Please Don't Eat the Artwork


Leave a comment

Space Invaders 2018

I LOVE space invaders! I have done a version of this project every year since I was a student teacher (7 years ago – wow!) and this is the best batch yet! Check out the ones from last year and the mosaic version from several years ago.

❤ Mrs. K

1 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 🙂


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


Graffiti Cityscapes

009 (2)

The inspiration for this project came from Mrs. Kim at Art in the Big Green Room! We began by looking at pictures of cityscapes and skylines on iPads.


Students sketched their designs and transferred them to the top half of a 12×18 paper. They could use inspiration from real cities or make up their own.

001 (2)

They traced their design with sharpie and used tissue paper and water to add colors. I love this method of “painting!” Originally they were going to paint with tints and shades of tempera but they were so intent on detailed cityscapes that a Plan B needed to be devised so their lovely details did not become muddled messes.

003 (2)

Whilst digging through my Mary-Poppin’s-Bag-Like supply cabinets, I found some practically never before used metallic colored pencils. And who doesn’t like a bit o’ sparkle?! Students who finished their tissue paper early could use the colored pencils for more details.

003 (3)

Next, we talked about graffiti. I have done a graffiti project with 5th graders for the past couple of years and this was a great update to that project! Students wrote their name or a school appropriate word in graffiti style typography. They traced it with sharpie and used liquid water colors to add color. They cut out their words to be glued to the “wall”

002 (3)

The brick wall was created by printmaking**. Students carved a brick pattern into styrofoam and used brayers and paint to print the wall. They rolled brick colored tempera paint and printed their bricks 4 times onto the big paper.


Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!

I think these turned out phenomenally, I am really proud of the stamina and perseverance 5th graders showed during this project. (Jeez, I make it sound like they went through some harrowing event, its only elementary art!) But this was actually pretty challenging and rigorous what with all of the different concepts and mediums. I think next year I might step it up even more and throw in some color scheme restrictions to hit a few more standards. As one of my very vocal kindergarteners said the other day, Check this out, dude! 

010 (2) 011 (2) 012 013 014 015 016 017 018 019 020 (2) 021 022 023 008





**Now, I really, really, really, REALLY hate printmaking (maybe even more than weaving!) I think it is irrelevant in an age where you can press a button and literally print infinite amounts of images (at least until the CMYK runs out.) I think that the dazzling magic of creating multiple images is lost on younger generations. I believe that there are better artforms that will engage and inspire my students. Also, I just don’t really like it that much, it takes waaaay too much time.

This year I am challenging myself to get out of the box of “multiple prints of whatever blah blah” projects and come up with more interesting ideas for printmaking that do not necessarily just showcase printmaking but rather incorporate it into a mixed media type of project. So this is the first solution I came up with on How To Not Take 8 Weeks To Complete A Printmaking Project. The next one is an amazing 4th grade project that is currently in the works! So stay tuned 🙂


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!


Grafitti Names

This project was a big hit once again! 5th graders learned about street artist Scape Martinez and used graffitti style writing to create their own artwork.

The kids loved looking and talking abotu street art. I think this artform is important for them to learn about because it is so contemporary and a huge influence on the art and design world. Street art is playing a major part in self-expression around the world and can be considered to be this generation’s form of pop-art.

Swarm by Today is a good day, via Flickr

They began by sketching out their ideas remembering to add “graffitti style” details like expressive lines, arrows, bubbles, and tangled letters.


They chose their favorite design and drew it on their big paper. 5th graders used sharpies to trace over their funky letters. They used liquid water colors to paint their artwork using intermediate colors.


These came out so great and make the 5th grade hallway look just like Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta!

Awesome artwork:

017 018 020 021

029 (2) 030 027

023 025 026 027 (2) 028 (3) 029 (3)

The NEW ASSESSMENT SYSTEM is working out really well. I respond to every student who leaves me a comment:


5th Graders are excited to begin working on their tessellation artwork next. Here is a preview of whats to come:


k: Chika Chika Boom Boom
1: Cool Dinosaurs in Hot Places
2: Complementary Flowers
3: Puzzle Trees
4: Spacescapes
5: Tessellations


Leave a comment

Catlanta and #FAFATL

Fourth greaders learned all about Catlanta and #FAFATL for their first art project this year. Catlanta is an Atlanta based artist who creates cats out of wood. The artist places them all around the city in different locations and takes a picture with a clue. Catlanta will give hints using social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Then, followers can go and search for the cat and keep it. Its an art scavenger hunt!

images (2)

Other artists around Atlanta have caught on and the movement is now called Free Art Friday ATLanta or #FAFATL.

We began by sketching out ideas for cats. Students had the option to create another animal if they do not like cats or if they are super good at drawing something else. We had colorful catlantas, turtlelantas, buglantas, and all sorts of cool animals!


Students traced their designs with Sharpies and used Intermediate Colors of liquid water colors to fill in their animalantas.


They cut out their creations when they were done to make cool art objects that can be hidden around town for #FAFATL.

006 004 005

Turtlelanta and Ladybuglanta:


Butterflylanta and Bunnylanta:


Giraffelanta, Owlanta, and Sharklantas:

006 (2)

Spiderlanta, Birdlanta, Fishlantas:

005 (2)

Fourth Graders are excited to begin working on solar system landscapes next!


Art in Israel

This summer I had the opportunity to travel to Israel for 10 days with a program called Birthright. It was a whirlwind adventure of hiking, food, friends, sunshine, desert, bus rides, history, and culture. In short — it was incredible.


Israel is a country full of natural and man-made beauty and I was so excited to see so much art everywhere — especially public art all over mostly in the form of monuments or commemorations.



The architecture is beautiful; especially in Jerusalem where all of the building are made out of limestone.

IMG_20130621_022707 110



The columns, arches, and aqueducts are Roman inspired. Walking through Jerusalem felt like traveling back in time a couple of millenia. The stone streets were smooth weathered with hundreds and hundreds of years of wandering feet.


Check out this awesome mosaic:


We went to the room where The Last Supper (supposedly) took place:


The mystical city of Tzfat is famous for artists and musicians. There were plenty of both selling art or playing music in the streets.


A harpist playing the harp under a statue of a harpist playing a harp:



This is a beautiful and intricately carved wooden ark where the Torah is kept. This was in an old Synagogue that was also filled with beautiful stained glass windows.


A stained glass window with the “tree of life” symbol:



tzedakah or charity box outside the synagogue:


The amazing waxworks in a small candle shop (made by weaving wax — WOW!) :


We got to meet and talk to one artist named Avraham. He was so inspiring and creative! Here he is in his studio shop:


Beautiful contemporary Kabbalistic art:


If you know me in real life, you know that I absolutely love street art. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem had some really cool tags and graffiti.




IMG_20130627_070717 IMG_20130627_092741



One very special art related moment occurred at the top of Mount Herzl (the military cemetery). A woman had an easel set up and she was painting a gorgeous landscape with oil paints. It was such a beautiful moment for an artist on top of a mountain in the sun.



Israel is full of vibrant art. From street art to monuments, from paintings to architecture there is creativity throughout the country.And the beauty doesn’t stop at man-made — there is plenty of artistic and natural beauty.




The Dead Sea:

IMG_20130624_072722 IMG_20130624_095000


The desert:

IMG_20130625_093413 121 140


IMG_20130623_121359 IMG_20130625_054841



And of course the marketplace!:
106 104 103

I enjoyed every minute of my time in Israel and I cannot wait to go back and continue to explore such a vividly beautiful country. I am excited to use my experience as inspiration for my own art and to inform my teaching through understanding of other cultures. 🙂





Space Invaders

3rd graders learned about mosaics, street art, grids, complementary colors, and pixels for our Space Invader project. I got this idea from Artsonia when I was student teaching and have since lost the exact link. (If you know the origins of this lesson, please share!)

We began by watching this video:

We talked about pixels and video games and students came to the conclusion that the person who made this video probably thinks that video games are destroying the world. New art forms met old when we compared artwork by street artist Invader to images of some old school mosaics. Students made a real-world connection when they noticed that both artworks reminded them of Mine Craft which is a super popular computer game.

We began by creating a grid using some prior knowledge of math and measuring. This was a pretty tricky process and required a lot of step-by-step instructions, differentiation, and peer cooperation. Students measured out inches on their 9×12 paper on all 4 sides and used the ruler to create straight lines. I had some students write the number next to each inch mark so they could match it up when they drew the lines.



The next step was to create a Space Invader design. Students used markers to outline their creatures and chose their complementary colors. With all of the squares, it could get kind of visually jumbled up so some students decided to write letters in the squares to show where they were going to glue what color.

I pre-cut construction paper into 1×1 inch squares and students could take what they needed from the trays and fill up little recycled yogurt cups.



These came out AWESOME!!! Most of the kids really loved this project and you could hear a pin drop when they measured out their lines. They used team work to help each other be successful and shared ideas and tips on construction and production.



004 (2)

006 (3)

003 (2)

005 (3)

006 (2)


005 (2)





013 012 011 017 016 015 014


001 (2)


041 (2)

That last picture is an image of the self-assessment rubric. I thought it would be interesting to see what grade the kiddos would give themselves and whether or not my opinion matches. (Please excuse the “Scale” that does not make any sense, I used the rubric from another lesson.)

Here is the awesome display hanging outside of the front office suite. I decided to add some key words and vocabulary to spruce it up.


When I did this lesson as a student teacher it was during the first 8 weeks of school and it was completely crazy. I am glad it went so well at the end of the year. Only one project remains to be completed for most of the grades. Next up for 3rd graders is weaving with yarn. 🙂


5th Grade Graffiti Names

Most art teachers are terrified of teaching graffiti. This is understandable considering the implications of a child going out into the world and actually doing graffiti. It is illegal and vandalism. And most art teachers do not want the blame for when that child becomes a hooligan. I have a true love for street art and believe that in 2012, it is not only a form of contemporary art but a social movement that will be part of history. That being said, when I teach street art, I very dramatically stress the fact that IT IS ILLEGAL TO TAG ANYTHING THAT DOES NOT BELONG TO YOU AND YOU WILL GET ARRESTED AND GO TO JAIL!!!!!!! I make this very clear to students. When we look at pictures of street art (we looked at tags and work by Banksy for this lesson) there are always a couple students who ask “did those artists go to jail?” and I slyly answer, “No, because they got permission of course.” This is obviously not true — the very nature of street art is one of anarchy and belligerence. But I am not teaching kids to be belligerent anti-society vandals; I am teaching them about modern pop art and how they can use the style to express themselves.

We talked about the style of graffiti letters, how they are not always easy to read (it was fun to try and untangle some of the tags I showed them as a class) how artists use embellishments like arrows and curvy wavy lines. We started off by drawing the letters regular. Then we turned them into bubble letters. Last was the fun part of adding graffiti details. Students had to use a variety of patterns and shapes to fill the space and I reminded students to make their compositions balanced.

Some students struggled with what to add but when I asked them what kinds of things they like to do, they were quick to add basketballs, pencils, flowers, headphones, and even magnets (from a kids who loves science). We painted using INTERMEDIATE COLORS of liquid watercolors. Students had to paint with contrasting colors. I urged the students to experiment with mixing colors and blending or splattering the paint. This was an overall successful project that the kids really connected with.