Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Charity In Progress: Butterflies for Children's Memorial Hospital

This year, my co-worker and I joined our forces of After School Art Classes to help create over 200 butterflies for Children's Memorial Hospital.  The butterflies will be made for a service to be held in the Spring.

The service is a time for families and staff to come together to honor and celebrate the lives of children they have cared for and who have died.  The butterflies have become a special tradition at the service where families are able to pick out a butterfly that uniquely "speaks" to them.  Butterflies are commonly used as a symbol in a child' death, paralleling that even though it was for a brief moment, we feel blessed to have known them.

When I shared this project with my students, the permission slips came in quick and the class maxed out.  Students even wanted to make butterflies on their own to give to the hospital, which was a wonderful thought.  I was touched that the students cared so much!

So far, we whipped out the 200 butterflies, which are now waiting to be put in the kiln for firing.  Stay tuned for the finished project in February!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Stained Glass Projects with 6th Grade

One of my favorite projects in school was creating a "stained glass" window using tissue paper and plexiglass.  When I start this lesson, I tie it into Medieval art and the history of stained glass windows

There are many variations to this project since cost can be an issue.  I've tried this out with my after school art projects using the 12" x 12" plexiglass squares ordered from Nasco or Dick Blick.  When I teach this to my entire 6th grade, I use 11" x 14" Graphix clear plastic sheets from Nasco.

Since the plexiglass can be pricy (almost $4.00 a sheet), I've created a project on Dick Blick's Art Room Aid site to ask for donations to fund the project for my entire 6th grade (5 classes total, around 25-30 students per class).  To visit the project, click here.

There are two ways I create the project.  The first way is with the plexiglass.  Here are the materials you need:

-12"x12" plexiglass
-12"x12" white paper
-Various colors of tissue paper, preferably non-bleeding
-Mod Podge, Glossy, mixed with a little water
-Black Glue (I use india ink mixed with a gallon of Elmer's Glue-All)
-Paint brush
-A volunteer parent or amazing spouse to drill holes in the corners

I started by having students draw a picture on the white paper with pencils.  Make sure you tell them not to create an over-detailed image, unless they plan to spend hours on their glass!  After their drawing is complete, place the plexiglass on top of the drawing and trace that drawing on the glass with black glue.  Let dry.

In the next few classes, have students turn the plexiglass over, and using the mod podge and water, coat an area with the glue and cover with desired color of tissue paper.  Once complete, the "stained glass" window is ready to hang with some fishing wire and drilled holes in the corners!  My amazing husband brought his drill press to work to show my students how he drilled the holes, but you can find ways to have that step done beforehand.

The project I've doing the past few years with y 100+ 6th grade students has been made with the Graphix 11"x14" plastic sheets instead of plexiglass.  With the size of the class, I've had to change a few details in the lesson.  Here's the materials:

-12"x18" white paper
-11"x14" Graphix clear plastic sheets
-Various colors of tissue paper
-Mod podge gloss (mixed with a little bit of water)
-Paint brush
-Black glue (I use india ink mixed with a gallon of Elmer's Glue-All)
-Strips of black paper
-masking tape
-Thick black markers

Like the previous project, I start with white paper.  I also give my students the plastic sheets to measure the size of their drawing on the white paper (marking the corners to size their drawing).  With the large amount of students and lack of time, I tell my students to choose a simple image, like a basketball or moon.  After the students finish their drawing, I tell them to trace it with black marker and tape the corners of the plastic to the white paper.

With the plastic taped to the paper, I do the opposite with this project from the plexiglass: I start with the tissue paper first instead of the black glue.  I show the students how to first paint the mod podge on the plastic, then to cover the plastic with their desired colors.  After a few class periods, they cover the entire plastic.  Once the tissue and mod podge is dry, I then have the students trace their plastic on top with the black glue.  After drying is complete all around, I have student volunteers help me to frame all the plastic sheets with black strips of paper before I display them in the glass windows.  I do not see the colors fading on the tissue paper, which makes the student projects more memorable!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Winter Inspired Creations!

The funny part about this year is that my hallways and public displays are loaded with snowy winter pictures...but we haven't had any snow yet!

I wanted to share some of my winter inspired lessons that I have used over the years!  They are more based around the younger grades, K-3, since 4-6 have continual projects based around artists, cultures, and history.

Kindergarten: Snowflakes Near and Far
My kinder students begin learning perspective in my class and I sneak it into as many projects as I can!  In this assemblage project, I have students create a large snowflake (described as a snowflake that landed on your eyelash).  I use pre-cut strips of white paper, and explain to make the plus sign and the x into a snowflake.  Students use smaller strips to complete the edges of the snowflake to give it a more detailed design.  Once finished with the large snowflake, students draw the smaller snowflakes around the rest of their paper (I describe it as falling snow).  This helps with their drawing skills as well!

Kindergarten: Snowmen
Yup...their first snowman project in art!  I created a template for students to cut out 3 circles and the snow.  With trying to do this project over the years, I found it easier to have a pre-drawn template for the students to cut.  After students glue down their circles and snow, I show then how to cut a hat shape with just a 3" x 3" black square.  The scarf was also a pre-cut piece of red.  Students then drew the snow in the background, as well as the snowman's arms, face, and buttons.

1st Grade: Snowy Days
I shared this project in a previous post, but it's always a fun one!

2nd Grade: Perspective Snowmen
I found so many snowmen ideas on Pinterest, I just decided to include them all into one project.  I began by showing student a scene from the movie "The Snowman" where the boy and snowman were flying through the air.  I wanted students to see what the ground was like from another perspective.  Here's the exact video I used:

After watching the video, I gave the students four different options of creating their snowmen: side view, bird's eye view, ant view, and the snowman looking up.  Before the students started their assemblage of colored paper, I had them drawing snow and wind to decorate their pictures. 

3rd Grade: Winter Trees
My co-worker creates this project and I always think it's gorgeous.  She has her students create a tree with black crayons, along with a background.  Students have their choices on adding a stream, extra tree, or colorful wind.  Next, she uses white paint to create the snow in the picture, on the tree and on the ground.

If you would like to view more winter-themed lesson ideas, please visit my Pinterest board called Seasonal: Winter Project Ideas for Art.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What do you do with all your broken art supplies?

One day, I finally got tired of finding dried out un-capped markers, broken pencils, and unwashed paint brushes all over the place.  When I had my cart, I didn't have this much of an issue!  I decided to create an "art material gravesite" for all the neglected materials in my room. 

After creating the box, I started filling up fast.  Within a week, the box was half-way full.  I then started to show the students the broken materials collected and explained how much material is wasted when items are not cleaned properly.  Needless to say, after that week of sharing the box with students, they have been taking better care of the materials!  I still get those few students that don't wash things or cap them properly, but more students are checking materials properly before putting them away.  So overall, the gravesite has been a positive addition to our room and broken materials have been fewer and fewer each day!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Snowy Day: Painting with 1st Grade

Right when we get back after winter break, I like to share a book with the 1st grade called "Snowy Day" by Ezra Keats.

The book has many imaginative illustrations that help students to visualize what it would be like to play outside on a snowy day.  This winter so far, we barely had an inch of snow so far, but we'll see what Mother Nature brings us in January!

For the project itself. I need the following materials:

-10.5" x 16" blue paper
-12" x 18" colored paper for frame
-Newsaper to cover table
-White tempura paint
-Large and small brushes
-Skinny black markers
-Colored pencils
-3-Do's (found in Nasco catalog)

On the first day, I read the story to the students, then we discuss how paint can create a snow effect without just blotching white paint on paper.  I first give the students the blue paper, then have them write their names on it.  If you don't do this step before painting, the students will be too excited to write their names, which makes it difficult to hand their projects back to them later since they'll all look the same!

After their names are on the paper, I place a tray of white tempura paint on the table with large and small brushed.  I show them that the big brushes are for "fluffing" the snow on the ground and the snowman, and the small brush is for dotting the snow falling from the sky.  When the students finish their paintings, I place them on the drying rack.

On day two, I show the students how to draw pictures of themselves in winter clothes.  They use pencil first, then trace them in skinny black marker.  After tracing, the students color in colored pencil.  I have to remind them to not color their faces with blue, purple, green, or polka dots, which makes them laugh, but at this age, I still have a few that rush their pictures.  When the students are done coloring, they draw a circle around their bodies (to prevent them from cutting off a head or an arm),  cut the bodies out of the paper, and with the 3-Do's, we pop them up on our "Snowy Day" paintings.

For the last step, the students use markers to draw a face, arms, and scarves on their snowmen, then glue a frame on the back of their papers.

Viola!  Snowy Day Paintings!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Continuing to Balance the Scales: More Pros to Your Cons with Traveling and Teaching Art

Before I get into my extended list, I wanted to apologize for not posting since before Christmas.  I had found out that I am expecting and even looking at a computer screen was making me nauseated.  Even the smell of paint in the classroom!

When I created my first list of pros and cons, my intent was to share that every negative thought you may have actually has a positive outlook in any situation.  At times, it's good to vent, but too much venting can turn off your co-workers and colleagues.  This year, I started coming across more irritations that I needed to face, and decide on how the positive outcome should be.

I wanted to start by showing my original list of cons with the pros.  The list was recently published in the Stepping Stones section of Arts & Activities magazine.

Negative: I’m on a cart, stuck in a closet, with no sense of space. 
Positive:  Yes, you may not have a room, and your storage closet houses your desk, but look at it this way!  A room takes much longer to set-up and take-down, or even clean up at the end of the day.

Negative:  I don’t feel like I belong with the other teachers.  They seem to cling together when talking about standard tests and classroom activities.
Positive:  It takes time to build lasting friendships with co-workers and other staff, and sometimes it may not happen the way you want!  Your job is to convince your fellow co-workers that you are worthwhile.  Talk about their students’ personalities and how it reflects in their artwork.  I've been working with my staff for 6 years and over friendships continue to grow!

Negative: I keep tripping over my cart, and items keep falling off the cart! Arg!!!!
Positive: In the morning, try and leave some of the items you’re using with certain classes within their rooms…or make a trip back to your storage room (if you have allotted travelling time between classes).  That will save on the items falling off or breaking, but I can’t help you with the cart tripping…that’s just a convenient annoyance we must deal with!

Negative: The materials are too difficult to disperse in the classrooms!  The teacher just leaves no space for me!!!
Positive:  As said before:  Communication is key.  Let the homeroom teacher know you need the space, or you’ll place your items on top of their stuff. 

Negative:  No Storage for projects!!!
Positive:  True…but have you talked with the homeroom teachers about allowing some small space in their rooms to be used?  For example, the tops of closets/cabinets, or even by the window sill?  If not, talk with the administrator and ask for space in the school for certain projects that can be used temporarily.

Negative: I feel like I’m invading their room.
Positive:  True, but think of it from the homeroom teacher’s perspective…they feel like they’re invading your class as well.  This is when you work as a team.

Negative: I’m struggling with communication, I feel like I’m the last to know everything.
Positive:  Travelling from school to school?  It happens, but you can fix the important items, such as meeting dates and other important information.  Communicate with the administrators about keeping you in mind for important facts, and don’t be afraid to let them know when they’ve forgotten something.

Negative:  My car is an art storage closet!
Positive:  That can be fixed.   When ordering supplies from year to year, build up a collection of materials that can fit in your storage space, so you no longer have to carry it from school to school.

Negative:  It’s such a challenge to communicate with parents.
Positive:  I can’t lie, it is, but that doesn’t mean you stop calling them when you need to make that call.  Just find the time on another date (unless it’s urgent) and let the parent know your situation.

Negative: Disciplinary actions are hard to keep track!
Positive:  That’s another communication issue.  Discuss options with the homeroom teacher, but more importantly…call the parent!

Negative:  I always forget something at another school!!!!!
Positive:  I can’t help you there!  I do it too!  Just make sure you get to your school with enough time to pick the item up if you need to.

Over time, I did not see many of these negatives as much as an issue because I always believed there was a light at the end of the tunnel.  But, not everything is always perfect.  My next list is the challenges I've been coming across lately, and advice I want to follow to have a positive outcome.

Negative: I have a new principal and everything is messing up.  I had a schedule down, but it's like re-learning a routine again.
Positive: Don't look at this as a negative, but as a learning experience on both ends.  If you have events or meetings coming up annually, be sure to communicate this with your new administrator.  Be flexible. and allow the learning curve for both of you.

Negative: I share a space with another teacher, and every time I walk into the school, I find a note telling me I left something out, unlocked, or things are missing.
Positive: Your co-worker may be leaving you notes, but don't look at it as wanted to get her back by leaving notes for him/her. We all make mistakes.  Work out a checklist to follow at the end of the days you leave so you don't repeat mistakes.  If he/she is still having issues, address your concern about their outlook on the situation.

Negative: I fundraised for a display space, which finally came in!!!  But it was set up when I wasn't there, and they made the decision without me to move it to the back of the school.
Positive: At least you have a display space.  Think about it that way.  Display...Space.

Negative: I feel so far behind with technology.  I'm so limited on the cart, and I can't seem to check out the laptops when I need them. 
Positive: The technology standards are there for a reason, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't be left out.  Find out what's available in your school, and use what you can to educate your students.  Laptops checkout, projector carts, don't give up!  It may be an extra cart, but it's worth the amazement in students' eyes as you show them that virtual gallery on a museum website!

Negative: Our district says apple technology is not compatible with our server.  With all the recent presentations and amazing technology advances with iPads, I feel far behind and lower than other art teachers who do have this available for their students.
Positive: Technology standards do not say you need an iPad to educate your students.  Laptops are just as cool since you can share art-based websites and virtual galleries!  Look past the jealousy factor and work with what you have.  If you feel iPads are that important, try looking into grants available to bring iPads into your classroom.  There are apps available that do not require internet use, so server issues would not be a problem if you acquire iPads for your room.

If you probably couldn't tell, these were my recent issues.  I dislike having to complain about anything, and I always want to try and overcome any challenge I can.  Even if they are my recent issues, some of you may be dealing with similar situations in your own buildings.  Just remember not to give up and look for that light at the end of the tunnel.  It worked for me, and I love my schools!