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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

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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!



Mondrian and Kandinsky Are Back

Kindergarten and First Grade started off the year learning about Mondrian and Kandinsky. They were inspired to create bold artworks by painting, cutting and gluing, and mixing colors.

Kindergarten began by learning all about Mondrian. They used their imaginations to look at his artwork.  Students noticed that he mostly used the colors red, yellow, and blue and lots of straight lines.


We began by cutting lines out of black paper and gluing them down. Remember: a dot is a lot and a blob is a slob!


The next class we read Mouse Paint which is an EXCELLENT book for the little ones. Kinders were inspired to mix up their own colors! They used tempera cakes to carefully fill in the shapes they had made with lines. They were amazed that they could make colors by mixing up the primary colors.


These turned out great, they are so colorful and the kids had a great time exploring and discovering art materials and color mixing.

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First graders had a similar experience learning about Kandinsky.


They even listened to music as they painted great big lines and shapes onto paper.


The next week, we also read our old favorite Mouse Paint. Several students were excited to read this book again and remembered the story from last year. They were old pros as mixing colors and had a blast filling in their shapes and designs.


I love the vibrant colors and variety of designs in the finished pieces:

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What a great way to start the year! Here is the EQ/Standard/Sample board. 2nd graders are working on their Matisse Drawing with Scissors composition. 3rd graders will learn all about Gerogia O’keeffe and create a painting based on her artwork. 4th graders will be exposed to #FAFATL and create artwork inspired by Catlanta. 5th graders will learn how to make graffiti style lettering and design their name.


BONUS: On Monday morning, one of my most vivacious 2nd grade students brought me this picture which she had drawn:


It is a phenomononally detailed picture of me teaching art! She included my magic hat, rules, owl, and ART letters on the whiteboard! It was such a great gift and really brightened my day.  🙂


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:



Kinder Hats

This project was inspired by This Post over at the Lake Forest Louvre art blog. Kindergarteners had a blast creating their very own African Kufi hats. We began by reading the story “The Hatseller and the Monkeys” which is an African folktale very similar to the book “Caps for Sale.”


Students drew monkeys with hats in their sketchbooks, making sure to include colorful lines, shapes, and patterns.

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I have talked with my younger grades a lot this year about warm and cool colors and those are pretty easy to explain but I needed a good way to explain primary and secondary colors. So, I decided to use the metaphor of family. I asked kindergarteners if they knew that colors were in families and what the families were. I drew 2 houses on the whiteboard and explained that the families are next-door-neighbors, one is called Primary and one is called Secondary. Students worked together as a class to put each color in the correct house.


Then, they got a big piece of white paper, folded it in half hot-dog-style and drew a P on one side and an S on the other. Each table had a different color on it and the students pained their paper by matching the right color to the right house. We used the carousel method of painting which is explained here.



During one of these lessons, there was a tornado warning and the kids were so upset to have to leave their paintings! Luckily, we would finish them with crayons the next week.

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The last step was to staple the paper in a circle on the kid’s heads. They ended up looking like a mixture between Shriner’s caps and colorful KKK hats but the kids loved them anyway.


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All grades will be working on new projects next week as the last few loads of 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade clay is fired in the kiln.


Kindergarten: “Printmaking” Stamped King/Queen Self Portraits
1st Grade: “Printmaking” Stamped Cityscape
2nd Grade: Monoprint Japanese Gyotaku Fish Collage
3rd Grade: The Parthenon
4th Grade: Surrealism Perspective Room Collage
5th Grade: Painted Paper Memory Collage


Roller Coaster Hats

2nd Graders created sculptural roller coaster hats. We began by watching videos about roller coasters. This got the kids super pumped up and excited, they all wanted to share their experiences about riding roller coasters and some of them even put their arms up and pretended they were on a ride!

Inspired by videos, students added expressive lines to create a class crazy roller coaster on the white board.


Then, students drew their own roller coasters in their sketchbooks.


The next class, we created the base for the hats. This was a kind of complicated process and I learned that it was best to teach it step-by step. The basic instructions can be found here at the Crayon Lab Gallery Blog where I got the inspiration for this project. Students could chose either a primary or secondary color scheme.

The last class period was used to create the wild pop out lines of a roller coaster. We read the book “Roller Coaster” and students were inspired to make one of their very own.


Students cut their paper into strips and folded. . .


And bended. . .

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And twisted. . .


to create super cool sculptural roller coaster hats!

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Pattern Mittens

This post is dedicated to Eve, Jeremy, and C.A. — Thanks for the love! 

Kindergarteners made wonderful stupendous adorable mittens. We began by painting stripes on our paper using tints and shades of primary colors. Students were amazed at the color mixing magic and learned that white makes a color lighter and black makes a color darker.

The next time we met, we read the book The Mitten by Jan Brett.

The Mitten

This book has beautifully detailed illustrations and the kids love identifying the animals. After the story, we created patterns on our mittens using oil pastels.


Then, students cut out a mitten shape. We talked about when, where, and why people wear mittens and one student even called them “Christmas Gloves” which was ridiculously endearing.

After cutting the mittens out, it was time to glue them to construction paper and fill the background up with animals from the story, snowflakes, and snowmen. Students used cotton balls to create texture and make their mittens soft.

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This was an extremely successful project and a great introduction of texture (in preparation for our next unit which is clay!) Many teachers have commented on how cute they are an I am happy they get to go home with the kids just in time for the holidays.