kick off the weekend!

Game Ball

10-25 – 13 – Congratulations to Mollie Katzin!  She is this week’s winner of the game ball!  Her nominator had this to say about her:  ” Although I could rattle off at least 10 people worthy of a game ball, I have really noticed that Mollie Katzin always seems to be there to help both co-workers and students.  I have seen Mollie step up again and again to embrace the “one team, one goal” philosophy.  She tries very hard to help with our most difficult students.  She offers to let students come to her room for extra art time for morning work as an incentive to encourage excellent Mimosa Manners reports.  When she sees a co-worker that is frustrated, she immediately stops what she was doing to help.  She realized we were short on help at dismissal one day and she immediately stepped in to help.  We work together in math club every Wednesday morning and she always looks for extra fun ideas for students.  She always has a happy and positive attitude that is infectious.  She asks for clarification about 5th grade science standards because she works hard to incorporate them in her art lessons.  She is working with 5th grade in FIT and jumped right in to help wherever she was needed.  Her attitude was… “I’ll work with any group you want.  You tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”   Again and again this year she has impressed me her great attitude.”  Way to go, Mollie – One team – One goal!!!


GAEA Conference

This year’s Georgia Art Education Association Conference was great! I am so pleased with how our presentation went. My co-presenter Melinda from Art with Ms Gram and myself had a blast attending other sessions and sharing our knowledge with an outstanding group of art teachers.

Hopefully you will see us again at next year’s conference and perhaps even at NAEA in 2015! Thank you so much to everyone who came to our presentation and we hope to continue the conversation of technology and social networking in the art room.

I can’t wait to try out some of the cool lessons that were presented:

And of course it wouldn’t be a proper trip to Savannah without some exploration of the city:

What a fun-filled weekend of professional development and Savannah shenanigans! For those interested in a copy of our presentation, here is the PowerPoint: The Art of Blogging