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Repeated Shape Designs

repeated collage

This is a simple challenge that leads to a variety of creative artworks!  Choose one shape to repeat throughout your artwork.  Use markers, watercolor paints or any art media of your choice.  The challenge is to arrange the shapes in a unique and interesting composition. Include a variety of colors and sizes.  Overlap some shapes to add interest.  Add patterns or designs inside the shapes. Limitations encourage students to think in new ways.. to be creative within the constraints. Repetition is … Read more…

Designer Tree Houses

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Hi!  One day when I was sick I left a sub lesson plan for my students to design their own tree houses.  I printed out examples of tree house drawings for inspiration, like these here and here.  There is also this resource by Art Sub Lessons which has many pictures of real tree houses for inspiration. I did not leave a lot of directions or specific requirements, but encouraged creative thinking and unusual designs. Here are some of our whimsical pictures.  I think … Read more…

Mixed Media Collages by Kids – Inspired by Sabrina Ward Harrison

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In my last post, I showed you some of Sabrina Ward Harrison’s artwork and talked about what she shared with us at her artist visit.  Her artwork is very inspiring, messy and beautiful.  Please check out the other post to learn all about this artist.   After the presentation, smaller groups of kids in grades 3-6 had a collage workshop with Sabrina.  She demonstrated how to use Mod-Podge to paste down pieces of her pinwheel shape. While she demonstrated the … Read more…

Mixed Media Artist: Sabrina Ward Harrison

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We recently had artist Sabrina Ward Harrison visit our school to give an artist talk and workshop with the kids.  Today I am going to introduce you to her artwork and life as an artist.  In Part Two of this post, I will share with you some of the amazingly diverse mixed media collages that the students made in response to learning about her artwork.  All of the artwork on this page was made by Sabrina. Her message to the … Read more…

4th and 5th Grade Profile Drawings: In the Style of Egyptians, Mixtec Codex and Duncan Tonatiuh

My students were treated to a visit by illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh.  He is both Mexican and American. He grew up in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York City. His images are inspired by ancient Mexican art, especially the Mixtec codex of the 14th and 15th centuries. Like the people and animals in the codex, the figures in his illustrations are always drawn in profile– their entire bodies are usually shown and their ears … Read more…

Stitching on Burlap: A Painting & Sewing Experience for Children

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One type of art skill that I haven’t been the best at consistently teaching in my classroom is sewing.  I was reminded of how you can sew on burlap after seeing some painted and stitched leaves at my daughter’s school.  My third/fourth grade classes were often asking me if they could sew and I already had a lot of yarn and a roll of burlap at school. I wanted to share this idea with you quickly without a whole lot of … Read more…

“Emily’s Blue Period” Art Project: Personal Collages

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Personal Collages:  4th and 5th Grade   We read the book Emily’s Blue Period, which is about a girl whose parents are divorcing and now she has two homes. Emily was learning about Pablo Picasso, his Blue Period and his collages in her art class. She goes through her own “blue period” of sadness.  Her art teacher asks the class to make personal collages about their homes.  She doesn’t know what to do because she has two homes now.  She ends up … Read more…

All About Me Collaborative Puzzle Pieces

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You are part of the puzzle!  Each student in my older grades (3-5) made a puzzle piece about themselves and their interests.  I should have written:  You are a PIECE of the puzzle.  Or, I could have said: We all fit together.  I know, it’s kind of corny, but the puzzle piece making was fun. I bought a set of wooden puzzle pieces (the package came with two pieces) and I traced them onto several pieces of tagboard to make … Read more…

Inspirational Quotes into Artworks

Inspirational Quote by 4th and 5th grade

At the end of last year my students created some inspirational quote artworks using artistic lettering and their choice of media.   I typed up a list of inspirational quotes (below) for them to choose from.  Many of the students had their own ideas and wanted to use a quote they already knew and liked. I saved the artwork for the beginning of this year so that we would have some artwork with inspirational sayings on them for the start of … Read more…

3-D Bedroom Constructions and Perspective

Student-directed vs. teacher-directed and choice vs. “cookie cutter projects”  (I hate that phrase, it’s so annoying) are big discussions with art teachers online lately.  This is an example of how teacher-directed projects (perspective and interior models) can include lot of student choice and opportunities for creativity. When I went to the Art Institute of Chicago this Spring, I was lucky to be able to see the traveling van Gogh bedroom paintings exhibit.  My friend Dawn told me that she used … Read more…

Doodled Drawings, Collages and Sculptures

Doodled Drawings (3)

It’s summer time!  This wrapped up my 10th year of teaching at my current school and 13 1/2 years teaching total.   The good news is that since I was so busy this year, I have a huge backlog of art projects to share with you.  I will probably write them all up this summer and then save some of them for the busy times next school year. Doodle patterns are always good for focus and concentration. This project is also … Read more…

Earth Day Oil Pastel Drawings

Endangered Birds

For Earth Day, my 4th & 5th grade class drew endangered trees and birds using oil pastels.  The entire lesson took about 3-4 class periods to finish.  The students each used a picture of their tree or bird to recreate on a piece of 9″x12″ paper.  We talked a little bit about layering and blending colors with the oil pastels.  We were able to go outside on Earth Day to enjoy the sunshine while drawing. Our Earth Day committee came … Read more…

God’s Eyes Woven Wall Hanging

My 3rd and 4th grade class just finished making woven God’s Eyes (Ojos de Dios).  Students chose yarn and wrapped the strands around the sticks.  Then they were all tied to a large stick I found in my neighbor’s yard.  Some kids made multiples so they could take one home right away. I was surprised how almost all of them had never made these before.  I guess I went to a lot of summer camps where we made stuff with … Read more…

What Do Artists Do? Signs about ARTISTS and Artistic Behaviors

What do artists do?

I have something to share with you that I’ve been working on for a long time.  Well, a couple of months.  It takes forever for me to accomplish anything lately (I have a clingy toddler who doesn’t like to sleep) so I work in short spurts whenever I get a chance. Many of you probably know of Ian and Melissa from Apex High School.  They have developed a list of Artistic Behaviors for the high school level.  I have been … Read more…

Sand Painting with Kids

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If you are looking for something to add a new dimension to regular painting, sand painting just might be the ticket!  The tactile experience is something exciting for children. I recently taught a unit on painting with sand to my third and fourth grade class.  You may remember my “how-to” blog post about this technique.  If you are wondering how we did our sand paintings, check out that post for all the details.  For a more advanced technique using adhesive … Read more…

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