Please Don't Eat the Artwork



Las Guitarras de Paracho

When I saw THIS LESSON at I knew it would be perfect for my 5th graders. Most of my students at my home school are Hispanic and many of them have relatives or are from Mexico. The real world connection made this lesson so successful! We began by talking about the town of Paracho, Mexico. We watched a few clips from this documentary and looked at pictures of the town to get some context.

Next, we reviewed intermediate colors and created painted paper with texture.


The 12×18 pieces were cut in half so students could mix and match and trade colors and textures.



I brought in my guitar and managed to stumble through Ode to Joy in an attempt to impress my 5th graders. #epicfail They were polite enough to clap haphazardly.

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They used templates to cut out the shapes of their guitars. . .

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And assembled everything onto black construction paper.


Strings of yarn were added as well as details with oil pastels.


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Rock On!





Sculptural Lines


Well hello there Dear Readers! At this moment in time I am currently basking in the greatness that is #SB’14 a.k.a. Spriiiiiinggggg Breeeeeeeaaakkkkk!


The last couple weeks in the art room have been a frenzy of work and production. First graders worked hard on their line sculptures and they turned out vibrant and colorful! We began with some painted paper with textured lines.

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The next week, we talked about positive and negative space and students cut out their lines and glued them to construction paper. One of the first grade science standards is shadows and light so I thought it would be a great connection to have students include shadows under their pop-out lines.

Rainbow Hearts:

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This Rocks This is Fun Do it Again:

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Characters from the Lego Movie:

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With Flowers:


Hashtag Win:

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With a Minecraft Creeper:

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Domo on a Banana Skateboard:

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Pikachu and Pokeballs:


This one is awesome, the little guy created amazing shapes and shadows!

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Like a Boss:


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Chemeleons here, there, everywhere!


3rd graders created amazing 3D paper chameleons for their sculpture unit. The step-by-step instructions can be found HERE. We began by creating painted paper with intermediate colors.


After a lot of folding and cutting, the chameleon’s bodies were assembled. There was a great math connection with angles, rulers, and academic language such as types of triangles and  vertices.


Students traded their papers to have an assortment of colors anc created the legs, heads, tongues, and all sorts of details!

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On a skateboard:

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A superhero with “laser eyes”:

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With a magnificent mustache:


Ash from Pokemon (check out the hat and Pokeball!):

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Here are a couple of videos that got the kids really pumped up about the project:

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Math Club’s Perimeter Collages

Every other Wednesday, eager 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders come into the art room for Math Club. They bring their breakfast and work in groups on fun math problems and projects. We are working our way up to a competition in the spring where students can compete against kids from other schools. One of my goals at the end of last year was to start an art club. Unfortunately, I do not have a magical Harry-Potter time turner and there simply aren’t enough hours in the week this year. So I hatched up a devious plan (muahahaha) to incorporate art into math club! By doing cross-curricular projects kids get to experience the best of both worlds. I wanted to do something that would not be too much fo a challenge for the first project since this is the inagural group for Math Club.

We began by getting into groups and cutting up scrap papers.


Students glued their paper onto a 12×18 piece of construction paper.


Then, they used rulers to measure the sides and added up the sum to come up with an overall perimeter for their collage.

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The kids had a lot of fun collaborating to make mathematical art. 🙂

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See You Later Alligators

One of my goals as an art teacher is to foster creativity in my students. It is extremely important to me that their projects are not cookie-cutter-carbon-copies, rather they are as individual as the individuals who made them. The last unit of art curriculum for the county denotes that crafting is involved. I type crafting with a grimace and a shudder because in my humble opinion crafting is a cheap way to do mass-produced art.

I was bored to tears by weaving with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders because really, how much creativity is involved in manipulating some yarn? Sure they can choose their colors but in the end all the projects basically look the same. Weaving with paper allows for a little more creative freedom. These woven alligators were inspired by several pins on Pinterest as well as from Art With Ms. Gram

I wanted to make sure that they did not all look the same so I made tried to give students as many choices as possible. They chose which shade of green construction paper they would use for the body and  the way they made painted paper. They came up with their own the symbols which were painted in metallic tempera. Students designed their own  eyes and teeth, and the shapes for features such as arms, legs, and tails. I think these look wild and fun and ended up really reflecting the spirit of first (soon to be second!) graders.

We began by mixing primary colors to create secondary colors for painted paper.


Students used their painted paper to weave into a piece of green construction paper for the alligator’s body.


Some alligator bodies on the drying rack:


Then heads and tails were added with more green paper.


First graders cut eyes and teeth out of white paper:


Details and symbols were painted on with shiny metallic tempera:


The display is a farewell to first grade:

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Some alligator close ups:



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These have so much personality and the kids are super excited to show them off. I will leave you with this excellent joke:





Bugs on a Rug

This might be the cutest project of all time ever in the world. Maybe its the name or maybe its just because for the next few weeks, kindergartners are still adorable and innocent and silly and then summer happens and they become ferocious first graders. (Cue dramatic music.) 

We began this project by creating painted paper using paint scrapers from Roylco. This process of creating painted paper has been extremely popular all year with everyone from k-5.



This was a great review of primary and secondary colors and the students noticed that the paper looked like it was “woven” if you made criss-cross designs.

Next we created a loom out of colorful construction paper.


Students cut up their painted paper into lines to weave into the loom.


They loved going over-under-over-under and they concentrated so hard that it was nearly silent in the art room! Some students had trouble with this step and some caught on really quickly. Weaving is one of those skills that takes a lot of dexterity. The next step was really fun: bug stamps. They filled up their “rug” with little bugs!


Students also got to make a big bug out of paper by coloring, cutting, and gluing. I used templates for this due to time constraints but next time around I will try and give them the opportunity to create their own bug.














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Kids were stoked to make a bracelet wit their extra lines. They used the most beautiful rainbow lines to create little cuffs. Some “star” students:



Memory Collages

The inspiration fro this project came from Artsy Artful Amy (a fantastic blog full of excellent resources and ideas!). I wanted to expose my 5th graders to an art making process that relied heavily on personal connections, meaningful experiences, and story telling. When they (hopefully) take art in middle school, these factors will inform their creative process and I thought that introducing these concepts now would really give them a great opportunity to begin thinking about deeper ideas and meaning.

We began by brainstorming and coming up with an idea for a memory. Students made lists of people who were important in their life, why those people are important, and a memory involving one or more of the important people. If someone had taken a picture of that memory, what would be in the picture? These collages became a snapshot of time and something the kids really connected with.








Hitting a pinata:


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Check out the pencil shavings used as a campfire:









Dinner at Olive Garden:


Another pinata!:


She used a hole puncher to create rain






These were intended to be 2D works but one creative student had the brilliant and creative idea to make his pop up and many others followed suit.


Birthday party at a pool:


Next time I do this project I will be sure to use smaller paper and work more on the initial idea and sketch with the students. Overall, this project was pretty successful and I think that if my 5th graders weren’t suffering from such a severe case of senioritis they would have enjoyed the creative freedom much more.  With only a month left of school who can blame them!


3D Chameleons

This is one of the coolest looking art projects I have ever done with kids. I absolutely love this project and every step of the way allowed for tons of creativity and fun. I was inspired by This Post at smARTclass and This Tutorial at Artolazzi to make an awesome 3D project for the 3rd grade sculpture unit.

We began by talking about chameleons and watching these cool videos: Super Chameleon and Real Chemeleon Color Change. Students also learned about intermediate colors and we noticed that chameleons change into blended colors.

We created painted paper using intermediate colors and paint scrapers to create texture.



3rd graders used crayons to create texture on the white side of the paper so that the whole sculpture would be colorful and bright.


The next part was kind of tricky and required some hard core listening ears and watching eyes in order to be successful. Step by step, we turned out beautiful 2D paper into a 3D chameleon body by carefully folding, cutting, and gluing.


Students cut up their pattern paper to create the head and legs and could even trade scraps and colors with people at their table.


In math, 3rd graders are learning about different types of triangles and symmetry so I thought it would be a great cross-curricular connection to incorporate the terms and vocabulary. We discussed how animals are symmetrical and if you put something on one side of your chameleon, it has to be the same on the other side. Students had a blast getting creative and added all sorts of things like a cape, ninja stars, flowers, a cell phone, lots of tongues, and even wings!

With spiky hair and polka dots:


Sharp teeth and hearts:


Spikes down it’s back and sunglasses:


A pattern of hearts and shapes:

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Sunglasses and eyelashes with a bow:


When students were finished they could write a story about their chameleon. Here are some of the gems:




I find children’s writing to be simultaneously hilarious and fascination it is a really good insight into their stream of consciousness and they always have the most random stuff to say. During student teaching I incorporated writing into many of my projects and I will try and do that more in the future as it a great cross-curricular connection and excellent practice.


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Dragons and Houses

1st graders are finishing up their painted paper dragons this week. Check out to check out the painted paper process.

Students used scissors and glue to create SYMMETRICAL and ASYMMETRICAL shapes. They used wavy lines, zig-zag lines, and shapes to make the body parts. Check out the amazing dragons!

Remember —  a dot is a lot and a blob is a slob. Use glue wisely!

With a hat:

In a flower field:

With a crown:

With a princess and a flower:

Breathing fire:

Saying “I Qm Bisfly”  (???)

Saying “Na Na Na T”  (???)

“Dark Vater”:

“The Black of Drrkness” (with hearts and rainbows):

Super happy face:

With a scalloped line:

Yaaaaaay dragons.

4th graders finished up their projects based on the artwork of Friedensreich Hundertwasser (a painter and architect) Here are a couple examples of his work:

They were amazed and astounded to learn that this building actually exists. They were also quite inspired by the figurative elements and ‘lollipop trees’  like the ones in this painting:

We talked about Hundertwasser’s style and the kids agreed that his work reminds them of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Dr. Seuss. Thew students noticed the organic shapes and we contemplated the question “do buildings always have to have straight lines?” and the students practiced drawing Hundertwasser-esque building in their sketchbooks. Then they drew their designs onto a big piece of paper with sharpies. We talked about ANALOGOUS COLORS (next to each other on the color wheel). Students chose 4 analogous colors and painted their artwork using liquid water colors.

As the students have been finishing up their artwork, I have been inviting them to visit the art room in the morning if they do not complete their work during class. So far I have had several students visit. They LOVE looking through the drawing books I have and learning how to draw cool things. The Garfield book is the most popular. These drawing books are located in the “I’m Done!” section of the room. This is a little desk with different activities students can do on the carpet when they finish their work. I also ordered mini white boards that will hopefully arrive soon.

Free draw ideas, drawing books, Colorforms, art matching game:

Artwork by a 5th grader who was SO excited to visit this morning:

I think it is important to offer my room in the mornings because for some of these kids, it is the only place they can feel a positive atmosphere. Many of the students at my school come from turbulent homes and they struggle in the general classroom. I try to offer my art room in the mornings as a place where they can come and not worry about anything — just enjoy creating. It is quiet before school starts and there is more freedom to work and explore. I want my room to be a safe and welcoming space that my students are excited to be in. 🙂

Have a great weekend!


Popsicles and Painted Paper

This past week First Graders have been working on color mixing. We had a magic show where I showed them how PRIMARY COLORS mix to make all of the other colors.

What does a magician need to do magic? A Hat! A magic wand! As an artist, my paintbrush is my magic wand.


We say the magic words all together “Abracadabra Please and Thank You!” We watch in awe as red and yellow make orange, blue and yellow make green, and red and blue make purple. When I ask “what do you think will happen when all of the colors mix together?” I get answers ranging from black and brown to pink, sparkles, and even rainbow! The kids absolutely love the magic show 🙂

After some color mixing magic, we talk about TINTS and SHADES (mixing white and black into colors.) Then the real fun begins. Each student gets a white piece of paper and a combination of 2 or 3 colors (“you get what you get and you don’t get upset!”) and they make their own color mixing magic.

After they fill their whole paper up with a new color, they use paint scrapers to create TEXTURE. I had ordered some that are made out of plastic and I also made my own from cardstock. The painted paper came out gorgeous! Here are a few on the drying rack with the cardstock paint scrapers.

After tables are scrubbed and hands are washed, we gather on the carpet to read “From Head to Toe” by Eric Carle. We talk about how Eric Carle is an artist who uses textured painted paper to illustrate his books. The story is great because the kids get to move around a bit and act like animals (in a good way!)



Next week we will use our painted paper to make dragons!

This afternoon I made Value Popsicles. These will be use for upcoming 3rd and 4th grade projects which deal with VALUE and MONOCHROMATIC  color schemes. Each table will get a set and work together to put the popsicles in a value scale  going from lightest to darkest. There are dabs of paint on the sticks to show how much color and black/white was used to make each shade. I am hoping to use these for reference when students are trying to achieve a particular hue when mixing colors. They can just look at the popsicles to see how much of what makes what color. They came out pretty cool.


3rd, 4th, and 5th are finishing projects this week, I will post pictures soon!