Saturday, December 10, 2016

Dunkin Donuts Box O'Joe Gingerbread House Craft!

I have a really cool project for you today that my daughter and I are super-excited to share with you! One of my family members had brought a "Box O' Joe" from Dunkin Donuts to Thanksgiving dinner and since I am a hoarder, ahem, art teacher, I couldn't throw the weird-shaped box away. I thought it would be perfect as a gingerbread house!

Box o' Joe Image Source:

I thought of having my daughter create her own decorations for the house, but she's six and I thought she might get frustrated creating all of the "bits" from construction paper. Then I thought I could print out a couple of coloring pages that have candy on them, have her color them and then cut them all out. A good example of a *free* candy printable you could use is here. Now my daughter's good with scissors, but you know who would actually get stuck cutting all of those little bits out!

Then I was out at Hobby Lobby the other night and happened to see foam candy shapes. The package had 100 foam shapes for $5.99 but it was on sale for $3. There were gingerbread people, red and green glittery gumdrops, and red and green starlight mints (all peel and stick). Unfortunately, I do not see these on their online site, but you could probably get similar items near you.

This was a great craft for us to do together but with little involvement from me. I love crafts like that where I don't have to set the pace and she can really go on her own and make the project her own. I was there just there to make the windows and use the glue gun, if needed. It was a relaxing, calorie-free project that will last throughout the holiday season!



And in case you are looking for step-by-step directions, here they are!

Materials Needed:

  • 1 empty Box 'o Joe from Dunkin Donuts (remove the bag of liquid and discard)
  • A piece of red corrugated cardboard for the roof and windows (our piece was 12" square and came from our recycling bin)
  • Scraps of yellow or orange paper, optional, for the windows
  • Scraps of green paper for trees
  • Hot glue and glue gun
  • Scissors and an X-acto knife
  • Tempera paint (brown, white, red (for roof, if you can't find red cardboard))
  • Paint brushes
  • Glitter glue (totally necessary!!)
  • Bag of sticky-backed foam candy shapes (or you can make your own decorations)
  • A base for your creation--ours is a cardboard used when cake decorating
  1. Paint the outside of the box with brown tempera paint. Let dry.
  2. Cut a square for the roof and edge with white paint. Let dry.
  3. Cut a slit in the roof and slide it over the handle of the box. Adhere with hot glue.
  4. Adhere the entire box to the base now, if you'd like.
  5. Create some windows by cutting 6 little strips of red cardboard and glueing them to make a window. Glue the window frame to a piece of yellow or orange paper, if desired to create the illusion that a light is on inside the house. Make as many windows as you like and glue to the house with hot glue.
  6. Now's the fun part--stick candy all over the house! I love peel-and-stick foam shapes so that the kids can to it themselves and don't have to wait for glue to dry.
  7. Create trees from paper and stand-up gingerbread people and attach them to the base with hot glue.
  8. Glitta it up baby!! I squeeze glitter glue on a paper plate and have my daughter use her finger or a paint brush to add some bling all over everything!
You are done! Enjoy your easy-peasy gingerbread house!

Box o' Joe Image Source:

Monday, November 14, 2016

Looking at a NH Artist: Don Gorvett


I never know where I am going to find inspiration for my art lessons! A couple of weeks ago, I was browsing a craft fair in New Hampshire (by myself--Yay! MOM TIME!!) and I was chatting with lots of the artisans there. To one couple, I had mentioned that my 7th graders were learning about relief printmaking and they mentioned they had seen a feature on NH Chronicle about a woodcut artist named Don Gorvett. Of course, I HAD to check it out! Boy, am I glad I did! Don Gorvett, a woodcut artist with galleries in Portsmouth, NH and Ogunquit, ME, does these amazing seaside-themed reduction prints that my seventh graders were in awe of.

Another great video about Don's work is "Moonlight Drawbridge"

I showed this video AFTER my seventh graders had completed a linocut project, so they had a bit of experience from which to view this video and process Don's work. Of course, their pieces were 4" x 6" and done using flexible printing plates I had in my new classroom. In contrast, Don's work is done on large piece of plywood and he sometimes uses up to 8 colors to our humble 1 color. After I showed this video to the students, there was silence. And some of them had their mouths gaped open. Seventh grade! :-) Yipes! 

Anyway, fast forward to the weekend. My hubby and I went away on a 23-hour anniversary celebration and we drove up to the Portsmouth, NH area to see the sites, shop a bit and have dinner at one of my, ahem, OUR favorite restaurants. My husband suggested we go to Don's gallery, and who do you think was there? Don himself, working away. He graciously took time away from his work to talk to my husband and I about his work and gave me some tidbits about being an art teacher and how I can foster a climate of creativity and wonder in my students. I am so glad we stopped in to visit! I also was able to post a picture of Don and me on "The Instagram"--the account I have for my students' work and artsy happenings at our school! Having an Instagram account is new for me, but I am trying (10 followers-YAY!)!
Hanging with Don Gorvett in his Portsmouth, NH studio/gallery.
So, I would HIGHLY recommend looking at Don's work as well as taking the opportunity to show the work of local (to you) artists. This can be done by showing the students real work or artifacts, a video from the Interweb, or a video you made yourself, or having the person come to your school for an artist visit and demonstration. BTW: Cassie Stevens just began a new series on her blog called "field trip" where she takes her students on a virtual video field trip to meet artists. Her first installment features a musician and visual artist named Bebo. Check that out too!


Thursday, October 27, 2016

NH Art Educator's Fall Conference 2016!!

The New Hampshire Art Educators Association's (NHAEA) Fall Conference is one that I look forward to every year--"Clear the calendar! My Conference is coming up!!!" I love to connect with old friends, meet new friends, enjoy a lunch that is made for me and that I don't have to clean up after (hey, I do have four kids!), and get my artsy-ness on!! I purposely sign up for hands-on art making workshop choices. While I love me some lecture on art education theory, I don't get to make art as much as I would like, and art school was a-ways back in time, so any chance I have to create and learn new things I can take back to my classroom, I am game!

Interacting with the art at the Currier Museum...

This year's conference was fabulous and inspiring! It was held at the New Hampshire Institute of Art (NHIA) in Manchester, NH. Keynote speaker NH Artist/Illustrator/Author Marty Kelly spoke about his artistic process and how his multiple "failures" have been useful to his creative process. He urged us as educators to create a "culture of failure" in our classrooms where it is OK to make mistakes and take chances (leading students to further growth, risk-taking, exploration). He suggests that failure is part of the learning process and is essential to learning and growth. He encouraged us to change our attitude about failure as well as our students' attitudes about it as well. He explained that if we are afraid to fail we will be afraid to imagine, innovate, explore, and try. Having a classroom culture where failure is accepted and seen as an opportunity for discussion and growth also allows students to begin to accept advice and criticism and use what is right for them. He says that failure is a "pit stop along the road to success." 
Keynote Speaker: Author and Illustrator Marty Kelly
Photo courtesy: NHAEA website (
This is particularly useful to me as much of what we do in the middle school art room is moving away from product-focused, cookie cutter art to process-focused, student-centered work where the students are encouraged to problem-solve, explore and make the piece their own. This is a tough transition for some and some students struggle when they do not have a teacher-model to "copy" and are asked to try and explore and adapt. I've often have students come up and ask, "Is this an A? Am I done?" The first couple of times this happened I was floored, now I counter with: "I don't know, are you done? Take a look at the project objectives and talk to one of the other students in class to see if they have suggestions for further improvement (or to see if your piece is "saying" what you want it to say)." To me, this part of the creative process is a gradual release as the students' confidence and skill-level increases, ultimately preparing them for the independence and self motivation that high school will require. 

Session 1: Reinterpreting With Recylables. I went on a mini field trip to the Currier Museum of Art and saw the Mount Washington show that just opened. Mount Washington is the highest mountain in New Hampshire and is known throughout the world for its crazy weather. We went downstairs to classroom and Linn Krikorian taught us how we can use the art and artifacts within the Currier's collection as well as from life and other disciplines and have students reimagine them using recycled materials. Resources were shared for places to get interesting recyclables and for using this idea across the curriculum. Then Megan McIntyre discussed how art can be used to facilitate other ideas across the curriculum such as Science, Math, etc. This is particularly pertinent to me in my art room as I strive to develop lessons that are individualized and cross-curricular in nature. This lesson idea (and its spin-off ideas) will be helpful to me as I encourage the students to observe and reinterpret art and artifacts in class but make them their own. 

My take on a Robert Indiana from the Currier's collection.

Session 2: Structures to Sculpture (Bookmaking) This was a wonderful hands-on session led by Erin Sweeney, professor at NHIA (and her student helper Karen) taught us about a number of book-making techniques and led an open discussion amongst the creative educators present as to how we are currently using these structures within our classrooms and how we could potentially use them even more. Connections to other courses were discussed as well as connections to STEM/STEAM. While the pieces we made weren't complete (just the "bones" of the books and not fully developed within), the examples took the 2D linear idea of "book" and transformed it into 3D sculptural forms (easily!!) that could be used in our teaching in a number of ways (assessment, reflection, student mini portfolios, the documentation of a unit or the transformation of an idea, etc.). This was a VERY relevant workshop in that it allows a student to move from 2D to 3D in a seamless and accessible way while allowing them to reflect on a process or subject matter and use the 3D model-making techniques that we strive to teach them in class. This will definitely be applied to my future 7th and 8th grade classes next trimester! 

Busily working at the Structures To Sculpture Session led by Erin Sweeney.
Photo courtesy: NHAEA website (
After our sessions, we met back in the mail hall for closing remarks, a raffle (nope, didn't win anything this year), and a wine a cheese reception sponsored by NHIA. I went away physically tired, but rejuvenated and with so many great ideas that I can bring back to my students!

And here are some other images from the Currier workshop--the art of my classmates. ENJOY!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Positive and Negative Space Sketchbook Activity/Worksheet


We are moving right along with a wonderful unit on Art Nouveau with the seventh graders (details of the process to come in future posts). Phase One: they are using Blick Ready Cut to create nature prints that demonstrate positive and negative space. I brought out a few fine art images and we discussed positive and negative space and I had them do a quick journal/sketchbook activity that is perfect for developing their print idea (I didn't want to influence the "nature" subject matter of their print design, so we did this exercise with art supplies I had in the classroom).

Positive/Negative Space Scissors

Image source: Matt Klaber at Butler Tech
First, I showed them this great illustration of positive and negative space from  Matt Klaber at Butler Tech.  I then had them:

  1. Draw two boxes side by side on a page of their sketchbooks. 
  2. Select an object from the bin of goodies I provided OR something in the room.
  3. Using pencil, trace or draw that object as many times as they could in the boxes they created.
  4. In one box, color the POSITIVE space using a marker of their choice. In the other box, color the NEGATIVE space with the same color.
Ta-da! Here's some results:
Binder Clip

Glue Stick

Hole Punch

Silk Flower

Masking Tape Roll

Friday, September 16, 2016

Break out the sketchbooks!

My team teacher and I decided to have the students use sketchbooks this year and we are really excited about them. We ordered basic two pocket paper folders with tabs (1 for each 7th and 8th grader) because we felt this was a good option. Using folders is inexpensive and flexible--we were able to use the stacks of newsprint, copy paper, lined paper and graph paper that were in the room already and the folders also have a place for handouts to be three-hole punched and inserted.

We started the first day having students hand letter their names and draw at least three things into the design that told us something about them. I showed them illuminated manuscripts and graffiti for inspiration. I had them use 4x6 index cards and ink and colored pencil. They worked on these for a couple of days and then affixed them to their sketchbooks with glue stick.

We also gave them handouts to keep in their sketchbooks. So far, they have the copy of the art contract we have the students bring home for the parents to sign as well as the "What Will I Learn in 7th (or 8th) Grade?" handout inspired by the Art of Education. See their version here.

We also wanted to have them jump right into drawing in these sketchbooks, so I thought this would be a great time to do Danny Gregory's AWESOME sketchbook activity I learned about during the Art of Education's Summer 2016 Online Conference. Basically, students grab a Sharpie (I know! How permanent!!) and move about the room drawing different things for two minutes a drawing. It was awesome and a very good way to get them to loosen up! Here are some of their pages from the day:

Students were asked to star their most successful piece and explain
in the margin why they thought it was the best.
This was a great activity to break in the sketchbooks. This week students are working on a graphic design piece, so they are adding notes to their sketchbooks, but more sketchbook activities will be coming soon! ENJOY!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Getting Ready for MY First Day!

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while, but I've been enjoying life! I've been having a wonderful summer with my husband and four kids, reorganizing and renovating our home (yay! new bathroom!) camping, attending an online art conference and reading all sorts of non-scholarly books.

But, it's time to get serious. It's time to get ready for MY FIRST CLASSROOM! Yippee!! I'll be teaching 7th and 8th grade part-time at Amherst Middle School. I have a very large classroom and I am taking over for an art teacher that was VERY neat. The room was like a blank canvas and many of us know what it is like to sit staring a blank canvas: Blink. Blink. What am I going to DO?

Well. I just took a step and began. I decided the pressure was off to get my room 100% "DONE" (as if it ever would be!) for the first day of school. I feel as though the classroom is a very organic space where there are certain things that are constant (signs for where materials are located, the elements and principles bulletin board, the standards/competencies board), but I need to be able to have places to display student work and visuals and inspiration that pertain to what they are working on. So, I got a couple of the constants done and today I'm labeling my supply cabinets.

Here's are some of the highlights:
My Teacher Zone
Teacher Zone: I covered the old metal desk with contact paper. I think it needs a little something in the center or some inspirational art quotes on it...I'll work on that. My computer hasn't been set up, but will be soon. In the bookcase to the side, I have a couple of gallons of water (I try to drink a lot of water during the day) and a teacher toolbox for my supplies. I got the printables for the teacher toolbox on TeachersPayTeahcers--love the imagery!

Labels by Teach Create Motivate
The banner above the desk was done using the freebies I got at the Art of Ed Online Teacher Conference I attended this summer. This is NOT my idea, but rather a copy of an image I saw on Pinterest. I loved it and knew it would be perfect for the students at my school since we are using the Courage to Care Program and I believe that courage can come in many forms and I truly believe that it takes an amazing amount of courage to be yourself and take chances (i.e. be creative in middle school). 

Standards/Competencies Area: I am a BIG proponent of the standards/competencies in the classroom. I want EVERYONE to know what they are--parents, students, community members, etc. So, here's the place that I have them for everyone to see. I have the NH State Standards, the National Visual Arts Standards, and the strategic plan that our district is working on (this is an important document for our district and really relates to everything we do in our classrooms and as a district).
Those little art images are postcards I got a while back from IKEA. I plan to keep this up all year.

Standards/Competencies Board
Elements/Principles Bulletin Board: OK, as a graphic designer, I love the elements and principles and feel they need to be displayed and referred often. I saw this great bulletin board idea on the interweb and then saw these great posters on Teachers Pay Teachers by Mrs. Nguyen and knew they would work perfectly! The painting in the center is from Goodwill--I just really liked the colors and the op-art look of it. I just pinned these up and haven't committed to the arrangement yet. But I will need to soon! I plan to keep this up all year.

Elements/Principles Board
I'll post more pictures of the room soon, I'm going in today (with some of my kids!!), so we'll see what we get done. This is probably my last classroom-focused day and the rest of my prep I'll do at home on my computer...

Have a wonderful start to YOUR school year!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Foam Reduction Shoe Prints With Grade 5

Before I got all caught up graduatin' and getting an art teacherin' job, I posted a WHOLE BUNCH about the long-term art sub gig I had at Fairgrounds Elementary School in Nashua. If you didn't see the posts, I did a series of them by grade level (Kinder and grades 1-4). I also taught grade 5 while I was there and did some fabulous projects with them. I thought that I'd break those projects out into individual posts, though, since they require a bit more detail to explain, etc. Here goes...

Sassy boots! This print was done on white paper.
First printing: red ink, second print: black ink.
The yellow you see is a piece of paper I matted the print on,
the red is the mat board.
The first day I met the fifth graders, I decided to do a simple winter-themed foam printmaking project with them to catch their attention and size 'em up. I had them create snowman images on foam and them print with one color (white) onto their choice of background paper--you can see this post here.
This print was done on white paper.
First printing: blue ink, second print: black ink.
The yellow you see is a piece of paper I matted the print on,
the red is the mat board.
It went so well, that I thought I would continue on with printmaking and do a 2-color printmaking project inspired by the “Killer Heels” exhibit currently at the Currier Museum of Art (actually, I don't think this is currently on exhibit anymore, but it WAS at the time).

This print was done on purple paper.
First printing: yellow ink, second print: blue ink.
The navy blue is the mat board.
Students created their own printing plate by using pencil to “carve” a picture of their shoe into a foam “plate.” Students then used brayers to apply ink to their plates and print 1 print. Week two, students added a ground line and background, chose a contrasting color of ink and reprinted their designs. These prints were mounted on mat board and displayed at the Currier Museum of Art during the New Hampshire Art Educator’s Association Annual Members Reception in March. 

All prints were mounted onto mat board to look fancy.
I think added little paper hinges to groups of three to four
and ribbon ties so that the pieces could be displayed accordion-style
or create triangular displays such as this
(I didn't know how they were going to be used exactly).

WOW! What place of honor--the buffet table,
right where everyone can see these fabulous prints--
although I think people were too busy looking at the awesome food
they were piling on their plates--YUM!

The final week, students worked as a class to create an assessment rubric that contained the important vocabulary words from the Shoe Reduction Print project. They also determined four attributes that should be found in their finished work. Now, having students create their own rubric was something I had only done with high school, but I really wanted the students to be able to see the value in their work and begin to see that assessment isn't something we teachers pull out of thin air. Was walking the students through the rubric creation difficult. Not really. Was it work to keep them focused? Yep. Did it take a lot of time? Nope--we had it done in about 15 minutes. Was it worth it (really)? You bet. They did a great job and I think it lent credibility to me, the art process and what they do in the art room. Creating rubrics with your students is also a great way to review vocabulary and objectives! Win/win! ENJOY!!

Here's the rubric the grade 5 students created.
Normally, I would type up my rubrics to look all fancy,
but I wanted the students to see that this was the one we
created as a class. Pretty good for a first try.
Detail of the top of the rubric--the vocab section.
They needed to think of three vocab words from the lesson
and decide as a class what a good definition would be. 
Detail of the bottom of the rubric--they needed to come up with
four objectives of the assignment. This was fun walking them through
being objective instead of saying "it looks cool!" I put #5 on there. :-)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...