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Talking Sticks

The talking stick is used in many Native American traditions. Whoever holds the stick has the right to talk.  The talking stick is used to make sure that each person in a group has a chance to express his or her own thoughts. Everyone else has to show respect and remain silent. When the speaker is finished talking, he or she passes the stick. My 2nd graders created beautiful sticks with wire, chenille stems, beads, feathers and paint to be used as … 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…

Patterned Tape and Wood Scrap Sculptures

Patterned Tape and Wood Block Sculptures (9)

What can you make with patterned tape and wood scraps? This is an open-ended project that is sure to delight your kids.  For some reason, colorful patterned tape is very appealing to kids (and many adults.)   Materials used: Mat Boards (donated from a frame shop) Scrap wood (donated and picked up from an art supply swap) Colored and patterned Tape The students selected pieces of wood and then wrapped the blocks in colorful tape.  These pieces were taped or … Read more…

Clay Projects for Kids

Clay Bobbleheads

Hello!  Today I am going to catch up on some of the clay projects my students have been working on.  The last few weeks we have been busy learning clay techniques, building and glazing.  We weren’t able to use regular clay for the past year since the kiln was out of commission, so my students were itching to work with clay! The 5th/6th grade classes made Clay Castles. We connected a clay unit to their study of the Middle Ages.  … Read more…

Pop Ups and Interactive Parts in an Artwork

Using Pop Ups and Flaps in Art Projects

I read my 5th/6th grade class the book Beautiful Oops, which many art teachers are already familiar with.  It’s a great message, but also the interactive parts are very inspiring and fun! We also looked at Barney Saltzberg’s other book A Little Bit of Oomph.  Both of these books have parts that fold out, pop out, twist or turn! Here is a video from Workman Publishing about the oomph book.  You can see the pages of the book if you … Read more…

Paper Line Sculptures with Kindergarten

I usually start the year with kindergartners learning about and using lines.  In previous years we have made line paintings and line sculptures with wire and pipecleaners.  Another fun project we made was line windsocks by rolling up line paintings and adding tissue paper streamers. We’ve done line drawings (check out what my old blog used to look like before I moved it over to this website.) This year I was reminded by Cassie Stephens of a project I used … Read more…

Medieval Day at School

Medieval Knight Sculptures

Near the end of the school year our 5th/6th grade students put on a Medieval Day for the entire school.  They researched and planned activities including dancing, food sampling, jousting, catapulting, exhibits and displays and of course, ART! My 5th/6th grade classes made paper mache knight sculptures starting with a newspaper armature.  They added Medieval clothes and weapons to accessorize.  Some of the materials we used were cardboard, wood, cloth, leather, raffia, doll hair, yarn and felt. One of my … Read more…

Paper Hats with 2nd Graders

Making Paper Hats with 2nd graders

This is just a quick post to share with you a simple and fun project for the end of the year.. paper hats!  The kids started with a long strip of construction paper, drew designs on their hats with construction paper crayons, punched out shapes and added fun paper extensions from the scrap box.  The strip was placed around their head and stapled by me. We got more use out of our paper sculpture techniques poster (below).  Easy.  Fun.  Practice … Read more…

Making Talking Sticks with Kids

Making talking sticks by painting and decorating branches.

Earlier this year, one of the second grade teachers approached me about an idea for an art/social studies collaboration.  She had read a story to the children about a tribe which used talking sticks. She thought the students would be interested in making their own special talking sticks.  This could be a great project to accompany character education on taking turns and listening. Talking sticks have been used in native tribes of the Northwest Coast (North America) and in Western … Read more…

Making an Assemblage & Learning about Louise Nevelson

Learning about Louise Nevelson and making an assemblage with children

  I have seen variations of this project many times but have never tried it with my students.  I am pleased with how our assemblages turned out!  This was a great opportunity to clean out the junk in the classroom and teach about using found objects. My Primaries (or first grade) learned a little about American sculptor Louise Nevelson.  There is a short clip on YouTube that explains about her artwork. I put a call out to families to donate … Read more…

Paper Masks and Paper Sculpture Techniques

Paper Sculpture Techniques Poster

These lovely paper masks were made by my second graders.  The students learned different paper manipulation techniques including controlled tearing, punching paper with Fiskars squeeze punchers, cutting with paper edgers , crimping paper with a paper crimper, making forms, cutting spirals, folding zigzags and more. I created a poster with paper manipulation techniques using ideas that I had seen on other sculpture posters, like this one.   I should have made a poster like this years ago.  I have referred students … Read more…

Learning about Lines

Lines are an excellent starting point for lessons with Kindergarteners.  To begin this line unit, we read the book Lines That Wiggle.   The students used colored tape to make straight lines across their paper.  We talked about horizontal, vertical, diagonal and ziz-zag lines. During the next class period, the students used tempera cakes to paint a variety of lines:  wavy, loopy, dotted, dashed, squiggly, spiral, jagged and more.  Aren’t these lovely and expressive? After the painting project, we moved … Read more…

Make a Magical Wand

Make a Magical Wand

Every so often, I host after school art classes.  I try to have some fun projects that I wouldn’t normally teach during the school day.  These magical wands were a hit with both the boys and girls who signed up for this class. Use dowel rods or natural sticks as the wand base.  Twist, tie, wrap and hot glue fabric, ribbons, feathers, pipe cleaners and colored tape around the stick.  Tie on flowers, add glitter glue and sequins and use … Read more…

Art and the Brain: How do kids imagine their brains?

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”100%”] How do you experience your brain? What does your brain do for you? How can you express the feelings of your brain? [/cryout-pullquote] Students at our school connected with a scientific researcher to create diverse and artistic representations of their brains.   I teach art at a school for gifted and talented children.  Our students are highly interested and curious about science, so when I was contacted by Ayla Kruis to work with her on a project … Read more…

Paper Mache Masks — 3rd & 4th Grade

These paper mache masks by the 3rd/4th grade received lots of compliments when they were hanging in the hallway. The class was studying Native American history in their Social Studies and we looked at some Pacific Northwest Coast masks and we discussed the functions of masks in general throughout the world. We started with a mask form (made of paper mache) that I ordered in a class pack from Nasco.  From this starting point, the students built up and embellished … Read more…

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