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Collab Crayons

This Cassie Stephens – inspired project was a huge hit with 4th graders. As a matter of fact, even students from other grades were also fascinated by the examples that hung on my sample board!


We began this project by reading a really funny book called The Day the Crayons Quit. There is also a sequel which we read if there was enough time.



Then, students got into groups of up to 4 people to trace their crayon templates. They used white colored pencils on black construction paper. We talked about how to carefully draw the lines so that the crayons overlap to show depth. Students also got to look at actual crayons to add the details of the wrappers.

I think a lot of the students were shocked to find how difficult it was to work together even with their very best friends. They really had to communicate and cooperate to get the job done! The next week, we talked about how value can show form. Students used oil pastels to color their crayons making sure to add a highlight with white. This was another tricky step because they had to discuss their color choices and compromise with each other to create the composition.

Of course the groups that worked together the best had the most successful works of art in the end. Overall this was a very engaging and challenging project for 4th graders. They did a great job!


One group that finished early even had the chance to play around with photo editing with iPads. They used filters and effects to change their work and it was super cool!







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Value Landscapes a.k.a. Trees in a Vortex

Have you ever picked out a project on Pinterest and thought, wow – this is gonna be AWESOME! only to have it completely and utterly flop?! That is kind of how this project went down.


I wanted my 5th graders to have something else to choose for the art show if they wanted to besides their Psychedelic Succulent Still Life Paintings. I saw something similar to this on Pinterest which lead me to Mrs. Landry’s Website where I got the real idea. I figured that the prescriptive nature of the project would be great for my 5th graders.


We began by talking about value and completing the Value Worksheet where students played with mixing tints and shades. The second week, 5th graders created a background by going from lightest to darkest in a series of circles.


The third week, students used fancy edging scissors to create a hilly horizon line. Then they used black paper to create tree silhouettes. They could use geometric or organic shapes. They used black colored pencil for the shadows and white colored pencil for the highlights.

I think the main issue I had with these is that they turned out super rushed. The ones pictured above are the closest to being done out of all of y groups of 5th graders. Many students did not have enough time to show depth through size and proportion, and to show highlights and shadows. If I was to teach this to something like this again, I would try and take more time and use paint instead of construction paper to make the trees. The turnaround had to be really quick though because we have our art show coming up!




Icecream Value Scales

Thank you Mini Matisse for this great lesson idea! 


We began this lesson talking about value, tints and shades. Every time someone says “tint” students clap their hands over their heat to make a Tint Tent. Every time someone mentions “shade” we make a circle over our heads to represent a shady tree. This movement incorporation is a great way for students to remember vocabulary! On the first day, we created a value scale with the popsicles from this post and students completed a value worksheet (found HERE)by mixing colors. The second day, students folded paper into 6 equal sections and created tints and shades of a chosen color. They used a fork to scratch in texture.

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During our next meeting, students cut apart their squares and created an ice cream scoop shape that kind of looked like Pac-Man ghosts. They put their “scoops” in order from lightest to darkest.

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Students picked their construction paper background and used crayons to create a pattern of lines and shapes.


Check out these sweet works of art!

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Value Weaving Self Portraits

What do you so when you are scrambling for an end for an end of the year project that will keep 5th graders engaged and hit some overlooked standards? You make something up and keep your fingers crossed that it isn’t a fiasco. This lesson was anything but a fiasco and one that will surely be in my bag o’ classic awesome lessons for years to come.


I needed something that would continue to incorporate craft techniques, touch upon value/tint/shade, and provide a way to show emphasis and contrast. I wanted to utilize skills we have learned already so that during testing and in the weeks after I wouldn’t be pushing tired minds too far but still present an interesting project. On the first day we talked about value and 5th graders painted a value scale.


The next way was all about weaving. Students used the fancy scissors to cut a warp and colorful construction paper for a weft. We briefly discussed color schemes and students could choose any color they wanted but were encouraged to think about their choice and perhaps even make it complementary or monochromatic.

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The next day was a sketching day. We talked about emojis and students used mirrors to draw self portraits with an emoji twist. They picked their favorite to make into a final draft and traced it with sharpie. Then they added a thought or speech bubble.


These turned out so fabulous, I am very impressed with all of them! I love how graphic and bold these portraits are. This was the perfect project to end the school year and to end elementary art with.

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I am really going to miss this year’s 5th grade class. I have known many of them since 3rd grade and it has been a joy to watch them grow into the thoughtful and amazing people they are. Overall this has been a spectacular year and I cannot believe that in a few hours I will be done with my 3rd year of teaching. I like to look back at my posts from my first year sometimes because it reminds me what a dream come true this job truly is for me. I started this year feeling a little burned out and kind of deflated but I feel like I am ending on a strong, positive note. I will be posting during the summer but for all of my kiddos who are reading — I hope you have a great summer and I will see you next year!

❤ Ms. K


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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Solar System Spacescapes

4th graders are learning all about outer space in science. I was so excited to tie thie project in with their curriculum especially becasue it involves planets and stars. I love outer space!

We began by learning all about our solar system through BrainPop. Students were astounded to learn how big Jupiter’s red spot is and that Pluto isn’t considered to be a planet anymore. We created our background on the first day. Students began with analogous colors of chalk pastel.


They scribbled colors to make grass in layers:


As they created the ground, I walked around with a “Star Machine”


The “Star Machine” is a mixture of white tempera paint and water in a spray bottle. When sprayed from a couple feet away very lightly, it makes the sky look like it is filled with stars.


Kids traced circular objects on a seperate piece of black paper which we used the next week for planets.


We talked about light sources and how the sun shines on one side of a planet to make it lighter and the other side is dark. Students used white and black oil pastels to create tints and shades which made their planets look like they had form. They were amazed at the values they could make by experimenting with colors. The last step was to cut out the planets and glue them down to the background. Students could overlap and add rings and even aliens on the ground!





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4th grade art is out of this world! 🙂


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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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.



Secondary Fall Trees

It’s the first day back from Thanksgiving break and *sigh* it sure was tough to wake up so early this morning! But I was excited to come back to school and wrap up some projects. This week many grades will be finishing their projects including 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders prints. 2nd graders are patiently waiting for their islands to bake in the kiln and kinders are working on adorable winter mittens.

1st graders finished their Fall Trees. This was a fun lesson that hit a lot of standards and turned out pretty cool. This lesson was inspired by a blog post ( from Mrs. Knight’s Smartest Artists (a really awesome blog with tons of excellent project ideas!)

We began by talking about the artists this project was inspired by: Eloise Renouf. She is British which the kids found to be quite interesting. We looked at her artwork and applied some Visual Thinking Strategies ( to talk about what we saw. We notices EXPRESSIVE LINES and ORGANIC SHAPES and the 1st graders worked in their sketchbooks to create their own.

Next, we talked about SECONDARY COLORS and TINT AND SHADE. Using the ’round-robin’ method of painting, we painted 6 squares. The kids were completely amazed during the color mixing demo and eagerly instructed me on how to make more of a color when it ran out “Add white to orange, Ms. K!” They were also super proud to share with me their knowledge of fractions when we folded the paper into 6 equal squares. (The first grade teachers should be proud!)

The last part of the project was to cut out the squares into organic shapes and use expressive lines to create trees. Students were given a choice of a neutral colored background and used oil pastels for their lines.


Cubism Still Lives

4th Graders learned about CUBISM and PABLO PICASSO. We talked about GEOMETRIC SHAPES and COMPLEMENTARY COLORS. Using these concepts, 4th graders completed still life artwork.

We started by talking about CONTOUR LINES and how to draw what you see. Many students were initially intimidated about drawing objects from life but when we broke things down into shapes, it helped to simplify the process. Each table chose a tray filled with interesting objects like flowers, cups, toys, shells, bells, and blocks.

Students were given the option to draw whatever they wanted that they saw, as long as they filled up their paper. I felt it was important to have some freedom in this project because I have always loathed technical life drawing and wanted to provide more choices. Some students chose to draw all of the objects and some decided on a couple that they really liked.

Students drew in their sketchbooks and then transferred their designs onto white drawing paper. From there, they used rulers to ‘fracture’ the picture and sharpies to outline their shapes.

Then it was time to color. I told students they were only allowed to use 2 colors and after the outrage explained that they could also use black and white. We talked about how this would give them at least 6 colors and possibly even more.  Students learned how to blend colors of oil pastels together to create VALUE and TINT AND SHADE. This was a fun and messy process!

The idea for this project was adapted from a project found in the county database. I also used inspiration from a project I did several years ago  with still life, fracturing, and oil pastels.

I am excited to finally be finished with this and move on to printmaking!