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All About Me Foldable Squash Books

One of the first projects my 4th/5th grade students created this year were personal “About Me” folded squash books.  The kids were introduced to a simple foldable bookmaking technique and then they personalized them with drawings and collages about themselves.  Each section of the book had a prompt to get them started. I showed them a video demonstration of how to assemble the book and I provided square templates printed on card stock.  Both the video, templates and instructions are … Read more…

Mixed Media Collages by Kids – Inspired by Sabrina Ward Harrison

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…

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…

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

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…

Googly Eyed Sticker Monsters

With Halloween coming, this is an especially fun open-ended project for little kids.  I did this with kids up to grade 3 and they were super excited to come up with their own monsters. Supplies needed (Amazon affiliate links used): Peel and Stick Wiggle Eyes Wiggle Eyes Stickers On A Roll Multi-Color Markers, crayons or other coloring tools White or colored construction paper Handouts for inspiration:  Monster Dice Drawing and Examples of Monsters This is a real simple introduction and … Read more…

All About Me Collaborative Puzzle Pieces

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…

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…

Published Article

Great news! I have been published in the Summer issue of School Arts magazine. I wrote an article about artwork my students made after learning about the art of contemporary artist Justin Vining.  You can read the article here.  I wrote a blog post last year all about this project:  Inspired by Artist Justin Vining. I love Justin’s artwork and you can see pictures of his artwork on his website.

Earth Day Oil Pastel Drawings

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…

A World of Your Own: Creativity Drawings

I have a fun creativity drawing project and excellent children’s book to share with you today. I came across this book called A World of Your Own by Laura Carlin and thought it looked intriguing, so I ordered it. I love the illustrations in the book and the story encourages children to think of how they would imagine a world of their own. On a day when I was out sick, I left this book for the substitute teacher to … Read more…

Sand Painting with Kids

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…

Personal Patchwork Drawings by 4th & 5th Graders

I got this project idea from the Art Teachers group on Facebook.  A teacher had posted a similar personal grid lesson from high schoolers with stunning results!  I loved the concept and adapted it for my 4th and 5th grade class. The first step is to divide your 12″ x 18″ paper into 3 inch squares using a ruler.  Then you fill in each squares with drawings and designs that are personalized to tell something about yourself.  The catch is … Read more…

Abstract Paintings Inspired by the Art of Shinique Smith

Have you heard of the artist Shinique Smith?  I just love her artwork!  It’s very gestural, colorful and it just draws me in to look at more closely.  I love the use of fabric with graffiti-like painted marks.  Her art combines traditional art media with non-traditional materials like clothing and stuffed animals.  She is influenced by street graffiti and Japanese calligraphy.  She works in paintings, drawings, installations, wrapped bundles, sculptures and videos.  There was an exhibit of her artwork in … Read more…

Non-objective Drawings by 3rd and 4th Graders

I love non-objective art. Non-objective art means that the art does not represent or depict person, objects or places.  It is a picture with lines, colors and shapes as the subject. I teach this drawing project every year and the results are always beautiful. The children learn about concepts such as types of line, organic and geometric shapes, shading, values, variety of sizes, variety in general, overlapping, texture (from rubbing plates) and how to categorize non-objective, abstract and realistic art. … Read more…

Easy Dot Pictures

I was out for a couple days with a sub earlier this year (around Valentine’s Day) and I found this easy dot picture idea.  Since it was around Valentine’s Day, I left in my plans that kids could make hearts for their design or if they wanted to draw a different design that was fine too.  The steps are simple and easy, which is great for a substitute lesson.  I usually don’t leave paint for sub lessons, but I figured … Read more…

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