Monday, December 13, 2010

Paper Pulp Ornaments

I don't know about you, but every year, my scrap paper box gets really full, too full in fact, and eventually I resort to throwing some away so that it doesn't overflow. Last year I came up with a great lesson that uses up lots of the scraps, keeping me from throwing it away. I had my kindergarteners create paper pulp ornaments.

We took the paper and separated it by color, and then ripped the paper into little pieces. Next, we soaked the paper in water overnight, and then ran it through a blender. Once it was pulped, we used cookie cutters as molds to create the ornaments. with the cookie cutters laying on a towel, the students piled the pulp into the middle, forming whatever patterns or designs they wanted. Next, we used sponges to press the pulp together and soak up as much water as we could. After poking a hole in the ornament, we put the still-wet pulp on the heater to dry overnight. You can add peppermint oil to to the pulp before the students use it if you would like. This helps in two ways. The first is obvious, it makes the ornament smell good, the second benefit of this is that it helps retard molding of the wet paper pulp if you need to store if for more than a few days.

I'm totally cheating!!!!

So, I have a confession to make... I love to create bulletin boards, but I hate cutting out letters for my boards, and refuse to spend money to buy punch out letters that I may use once. My school has an Ellison machine which punches out letters, but it is in another part of the building, and is sometimes a pain to get to, and we only have 2 font options to choose from, and they are each 4 inches big. Once in a while I can talk my friend Ted into cutting out letters for me, but not all of the time. So what did I do? I used some fundraiser money to buy a Cricut machine on clearance at Walmart. What is a Cricut machine? It is a handy machine that was created for scrapbooking.
With the purchase of a variety of cartridges you can cut out thousands of shapes and letters. Now the cartridges can be pretty expensive, but if you look for clearance sales or on ebay, you can get them pretty cheap.
I use the Cricut for bulletin boards and other signs that are needed around school. I can change the size of whatever I am cutting out from 1/4 of an inch to 5 1/2 inches. I have the smallest Cricut, but with the largest one, you can make pieces up to 23 1/2 inches. Here are some of the things I have created with the Cricut for the art show and bulletin board outside of my room. I used the snowflakes to make the border for the bulleting board.

Snow Day!

So we had a snow day here in Nashville. See? Snow.

So what did I do on this fabulous gift of a snow day? I spent it at school preparing for the first grade music program/art show that is scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday). I know, I'm horrible, and should be flogged for wasting a snow day, but I didn't want to lose a whole day of work time. I had a lot of work to do for this art show. Anyways, my first graders created chalk pastel snowmen, using glue to outline the snowmen and chalk to color them in. I sprayed the chalk pictures with 3 coats of hairspray, but for some reason it was still coming off on my hands, so I resorted to the last thing I would ever recommend for a child's art project...lamination. I never, ever laminate children's artwork, as you can really mess up the art, and with the amount of artwork that I deal with, I would go through thousands of dollars worth of lamination. But since this was chalk, and I didn't want their artwork damaged, I relented and spent an hour laminating their snowmen, and another hour cutting them out. After that, I hung them up in the hallway. What do you think?

Now for the kicker... I spent all day getting ready for the art show and guess what happened? They canceled school again tomorrow (Tuesday) so the music program/art show is canceled until further notice. Serves me right for wasting a snow day!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Crazy Fun!!!!

The beginning of the school year is always a stressful time, and being the secretary for my school's PTO just adds a little more responsibility to my already crowded plate. A couple of weeks ago, we had the Lakeview Design Center's PTO Fall Festival. We had a dunking booth, lots of games, and many baskets and other prizes to raffle off. One of the prizes was a chance to pie yours truly in the face. I think that my student had fun, don't you?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chihuly Chandelier

Here in Nashville, we have been very lucky to have multiple Dale Chihuly installations to inspire our students with. My friends Ted, Tina, Daryl and I were in charge of the elementary art teachers inservice (at the beginning of the school year) and we planned the whole thing around the exhibits at the Frist Center and Cheekwood. One of the things that we did was to challenge the teachers to have their students create a Chihuly inspired instillation at their own school. My students have been very busy creating these installations. So far, my third and fourth graders have finished their chandelier/tower (well, at least one of them). Here is is hanging outside of the school from a tree. We created an armature out of chicken wire, and the students brought in hundreds of water bottles. The bottom and labels were cut off, and the students painted the inside of the bottles in the school colors. When dry, the students cut them into spirals and then the bottles were glued into the chicken wire, starting at the bottom. Finally, the top layer of bottles were cut and curled like flowers and added on. A wonderful parent came out and hung it in the tree for me.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mural time!

Today I spent the day at school (it's a Saturday) with the Hands on Nashville crew, a group of volunteers. Together, the really perky and helpful volunteers helped pull up sod and weeds, planted 13 bushes, mulched around said bushes as well as almost all of the trees in the front of the school, touched up pain in the hallways and cafeteria, helped the principal clean the stage, took out trash and helped me paint a mural in the front hallway.
Last year we "changed" mascots... although can a lighthouse really be a mascot? Anyways, since we are a design center for character education and our motto was "Lakeview Design Center: Where Good Character Shines Through" the lighthouse was used as our symbol. Last year, however, teachers and students asked to change to some sort of animal. After suggestions and voting the lion was chosen, so now we are "Lakeview Design Center: Lions Today, Leaders Tomorrow". We painted over the lighthouse murals in the hallways, and this mural was painted today in place of one of them. What do you think?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fantastic teacher workshop!

I just attended a fantastic teacher workshop today and learn very interesting art activities to do with my classes. The Cheekwood and Frist Center staff got together to co-host a Chihuly workshop. This was a day and a half (well, a day and 2 hours) long workshop that was at both museums. We started out at Cheekwood for a tour of the nighttime Chihuly exhibit. Then we reconvened at Cheekwood this morning, toured the mansion, and then trekked over to the Frist center to see that exhibit and work on hands-on art activities. One of the really interesting projects utilized acrylic gloss medium and acrylic paint. The gloss medium and paint are mixed together (the less paint you use, the more transparent the finished project will be) and poured out on parchment paper or lamination film and a cookie sheet. It is allowed to dry completely, and then it could be cut up and wrapped around objects or attached to itself. The gloss medium sticks to windows and plastic without the aid of glue.

Embroidery floss can be added into the wet gloss medium to simulate Chihuly's baskets that use strings of glass to mimic the woven designs of Navaho blankets. I can't wait to try this with my class.

More bulletin boards and other displays...

I promised more pictures of my bulletin boards, and here they are. I have 2 large marker boards in my room, and one of them is not in a convenient location, so I have turned it into a "bulletin" board by covering it with fabric. I have split it into 2 sections, one of which is my no-no board and the other side I have designated as the elements of art and principles of design board. The way that I explain the elements and principles to my students is by equating the elements to ingredients, and the principles as the recipe to turn those ingredients into great art.

The no-no board is where I post the "easy" things that I do not want my children to do in their artwork. I want them to be challenged, and not take the easy way out, but to really observe things around them. The specific things listed on my board are as follows:
  • The sun does not smile
  • Mountains are not triangles
  • No floating objects
  • No word bubbles
  • Clouds are not blue
  • No V or M birds
  • Sky not touching ground
  • No lollipop trees
  • No stick people
These are my classroom rules:
And thanks to my friend Ted, here are my "color bugs":

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Substitute lesson plans for the art room....

I was just working on my sub folder for the art room, and thought that I would share what my sub folder entails with everyone. Located within my sub folder are of course all of my class lists and seating charts. On each class list, I highlight any helpful students, as well as any students that may pose a problem. A map of the school and emergency procedures is also helpful. On the map, I point out the adult restrooms, cafeteria, teacher's lounge, etc. A copy of my discipline plan is a necessity as well. After that, I place my lesson plans.
I personally do not like to have the subs that are in my room continue with whatever lessons that I am working on with my students. I have had many projects ruined because a sub thought that they knew what they were doing. Instead, I have some generic lessons that any grade level could draw. These are the ones that are in my sub folder this year:

  1. Pretend that you have been shipwrecked on a deserted island. Draw a picture of what the island looks like, what animals and plants are on the island, and how you are going to survive until help arrives.
  2. Imagine that you are an explorer, tracking a never before seen animal through the jungle. What does the animal look like? Add lots of details, such as where the animal lives (in the trees, on the ground, cave, etc.)
  3. Design a new shoe for a famous shoe company. Feel free to include some high-tech gadgets.
  4. Be like Phineas and Ferb, and invent a really cool contraption. What will it do? How will it do it? Why do we need it?
  5. You are a world famous astronaut, and your space shuttle has crash landed on a planet that no one has ever seen before. Draw a picture of what the planet looks like, as well as any inhabitants (aliens) that may come to greet you. What do they look like, as well as what do they eat and where do they live?
  6. Create a flag that represents Lakeview Design Center. Remember that the school mascot is the lion.
  7. Create a drawing of your favorite meal. It can be anything that you want, just make sure to add lots of details.
  8. Become a video game designer and brainstorm a new idea for a video game. Draw out the characters, settings, etc. Add lots of details!
  9. Your family has won the lottery, and you get to design your new house. What will it look like? How many rooms will it have? Draw it out for everyone to see!

Please feel free to use any of this information in your sub plans if you would like. Please know that you should always have a sub folder ready in case you are out unexpectedly. It is a pet peeve of teachers around the world to have to find plans for a sub in the room next door because the teacher didn't leave any.

Children on the blog...

Today I was reminded of a very important and sensitive issue. One of my co-workers created a website for her class that showed pictures of some of the students. Showing children's pictures on the internet, namely through a personal blog (such as this one) or a website is a definite NO-NO! There are many, many legal issues associated with this. This is the reason that you do not see pictures of my students on this blog. The only way that you can show a picture of a child that is not yours is if the parents give you permission. I would have them sign a written permission slip, just to cover yourself even more. Please be mindful of this when working on your blogs or websites.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I have a very colorful classroom. A couple years ago I was asked to move classrooms, and I agreed as long as I got to paint my new one. I proceeded to paint it a very bright and somewhat obnoxious green -with the thought that if another teacher couldn't stand the color, I might not have to move classrooms again:) Anyways, after painting the room "Gecko Green", maintenance workers came to my room to fix a crack in the wall. After they were done, I had a green wall that was smeared with white caulk. Not a problem (or so I thought) and I proceeded to paint over the caulk, and the paint beaded right up and rolled off. It is two years later, and I still have a green wall smeared with white. Normally I cover it up with vines and leaves (for a jungle theme), but this year I had a parent who introduced me to some amazing material. It is called sintra, and it is a type of pvc plastic that is in sheet form. You can cut, mold, drill, sand, sculpt, and paint it. I got a 4x8' sheet for about $25 and using a small saw, cut out flower petals and centers. I then boiled the shapes in water and formed them into interesting curves and shapes (you can also use an embossing or heat gun) and spray painted them. When dry, I hot glued the pieces together and then glued them over the annoying white caulk. I see lots of future projects coming to life in the art room! Thank you Lori, for introducing me to sintra!

Bulletin Board Time!

It's back to school time, and I have been very busy in the art room. This year, I decided to change my class theme to a garden and bug theme, so the following two boards were born. The first board is my behavior board. Each pocket corresponds with a seat in my classroom. In the pockets are card that can be pulled based on the behavior or each individual student. It is located next to the door, so as each classroom teacher comes to pick up their class, they can easily see if any students have misbehaved.

The second board is located outside my classroom door. I decided to add quotes about art, in hopes that it would give classes something to discuss and think about while waiting in the hallway.

I am currently working on two more boards, one of which is a No-No board and the other is about the elements of art and principles of design. I will post pictures when finished.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cheekwood Topiaries!

One of the classes I taught this summer at Cheekwood was a class called Wild World of Art for 10-12 year olds. I had a great class, and they worked really hard this week. One of their favorite projects was the topiary project that I found on the Dick Blick website. We used a wire mesh and wire to sculpt the form of the topiary. Next, the students glued squares of tissue paper to the wire form. When the form is covered with tissue paper, plaster was poured into terra cotta pots and a wooden dowel rod was placed into the plaster before it had set. Using wire and hot glue, the tissue paper covered form was attached to the dowel rod (after plaster set of course) and brown string is then wrapped around the dowel in order to simulate wood bark. When we were finished, the students were able to take their topiaries outside and choose a place in the gardens at Cheekwood to "install" their topiaries, and take pictures.