Friday, December 21, 2012

Snowflakes for Sandy Elementary

By now many of you have seen this message spread around Facebook, or even in your own schools:

Something we can do for the Students of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Welcome Students to a Winter Wonderland

When school resumes for Sandy Hook, it will be in a new building. Parent-volunteers are working to ensure that the students are welcomed back by a winter wonderland with the entire school decorated with as many unique snowflakes as possible. We encourage senders to be as creative as possible, remembering that no two snowflakes are alike. Please make and send snowflakes by January 12, 2013 to the Connecticut PTA address: 

Connecticut PTA
60 Connolly Parkway
Building 12, Suite 103
Hamden, CT 06514

Our local IFT even shared the message, and my colleagues jumped on helping any way they could.  Since today was a shortened day (being the last day before break), I asked my morning classes if they would like to help create snowflakes for Sandy Elementary.

Prior to making the snowflakes, our students had conversations with parents and teachers.  Students had questions earlier in the week, and we addressed them with care and consideration for everyone involved.  When I introduced the idea to my students, I explained that we were doing our part to show that we cared about Sandy Elementary students and wanted to brighten their day.  Even my adorable class clowns were focused with the project.

On a side note, I hate glitter.  As much as I hate glitter, I still pulled it out to make the projects more colorful and bright for the students.  The kids had loads of fun drawing designs with glue on their snowflakes.

By the time we were done, I had quite a few tables covered with glittered snowflakes, and our Jr. High even brought their donations in to join with the elementary's to be shipped off.

I do have to give credit to my co-workers for sending out the school email asking who wanted to get involved.  When our teachers were notified by the union about the project, I was unfortunately out sick, but when I checked my emails and found out the project was going to happen, I was happy to help out any way I could when I came back to work (on another side note, I hate being sick too).  Thank you to my co-workers for starting it and giving me an opportunity to help!

My snowflakes were made with 8.5 x 8.5 inch white paper.  I asked the students to fold three times, then cut out any shapes they wished.  I was thinking of a way for the parents volunteers at Sandy to hang the snowflakes easier, so I had my students glue their snowflakes to colored paper.  The students then trimmed the colors paper any way they wished, by cutting a circle, square, or trimming around the snowflake shape.

Before the students were ready for glue, I gave them a chance to write a positive message to the students on the back of their snowflakes.  Some did, and their words were beautiful.  Made me want to cry.

Last, the students traced designed on their snowflakes with glue.  I controlled the glitter and did the pouring, and no matter how old the students were, they were amazed with how the glitter covered the glue.

Simple snowflake, simple project, wonderful gifts for those who need some happiness.

If you have a chance during this season, please consider doing your part.  The parents are asking for snowflake donations to be shipped by January 12th.  There are plenty of snowflake designs floating around on Pinterest that you can use.

Here are a few ideas I have found to help you out!

Positive/Negative Space Snowflakes

Snowflake Banners

Crayon Resist Snowflakes

Paper Snowflake How-To's

Lacy Snowflake Tutorial

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Choosing a Cart and Finding Some Space: December's Article

This month for Arts & Activities Magazine, my article is titled "Choosing a Cart and Finding Some Space."  The article focuses on what works for you in your traveling situation.

When I began pushing a cart from room to room, I quickly discovered which carts worked and which I wanted to push out of the school.  I hated how heavy carts didn't want to work with me as I tried turning corners or squeezing carts into classrooms.

I also wanted to focus on how to find space to store materials.  In most traveling situations, there is no space to store anything.  The key is to communicate your needs to everyone involved without appearing that you're complaining.  Express the need to share the student's creations.

To view the article, please visit the Stepping Stones page on the online Arts & Activities magazine.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's Not the End of the World! Aztec/Mayan Calendars with 5th Grade

Since we've been hearing a lot about the "End of the World" due to the Mayan calendar, I thought it would be funny to create a project inspired by that particular calendar...close to the date of the end of the world!!!!

Here are the materials you need:

-Round 9" or 10" cardboard circles
-A large bag of foam shapes
-Black Paint
-Gold Paint (this can range in price)

The main idea for the project was to introduce radial symmetry.  I began by showing the students a self-created Powerpoint about the Aztecs and the Mayans.  I explained a little bit about the calendars and planning of the days for planting and rituals.  Next, I focused on the design of the calendar. I showed the students how to create radial symmetry with the cardboard circle by asking them to imagine a pizza with four slices, and each slice of pizza looks exactly the same.  My students have a habit of viewing their projects in one way:  the paper in front of them.  When I show them the circle, I tell them that each way the circle turns, the design would remain the same...making it radial symmetrical.

Now it's time to work with the materials!

I used a pop can box to store the shapes for each table!  Pie tins also work too (I use them at my second school).

Trick: Tell the students to worry about finding the same shape and size, and NOT to worry about color.  They'll be painting over them anyway.

Trick: Have the students draw an "x" on the circle to separate four slices to fill.  This will help the students design their slices to look the same each time they turn the circle.

Make sure to tell the students to cover every nook and cranny with the black paint.  It helps with the last step of the project, which is to cover again with gold!

I have students use just their fingers to rub the gold paint on top of the black paint, giving the project an "ancient artifact" affect to the project.

Heads up...the circles will curl if students put "too much" paint on.  Just letting you know what to expect!

Some students wanted to just fill the entire circle with symmetry instead of filling the middle with a face.

                    Here are some cartoons I shared with my students.  They thought it was funny!