Thursday, August 31, 2017

In the Art Room: A Fun Drawing Game!

Hey, friends! Last night, on our Facebook LIVE Art Teacherin' Chat (which I host over on my FB page and on Instagram), the topic was sketchbooks. My third and fourth grade students recently finished painting their covers. They've been assembled by me and their job was to decorate them with duct tape and sketches, of course! You can read about how we create out sketchbooks right here
More details on how we "do" sketchbooks: organizing, distributing and purpose in an upcoming post. To be honest, I'm still workin out the kinks on that. However, I did wanna share this game as the kids really loved it and it got them stoked about drawing in their new books. It's not a game that I plan to play a lot as it did take some time to set up...but at least now we'll have our list of words and simply have to roll the dice (which was a Five Below find!). I think this game would also work super duper with a sub. Check out the video to see how I set up the game and to take a peek into their sketchbooks. 

LOVE to hear about your favorite sketch/drawing prompts. This is definitely one that I'll use again!
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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

In the Art Room: My First Day with Kindergarten!

I don't often repeat my art lessons. Mostly because I get new ideas, like to try knew things and it keeps me engaged and excited to teach. However, I do struggle with the kindergarten set. I find them a challenge because they came with in so much of a broad range. It's tough to find projects that teach, engage and empower such a wide range of kiddos. For that reason, when I find something that works with kindergarten, I stick with it. Such is how I created my unit on LINE

I've been doing this unit for several years know and I always find that it works for my students. We start on the very first day of art with this project. I recently filmed myself teaching kindergarten on their first day of art. You can find that here:
For time, I did shorten the clip. Here is what you missed:

* When the kids walk in and I'm getting them seated on the floor and introducing them to our entrance routine, I play this short video on LINE

* From there, I introduce myself and have the kids say my name (as seen in clip). Then I call roll. This allows me to greet the kids and start to learn their names as well as insure that they learn mine. 

* Now we've sat for some time so from here, we stand and stretch. Hence the dance moves.

* After that, we dive into the lesson. I don't use too much vocabulary focus is on getting them to correctly make an arch that stands so they can have immediate success. Success on the first day leads to a positive experience and happy kids. Things that are "too hard" or cause them to struggle and/or give up and what I try to avoid with kindergarten. I also want them to understand how I use glue in my art room. Since we paint the glue on with a brush, this will later help them know how to properly hold and use a paint brush!

* After creating, we "clean". All that means is we put our work in a designated spot and return to the floor. From there, I play the LINE video again as a wrap up and cool down. 

* Then we line it up and head on out! First day in the books.
On their second day in art, I'll introduce them to LINE vocabulary with Larry the Line!
Larry then feeds directly into learning and creating more lines!
On our third visit to art, we'll start to explore the next step in my LINE unit which is painting! You can check that out here
By the way, here is a great technique that I learned from Mona Brooks' Drawing with Children book. It's a GREAT way to bring calm back to your kindergarten art room.

Thank you for letting me share! I hope y'all have a great week. Would LOVE to hear your fave kindergarten tips, tricks and lessons!
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Friday, August 25, 2017

Everyday Art Room, Episode 3

Hey there, friends! Today I'm linking you to the third installment of Everyday Art Room, my podcast. You can subscribe wherever you listen to your fave 'casts or simply take a listen right here. I LOVE sharing with y'all in these podcasts...but I also love to hear from you! We have a special feature called Mail Bag where you can send me your questions and I'll answer them in the podcast. You can message me at Looking forward to chatting with you. Now, here's the transcript:
A lot of times when I am thinking about my art room and myself as an art teacher, I often think of myself as a student and I go back in time and I just remember what really stood out to me. Either my favorite classroom experiences or my least, my favorite teachers, and how I interacted with them or, better yet, how they interacted with me. Then I also think of my least favorite teachers, because I think there’s a lot of learning that we can as teachers by thinking of those non-example, those teachers who we don’t want to follow in their footsteps. I think it’s important to think of things that maybe we feel they did wrong, how that made us feel, so that we can ensure we don’t have that same experience with the students we teach today.
Today we’re going to talk about consequences and I immediately thought of my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Kelly. Now, Mrs. Kelly was a nice teacher, I guess, but all I remember really about Mrs. Kelly is that I tormented this poor woman. You have to understand that prior to sixth grade, I was a pretty good student. I did what I was told, I did pretty well in school, I was, I guess what you say, your average kind of kid. I never spoke back, wouldn’t even dream of it. Never took a trip to the office, I would have been flabbergasted. But all of that changed in sixth grade.
I have a teacher friend. She likes to refer to it as kids smelling themselves, meaning they’re getting a little bit full of themselves, feeling a little bit more confident, and testing the waters. Boy, was I smelling myself in Ms. Kelly’s class in sixth grade.
Here’s why. I sensed a weak teacher. When she would come in, she was very scattered, her lessons were all over the place, and she just looked like she was just one step away from completely falling apart. I was like this little animal that sniffed out her weakness and I took complete advantage. It was in sixth grade that I decided to become a standup comedian and I took the stage the moment that she walked in the door, hamming it up for my classmates.
Now, she didn’t have established consequences. Not that I recall. So, her knee-jerk go-to reaction was to put me in timeout. Now, if you teach sixth graders, which I never have, and I don’t plan on it anytime soon, I can only imagine that putting a sixth grader in timeout is just going to backfire in your face. Those middle schoolers are a little bit too wise for that kind of behavior. Now, her idea of a perfect timeout spot was a really bad choice. I was to stand just out of her eyesight behind her in a corner, which meant that when she taught, she couldn’t see me standing in timeout, and you better believe that was the perfect stage for my antics.
I feel really bad for my behavior, but I also know that establishing consequences that, A, fit the crime, B, fit the students and their age and mentality and, C, make sense, meaning don’t put the kids in timeout behind you, I mean, come on, those are some of the things you really have to consider when you’re establishing your consequences.
We chatted about rules last week, today let’s cover those consequences. This is Everyday Art Room and I’m Cassie Stephens.
Today we’re going to talk about the three consequences that I would encourage you to use to enforce your rules in the art room. But, like always with my podcast, before we can address that, we have a couple of other things we’re going to talk about.
The first thing is this. If you have students misbehaving, you have to ask yourself why. To answer that, you need to reflect on your own experiences as a student, just like I did. If you were a cut up, if you misbehaved, you know there were certain teachers that you misbehaved for, whereas there were others who you wouldn’t even dare. Why was that? I think it’s important to think on your experiences as a student because that helps you get into the shoes of your students today.
Before we can talk about those top three consequences that I would recommend that you use in the art room, let’s address some other things first. For example, why do students misbehave? You teach the most exciting class in the school. I mean, come on. It’s art. Everybody loves art. But sometimes every one of us has had to ask these questions. Why are they not following my rules? Why are the students not responding to my directions? And why are they mistreating my art supplies? [Y’all 00:05:55], what did that poor paintbrush ever do to be ground into that painting like that?
I’ve come up with what I believe to be the four main reasons that students misbehave and I think that once you understand why your students are misbehaving, you’ll better be able to craft consequences for your art room. The first thing is this. This is one reason your students might be misbehaving. There’s a lack of a connection with you. Another one is there’s a lack of engagement with the lessons that you’re presenting. Here’s another, and I’m using the word lack again. A lack of having a voice in your art room. Not you, your students. And, last one, there might be a lack of boundaries.
Let’s focus on this before we think about the rules and consequences. Let’s go back to that lack of a connection with you. Your goal in your art room is to build strong relationships with your students. But that’s such a tall order. I mean, some of us are teaching up to 800 kids. We might only see our students on a six-day rotation. It’s hard for us to even learn their names, let alone find out their interests and build a relationship with them. It’s so much easier for a classroom teacher to do this because they see their students every day. So, how can we, as art teachers, build a strong and relasting – Relasting. Listen to me. Lasting relationship. There we go. It’s a relasting relationship with our students.
Here’s what I would recommend in the short amount of time that we have, and in the large amount of students that we also have. Number one, learn their names. I know. I know. You might have a ton of students. But trust me. Knowing your students’ names is the first step in building a relationship and a connection between you and your students. Another one is this. Give your students that positive, happy feeling. It can be any way that makes you and your students comfortable. I’m not really a high five giver. It feels awkward to me, even though I am extraordinarily awkward. But I am a big-time smiler and a winker, and I also love a good old pat on the back. We also do a little sign language of I love you, which also builds a connection between me and my students, but that’s what works for, I always go back to those three S’s, my situation, my students, and my setup. Find what works for you. Lastly, it’s important to really put value in your student’s effort and not value in the talent that they had when they came to your room. That’s really going to help you build a strong connection with your students.
What I mean is this. When you see a student doing a really great job on their piece of art, it’s important for you to praise their progress, praise what they are working on, but don’t let that praise be confused with them as a person. Meaning, “Oh, you’re such a good artist,” can be a little bit damaging, not just to the student you’re saying it to, but also to all the other ears who happen to hear that comment. However, something like, “Wow, you’re really putting so much effort into developing that line for that drawing,” is a lot more specific and encouraging to other students, and this is going to help you build that connection and relationship with your students.
Another thing that might spike misbehavior is a lack of engagement in your lessons. Oh man. We spend so much time coming up with what we believe to be fabulous lessons, or at least we should be spending time to do that. But you have to stop and think when you’re presenting your lessons or when you’re creating them, is this something that’s going to be engaging for my students? Are my lessons exciting and out of the normal routine of my students’ day? For me, for example, I’m just going to say it, I’m not a big fan of crayons and markers in my art room. It is a rare occasion that we use those two supplies, and here’s why. They can use those supplies in their classroom. They can use those art supplies at home. I know you’re thinking, “But Cassie, you need to each them how to use these supplies properly.” Okay. But that doesn’t mean every project needs to based with those same supplies. It needs to be an out of the ordinary and unusual experience when your students come to the art room. Not every time, that’s exhausting, let’s be honest, but keep those lessons exciting, and that will keep your students engaged.
The other one that I was chatting about earlier was a lack of voice in the art room. I often feel like with projects that we sometimes dream up or pin on Pinterest, they look so beautiful, so we have in our mind what we expect the end result to look like, knowing what that end result is going to look like and providing teacher examples that are hung up on the board, which, hey, I’m guilty of. I use those to build excitement for lessons. But keeping up all of the time and having them on display deletes the voice that your students might have when approaching that project. Because what they see is, “Oh, this is my end goal,” not, “Oh, I have a choice with this project.”
The last one is a lack of boundaries. This is the flip side of what I just said. Sometimes if you build up too many boundaries and make a lesson too constraining, you’re not offering choice. Then on the flip side of that, if it’s too wide open, then there are no boundaries. Not having boundaries established in your art room, and in your lessons, and in your day-to-day routines can really set you up for art room disaster.
Now that we’ve established why students might misbehave, a lack of boundaries, a lack of choice and voice in the art room, a lack of engagement and a connection with you, now let’s address consequences. Consequences are the result of a rule being broken. That’s what a consequence is and that’s what you need to tell your students. Keep it short, simple, and sweet. Guys, consequences are the result of a rule being broken.
Now, last time we chatted about the rules for the art room and I explained that my rules for my art room are based on the word art. Just to review, the A in art stands for aim, the R stands for respect, and the T is for trust. In aim, I want my students to aim to do their best and aim to do the right thing. The R, respect, is respect yourself, respect your classmates, respect the art room. Then the T for trust is trust in yourself and, here’s another one that’s really important to me, trust in your ability to learn. Now, these rules of mine are very broad. They’re also a little conceptual, which can be tough for students to comprehend. Because they are vague and because they might be difficult for students to understand, it’s so important to review the rules a lot that first month and more of school, and to explain, offer role playing. What I plan to do is craft videos that will better help my students understand my rules. But they also have to know that when a rule is broken, there are consequences.
What do my three consequences look and sound like? Let’s talk about it. Let’s start with the warning. What’s a warning? A warning for me in my art room is a gentle reminder to my students that a rule or a routine has been broken. What does that sound like in my art room? I try really, really hard to use the same tone of voice, the same phrase, and the same approach every time I deliver a warning, and here’s why. I’m trying very hard not to waste my students’ time and I’m trying very hard to be consistent, which I struggle with, so I try very hard to use that same tone and verbiage when I’m delivering my warning. It sounds like this, “You have a warning because” and then I tell them what rule or routine they have broken. I leave it just like that. I deliver the message, I look them in the eye, I offer my “You have a warning because”, and I leave it at that.
Now, like I said, the beginning of the school year and with my younger students, I usually will deliver two warnings before I move on to timeout. I don’t tell them that. I just deliver that warning. It’s not a conversation. It ends when I stop talking, meaning I do not expect a response from my students. If they give me a response, then I will issue that very same sentence again. If an argument on their end starts to develop, then we will move on to the second consequence. One thing you need to make sure to do when you’re delivering your consequences is never lose your cool. Remember that ’80s commercial, never let them see you sweat. Never lose your cool. Be completely consistent delivering the same sentence in the same tone of voice, in the same calm manner every single time. After a while, they’re going to realize, “Oh my gosh, she is just going to keep repeating this same sentence over and over again in the same manner and in that same creepy, calm voice, so I might as well get my act together.” That’s consequence number one, the warning.
Let’s talk about consequence number two, timeout. I have used timeout in my room since the beginning of art teachering time, and it’s changed over the course of my teaching. Here’s why. I used to have my students move to a different spot in the room. Remove them from where the activity is. I will be honest, usually my students need to take a timeout break during our beginning of the art class circle time. It usually happens because I have a student who’s very excited or distracted by their neighbor and cannot seem to focus, so I need to remove them from the group. And I used to do that. I used to have a small desk and it was on the other side of the room. I could see this child clearly but they were removed from the situation. I have long since stopped doing that and here’s the number one reason why. When that student would come back and join the group, they often had missed a large part of an instructional time, which meant that I then had to go back and reteach them, neglecting the other kids in the room.
I no longer have a timeout place that’s far away from instruction. Instead, here’s where my timeout is. Imagine this in your mind. My students, when they come to art, they join me on the floor. Like I said, if I have to put a student in timeout, it usually happens during this time, this instructional time, which really isn’t saying much about my instruction by the way. Maybe that’s something I need to think about. Regardless, I have two little taped X’s on the floor in my art room, right behind where my students are seated to listen. If I have a student that needs to take a timeout break, I simply say, “You need to take a timeout because,” I tell them the routine or rule they broke, they know to go and stand on that X.
Here’s why I do this. Number one, they stand because I do not want them to be comfortable. You’re not in timeout because I’m really thrilled with what you’ve been doing. You are in timeout to stand up properly, give me your full attention, and show me you want to come back to the group. All of that is explained and demonstrated on those first couple of days of school.
Another reason I keep my students close when they are in timeout is so they can continue to get all of the information that their students … I’m sorry. That their peers are also getting. That way, they don’t miss out on any instructional time.
I don’t have a set time. I don’t set a timer. I don’t say to my students, “You’re going to be in timeout for five minutes.” I simply tell them to go to timeout. When I’m establishing my rules and routine, I let them know that in order for them to come out of timeout, they need to demonstrate with their body and their listening skills that they are ready to join the group. Usually, so that I don’t call attention to them, I can tell by their body language and the fact that their eyes are on me, that they’re ready to join us, and I simply wiggle my fingers a little bit to let them know it’s okay for them to return to the floor. They almost always do so very quietly. That’s how I operate timeout.
Now, let’s talk about the third one. You’ve gone through warning after warning, you’ve sent your sweet friend to timeout numerous times, and now it’s time to really go to number three. For me, the third consequence, to send students to the office, is what works best for me, my situation, my setup, and my students. I have a very supportive principal and administration and I know that if I send a child to the office, which happens once a year maybe, so this is a very rare occurrence, I know that if I send a student to the office, they’re going to take it very seriously. That might be different for your situation. It might be better for you to reach out to a parent or to talk to the child’s teacher. So really think hard about what will give you the best results when you have a student that’s very difficult to manage their behavior in your art room. Again, think about your setup, situation, and students. We all are different art teachers, so we really need to think about what’s going to work best for us.
That’s how I handle consequences in my art room. Like I said, that’s something that I start teaching about from day one, demonstrating what I’m expecting, and what can happen if my students don’t give me what I’m expecting in my art room. If a rule is broken, there are consequences. Remember to always deliver them calmly and consistently, and you’ll be extremely happy with the results.
Tim Bogatz: Tim Bogatz here from Art Ed Radio. A quick reminder that you can find resources, links, and a full transcript of each show on the AOE website. Just click on the podcasts tab and select Everyday Art Room. If you’re loving Cassie’s podcast, please submit a rating and a review on iTunes. This helps other art teachers discover this amazing show. I also want to tell you about Art Ed PRO, the essential subscription for professional art teachers. It is on demand professional development with video tutorials, downloadable handouts, and all kinds of other resources that will help take your teaching to the next level. The PRO library has over 40 topics, with three new topics released every month, from assessment and curriculum, down to teaching your teens, and firing your kiln. It is the professional development you need, when you need it. Make sure you check it out at the Now let’s get back to the show.
Cassie: Now it’s time to take a little dip into the mailbag. This question I know lots of you guys can relate to. “Cassie, what do I say or do when all these classroom teachers come to me for art supplies?”
Oh, that’s a big one because I know all of us have been in that kind of situation. Let me tell you how to kind of think about it before you answer that question. First of all, think about it this way. Your art supplies are for the art education of your students. Your art supplies are not for the general education of your students. When you think about it that way, it might better help you say no to those requests for paint, or glue, or paintbrushes, or scissors. When you start donating those things out as if your art room were a craft supply store, you are neglecting the art education of your students.
When you have a teacher asking for, oh, just a little bit of paint, and you know it’s always like two minutes before they need it, right when you’re in the middle of teaching a lesson, I mean, let’s be honest, it’s okay for you to say no. “I am so sorry. I would love to help you with that, but these art supplies have been purchased for the art education of my students. And with my budget, I don’t have any to spare.” It’s okay for you to say no. You are the voice for your students’ art education. Perhaps thinking about it that way will help you better say no.
If you guys have any questions for the mailbag, please feel free to send them our way at
Wow. This episode on consequences really was a meaty one, but you can tell that consequences are just as important as the rules you establish for your art room. Remember, before you think of the consequences for your art room, remember to think about your situation, your setup, and your students. Also, think about why your students might be misbehaving and that might inspire you to do some reflection of yourself as a student. Put yourself in their shoes. Remember, it might be because there’s a lack of a connection with you, which your students crave, a lack of engagement or excitement in your lessons, perhaps there’s a lack of voice on your students’ behalf in your art room, or, on the flip side, maybe there’s a lack of boundaries.
Once you’ve kind of sifted through those thoughts, then you can establish your consequences. They might be different than mine but mine are as simple as this. Number one, a warning. Two, timeout. Three, a visit to the office, which, like I said, is an extraordinarily rare occurrence. Remember, when you are delivering your consequences, do so in a consistent, using the same phrase and sentence every time, and in a very calm manner. Consistency and calmness are key to establishing those consequences in your art room.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

In the Art Room: Art Room Decor

 Well, I'm back at it: picking up more things from the Wooden Thingies You Can Paint aisle and goin' to town. I've painted paddles into paint brushes, a picket fence into a stack of pencils and now this fun Tints and Shade sign! 
The other day, I was at Hobby Lobby and spotted this fun little fence. I picked up two of them and used a coupla coupons to bring the price down a pinch. I wasn't sure what I'd do with them until the idea of creating a value scale of tints and shades came to my mind. 
Over a couple of evenings, I managed to get this bad boy complete. It was very similarly to my Stay Sharp pencils. I will say, mixing up a gradient is no joke, especially when you do it over the course of a couple of days. I did struggle a couple of times getting colors to great an even value scale.
 Once the pencils were complete, I added the lettering and the fine lines. I love using black and white lines to give things a cartoon-y look 
 I was going to go with "value scale" or "gradation" but those aren't words we use a lot in my art room. We do talk a lot about mixing up tints and this was what I went with!
  Don't be throwin' no shade now, y'all. 
I also had a chance to hang my Color Families display today! I used Command Velcro strips to hang these and my Tints and Shade sign.
Because I want to be able to remove the crayons and use the as teaching tools, I used velcro dots to add them to the crayon boxes. You can see them in the secondary color box. 
 Now I did mention that I purchased two of these wooden thingies...the other will go over the door to the left of my clock. I plan to paint that in a rainbow gradation...but not sure what I'll write on it yet, if anything. I'm really excited about this area of my art room now! I am loving the new look so much...I am slowly working on giving my entire art room a make over! This is an area that the kids see a lot so it gets first priority. I even painted my easel to match some bookcases I recently redid. I'll have to give a complete tour once complete...although who knows when that will be!
 Until then, this will have to be my happy place!
 Thank you for letting me share!
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Monday, August 21, 2017

Teaching Art Outside of the Art Room

Meet Mallory Hamby, my best friend. I don't use those words lightly, y'all. I firmly believe that there are just a handful of folks in the world who "get" you and when you find those folks, you cling to 'em. Not in a creepy "let's hope they don't file for a restraining order...again" kind of way but in a "I know we've not spoken in a while and yet it feels like yesterday" type of deal. 

I met Mallory several years ago when she was hired as an art teacher in my district. We became fast friends when we discovered our love for all things thrift, kitsch and Pee Wee Herman. You might recall, my friend Stephanie and I throwing her a Pee Wee Baby Shower just a handful of years ago. Since then, she's moved to Tupelo, Mississippi and spends most of her days loving on her sweet baby girl Lydia Dot. During the weekends, she runs Art Adventures with Mrs. Mallory, an art camp for kids! 
Knowing that many art teachers would love to learn more about running an art camp, I asked Mallory if she'd answer some questions for me. Big hugs and thanks, Mallory, for sharing your awesome. I know art teachers who have toyed with this idea will be thrilled to learn from you!

CS: Why did you decide to start teaching art outside of the classroom?

MH: Life happens and plans change. It all started when I took a year off from teaching to stay home with my baby. The plans were for my mom to watch her after that year and I would return to teaching, but life was turned upside down and my mom got very sick and wouldn't be able to take care of her granddaughter. I realized that in order to keep my daughter at home and still supplement our income I was going to have to be creative! It started out as a summer art camp a little over a year ago, just to put my toes in the water. I hated the idea of abandoning my art education roots, so I was determined to make it work. My mom had total faith in me and told me to go for it and not look back, so I did! My husband is a graphic designer and made a flyers, a banner, business cards and yard sign. My first venture into the community to get my name out there was having a free booth at a local kids music and art festival. I let the kids make bubble prints that they could take with them and handed out business cards.
CS: how did you find a space?

MH: The answer to this question has been a huge part of my success. I was extremely lucky in that I had an old friend and fellow artist that owns a local art shop/studio, William Heard. I took a shot in the dark and asked him if he thought it would be possible for me to use his shop for kid's art classes. He immediately said yes! I asked him if he was sure about it several times- having younger students in the shop scared me at first. William works doing art therapy with adults with disabilities in the shop once a week through grants. I was afraid of getting in the way of something so incredible. The fear of stepping on someone's toes was real, but it was such a perfect location and William is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. I realize this was finding a golden needle in a giant haystack and I am super grateful.

CS: How did you let the community know? Did you have connections?

In the beginning, I tried hanging up fliers around town in popular restaurants and local shops, but I soon realized that advertising on Facebook honestly gave me the best turnout. I do have to pay to boost my posts or they are never seen, but it always pays off. My customers message me on Facebook to hold a spot for their child in my classes and pay when they arrive. Also, the owner of the shop/studio where we hold classes is pretty well-known around our small town. Where I live, if you've never heard of someone, you probably know at least one of their friends or went to school with them. Having moved from Nashville back to my hometown has been an adjustment, but I also think that being here has been what has made this work. Besides my Facebook and my Instagram, word of mouth has been powerful! I have had several children tell me that their friend or classmate told me about their experience and wanted to try it themselves.
CS: What has been the response?

MH: The response lately has been incredible! Our town really needs more options for kids to experience different activities- especially when it comes to visual arts. I am thanked often by parents for offering what I offer and they remind me how needed it is in our area. After my first round of summer camps were over, which averaged a dozen students per camp, I started teaching a couple Saturday classes per month that were 2.5 hours each. One class for younger students in the morning and an afternoon class for older students up to the age of 12. The first few months of classes on average only had about 5 students each. Halfway through the year, the word had spread and I was getting an average of 15 students in the morning and 7 or so in the afternoon classes. It has gotten to the point with my younger classes where I am only allowing as many students as the studio can handle, which is max 17 students. My afternoon classes are still smaller, but many of my students in the afternoons return regularly and we are able to sit down and go more in-depth with smaller groups and I always look forward to that.
 CS: What does a typical class look like?

MH: Saturday morning classes are usually busy with children ages 4 to 7. I usually spend weeks prepping ideas for a project, but as soon as they are done with it their favorite part is at the end where we do a looser activity that usually involves glitter, gemstones and glue. It never fails, that messy part at the end is always a favorite. I always take pictures while they work and pictures of finished projects at the end and some of my students really enjoy that part, they feel so proud to show off what they have made! The afternoon classes are calmer, but I still allow them to do something pretty messy at some point and they love exploring the studio and using elements that I hadn't planned on using and I enjoy letting them try new processes. The studio is filled with a large arrangement of donated and sometimes bought or found baubles, feathers, buttons, puzzle pieces, pipe cleaners, you name it. I do tend to see a larger population of girls, but its hardly ever entirely girls. The boy/girl ratio often tends to reflect what theme was chosen for that class. I like to choose themes that aren't super relevant or encouraged in a school environment that revolve around what kids are excited about. I have had classes on movies like Trolls, Minions, Beauty and the Beast, Harry Potter and Star Wars and also general themes like Unicorns and Rainbows and Yard Art.
 CS: How is it different than teaching in a class setting?

MH: Sometimes I see glimpses of my old, familiar class setting, but they don't last for long! When the students first arrive for class, I give them a rundown of what we will be creating and give them a demo- this is probably the most similar to a class setting as it gets. After that, it almost feels like an art party. We play music and the students are free to walk around the studio to use different supplies that have been placed on tables. Sometimes, sing-alongs to the music happen randomly. Classes are 2.5 hours long, which differs drastically from the half hour classes I had when I taught in my prior elementary setting. Students are encouraged to loosen up and have the ability to get messy if they want to. Feel the need to use your hands with the paint? Get it out of your system, kiddo! Just really need to let that glitter rain down on your art? Just do it. Need to do a little dance while you brainstorm? Why not. Want to make your art look completely different the route I had planned out for you? Its ok, I'm not grading this and you need to express yourself!  I think the only part that is something I've had to adjust to and figure out how to implement has been discipline. No matter how much some of my students love art and want to be there, sometimes someone has a hard time sharing or being nice about someone else's art. There is that old teacher mindset inside of me that wants to discipline, but the only serious consequence is telling their parent. With that being said, having these classes is still extremely worth it! I feel like I am still putting my passion and art education degree and experience to use, I am able to supplement our income and I am still able to stay home with my little girl during the week. I couldn't be more grateful for that! 
Big thanks to Mallory for taking the time to answer my questions...and, hopefully yours! If you have a question for her, you can leave it in the comments. Also, don't forget to follow her on Instagram and Facebook

Also, big thanks to photographer Lauren Wood for these beautiful images of Mallory and her sweet kiddos. Mallory was recently featured here (eep!) if you'd like to read more. 
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Sunday, August 20, 2017

In the Art Room: A Color Family Display

So there are some things I decided shortly before school started. Let's start with the first: I had too much purposeless decor in my art room. I'm an over-decorator. Just take a peak into my sewing room or my crafting space (yes, these are two separate rooms and yes, I'm spoiled rotten) and you'll know I ain't lyin'. When it comes to my art room, I tend to overdo it there as well. I have a bad habit of getting sucked into the vortex that is the Target Dollar Spot and purchasing every cute thing under the sun. When I bring these colorful happies to my art room, I don't think: Is this going to benefit the art makin' of my students? Is this going to educate and not just decorate? Oh no. Instead I'm all: WHERE'S AN EMPTY SPACE, I MUST FILL IT MEOW. 

I realized the error of my ways over the summer when I came in to grab some things and I took a good look around. All I saw was clutter. Cute, colorful clutter. And in a fit of coffee-fueled redecorating rage, I tore down posters of unicorns, giant maps (why three? WHY?) and reference images that I never, er, referenced. I crumbled it all up into a big heaping wad and stepped back. Immediately I was horrified. What had I done?! My room looked so bare! And that's when I came to my second conclusion:

Eh, you'll figure out what you need as you go. Your room DOES NOT have to look PERFECT on the very first day...week...shoot, man, even month! of school.
Since then, I've slowly started rethinking my decor and redecorating my art room. I made the following decisions: what I use to decorate must also educate; if I can't find what I'm looking for, I'll make it; more 3-D and less 2-D when it comes to visuals. Basically, I want my art room to be a space that really inspires my kids without cluttering their creativity. 
So, what have I created so far? Why, I'm so happy you asked. Here you go:

* My ART room rules that are (hopefully) life rules and inspired by growth mindsets.

* The large color wheel I created from painted oars found at the craft store.

* And this here Color Family set of crayons!

I was inspired by art teacher Katie Lynn. She shared this image of a color family on the Elementary Art Teachers page on Facebook. 
I thought her idea was GENIUS...and decided to create a set of my own. Her drawings are so stinkin' cute, they are inspired by the book The Day the Crayons Quit, a kid fave. Big shout out to Katie Lynn for the inspo!
Since I had these "crayon boxes" left over from an art display, I decided to borrow her idea and create this 3-D color family. My kiddos did this very project a couple of years ago and it was a HUGE hit. I'm thinking I need to bring this project back this year...but I'll definitely be going about it a different (and much easier!) way. I'll share that below. In the meantime, here's a video I created back then for this project. 
So what did I do differently this time around? I skipped the papier mache and used plaster strips instead. But let's start at the start, shall we?
 My good buddy the custodian started collecting the paper towel tubes at my school. I like these better than you standard paper towel tube as they are much sturdier. Added bonus: upcycling! (can we please just go back to calling it REcycling? I dunno why, new words for old things always drives me bonkers).
My very artsy mom-in-law was visiting this weekend and I knew she'd be up for the crafting challenge. I cut rectangles of used tagboard (lookie, more recycling!) while she cut the strips of plaster. We found the plaster strips at our local craft store. After I rolled the tag board into a cone shape, I added a bit of tape, fitted the cone over the tube, cut tabs for easy folding and added a few more bits of tape just to hold. 
While I did that, Diana took to plastering. I loved this so much more than papier mache because it dries faster, harder and isn't a snotty, slimy mess. 
 With her help, creating these 12 crayons went by in a blink!
We did find that one roll of plaster just didn't cut it. We ended up using two. We didn't cover the tube completely as the paint would take care of hiding the fact that we didn't. Also, when I hang these at school, I plan to display them hanging up with the crayons in the no one will see the bottom. Altho, now that I say that, it might be fun to make them removable to make them interactive. I'll have to think on that idea.
 I burned a little too much of the midnight oil (2am, ahem) getting them painted and STILL didn't quite get them complete. Diana helped me finish painting the "paper" and the crayon part.
 I used a flat paint brush and watered down black paint for the stripes.
 Done, son! 
 You better believe I contemplated making ANOTHER color wheel with these guys. But I forced myself to stick with my plan. 
 Initially, these boxes were created for the kids' display a couple years ago. I'm so glad I hung on to them. They were created from cereal boxes. 
I just cut off the top, cut a curve, gessoed them a few times before adding the paint. 
 Since they needed "labels", I just painted a black oval and used white for the color fam names. 
 I'm excited to hang these in my art room next week! I'll use Command Velcro strips and they should do the trick. These guys are pretty light weight. The strips have done a bang up job holding up my painted oars!
 I know my older kids are going to be so stoked when I tell them that they'll be creating their own versions of these as well. I foresee a TON of giant plaster art supplies in their future (eep!).
Take that, Target Dollar Spot. Get thee behind me, Satan, er, Target!
I'm so happy I decided to wait and only decorate when I feel it will educate...and it is necessary. More to come. Just know: your art room, if you are lucky enough to have one, doesn't have to be perfect on the first day of school. Go with what is pleasing and needed by your kiddos. You know best! 
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