Friday, October 31, 2014

The Making of a Spooky Village and a Poem

Happy Halloween!

Here's a look at the Scary House Prints my students created last week in after school art class. I had each of them donate one print to me and we created a spooky village. I had a kiddo use the formative assessment "poem activity" I spoke about here to create a spooky poem about the halloween village.

"Halloween Houses
Scary Like a Bat.
Spooky Night!"

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Viewing and Writing About Art: A Language Arts Formative Assessment For All!

I'm so excited to share this neat writing/language arts activity I learned about at a recent conference! I really think it has TONS of great uses! 

I'd like to thank Robin Perringer, art teacher at Nashua High School, for sharing this with me. She uses this with her high school students as a formative assessment--she mentioned she uses this in her ceramics class, but says you can use this with any of your students at any age level or with work they've created themselves or work by someone else (famous or not).

NOTE: Do not tell your students they will be writing poetry! :-) My experience has been that a scant few will be excited, but many will either go pale with shock and start stressing right away or exclaim "no!" and refuse to create a "silly" (or whatever creative adjective they can think of) poem! ;-) Once they are done, the students are always so blown away by the awesome writing they've done.

Georgia O'Keefe, Cow's Skull with Calico Roses, 1931

Here's how it works:

1. Have your students look at a piece of artwork. This can be a piece they've finished (or think they've finished), someone else's work in the class, or a famous work of art.

2. Have your students create the following:

  • Line 1: A creative name for the piece
  • Line 2: An action phrase based on what you see
  • Line 3: A simile or metaphor that describes the place/location/character or object
  • Line 4: Another title, but simpler
And there you have it--an awesome "poem" and a sneaky way to check your student's understanding and get them thinking and talking about art!

Here's an example using an image by Georgia O'Keefe...

Smooth Porcelain Petals
Clutching, Hanging, Captured
Cold, like the dessert night.
Bone White.

I'm definitely putting this in my toolbox for future classes! ENJOY!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Printmaking with Shapes: Spooky Haunted Houses

Cue the scary music! It's time to get spooky! In my after school class we talked about silhouettes and nighttime and fall. Although we don't usually walk around outside at night--we may be doing that soon if we Trick-or-Treat at Halloween. Halloween can be lots of things: scary, exciting, spooky, cold, dark, and tingly (I love that one!). I had the idea to create a spooky neighborhood and I asked the students to help me by creating their own Spooky Houses.

We had tried another way of making printmaking plates the week before, but the students were struggling a bit and I knew the final results might be "eh" instead of "WOW!" The class is made up of first- through fourth-graders and since they were all struggling with the media, I realized I chosen the wrong way to go about this project! So I rethought the project over the week and this is what I came up with...

We used sticky back foam shapes to create the "silhouette" or outline of our houses that we could then print onto different colors of paper. That's the cool thing about printmaking--you make one plate and you can re-ink it and print it multiple times! Below are the directions for the project. We did it during one after school class period, but I would do this over three regular art classes (to also include a basic writing component--more on that later). Anyway, this will get you started:

On the left: Printing plate example
Middle: The print
Right: The haunted house print embellished with details.

Spooky Printmaking Nighttime Houses

Supplies Needed For the Printing Plates:

  • Sticky-back Foam Shapes (I bought larger sheets and cut my own shapes from them--squares, triangles, long, skinny strips, rectangles, etc.). 
  • Mat board or foam core cut into rectangles for the printing plate (ours are 5 1/2" x 7" because that's what I had).
  • Scissors
  • Pencils
Directions to make the Printing Plates:
  1. Arrange the foam shapes onto the plate to create the silhouette or outside shape of a spooky house. I had the students arrange the pieces first, then when they liked what they had created, they could peel the paper off the back of their shapes and attach them to their plates.
  2. Add elements to the background: bats, ghosts, etc. Attach those to the plate as well. Younger kids may need help cutting out complex shapes such as bats.

Supplies Needed For the Prints:
  • Your completed printing plate (from above)
  • Newspaper for covering surfaces
  • Solid colored papers (We used orange, 2 shades of purple, and lime green cut to 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" rectangles)
  • Washable printmaking ink in black
  • A soft rubber roller
  • A piece of plastic-coated butcher paper (maybe 14"x 17" or so)
  • Masking tape or painter's tape
Directions to make Prints:
  1. Before you begin, set up your work area by taping the butcher paper (plastic-side up) to the work surface on all four sides with tape. This will be the area you'll use for the ink and roller. Squirt a bit of ink on this area and use the roller to spread it around and load the roller. Also, place newspapers on the rest of your work surface.
  2. Ink up the plate, and place a sheet of paper on top of it, rub and press gently & remove. Ta da! A print. Move it to a drying area (that has been covered with newspaper) and let dry.
  3. Repeat to create more prints. I had the students make three to take home and one for me.
  4. Let the prints dry before moving on to the next step.

Supplies to Embellish and Complete the Spooky Houses:
  • Glue sticks and Elmer's glue
  • Large sheets of black construction paper (12 x 18"), 1 per student
  • Scraps of yellow, orange and red paper for windows and moons
  • Scissors and pencils
  • Sharpies (thin and thick)
  • Googly eyes (optional)
  • Halloween stickers (optional)
Directions to Embellish and Complete the Spooky Houses:
  1. Have students glue three of their prints to the black construction paper sheet using a glue stick.
  2. Have students draw and cut out windows and moons, etc. from the yellow scraps of paper. They can trace their pencil lines with Sharpie, if they like. My students also used Sharpies to add cracks to their windows, spiders, and scary phrases to the doors like "Keep Out!" and such.
  3. Glue the windows, doors, and moons, to the prints using glue sticks.
  4. Add goggly eyes to any critters on their prints, if desired: ghosts, cats, bats. Use Elmer's glue for that.
  5. Embellish with stickers, if desired.
Close up of my trial print.

And now you are ready for a Spooky Fall Night! ENJOY!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Leaf Man Nature Collages

The beautiful fall colors are fading away up here in New Hampshire (since we've had days of rain and wind), but I wanted to share one of my favorite art projects to do with kids of all ages: "Leaf People (or Leaf Critters)" made with elements from a nature walk and inspired by Lois Ehlert's book, "Leaf Man."

My teacher followers might say, "YAWN. Seen it before." And you are right, but kiddos from Pre-K to 4th like doing this project and every time they do it, their pieces get more and more sophisticated. Also, their observations of the natural elements develop the older they get. What a great link to literature and science!

Here's the "Leaf Man"Book.
Another book by Ehlert that is also perfect
for this time of year is "Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf" as well...

My after-school kiddos were stuck inside due to rain, so I was responsible for gathering materials for this project. Ideally, I like to take students outside to gather/discuss leaves and seeds. Either way, it pays to have some teacher-supplied elements so that everyone isn't using the same shape leaf in their pieces. I collected about 15 different types of leaves, some twigs, acorns, and maple tree "helicopter" seeds, but I bet you could find even more than that given a little time. Collect the leaves right before you plan to use them since you want them to be pliable and not crispy.

Here's the abbreviated timeline for the project:

  1. Read the book "Leaf Man." How did the Illustrator, Ms. Ehlert, use natural materials such as leaves to make animals, insects, and people?
  2. Talk about background. Notice the backgrounds in the book--how are they made? Are they all the same?
  3. Show the students how to tear a piece of scrapbook paper in half in an interesting way. Now we have two pieces of paper. They can be layered this way (demonstrate) to create different types of backgrounds: a lake with mountains in the back, etc. Trade one of your pieces with someone in the classroom and practice making different backgrounds until you get one that you like.
  4. Glue down the background pieces onto a third piece of scrapbook paper using a glue stick.
  5. Create a leaf person, a leaf critter or both on your background. Don't glue the nature pieces down right away--try out different leaves and seeds. When you are happy, then glue it down using goopy glue (Elmer's glue). I had eyeball stickers on hand for them to add as well--the kids like that! But you could use googly eyes, draw the eyes using a Sharpie, or only use natural elements like Ehlert does.
  6. Let dry and enjoy!!
Here are some examples from class:

Did you know: The leaves used on the illustrations of "Leaf Man" were collected all over the U.S. by Ehlert and friends and color photocopied to retain their beautiful colors until she could create the illustrations for the book. What a great way to preserve the leaves--I wouldn't have thought of that!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Using Thinglink to Think about Social Studies and Art...

Here's another image I made using (I'm a little obsessed with it!). I thought I'd make an example to show how it could be used for a flipped classroom situation or as a hook to get students thinking and writing about Social Studies

You could create a clickable image and keep it private on Thinglink--that means that only people who have the link can see it. You could have your students log in, check out the image (watch videos, visit websites you link to the image, etc.) and then leave comments below the image. What a great way to get them interested in a subject and breathe life into a stuffy textbook.


Look at this image. BEFORE you click on the links, think about what you see. What is going on here? What are these people doing? How do they feel?

Now, click on the image and explore the links to find more information...

After exploring, write a comment below this blogpost about what YOU think this image is about (at least two sentences). Be prepared to discuss...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Integrating the Arts and Technology Palette: Just the Beginning!

Yesterday, I gave a talk to the Integrated Arts students at Plymouth State University about using technology in their fabulous Integrated Arts lessons. What a great bunch of students--so creative and smart! It was so fun sharing with them.

I focused on mobile apps and websites they could use to search for lesson, plan lessons, but also have students use to learn, document and create. Below, is the image from my talk. It makes more sense when I'm explaining it (I think), but it has some wonderful resources I believe you will love to explore.

The image was made by me in Illustrator (you may recognize the creative brain from my "21st Century Skills" art poster seen elsewhere in my blog). Once the image and subjects were on the image, I imported it into and added the clickable buttons. What I like about creating images like this is that all of the resources I needed for my talk are right here. I just opened up the image during the presentation and used it. I had also sent the link to all of the students prior to the talk and they had the images on their computers as well so they could follow along with me. This was great since it took seconds for them to get to websites and videos I wanted them to explore. And they can keep this image for future reference!

So check it out and see if there's something here that gets you thinking about a new way YOU could use technology in your lessons...let me know what you think up--I love to hear. Also, if you already use technology in your classroom (art classroom or not) let me know what you do and I can share it with the students.


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