Monday, September 22, 2008

Kindergarten Collage Houses

Kindergartners are very challenging. This is their first exposure to art supplies, and how to use them correctly. One of the lessons that I like do do with them is shape landscapes. This is a great lesson that covers shapes, scissor safety, and how to use glue correctly.

I start by talking about the correct way to use scissors, then I start giving them pieces of construction paper, one piece at a time, and have them cut different shapes (red square, yellow circle, yellow rectangles, brown triangle, brown rectangles, random green shape, and long wavy green shape.) Then I give them a 9x12 piece of blue paper and show them how we can put the shapes together to create a landscape (at this point I teach them the vocabulary word landscape). I also teach the children to use one dot of glue (one dot, not a lot). This project looks great put together and the students love them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Any Questions, Needs?

I plan on putting lots of lesson ideas on this blog, but if you need an idea or lesson plan quick, please feel free to leave me a comment, asking for what you need, and I will answer right away. I am starting my 11th year of teaching, so even if I am not teaching that lesson right now, I am sure that I have taught it in the past and will teach it again soon. I always keep all of my teacher examples, so I can post those pictures as needed.

Fourth Grade Color Wheels

My fourth graders are in the process of learning about the color wheel. I taught them that the color wheel is like a map, and on that map are located primary, secondary and intermediate colors. (I know that there is more to learn, such as complementary, analogous, etc. but we will get to this later.) After taking some time for the student to get this concept, I tell the children that they will be making their own color wheel, but that it is not going to be boring. I give them a 12x12 piece of drawing paper, a pencil and a ruler. The first step is to split the paper into 12 equal parts.

I have them fold the paper corner to corner (to form a triangle) twice, so that it makes an X on their square. Then I have them use the ruler to trace their fold lines. Next, I have them measure out 4 and 8 inches on all four sides. Finally, they draw line from each 4 and 8 inch mark into the center of their paper. This gives them a grid like the above picture. Next, they choose a design, and draw that design in each section, making sure to draw large. After the designs are drawn, the students label each section with the colors on the color wheel. At this point, they must show me their papers, so I can quickly check to make sure that the color are in the right order. I have them label each section with a color, so that while they are painting, they are less likely to make a mistake.

After they have drawn and labeled everything, the students start painting with tempera paint. They start by painting the primary colors, followed by the secondary colors, and then the intermediate colors. I give them the primary and secondary colors, but they must mix the intermediates. After the designs are painted in, the students paint the background of their color wheels black, so that the colors really pop.

This is my example, but as the students finish theirs, I will share a few. This is the third year that I have done this lesson, but the students love it, and they use their color wheels for other lessons.

First Grade Cityscapes

I have just finished a great lesson with my first graders. They learned about cityscapes, by creating a crayon resist painting, using crayons and watercolors.

We started by folding the paper in half horizontally, and drew an outline of a cityscape on the top half of the paper. The students pressed hard with their crayons, so that they can transfer the drawing onto the bottom half of the paper by refolding the paper, and rubbing it with something hard (we used the handles of our scissors). The transferred image is light, so the student trace over it with their crayons, and then color in their buildings, again pressing hard. Once the buildings are colored in , the student paint one side of their paper with blue watercolors, and the other side black. This way, they have a night and day picture.

Painting with elementary students

I love to paint with my elementary students, but I know that there are a lot of art teachers out there who have problems with paint. Paint is very messy, and I think that the more organized that you are, and the more you teach that organization to the students, the better the student's artwork will be, and the cleanup will be much easier as well. I thought that I would share my painting organization with anyone who need help with this.

I start by spending a few minutes with each class, teaching them (or reminding if it is an older class) about the way we do and do not use the brush. I teach them the vocabulary of the brush parts (bristles, ferrule, handle) and remind them that we only paint with the end of the bristles and therefore, I should not see paint on the ferrule, or on the handle. I also talk to them about not "scrubbing" with their brush, so the brush should never look sloppy. (This is a great time to show the video "Young Sloppy Brush" that is found on After this, I pass out the paper and the paints.

For tempera paint, I like to use the "poster paint" containers. You can buy the empty containers from most art supply stores. They hold 6 colors. I use one for the primary and secondaries, and another for the other colors. I like this method of passing out paint because I feel like we waste less paint this way. There are lids that close, and if you need to clean out one color, you can just open that one well, and clean it out. Also, at the end of class, I do not have 20 different palettes to clean laying in the sink. We just put the lids on and go on our way. The containers last a long time, the ones in the pictures are a couple of years old.

I also use "cafeteria" style trays. I place the square brush basins (a must for the classroom in my opinion) in the middle of the tray, and then 2 of the paint containers, on opposite sides of the basin. Next, I place paper towels and brushes (a couple per student.) The great thing about this method of organization is that since the bowls are stable, I am able to stack up 4-5 of the trays on the counter. I can get them ready for the next day. It also makes it much easier to pass out supplies, I can pass everything out in one trip (well, other than their paper), and since the students are not out of their seats, there is less chance of spilling paint or water.

Because I take the time to talk about how to use the brush and paint correctly, and because there is the tray underneath the supplies, there is very little drips and splatters on the table, but if there is, the students have a paper towel in order to clean up the mess right away. I also do not let the students tap their brush on the brush basin to get rid of extra water from their brush. I make them wipe the brush on the side of the bowl.

I use the same set-up for watercolor painting as well.

With kindergartners, I do not let them use watercolors right away. I like to let them use tempera cakes first. I do this because it is the same concept for both types of paint in that they have cakes of color that they have to add water to. The tempera cakes are larger and harder than the watercolor, so the students can learn not to "dig" their brush into the paint, but to add more water. I find that if I have the kindergartners paint with the tempera cakes a couple of times, my watercolors last a lot longer when I finally let the students use them.

Cleanup is very easy, since everything is on the trays. The students place the brushes on the trays, and as I am picking up the trays from their tables, the students are putting their papers on the drying rack. I simply stack the trays up, and clean the supplies when I have a few moments.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Another Great Website!!!

Another website I have found is Art Attacks, a British tv show where the host Neil, shows children different art and craft projects that they can do with items around the house. There is one section, called art attacks, where it lists all of the projects that he does, and you can click on them for step by step instructions and pictures. Just so you know, because it is a British show, they use British sayings, such as; use a PVA glue, which is the same as Elmers glue, kitchen and loo rolls are paper towels and toilet paper. I have found some great 3-D projects on this website.

Great Website!!!!

I have found a great website for teachers. It is called Teacher Tubes, and it is a site of educational videos created by students and their teachers. Being an art teacher, I go to this site,, and search for art related keywords. I found some amazing stuff, but the funniest things have been posted by a teacher named Mrs. Fuglestad. Try searching for the keywords eraser and sloppy brush. The eraser video is about being nice to your erasers, not to draw on them, crack them or stab them with your pencil, or they will turn evil and erase everything in the art room. The sloppy brush video is about a young, handsome, promising brush who because if his neat camel hair bristles paints precise lines, but then tells the story of what happens to the brush when a careless artist gets a hold of him. I show the eraser video to my students when I see someone not taking care of their erasers, and the brush video when we are about to paint. The children love it and always ask to see them again.