Please Don't Eat the Artwork


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Tissue Paper Notans (Version 2.0)

Fourth graders loved creating Notans. I titled this blog post “Version 2.0” because I did this lesson a while back with art club kids but decided to change it up a bit this time around. 

We began with a PowerPoint jam-packed with info. We discussed Japan (geography and culture) and vocabulary like symmetry, positive and negative space, and shapes. 

Students created a stained glass design for their background with tissue paper and “glue goo” which is just glue and water mixed together. 

The next week, each student got a black construction paper square. This step is the most difficult part of the project and every time I teach this, the struggle is real. That is until one brilliant kid came up with the X method. Check it out: 

This made it SOOOO much easier and the kids were able to create symmetrical shapes without everything getting all jumbled up! They had a choice if they wanted their designs to have variety or unity of shapes. Both look great! 

The next week, students finished gluing down all the pieces of their designs and added fund doodles with silver and black sharpies. This project was so successful and fun. I also love the cross-curricular element with symmetrical shapes, I know this will support the learning that 4th graders are doing in math. 🙂 

Great job 4th graders! Next we will continue our cross-curricular journey with a science based solar system collage! 

❤ Mrs. K 

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Matisse’s Fish Bowl Collage

Third graders covered a ton of standards in this collage unit. They learned all about Henri Matisse and enjoyed looking at his paintings and collages. 

The two images above served as inspiration for this project. The original idea comes from  

We began by creating positive and negative space and symmetry with construction paper. Students had a variety of colors to choose from from and created some nice color schemes. 

The next week, each kid got a 6×9 piece of white paper which they folded into thirds. One space was painted with brown tempera paint from a bottle. Another space was painted with blue tempera cake. The third space was painted whatever color the student wanted with tempera cakes. 

We talked about visual texture and how to create the illusion of texture on a flat paper. This was achieved by scrunching up plastic wrap over the painting whilst it was still wet. 

The next week, we created visual texture of wood on the brown part. Students looked at the lines on their art tables and noticed they were broken, curved, thick and thin. They used their observations to create a tiny table top. 

The blue paper became the fishbowl and the other color became the fish/squid/mermaid/turtle/seahorse/etc. The kiddos really let their creativity shine with this one!

How fun are those?! Great job third graders!

❤ Mrs. K 

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3rd Grade Matisse Collagraph Prints

This project was inspired in part by Mrs. Knight’s Smartest Artists as well as another teacher in my county English Avery. I wanted to kind of re-think the way I have been doing collagraphs with 3rd graders to make it easier to get successful prints. For the past few years, I have been doing a collagraph lesson based on the artwork of Jasper Johns. It is actually one of my most looked at blog posts! While it is a very good lesson, the same issue always pops up when printing. Basically, it is very difficult to get every student to create their artwork backwards on the printing plate because it will print backwards. Inevitably there are always upside-down and topsy-turvy prints that illicit disappointment from students.


So this year I figured we would switch it up and create more abstract prints in order to alleviate some of the confusion. I was inspired to base this project on Matisse because we could include so many concepts like geometric/organic shapes, abstract art, and positive/negative space. On the first day, we looked at artwork by Matisse and talked about these concepts. I even showed students a picture of me in front of giant Matisse works at the Vatican!


Kiddos used card stock and cardboard to create their printing plate. They drew and cut out an organic shape and used a hole puncher to create negative space.


The next week, we talked about complementary colors and created a collage to print on. Students chose their complementary colors for a background and used fancy scrap booking scissors to cut around squares that they glued down. They also glued down any pop-ups on their printing plate so they could be ready to print on the 3rd week.



The third week we printed.


First, students rolled out about a pinky-sized amount of ink onto the phone book with a brayer. Then they rolled the ink onto their plate.



They flipped it over onto the complementary colored collage and used a spoon to press down.


Last, they peeled off their collage very carefully to reveal a print.

I am so pleased with how this project went, I feel like the amount of successful prints was much higher and that students really understood the process and concepts. Way to go 3rd graders!



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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Snowflake Snowmen during #Snowpocalypse



Yesterday around 11:00 when it began to snow outside, first graders marveled at the magical white flakes while they made snowmen. One student excitedly shouted “Its snowing and we are making snowmen!” to my delight (yay for making connections.) Little did we all know that the next few hours would bring a dystopian mayhem that would ultimately shut down the entire Atlanta area and create a frozen wasteland of abandoned cars, stranded people, and wintry chaos. In a city where people drive like maniacs on sunny days, this polar fiasco has caused complete insanity and a traffic nightmare.

atlanta traffic


During my 4 hour commute last night (a 12 mile distance that usually takes 20 minutes) I was amazed at the kindness of people to each other. I saw people shoveling roads, checking on each other in cars, and helping neighbors. I am very lucky to have gotten to a safe place in a relatively short amount of time. My heart goes out to all of the people who were en route for 7, 8, 9 + hours and those who are even still out there stuck in their cars or sleeping in stores. Mimosa Elementary had several students and a couple dozen teachers spend the night — what a crazy situation! I am beyond thankful that everyone is safe and sound.



This project (inspired by this project) began innocently enough and who would have known that it would end on what is being called #HOTHlanta #snowpocalypse #Atlantarctica #snowmageddon #snowJAM2014 ? We began by reading Snowmen at Night and noticing the parts of a snowman (arms, noses, scarves, hats, body, head, mouth, eyes, etc.)


First graders learned all about symmetry when they created snowflakes out of white paper. This process was as complicated as Atlanta traffic has been over the past 24 hours:



Researching YouTube came up with beautiful examples of snowflakes that were just a bit too complicated for my 1st graders. Before even attempting this I had my BFF over at try to make some snowflakes. I figured if a 25-year-old Fitness Creature can do it then so can a bunch of 6 year olds.  I found that the “best” way — I use that word generously — was to have the kids fold a square up and draw triangles on it while I went around and drew a curved line.

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They created the body and head on day one. Some of the snowflakes ended up being cut in half and flipping it around to make a whole shape reinforced both symmetry and math concepts.


Day two was spent adding details. Students used painted paper scraps to create a nose, hat, and shoes. They used crayons for the arms and mouth. Two buttons became the eyes. (Check out those neat-o loop/loom bracelets . . . those things are all the rage!)

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A ribbon became the scarf.

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One finger dipped in white paint made snow.


I love how these turned out, they are so fun and unique just like snowflakes and just like first graders!

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* * * * * Stay safe in the snow, y’all! * * * * *


See a Heart, Share a Heart

When I was approached about using the book See a Heart, Share a Heart in my classroom, I was so excited to incorporate it into my hearts lesson. This book is a collection of vibrant photographs of everything from leaves to cracks in the ground. The one thing all of these pictures have in common is that if you look closely, you can see a heart!

My kindergarteners, first graders, and second graders loved the pictures and “oohed” and “ahhed” at the colorful hearts on every page. We read the story together (many of the words are sight words for young readers) using the document camera. It was fun to read as a group, the kids love showing their skills.


The kids were AMAZED that I was showing them what is essentially live footage. They thought the ol’ doc cam was pretty nifty. I am not usually a supporter of this type of technology but I thought it was important that they were able to see all of the details in the story.

Students were excited to learn that they would be creating their very own hearts. We began by talking about symmetry and students folded a piece of construction paper in half. Then, they drew a funky letter “C” on the fold and cut it out.


They used the negative space heart as a template and filled it in with oil pastels on white paper.


Some students were even inspired by the story to find hearts in the art room! Most were paint spills that kind of looked like hearts.

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Its HEARTly perfect but it will do 😉 Next, artists used watercolor paints to fill in their artwork.


The results are colorful hearts:


And of course, we made hearts to share too! The positive space heart was decorated and the kids could give it to someone they love.


I LOVE this book and I recommend it for any classroom. The pictures are beautiful and it shows kids that you can find hearts (and love) in the world everywhere if you only look close enough. This charming and timeless book is a great addition to my story collection and I am excited to use it with more classes. For more information and images of this LOVEly project, check out the Tumblr: Boy Sees Hearts!

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Spooky Puzzle Tree Landscapes

3rd graders got into the spirit of fall with this project inspired by Kids Artists Blog and Dream Painters Blog. We learned all about landscapes, value, and positive and negative space for this project. Day one began with a Value Scale Popsicle game:

Students had to work together to create a popsicle value scale and order their sticks from dark to light. Then, they put their knowledge into practice and completed a Value Worksheet.


Next we made concentric circles on paper. Each table agreed on a color and cooperated to create tints and shades.

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We talked about landscapes which have a foreground, middleground, and background. Students used the bottom of their paintbrush to sgraffito or scratch in a horizon line. The process reminded me of the scratch art I used ot do when I was little where you scratch through the black and see a rainbow. . . . and now I’m also thinking about Lisa Frank and wondering whatever happened to all of that neon outrageous awesomeness. . . anyways back to kids art:



The next week, students drew a tree outline on the white side of their paper making sure to use shapes instead of lines.

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Then they cut out the negative space and reassembled their tree on a black piece of paper.


They used white oil pastels to add visiual texture and contrast.


The result is a magnificent monochromatic tree that is just in time for that spooky October holiday which shall remain nameless (in order to be PC)

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2nd Grade’s Matisse

2nd graders learned all about the artist Matisse.

They used their imaginations to look at and describe The Sorrows of the King:

They noticed that Matisse drew with scissors instead of pencils or crayons and he included positive and negative space, and geometric and organic shapes in his artwork. Students had fun folding and cutting their paper and creating a collage with colorful scraps.


They used their imaginations to come up with an artist’s statement to go along with their artwork.





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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.

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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!


Gesture Prints

4th graders just completed a project that is one of my favorites so far. We began by talking about the artist Keith Haring and his gestural figurative artwork.

Haring is one of my ultimate favorite artists — I love the movement and energy of his work and wanted to bring that to the students with this project. We began by drawing each other doing silly and interesting poses. I wish I had pictures of this fun and wacky day but unfortunately I do not so I will just have to describe it to you. Imagine 30 4th graders drawing furiously as one of their classmates strikes a pose in the center of the room. Students contorted and positioned themselves in crazy ways; one student even held a backbend for almost a full minute! Students were initially apprehensive about drawing people but when we broke down body parts into shapes it became simple. WE also observed positive and negative space (the hole that your arm makes when you put your hand on your hip, the triangle your legs make) and this prompted even crazier poses.

Next, students carved their designs into a styrofoam “plate.” They added expressive lines and repetition to create balanced designs.

Students could make 2 prints with complimentary colors. This project was super fun and super messy. The students worked together to help one another and everyone was able to complete and create successful prints.


One Direction themed:

Here are some links to a couple of Keith Haring related videos we watched for inspiration:

Keith Haring Video

Keith Haring Video 2