Please Don't Eat the Artwork



Flowers and Portraits

I love kickin’ off the school year with 3rd graders by teaching about Georgia O’keeeffe and her flower paintings. It is such a great project to get them back in the swing of artistic habits and creative thinking. I have posted about this project before but I just couldn’t resist showing off this year’s batch of fantastic florals!


First graders are also finishing up on their tissue paper portraits (original post here) and they are amazing! Once again this project was awesome for teaching primary color mixing in a new way.

Way to go 1st and 3rd graders!


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Finger Print Flower Pots


This project was one of those that kind of morphs and changes as you teach it to each class. It was very much inspired by the little artists themselves!

We began by reading the book Mix It Up. I read it on the doc cam and invited students to come up to the board to “mix” the colors, press the spots, and push the pages. It was super interactive and fun!


Kinders were then given a piece of 9×12 paper and a palette with the primary colors. They folded the paper in half like a book and used their fingers to stamp patterns of prints on one of the sides. Then they did the same thing on the other side.


I went table to table with a spray bottle and gave each paper a quick spritz. Then the kiddos closed their “book” and pressed – just like from the story – and when they unfolded the paper they discovered that their primary colors mixed up!


These turned out so beautiful and the kids absolutely loved being able to use their fingers to paint! The next week, they began by cutting their symmetrical paper in half again and cutting it down the middle. They picked their favorite piece to draw a humongous letter “U” on the back. They cut it out to be the flower pot and glued it to another piece of paper.


Next, we talked about the lines and shapes that form a flower. They created 3 circles with straight or curved lines. They added small “U’s” for the petals and 2 horizontal lines for the horizon line.


The last step was to paint. For this project, kinders got to use water colors to fill in the shapes of their petals, circles, and the ground. I think these are so sweet and the process was great for young artists!




Tissue Paper Portraits

This project is inspired by this post from the Hudsonville Art Program blog!


When I saw the example of this lesson on Pinterest, I knew it would be a fun one for my kindergarteners. We began by mixing primary colors to create secondary colors with bleeding tissue paper. Students tore different shades of reds, yellows, and blues. They overlapped their tissue paper pieces to create orange, green and purple.


I created a mixture of glue water that they painted on top of the torn tissues. This will ensure that the papers stick to the white paper and don’t fall off. However, the paper also looks really beautiful if you let the tissue papers fall off but the colors aren’t as vibrant and the bleeding isn’t as apparent.


The mixture is one part glue and 2 parts water. I stirred it up several times throughout the day with a popsicle stick to make sure it was diluted. Kinders found out that bigger pieces of torn paper worked better and they were fascinated by overlapping to make new colors.


The papers came out so beautiful! The next time we met, we did a guided drawing of a self-portrait. Students were encouraged to add personal details and use their knowledge of lines and shapes to draw. They traced their drawing with a sharpie and cut and glued it to their colorful background. They could also add a pet or their name if there was time.


Plastic Bag Monoprints

When I came across This Blog Post I knew the process would be perfect for my 1st grade artists.


As a class, we talked about abstract art. Students looked at examples of artwork and noticed that although abstract art is not always a picture of something real, it usually has lots of lines, shapes, and colors.  We began with the primary colors + white of tempera paint.


First graders painted abstract designs onto a baggy and gently pressed it onto white paper.


When they peeled it off, voila! They were left with a magnificent monoprint of mixed up colors.


On the second day of this project, we cut out the prints and arranged them on construction paper. During our last project students absolutely LOVED using stamps and they were thrilled to get another chance here by adding details to their monoprints. The stamps were a big hit again!

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Winter Mittens

Kindergartners made mittens just in time for winter! We began with Carousel Painting using tints and shades of primary colors. Folding the paper into 6 stripes was kind of tricky but kinders made it work.

Am I turning into the elementary art class version of Tim Gunn? Possibly. Have I been watching a lot of Project Runway lately? Absolutely. Anyhow. . . carry on!

Day two was spent cutting out a mitten shape and using oil pastels to create patterns in the stripes.


Now before any haters decide to hate about the use of a TEMPLATE (HOW COULD YOU MS. K?!?!) I strongly urge those haters to get a group of 25 five year olds (with limited language abilities) to cut a mitten out that is both the correct shape and size. I never really understood why people have such issues about using template for little kids; it makes things a lot easier for them which in turn allows them to have ownership over their work and ultimately make them feel empowered as artists.

Why so serious? 

The next step was to glue down the mittens onto construction paper and add cotton balls as warm fuzzy texture. Q-tips dipped in white paint created snow and crayons were used to draw the animals from The Mitten. This folktale has beautiful illustrations and the kids loved identifying and describing all of the animals in the story.

The Mitten

The mittens look so cute! I love the amount of details the patterns and animals created. Great job kindergarteners!

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Tall Birds

I love how these turned out! I was inspired by This project on Artsonia and put a little twist on it. We learned all about tints and shades and students remembered each by clapping about their heads in a triangle (tint like tent) and making a circle above their heads for shade (like a shady tree). We began with carousel painting. This dark-yellow was aptly named “the booger color”


The next week, students created a background using liquid water colors and salt. They were amazed at the magic of the salt changing the colors.


Students also used oil pastels to create patterns on their tints and shades squares.


The next time we met, we began by gluing down a piece of yarn as the power line where the birds are standing.


Then, students displayed their knowledge of geometry by cutting out their squares and turning them into circles. They chose three for their birds and three to turn into half-circles for the wings. Corners of scraps were chopped off for triangle beaks.

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White and black oil pastels were used to create eyes and tall legs. These are so whimsical and the birds have quite a lot of personality.

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Complementary Flowers

Second Graders learned all about Complementary Colors to create flowers. I was inspired by this lesson over at Deep Space Sparkle. We began with a color mixing magic show and carousel painting. Students cut circles out of their painted paper for the middle of their flowers.

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They glued the circles onto big paper making sure to give each one “personal space.”

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Then, they used the scraps to make petals. We talked about how complementary colors live across the street from each other on the color wheel. Students noticed that “complementary” sounds a lot like “compliment” and we talked about what it means to give someone a compliment.

The next time we met, 2nd graders used tissue paper to add more petals.

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Some kids who finished early had the opportunity to decorate their flowers with construction paper crayons. Overall this project turned out beautiful and was extremely successful at teaching complementary colors. 🙂

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Primary Parfaits and Secondary Sundaes

Kinders enjoyed learning about primary and secondary colors to create Primary Parfaits and Secondary Sundaes. We began by reading Lines that Wiggle

lines that wiggle

We used crayons to create a background of lines and shapes. I have to give a big thank-you shoutout to Cassie Stevens Blog for the brilliant idea of having kids work on the floor. I know what you’re thinking “Why in the world would you make kids work on the floor especially when you have such lovely tables and anyway children are not barbarians?” The answer is quite simple: when kids work on the floor (especially kindergarteners) not only do they not care but it is so much easier to help them and have them pay attention. At first it was scary but it ended up being a great classroom management strategy!


The kinders used tan and grey paper to cut out a triangle cone and a half-circle bowl. The next class was spent doing some Color Mixing Magic and Carousel Painting. The next time we met, they cut circles out of their painted paper and glued the pirmary and secondary colors into the bowl and cone.


A mixture of brown paint and glue was used for the “chocolate syrup” and glitter became sprinkles (it also became a sparkly nuisance all over my classroom and even in my shoes. . . ? Glitter is ALWAYS worth the shimmery mess!)

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First Grade Dragons

First graders learned about primary colors, secondary colors, tints and shades to create beautiful painted paper dragons. This project was a big hit last year and this year’s batch of first graders did not disappoint!

We began by mixing primary colors to create secondary colors. We used paint scrapers from one of my favorite art suppliers ROYLCO to make our paper have texture.

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When the papers were dry, I cut them into squares and rectangles for the dragon’s body.


6×2 for the tail
6×4 for extra details
6×4 for feet
6×6 for the head
12×5 for the wings
12×5 for the body

Students cut their colorful painted paper into dragon body parts using their knowledge of lines and shapes.


They shared scraps to create a colorful dragon and even used crayons to add details like fire, castles, clouds, and rainbows!

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Next up for first grade is Dinosaurs! 🙂


Color Mixing Magic Show and Carousel Painting

Teaching is performing and this is one of my favorite “performances.” This lesson works well with k, 1 and 2 (kids past that can see right through the magic). I meet the kiddos at the door wearing my wizard hat:


They are SO EXCITED to come into the art room when they see this hat and I get comments that range from “Bruja!” to “Soooooo beautiful!” to “are you a magic person?” (To answer that last one – yes, yes I am.) Once they are all settled around the demo table, we begin our magic show. I have a tray of cups of water:


And I ask my students what I need to do magic. A hat! Magic spells! Potions! A wand! Food coloring is my magic potions:


My giant blue crayon is my magic wand:


Together we say the magic words “Abra-cadabra-please-and-thank-you!” (Because Please and Thank-You are magic words. They make grown-ups magically happy and more likely to do what you want!) We mix the primary colors together to create secondary colors. It is so magical the kids are amazed. The grand finale is mixing them all together to make brown. What a show! After the magic show, students participate in what I like to call Carousel Painting. I have described it a few times before but this year the process is smoother than ever and the results are stellar.

Students begin at their table and “magically” turn their 9×12 white drawing paper into a hot dog. Then they magically turn that hot dog into a square. The result is 6 squares which will be painted 6 different colors. Younger students have trouble with this so it helps to have a crayon handy to draw the lines for them.

Each table is set with a big place mat, paintbrushes, and a plate of paint. The colors of paint match the table color. Students are instructed to fill in ONE of their squares and do a quiet thumbs up signal when they are finished. When everyone at the table is finished, its time to move like a carousel to the next table. I direct them where to go “blue goes to green, green to purple, purple to orange, orange to yellow, yellow to red, red to blue. GO!” They walk slowly and carefully so they don’t have a traffic jam.


Students MUST carry their painting on top of a place mat (just like at Waffle House!) so the paint does not get on their hands or on the table. I give them about 3-4 minutes at each table to complete their square. The kids are really good about peer-tutoring and helping one another finish and stay on track. When the entire class has made it around to all of the tables, they bring their painting on the place mat over to the drying rack.


Then, the kids are given a wet wipe to clean their hands and table. It is usually a very noisy and active day in the art room but it is something everyone enjoys and the results are great!