Please Don't Eat the Artwork


Leave a comment

Second Grade Sundials

A few weeks ago I read in my school’s weekly blast that second grade was learning about sundials and that they would be creating their own sundials. I was immediately inspired to collaborate with the grade 2 team to create a cross-curricular clay sundial. This project was easy-peasy. On day one, we talked about the science behind sundials. When I showed students the example, they asked why aren’t there numbers on it. During my research prepping for this, I discovered that to make a sundial that actually works, you have to go outside and measure the sun every hour. I explained to my second graders that since art is only 45 minutes long, we would be doing texture instead of numbers.

So on the first day, students got a slab of clay and a circle template. They cut out a circle and smoothed the edges. Then they used a bunch of different texture stamp thingies to create texture on their slab.


Before the discs went into the kiln, I poked a hole in the center with a straw. Here they are after being bisqued:


Students got to choose what color straw they wanted and I hot glued it into the center.


These were finished by coloring on the surface with crayons and then painting over the crayon with tempera paint. This created a neat resist effect.

It was so fun to collaborate and create something that encompasses science and art. I love doing these kinds of projects because they really strengthen overall learning.

Great job second graders!

‚̧ Mrs. K


Leave a comment

Space Invaders 2017

I have been doing Space Invaders with grade 3 since I student taught 5 years ago. every year, this project is a huge hit. I love the math connection and the amount of problem solving that goes into each student’s design. It is always really interesting to watch them struggle through the beginning of this project and eventually create something that they are proud of and worked really hard on.


The first day, we discuss pixel art, video games, and street art by Invader. This is always a really interesting conversation that involves questions about legality and what actually is art. Unsurprisingly, 3rd graders have very strong opinions about these topics and the debates have gotten quite lively! After finding inspiration looking at artwork, we do s step-by-step of creating a grid made of 1-inch squares. Every year, there is at least one smart-alec who asks “but Ms. Katzin why can’t you just give us a piece of paper that is already a grid?!” To which I reply “measuring is one of those skills that you learn in school that you will actually need when you grow up. You need to know how to measure!” And with that, the challenge of gridding off the paper begins.

After creating a grid, students design their space invader. It is easiest to have them think about what kinds of squares and rectangles they are able to fit into the area they have created. This can be tricky but eventually everyone gets and outline. In the past, I laboriously cut 1-inch squares from construction paper. NOT THIS YEAR. Using the cut paper squares is often difficult for students who may not have created an accurate grid. Often it was messy to glue each square down and incredibly time consuming or wasteful. So this year I decided that we would use markers. I did a quick demo of coloring with markers (make sure you color like your are mowing the lawn, if you mowed the lawn like this your neighbors would be like “what is wrong with you?!” so color in straight lines like a normal neighbor person) This always got a lot of laughs ūüôā


This is a great project to start right before testing so students can practice their measuring skills and finding area and perimeter. It was perfect timing for during testing too because coloring after taking a test for hours and hours is very relaxing and meditative.

For more info and resources for this project, visit¬†Art With Mrs. Nguyen’s TpT Store.

‚̧ Ms. K

Leave a comment

Starburst Designs

The idea from this lesson came from¬†Mrs. Knight’s Smartest Artists¬†and from¬†


I really love this project because it was pretty open-ended and provided a great opportunity for students to get their doodlin’ on. I have always loved to doodle and find that not only is it a meditative and relaxing process, it can also improve comprehension and creativity. Check out this fab TED Talk about doodling!

We began with a very tedious day of drawing line segments, points, and angles. When I used those terms there was almost a riot in the art room — “WHAT MS KATZIN? WE HAVE TO DO MATH TODAY!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!!”

Muahahaha — little did they know it would lead to a beautiful design!

You start with a horizontal line anywhere between 3 and 5 inches. Label the line segment with “A” and “B”


Next, draw a dot in the top middle.


Connect the dot to A. . .


And then to B. Then draw another dot.


Then connect that dot to A and B.


After the first couple of dots, there were some students who caught on really quickly. I had those students fill up the rest of their paper on their own. They needed 5-6 dots on the top and bottom of their AB segment. They had to make sure their design was balanced and filled up the space. For the kids who needed a more step by step approach, we went dot by dot together.


Next, 4th graders got to use colorful permanent markets to trace over their lines. Because our last project was so restrictive with colors, I let students have free choice of the colors they used for their starburst design – the only criteria was to show contrast.

The last couple of days were spent filling in the shapes with patterns and doodly designs. Students used sharpies and colored pencils to fill up their starbursts. Then, they cut them out and glued to colorful construction paper.

This was a really neat project. It was one of those projects that empowers young artists because it had such a high success rate and was so visually pleasing. Great job 4th graders!

‚̧ Ms. K



Leave a comment

Op art Germs

This year my school has taken on the initiative of Project Based Learning. This exciting way to learn basically uses the same skills I teach in my classroom in conjunction with common core curriculum so that students create projects to showcase their learning in their home rooms. It is really cool to see them making stuff and presenting it! 5th graders learned all about germs and microbacteria in their PBL unit and I thought it would make a cool tie in for an art project.

001 002

On the first day, I showed students a PowerPoint about Op Art that pretty much blew their minds. They had to much fun trying to decipher the visual puzzles and figuring out why each artwork is an illusion. Students then sketched from step-by-step guides different op art designs.

006 004

The next day we met, 5th graders drew their favorite sketch onto final draft paper and used sharpie to trace the lines. They then mixed tempera paint to create analogous colors that they used to paint their spaces.

005 009

The last day was spent drawing a germ, bacteria, virus, or fungus they had learned about in class and giving it a face or personality. They used water colors to paint their germ with the middle color from their analogous color scheme and glued it to the op art background.

007 008 003

I think these turned out really great and love that there was a connection to homeroom classroom learning!


Leave a comment

Updated Owls

My kindergarten owl lesson really needed an update for this year! I decided to tie in some science connections talking about the night sky and leaves. We began by drawing an own using shapes. Kinders traced their drawing with sharpie and painted the shapes with water colors. The second week, we created the branch by twisting up brown butcher paper. Green leaves were added using construction paper and sharpies. Last, students used white oil pastels to add a moon and stars.

001 002 003 004 005 006 007 008 009 010

I realized that I tend to gear more towards mixed media projects that use a lot of different types of materials. I think it is important for students – especially at the elementary age – to be fluent in art mediums so that they can expand and grow as they take more art classes. As always I am so impressed with the work the students created! ūüôā



1st Grade Dinos (PBL Connection)

I have done many versions of this project over the past few years and the one things that remains the same is how amazing these always turn out. First graders created awesome cool/warm dinosaur landscapes once again this year!



I changed it up a bit again this year to incorporate weather. First grade students are currently participating in a Project Based Learning unit all about weather. I figured the dino landscapes would be a great place to tie in their classroom learning. They brainstormed many different forms of weather and created a cool dinosaur in a hot place or a hot dinosaur in a cool place. Some students need some more practice with sorting warm and cool colors but this is a great start!

Snowy dinosaurs:


012022 014

Stormy dinosaurs:

024 017 023 011

Sunny dinosaurs:

010 018 019


Tornado dinosaur:





Analogous Cityscapes

5th graders are well into this project and I decided to change things up a bit from last year. Instead of using tissue paper to add color to the cityscapes, students were allowed to use a variety of art media. I wanted to make it a little more open ended/constructivist  and let them choose their method of creation so they could pick from colored pencils, crayons, water colors, and markers. They mixed colors and media to create an analogous colored city. I am so impressed with their creativity and hard work! The best part about this project is that it is only half way done because it is so involved and inclusive of themes, techniques, and media. However the city scape portion could be a finished product on its own.


036 034 030 035 029 028 027 031 033 004 032 002 006 005

The next step will be the graffiti word and a printed brick wall to stay tuned ūüôā




Collaborative Community Sculptures


Thank you to my art teacher friend Noelle for the inspiration for this project!

I am all about some collaboration this year! I think projects with collaborative group work really help to build character development and teach real-world communication skills. Anyway, for this project we started off using Google Earth on ipads to research buildings in our community or places that are interesting.


Students were allowed to choose their own groups and they got together to decide which buildings to create and who would do what. They were pretty much welcome to use anything they wanted in the art room (within reason) to make their communities but they had to have a road to connect everything and at least some elements that were 3D. They used foam, pipe cleaners, wire, phone books, maps, cardboard, scraps, paint, markers, poster board, tape, and any other odds and ends they wanted.


^ Check out that White House! ^


008 007


^ A Soccer Field ^


^ The Statue of Liberty ^


003 (2) 004 001 (2) 002

^ This student loves outer space and built NASA with a rocket launching! ^



^ The Magic School bus ^



^ This student made a house for each member of her group ūüėÄ ^


016 011 014 018

^ Pipe Cleaner Tree ^



^ The foil building in the top right is a Starbucks ^



This project spanned several weeks. The last day was used for a walk-around critique. Students were responsible for completing a critique sheet about their own work as well as their classmate’s.


002 (3) 007 (2) 006 (2) 001 (3)

The “Glow” is something the group did well and the “Grow” is something they can improve for next time. I love when kids write stuff, it is hilarious! (And good practice for testing and life in general)



Aerial View Maps


This project was inspired by¬†This gem over at Mrs. Knight’s Smartest Artists. Students began by reaseraching interesting and meaningful places using¬†Google Earth on iPads.


They were fascinated to walk down the street in a big city, see where they used to live in another country, or visit world famous land marks. When they ultimately decided on a place, they sketched an aerial view of it. After transferring their sketch to a piece of art paper, students used tempera cakes to add color. They could choose any 2, 3, or 4 colors + black and white.¬†But WHY Ms. K?!? Because I’m the queen of art, thats why. Also, sometimes you have to make tough choices in life and/or I don’t want them all to have a “green grass” background.¬†

017 (2)


For the few 5th graders who weren’t suffering from #yoloitis #senioritis #toocoolforschool this was a really successful project. Many of my students come from different parts of the country or world and are expected to adapt and acclimate to American/English/Georgia culture with absolutely no regard for their own personal background. The opportunity to not only look at and explore but¬†reflect¬† on “home” was a very special experience for many of the kiddos. And even the ones who depicted their own neighborhood or the mall down the street had a great time exploring the lay of the land of their community. 5th graders wrote an opinion piece as their artist statement describing or explaining why the place they chose is so awesome.


025 023


027 (2)

028 (2)


022 056






027 029 (2) 030 (2) 038 037


035 033


030 039 (2) 039


040 (2)


041 042 (2)


042 043


045 048 049 050 051 052


053 054







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!