Please Don't Eat the Artwork


Leave a comment

Hooray for Fish!

My 2nd graders finished their big project last week and since winter holiday starts next week I didn’t want to start anything new. I came up with this great one day lesson that was perfect for students right before the break! We started the lesson by reading the book Hooray for Fish! Students observed and noticed the bold, patterned, illustrations and identified the different shapes the illustrator used to make fish.


Then students drew a fish onto 9×12 paper and used a sharpie to trace it.


They used water color paint to color their fish.


The last step was to cut out the fish and place it in the “aquarium” to create a collaborative class creation!


This project is great because it can be done with many different levels with more or less components to make it more or less challenging. I can’t wait to hang up our aquarium!


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! 🙂


Water Graffiti

Last week was CRCT testing. Basically, for the first half of the day, 8-11 year olds are asked to sit SILENTLY and regurgitate all of the knowldge that has been shoved into their brains over the past year. (Obviously I feel very strongly about the atrocity that is standardized testing.) Because I am not (that) mean, I thought it would be a nice treat for them to breathe some fresh air and see the sunshine and give their eyes a break from multiple choices and their hands a break from bubbles. SO. . . we went outside and made some graffiti! We began by talking about how GRAFFITI IS ILLEGAL AND DON’T DO IT FOR REALSIES OR ELSE. After that little disclaimer, we had a discussion about how if we used real paint it would stain the school and the principal would be so so mad. So instead we used water which is temporary because it evaporates. There was at least one person from k-5 in each class that knew that word which made me oh-so-proud.

Using big cups of water and paintbrushes, k-5th graders were given free reign in the little courtyard to create designs on the pavement and walls. They were so creative and it was an EXCELLENT way to get the wiggles out after a long day of being tested or being quiet for the testers. I can’t wait to try this again on another bright and sunny day, it was so much fun and so much cheaper than chalk!


009 011 IMG_20140425_130155 IMG_20140425_140805 005 006 007 008

There are only 3 weeks left of school so stay tuned for some more (hopefully-finished-in-time) projects And you know what they say: It’s alll fun and games until someone finds a bone. 

IMG_20140425_134248 (3)

Questions that go through my mind when a 2nd grader hands me a bone the roughly the size of a banana:
. . . What?? . . . How? (its in a mostly cement courtyard in the middle of a brick building complex) . . . Who? ?? (probably pterodactyl or early homonid) Looks like this is a case for either Scooby Doo and the Gang or maybe CSI: Mimosa. Just another day in art class!

Leave a comment

Chika Chika Boom Boom Paintings

Kinders experimented with water-color paint with their Chika Chika Boom Boom Paintings. We began by reading the infamous story.


The kids love this book and even knew the song from this video:

Chika Chika Boom Boom

We began by practicing writing letters with bright colored crayons. They could draw uppercase and lowercase letters and use as many colors as they want! Then we broke out some brand spankin’ new water colors.


Kids discovered that if their brush was “thirsty” they would need to add more water and dip it in the paint again. Students used their knowledge of shapes to design a coconut tree. Some students even added the big yellow full moon from the end of the story.

002 (2)
003 (2)
001 (2)

The extra-curricular connection was successful in reinforcing letters, shapes, colors, and the alphabet! 🙂


All About Me: A Week 2 Activity

Week 3 of school is about to begin and class is great! I am so excited to have many of my students again from last year as well as some new faces. I can’t wait to see the amazing art Mimosa artists create this year 🙂

The first week of school was a whirlwind. I gave a tour of the art room and read the book The Dot 25 times! I also showed WELCOME TO ART! PPT to get kids psyched about the art they will be making this year and refresh their memories about the cool stuff we created last year. The second week of school was all about putting the rules into practice and an informal pre-assessment of the students skills. 2nd-5th graders watched a BrainPOP about portraits and then used this template to create their own:

013 014 017 018 024 025 045 047

This activity allowed me to get to know my students a little better and see where they are at with writing, drawing, and following directions. It ended up being a great week 2 activity and will probably end up being the cover for sketchbooks. Check out my students this year:


And for everyone’s personal enjoyment here is a self-portrait of your’s truly 😉




4th graders had time for one last quick project after their CD weaving project.. The idea came from about a million different blogs and all the billions of examples on Pinterest. We began by talking about positive and negative space, symmetry, contrast, shape, and variety. Students learned that Notans are a traditionally Japanese art form and are also used in graphic design and advertising. The word “notan” in Japanese means “dark-light.”

Students chose contrasting colors of construction paper and cut out a variety of shapes to design bold and graphic abstract images.

002 (2)
003 (2)
004 (2)
010 (2)

Drumroll please —  what you are about to see is crazy talent that might just knock your socks off. . . .


I know right?! These kids are so awesome!


Token Response

99% of my lessons have been production  based so far. I think this is because I am such a hands-on and kinesthetic person. But, in order to have a well-rounded art education, it is important to include aspects of art criticism and art history. I wanted to play “Token Response” with 5th graders so I could incorporate more aspects of art and practice critical thinking with them. This is a game I played in a college class and it lead to a truly meaningful discussion about art that really got everyone to think about their opinions.

I set out 7 reproductions around the room and we talked about the title, medium, artist, and when the piece was made. We talked about opinions and how there is no right or wrong answer and it is important to respect what someone else thinks about something. I told the kids that when you look at artwork you automatically think “I like it” or “I don’t like it” but it is important to realize why you feel this way.

Each student received a set of tokens (you can buy a pre-made set here but it was just as easy to make my own using construction paper):


So what do they mean?

The HAND: which artwork has the best craftsmanship?
The LIGHT BULB: which artwork is the most original/unique?
The HEART: which artwork do you like the best?
The “X”: which artwork do you like the least?
The MONEY: which artwork is worth the most money?
The CLOCK: which artwork took the most time to make?
The HOUSE: which artwork would people hang up in their house?

With a variety of reproductions including examples of realism, formalism, expressionism, and instrumentalism, there were many diverse opinions. Students walked around the gallery and placed their tokens on the artworks.

image (8)
image (4)
image (5)

The most popular pieces were sculptures and the least popular were the realistic or abstract pieces. Students expressed their opinions and shared with each other why they chose to put their tokens where they did.

This activity was just as meaningful for 5th graders as it was for me in college — they got a chance to form and argue their opinions, interpret art, compare and contrast artworks, and develop and evaluate ideas.

1 Comment

One Day Lessons

Due to field trips, holidays, assemblies, and all kinds of other occurances, some classes end up being behind. I like to keep each class as close to on track as I can so scheduling projects doesn’t become a logistical nightmare. Therefore, I have come up with a few one day lessons that are appropriate and can be adapted for k, 1st, and 2nd graders. I use these lessons for classes that are a little ahead of the others or if we are waiting for our ceramics to be fired in the kiln.


This lesson begins with storytime. We read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom which the kids pretty much know by heart.

After the story, students use oil pastels to write the alphabet one letter at a time on their paper. We talk about what words start with the letters and the difference between capital and lowercase letters. Then we use water color paints to paint a coconut tree.

If there is enough time at the end, we watch the song video and then it gets stuck in my head for a week.


Students look at hearts painted by one of my all-time favorite artists Peter Max. We talk about warm and cool colors, positive and negative space,  and symmetry.

We look around the room to find other things that are symmetrical like human bodies, cabinets, windows, etc. First, we begin by folding a paper in half “hamburger style” then we cut out a “fancy letter C” to make a heart. They set their “positive space” heart off to the side and use their “negative space” heart as a template. With oil pastels, students color on a white piece of paper. When they pull of their “negative space” heart, a perfect heart is left behind!

Kinders were given the option to use any color but 2nd graders had to chose if they wanted their heart to be warm or cool and do the opposite in the background. Students used watercolor paints to fill up their papers with color.

^Kindergarten Example ^

^ Kindergarten Example ^

^ 2nd Grade Example ^

^ 2nd Grade Example ^

Leave a comment

Collaborative Paintings

I found the idea for Collaborative Paintings on Pinterest from this blog: I figured it would make a great one day project while we transition from Unit 1 to Unit 2 because some students still needed to finish up their work. We talked about what it means to COLLABORATE and COOPERATE  and how people can work together to create art. Some kids had a hard time with this concept and asked for their own paper but ended up embracing the idea once they had permission to chose their team members. (Not an option I would give every class but the 5th graders I tried it with today are exceptionally well behaved and cooperative.)

We started off by taping 18×24 white paper with masking tape. Students had to work together to decide where to put the tape and one team was inspired to make the British flag.

Next, students used tempera paint to create colorful designs. When they were finished painting they carefully and slowly peeled off the tape to reveal a very cool painting.

These came out really nice and the kids had a great time making them. This project would be successful for almost any grade and could be adapted to fit in with specific color scheme and thematic standards.