Thursday, December 31, 2015

6th Grade Radial Symmetry with Foam "Plates"

I love printmaking--especially with easy supplies that are on hand--and this project was perfect for my 6th grade students! We used foam trays from the supermarket as our "plates." The students carved them with dull pencils. 

The project is easy to do and the results are pretty fantastic (lots and "ooh's" and "ahh's" from the students!). Every student was required to create one composition on watercolor paper that had four prints on it. Students who finished quickly and/or who were motivated, could continue on to make a 16-print composition. Either way, they came out beautiful!

The same 3 1/2" printing plate was rotated and repeatedly printed four times
onto the same paper to create a radial print (drawing guide lines lightly in pencil helps to keep things straight).

Objective: Students will create a relief printing plate from foam and use printmaking ink to create a print that has a verity of lines and demonstrates radial symmetry.

Standards of Achievement: Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Carving

Subject Integration: Math

Vocab: radial, linear, symmetry, line, quadrants, print, printmaking, plate, relief, pressure, ink, brayer, construction lines, repetition, relief, styrofoam, transfer

Duration: 4 class (45 minutes each)

Additional references:
This lesson is based on a lesson from Art With Mrs. Nguyen (formally Ms. Graham). She did this project with 4th grade students, but I felt it was just right for my 6th graders as well. I also showed the students the video on Buddhist sand art Mrs. Nguyen suggests on her site, as well as some images of Spanish tiles and Islamic art.

Definitely a keeper! Enjoy!

The completed bulletin board display.  We had our final debrief in from of this display
and added the vocabulary words you see as part of the debrief.

This student created their design a little differently, but it works.

Neatly done!

Look at that detail--from a foam printing plate--AMAZING!


This design is a little off, but created a nice spiral effect.
The success rate on this project was very high for all students.

Here you can see how the 16 mini prints can be combined into
a larger composition. This student wanted to use four different inks
in their work (I hadn't thought of that!). The students are so creative!

This design is great too. Doing the 16 print compositions definitely require
more fortitude from the students, but are truly stunning when done.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Merry Christmas to me! a.k.a. WHEW! It's done!

Well, hello again!

This little house is one of the many that my children
and I created this holiday season from leftover Christmas cards.
The directions can be found here:
It's been a while since I have posted, but I've been trying not to stress over it (too much), since I've had a VERY busy few months. It went kind of like this:

  • (March-June) I had a long-tern substitute art teacher position at the Middle School in my town (which I absolutely loved!). I have a bunch of stuff to show you about that, and I promise, I will in the next few posts.
  • (June-August) I had four kiddos at home, went on three camping trips (one by myself with the kids for WHOLE WEEK--yes, we had a blast, it just sounds scary). Also, I took two graduate classes--that really was scary :-) Naw, it wasn't that bad, but I definitely used up a good portion of my summer working hard.
  • (August-December) I student taught. I taught first-fourth grade at Riddle Brook Elementary in Bedford, NH and then hopped over to Souhegan High School in Amherst, NH for another 7 weeks with ninth-twelfth grade students. 
I just finished student teaching about a week and a half ago and apparently there was this Christmas thing that people were talking about!?! YIPES!

So here I am, a day or two after Christmas and realizing that I am done graduate school (like, really done) and am now able to realize my dream since I was nine years old: becoming an art teacher. I am speechless--and if you knew me you'd realize that I am rarely speechless. Finishing graduate school was a great deal of work, but thanks to my husband, mother, sister, and children, I made it! I couldn't have done it without their love and support (and cheerleading efforts!). I am so lucky and thankful.

Merry Christmas and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season full of love and friendship.

Grade 6 Tasty Thiebaud Cakes

I have already explained that the school I was subbing for last year was celebrating its 40th birthday. If you haven't checked them out already, look at these great 3D cakes sculptures my fifth graders completed for the festivities.

I also wanted a little something for the background of the birthday display so I had this nice little Wayne Thiebaud-inspired drawing project for my sixth graders to work on as they completed their other work (I had actually left this as a sub plan one day when I was out, but that's another post for another day).

These were a fun break for them and they had a great time decorating the cakes. As you can see below, I put them in the background of the birthday display and they really looked cute. This is a nice project to talk about unity and repetition as well as color theory (and of course Modern and POP art).

I have done this project before with elementary school students and they have fun with it too. The directions for this project are here. The sixth graders used oil pastels to decorate their cakes, but construction paper crayons are a less-messy alternative.

Have fun creating your yummy cakes! ENJOY!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Cow Parade at Riddle Brook School!

I just finished my first student teaching placement--I was at Riddle Brook Elementary School in Bedford, NH. My cooperating teacher, Meagan Read, was super-wonderful--very supportive and a wealth of knowledge. Here's a quick one-day project that we were able to do as a finishing touch with the fourth grade classes (the other work will be coming soon, but I wanted to share these now).

Roy Lichtenstein-Inspired Cow
Mrs. Read and I made this cow as our sign for the entire parade
(tempera on paper).

We started off by looking at the book "Cow Parade New York" by Thomas Craughwell and by looking at a couple of mini cow statues I brought in. We then looked at a Powerpoint I had made about six or seven famous artists and a couple examples of their work. I explained that they were going to work together to create a cow inspired by one of the artists. The students were excited to begin and after a quick demo, they could begin working on their portion of the project. Sometimes they could work on their portion of the "Class Cow" at their tables, but other times I called up a table at a time to work on the "Class Cow" at teaching table. They came out so great and the students worked together so well. Prior to class, I had traced a really large cow onto butcher paper--these are about 3'x4' (so calf size). I would have LOVED to make them adult cow-sized, but that will have to be for the future.

When they weren't working on the class cow, they could work on their "personal cows" which were coloring sheets I printed out from the Cow Parade site. I know, you may be saying "coloring pages aren't for me." Yeah, I get it. If you don't want to utilize the resources on the Cow Parade site, that's cool, feel free to make up your own or have students draw their own cows.

This was a fun one day project for the students that inspired LOTS of creativity and discussion about art. I hope you try it! ENJOY!

Andy Warhol-Inspired Cow
(Students colored with markers on a photocopied photo of a cow).
James Rizzi-Inspired Cow
(Students drew symbols and shapes with oil pastels and then
painted them with tempera paint. The black outlines were redone
using the oil pastel once the paint had dried).
Wayne Thiebaud-Inspired Cow
(Each students was given a 6" square of paper and instructed on how to
use oil pastels to shade a sphere (a.k.a. a gumball).
Piet Mondrian-Inspired Cow
(Students took turns placing 1"x 24" strips of yellow horizontally
or vertically onto the cow. Once all of the students had contributed,
students could come back up and glue four 1" squares onto the yellow
strips anywhere they'd like.
Wassily Kandinsky-Inspired Cow
(The cow was divided into a grid. Each student could come up and
paint concentric circles in one of the grid spaces using tempera paint).

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Grade 6 Oil Pastel Fauve Landscapes

Well, I fell in love with these great oil pastels I found in art room of the middle school I was working at. They are chunky and water soluble--Um, hello!?! Water soluble OIL pastels? I do not understand the mysteries of the world, but I must say, my students and I used the bejeebies out of these last semester! 

This shows the stages of the project: Image selection, simplified sketch
and completed Fauve Landscape.

One great project the 6th graders worked on was Fauve landscapes. I have posted a Fauve Landscape project before which was more technical and science-oriented since it involved afterimages and such (check it out here--it makes a grew STEAM project). But this time, I went with a simpler version that still allowed the students to learn about the Fauves and color theory. These came out beautiful and made a wonderful display, but I didn't get a picture of them all together (I know, I can't believe it). Trust me, they are awesome and beautiful. :-)

Here's how it worked:
Students looked through the magazines in the classroom for three landscapes they liked that they thought would work to simplify--these oil pastels don't do detail well. The students met with me and we discussed their choices and they selected one to take to final. They could then simplify the landscape on newsprint using a grid format (or freehand it if they preferred).

Once they were done their draft, I had them transfer the image to a poster-weight paper. I thought that would hold up well. However, you could probably use white drawing paper. Students were encouraged to use at least two colors in each section of their drawing using blending. We had talked about color theory, warm/cool colors and atmospheric perspective so they could make great color choices. Once all of the sections of their landscape were complete, they could use a dark-colored pastel to outlines the sections (similar the some of the Fauve artists).

When done, the finished pieces were glued to a black mat (black paper cut 2" larger than the work). This really made the colors seem so bright and also made the pieces look more finished. Matting work just makes it seem more special.

Ta-da! Beautiful Fauve Landscapes! ENJOY!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

1 Point Perspective Shapes of AWESOMENESS

Ok, so this is a pretty basic 1 point perspective draw-a-long that I did with my 6th grade students. This was left by the art teacher for me to do with the students as their first project of the semester. Since it could be a little dry, I starting calling it "Shapes of AWESOMENESS" and used a super-hero-type voice that really inspired awe in my students :-) or maybe they were worried I had lost my marbles!

One of the students made me this--Thank you!

Anyhoo, this was a great way for them to learn the basics of perspective drawing such as horizon line, vanishing point, height, width, depth, facing size, construction lines, etc. They were able to draw geometric shapes, organic shapes, and letters. I encouraged the students to place their shapes and letters above and below the horizon line.

Once they practiced drawing a variety of shapes and letters on their "Shapes of Awesomeness" test sheet, I gave them another, smaller piece of paper and they could draw their names using what they had learned. They drew with pencil, outlined with Sharpie, then shaded with colored pencils.

My super-smart students then suggested we glue the finished names to their folders (duh, Mrs. P, why didn't you think of that!?!) and that's what we did. The teacher I was subbing for uses basic two-pocket folders for students to hold class paperwork and smaller projects in-the-works and these fit nicely on the cover.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Not-So-Scary Self Portrait Project

Many of my students dread the self portrait. I find that the older they get the more fear and loathing I see when I mention "self portrait." Not to fear! I was finishing up with last semester's 6th grade students and tried this neat twist on the self portrait from Dali's Moustache that uses clear acetate sheets (overhead projector film)--we had a surplus of them in the classroom, but I've also used sheet protectors (but those are more costly).

The students were pretty happy with the results, although some of them took a couple tries to get the hang of the drawing/tracing technique. We used watercolor paper and watercolors for our backgrounds.

I also saw this other version that uses collage for the background and I'm going to try that next time. Thanks, Janet Taylor for the awesome idea--I love collage!


And the bulletin board display of some of the completed self-portraits.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


We all can use a little inspiration, can't we?

I have some WONDERFUL news to share: SIX art ideas of mine have been published in the book "500 Kids Art Ideas" by Gavin Andrews published by Quarry Books! 

This soft-cover book is chock-full of great ideas that will really get your creativity going! There are eleven different chapters in the book that show full color pictures of a variety of art media and projects created by a wide range of ages. There are great ideas for working in felts, fibers, paper and book art, sculpture and 3D, technology and more!

It truly is a beautiful book! Each of the 500 projects has a full color illustration along with a quick list of materials used. While there aren't step-by-step directions for each project, there's enough information to get you started and art teachers, homeschoolers and creative kiddos will be inspired none-the-less.

Author Gavin Andrews is an art educator and artist who is currently employed at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. I love what is written about her on Amazon (on the "About the Author" section for this book), "She is dedicated to the role of art and creativity in people's lives, especially those of her two children, and strives to have people understand that everyone can be creative." I couldn't agree with her more!

Want a copy? Well, I have one right here for you! I'm giving away a FREE copy of the book "500 Kids Art Ideas" by Gavin Andrews published by Quarry Books in my first-eva giveaway! Here are the details:

If you would like to be entered in the drawing to receive a copy of the book, leave a comment below with your name, email address and let me know what book YOU can't live without in your classroom or one that you've read that inspired you. 

I will choose a winner at random on August 31st, 2015. Sorry, only those in the continental United States are eligible for this giveaway.

So, get to writing that comment below to enter! Good luck!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sculpture with Grade 5? It's a piece of cake!

The school I was substitute teaching at was celebrating its 40th birthday while I was there. Naturally, I had to have the students create some yummy cake-themed art in celebration! I decided on a Wayne Thiebaud theme for two of the grades. Grade 5 made these awesome 3D papier mache and collage cakes frosted with (get ready) shaving cream mixed with Elmer's glue. Yeah, I know, kind of crazy--but it was AWESOME!!!

Let's get ready to PARTY! Cakes, cakes & more cakes!! YUM!

I got the idea for these cakes from Mrs. Hahn at Mini Matisse and the students had a blast creating these. This was a great project because it used up lots of little bits of paper, sequins, beads and more and allowed the students TONS of creativity. We received so many compliments on them and they truly looked good enough to eat! Definitely a keeper!


Friday, August 14, 2015

REPOST: Symmetrical Paper and Clay Butterflies

It's been a long summer here in New Hampshire--my kiddos have been on break since June 10th and don't start school again until September 8th--WOW! So, the long and lazy days of summer need some crafting with mom time. Here's a butterfly that Little Miss did today. This is a post from back in September of 2012, but it's a good one--very fun (and shhh....educational too!). ENJOY!

And here's the original post:

Do you know some students who are studying butterflies? This is a great project for children in Kindergarten and elementary school. You can work in so many great concepts with this project: parts of an insect, symmetry, pattern, and more.

I started by having my students cut out the wings and design them and then I walked them through the making of the butterfly body. We finished up by adding the details such as antennae and legs. I really enjoyed this project because it taught science and art concepts, but it also because it allowed the students some self expression; a win/win in my book!

Clay Butterfly With Paper Wings

Supplies Needed:

  • One 6" x 9" piece of construction paper for the wings (light color)
  • Pencil with eraser
  • Scissors
  • Assorted markers
  • Model Magic by Crayola (about the size of a chicken egg), whatever color you want
  • 3 pipe cleaners (chenille stems), whatever color you want


1. Fold the construction paper in half the short way (hamburger or taco fold).

2. Arrange the construction paper so the fold is on the left. Draw a capital letter "B" on the paper extending it so the top and bottom of the "B" touch the top and bottom of the paper.

3. Cut out the "B" shape, but don't cut the middle line (in between the upper and bottom bumps). Write your name on the paper and open it up so your name is face down. These are your butterfly wings.

4. Decorate the wings with whatever designs you would like: big dots, little dots, lines, etc. I showed a couple of butterfly books to the children before they started drawing. I asked them to make their designs symmetrical, or the same on both wings.

5. I then gave each child a ball of Model Magic the size of a chicken egg. I had them pull off a piece and roll it into a 3/4-1" ball. This is the butterfly's head. Place this ball of dough at the top of your butterfly's wings and press down slightly.

6. Divide the remainder of the dough in half (two equal parts). Form he first into a ball. This is the thorax for your butterfly. Place this ball of dough below your butterfly's head on the wings and press down slightly.

7. Roll the remainder of the dough into a hot dog shape about 3" long or so. This is the abdomen of your butterfly. Place this ball of dough below your butterfly's thorax on the wings and press down slightly.

8. Use scissors to cut each pipe cleaner into three equal sections. Poke 2 pipe cleaner pieces into the butterfly's head as his antennae. Wrap another pipe cleaner piece into a coil and poke it into the head for the butterfly's proboscis.

9. Poke the remaining 6 pipe cleaner pieces into the butterfly's thorax (3 on one side, 3 on the other). These are the butterfly's legs.

You're done! Enjoy your colorful butterfly!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Grade 5 Tooled Metal Lines and Patterns

My fifth grade students loved this great little project. We talked about different types of lines (dotted, straight, curved, dashed, etc.) and pattern. I gave the students four little 3 1/2" square pieces of white paper and they could create little compositions that included line and pattern.

Once they were done, they selected one of their compositions to tool into metal. This is a very neat media to work with and this relief technique is called repouss√© which is French for "to push back." You can get the tooling foil online at Dick Blick. It is quite reasonably priced--I was able to get enough 3 1/2" and 4" squares for multiple classes from one roll with some left over.  The foil is easy to cut and use (I use a box cutter but you can use scissors too). To make the marks, I have students use a dull pencil on the metal while it is on a piece of felt that has been folded in half to make a double-thickness. Sometimes students need to go over their lines twice to make a nice, deep mark, but otherwise students have a high rate of success with this media. 

Once the metal portion of the project was done, I gave each student an 8" x 10" piece of mat board and they could take a pencil and extend the patterns and lines beyond the metal square over the surface of the mat board. They then colored the lines and patterns on the mat board with oil pastels. Once done, we hot glued the metal squares to the mat board. 

I think they came out beautiful!

Students could place the tooled metal square wherever they liked
on the mat board (in the center, off to the side, etc.). They then used
color, line and pattern to fill up the space.

The students were VERY engaged during this project and loved the results. The photos don't do them justice--they are beautiful and colorful. ENJOY!

The partially completed bulletin board that shows the variety of the work.

When they were done, I had them affix all four of their design squares (the preliminary sketches they did on paper) to a worksheet and fill out a self-assessment on the back.

P.S. For additional tooled metal projects, check out my Mexican Folk Art Ornaments and Mexican Folk Art Trinket Boxes

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Planning Your Classroom Design? Look at this research...

Well, I've been busy this summer taking one of my last Graduate courses--Research Design, and it has been pretty neat. I've actually enjoyed reading about educational research and it's given me some things to think about as I move into my student teaching this Fall (YIPPEE!! SO thrilled!).

If you are blessed to have a teaching job and a classroom to plan, check out this study called, "Visual Environment, Attention Allocation, and Learning in Young Children: When Too Much of a Good Thing May Be Bad" written by Anna V. FisherKarrie E. Godwin and Howard Seltman. This article was originally published in Psychological Science May 2014. 

Here's the Abstract:
A large body of evidence supports the importance of focused attention for encoding and task performance. Yet young children with immature regulation of focused attention are often placed in elementary-school classrooms containing many displays that are not relevant to ongoing instruction. We investigated whether such displays can affect children’s ability to maintain focused attention during instruction and to learn the lesson content. We placed kindergarten children in a laboratory classroom for six introductory science lessons, and we experimentally manipulated the visual environment in the classroom. Children were more distracted by the visual environment, spent more time off task, and demonstrated smaller learning gains when the walls were highly decorated than when the decorations were removed.

If you don't want to purchase the full article, check out this online write-up from The Association of Psychological Science that summarizes the article.

This study really got me thinking about the visuals that are in the classroom and how they affect student learning. As a graphic designer and a visual person, I get distracted easily by clutter and "stuff" all over surfaces and walls. I also need to be able to know where my supplies are. I felt like this was also true with the students in the middle school art classroom I substituted in this past Spring. I tried hard to organize the classroom to have zones and label drawers and cabinets neatly so that the students (and I) could find things and work efficiently. I also tried to keep visuals to a minimum and have them relate to the project at hand. I think in my future classroom, I would make some adjustments to that even more--I'm always learning!

I hope you enjoy this study as you plan your classroom for the fall!

P.S. If you do want some kick-butt posters for your classroom, check out my free posters here. ;-)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Catching up and 5th grade sculptures...

I've been offline for a bit because my life's been full and busy! I just began a long-term art substitute position at Amherst Middle School in Amherst, NH! The semester was changing over right when I was being trained so it has taken me a couple of days to focus and get used to it all. I'm teaching 5th-8th grade and I'm really excited about this semester and working with my students.

The intro class for 5th graders is a fun one and a long-standing tradition at AMS: plaster casts of the students' hands. The art teacher at AMS, Rachel Rouillard, walked me through the process. It's a bit messy, a bunch of fun, and it gets the 5th graders sitting really still for 10 minutes!

Students began by painting their hands with watercolors, if they wished. Once the plaster was mixed up, I scooped a yogurt cup size amount of gooey plaster into their cupped hands. Then, they waited about 10 minutes. While they waited I explained classroom procedures, etc. Once they unmolded their "sculptures" they could use the watercolors to add more color. On day two, we finished painting and then used the sculptures in a contour line drawing lesson.

They are pretty cool looking, and every one is unique--just like my students!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Guest Post! Lights, Camera, Action!

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to lead a session at the Educational Theater Collaborative's (ETC) Integrated Arts Conference at Plymouth, NH with my colleague and friend, Tiffany Dube. One of the "challenges" we had for the participants was exploring blog writing and I offered a posting on my blog to get them started. 

This post by Jean Butler and Ashley Shorb describes the Integrated Arts Conference in general. These posts were generated by the participants at the conference and reflect their thoughts and beliefs. I'm just happy to post! Enjoy!


New Hampshire Integrating the Arts Conference 2015

Today 50 Arts educators and Artists converged at Plymouth State University to enrich ourselves and share creative and innovative ideas about integrating the arts into the classroom. We are surrounded by glowing visual arts projects and new and very high energy. The NHDOE arts consultant, Marcia McCaffrey, tallied how many students we impact in a year and found the number to over 19,090 students in New Hampshire. Each attendee participated in two workshops.  Workshops were themed around the musical “The Sound of Music” which is being performed at the Silver Center for the Arts in Plymouth, NH.

Guest Post! Connecting Movement with Math Concepts

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to lead a session at the Educational Theater Collaborative's (ETC) Integrated Arts Conference at Plymouth, NH with my colleague and friend, Tiffany Dube. One of the "challenges" we had for the participants was exploring blog writing and I offered a posting on my blog to get them started. 

This post by Jaylene Bengtson and Bob McNutt describes a session they attended prior to mine called "Sixteen Going On Seventeen: Math Meets Movement" led by Rene Martinez. These posts were generated by the participants at the conference and reflect their thoughts and beliefs. I'm just happy to post! Enjoy!


The writers chose this image by Keith Haring
because of the movement it represents.

In our first breakout session we learned how movement can be utilized to support math concepts in a variety of levels across grade levels. We experienced how to make both physical and mental connections that reinforced the learning of difficult mathematical expressions. Coming from both Art Education and Physical Education we can incorporate our own ideas teaching different units with movement.  It can also be used in a variety of other teaching professions.  Great session lead by Rene Martinez and we highly recommend using movement in the classroom.
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