Please Don't Eat the Artwork



Cool Dinosaurs in Hot Places (Take 2)

Last year’s version of this project was successful in teaching warm/cool colors but I thought the product looked kind of cheap. I am a big fan of layers and mixed media so projects that only feature one kind of medium tend to leave me feeling rather nonplussed. The more the merrier when it comes to art materials, especially with young kids who thrive when exploring tactile methods of creating.

SOoooo this year I wanted to change it up a bit. We still made dinosaurs (because DUH dinosaurs are awesome) but I wanted to expose my 1st graders to some more variety of art materials. We began this project by sketching. Students looked at toy dinosaurs (from teh dollar section at Target) and noticed that it is easy to draw something realistic if you break it down into simple shapes.010

Next time we met, we began by talking about warm and cool colors. We brainstormed things that are hot that are warm colors and things that are cold that are cool colors. Ideas mentioned included: ice cream, ice, water, the beach, grass, trees, a volcano,  wind, fire, ovens, the sun, springtime, hot potatoes (?) and snow.


Students chose a color scheme and used oil pastels to draw their design onto big paper. They included details like weather, a horizon line, and patterns. This project was a great STEM connection as the first graders are currently learning all about weather patterns and characteristics in science. The next step was to paint over the drawings with water color. They turned out fantastic!

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Gyotaku Fish

To meet the standard for printmaking, 2nd graders created beautiful fish collages. They looked at traditional Japanese artwork called “Gyotaku” which means “fish-rubbing” and were inspired to create their own colorful underwater artwork. We watched videos of  Gyotaku Printing and used watercolor paints and salt to create a bubbly background.

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The next week was insanely messy and by the end of class the art room looked like it was underwater with all of the blue paint everywhere. Students used a variety of circular objects to create “bubbles” on their backgrounds.

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“Dip and stamp. . .dip and stamp. . . dip and stamp. . . ”

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Meanwhile, a few kiddos at a time worked on their Gyotaku prints at the counter. They carefully painted a rubber fish with tempera paint and gently rubbed a piece of newsprint to make a print.

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The last step of the process was to cut out the fish, some coral/seaweed, and a jellyfish to complete a cool collage.

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We used scrap strips of paper from our roller coaster hats to cut out shapes for plants and whatever else the students could imagine!

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This project made quite a splash, I’m sure you can sea! 🙂

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One Day Lessons

Due to field trips, holidays, assemblies, and all kinds of other occurances, some classes end up being behind. I like to keep each class as close to on track as I can so scheduling projects doesn’t become a logistical nightmare. Therefore, I have come up with a few one day lessons that are appropriate and can be adapted for k, 1st, and 2nd graders. I use these lessons for classes that are a little ahead of the others or if we are waiting for our ceramics to be fired in the kiln.


This lesson begins with storytime. We read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom which the kids pretty much know by heart.

After the story, students use oil pastels to write the alphabet one letter at a time on their paper. We talk about what words start with the letters and the difference between capital and lowercase letters. Then we use water color paints to paint a coconut tree.

If there is enough time at the end, we watch the song video and then it gets stuck in my head for a week.


Students look at hearts painted by one of my all-time favorite artists Peter Max. We talk about warm and cool colors, positive and negative space,  and symmetry.

We look around the room to find other things that are symmetrical like human bodies, cabinets, windows, etc. First, we begin by folding a paper in half “hamburger style” then we cut out a “fancy letter C” to make a heart. They set their “positive space” heart off to the side and use their “negative space” heart as a template. With oil pastels, students color on a white piece of paper. When they pull of their “negative space” heart, a perfect heart is left behind!

Kinders were given the option to use any color but 2nd graders had to chose if they wanted their heart to be warm or cool and do the opposite in the background. Students used watercolor paints to fill up their papers with color.

^Kindergarten Example ^

^ Kindergarten Example ^

^ 2nd Grade Example ^

^ 2nd Grade Example ^


1st Grade Cool Dinosaurs in Hot Places

1st Graders have been working on Dinosaurs! We began by looking at landscapes and talking about HORIZON LINE (where the sky and ground meet). We looked a dinosaur books from the media center and plastic toy dinosaurs to see what kinds of shapes we can use to draw a dinosaur. 1st graders drew their designs in their sketchbooks that included a pattern, at least 2 plants, and they had to decide if it was night or day. (Next time around I will include precipitation to align with their science unit).


Next, we talked about WARM AND COOL COLORS and students had the option of coloring their dinosaur with either color scheme. The kids had fun with this project and really enjoyed making up stories about their dinos. One student even burst into song with a great rendition to “Walk the Dinosaur” (refer to this video:





With a bird and artist on its back while cooking an egg:



With a backwards cap:



An “AAB” pattern:



With a DJ, a microphone, some rappers, and a cake:







2nd Grade Fall Leaves

2nd Graders are finishing up their fall leaves artworks. We began by reading the book “Leaf Man” by Lois Elhert.

This book has beautiful collage illustrations that are all made from leaves. We talked about what happens to leaves when the seasons change and what fall leaves look like. Then, students drew different leaves in their sketchbooks. They looked at real leaves for inspiration as well as the book “Autumn Leaves” by Ken Robbins. (The media center at my school had several copies of it which certainly came in handy.)

Students were instructed to draw big and include details like stems and veins. We talked about parts of a leaf and how human beings also have veins which bring them air just like in leaves. (A great cross-curricular connection!)

Then, the kids transfered their designs to black paper and went over their lines with glue. It was important to draw big so the glue lines did not turn into a blob.

The next time we met, we talked about the colors fall leaves change and identified them as WARM COLORS. Using oil pastels, students colored in their leaves with warm colors and colored the background with COOL COLORS.

The artwork came out quite beautiful and looks a little like stained glass. This is a project that I observed during student teaching but never got to see the end of so I am happy to finally see the product. 🙂

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3rd Grade Landscapes

What makes something a landscape? How can you show foreground, middle ground, and background in a landscape? How can an artist use expressive lines in their artwork? How can artists use warm and cool color schemes? 3rd graders explored these questions by making color scheme landscapes using pencils, sharpies, and colored pencils.

We talked about landscapes and cool and warm colors. Then students designed their own landscapes using their imaginations. We talked about overlapping and how objects are smaller if they are far away. This project was more successful as a process than a product. The kids got really creative and included dinosaurs, roller coasters, wormholes, volcanoes, sky scrapers, and even make believe creatures!