Sunday, December 15, 2019

DIY: Paintbrush Gnomes! Or Santas! Or Bearded Dudes! Your choice!

Last weekend was our annual art teacherin' Christmas party where we do a little drinking, dining, ornament swapping and crafting. Exactly two days before I was to host the event, I had no idea what we were gonna make. Nothing like procrastination to get the wheels turning, right?
 I have exactly a million old crusty paintbrushes that I just cannot bear throwing away. So, with those in mind, I decided to have our craft be Paintbrush Gnomes! Or Santas...or bearded dudes resembling my husband. Whatever you wanna call them, it doesn't really matter. I mean, look at this epic cuteness. And, good news, they are so super simple to make. Here, let me show you how:
One thing I failed to mention in the clip is that I created the faces, popped them into the toaster oven, painted and then put them back in to speed up the paint drying process. Probably not something I would recommend unless you got that heat down on to a low 200 and you keep a close eye out. Nobody wants their kitchen smelling like burnt gnome hair.
 Here's a little peak at the brushes created at my craft night before they went into the oven. So cute!
 And here's how they looked when they came out! Also what I didn't share in the clip is that the yarn was added by just yarn bombing the part above the ferrel and attaching with hot glue. 
 I love how silly and fun each one came out, don't you?
 And so you can make them all year round, call 'em Paintbrush Gnomes! I want to make them into the new Quiet Critter for my art room. Noiseless Gnomie, if you will. 
So if you need a fun craft for winter break, here you go! Have fun, y'all!
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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

In the Art Room: Weaving with First Grade

Teaching weaving was one of those things I dreaded my first year teaching. I got a C on a weaving project in college because I was certain that my professor would never notice that I'd missed a warp string, causing a large runner to snake it's way through my weaving. So when I saw weaving in my curriculum, I was not thrilled. 

It also didn't help that I had a first grade boy shout, "I'm NOT WEAVING. It's FOR GIRLS."

Here's the funny part: days later, he was the best weaver in class and years later, I wrote a book on fiber arts for kids. Go figure! 
Last week, my first graders and I spent a couple of art classes learning about abstract art. We enjoyed listening to Peter and the Wolf while using our oil pastels to create a line for each character in the symphony. The following day, we listened to the whole record while using watercolor paint to create. You can see a similar lesson here. And if you'd like to see the lesson I taught for abstract painting last year, here you go:
After our day of painting, we turned our paintings into looms for weaving. Here is how we did just that:

 If you would prefer to see more of a blog post on this, visit this! Also, this video might show more about paper weaving:
Or this!
When introducing weaving, this giant paper loom comes in so handy! I made it years ago from laminated bulletin board paper. 
And in just 30 minutes, my students had completed their weavings! It was a record!
 I love them with their abstract paintings. Now...dreaming of ideas of where we take these next. 
I've done a variety of weaving lessons with paper weavings from owls to hearts. Be sure and click on those links for more ideas!

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Sunday, December 8, 2019

In the Art Room: Noise Levels in the Art Room

A question I see asked in art teacherin' Facebook groups again and again is this:

What noise level do you have in your art room?
Do you have your students work quietly?

I think noise levels in the art room is really just a matter of preference. You are the master of your art teacherin' domain. You can decide what the noise level should be. And, once decided, the way you manage your classroom should be able to make that happen. 

But, let's be real, that's all a whole lot easier said than done, isn't it? So I did a big ole podcast episode on this subject. I'm share more details here and providing some visual backup to the podcast. Here's the episode:

 My thoughts on noise levels in the art room have changed a bit since this post I did a couple years ago. While I still use my paint cans as an indication of my desired noise levels, I no longer keep up with table points on a folder for each class. That was just too much for me. In the podcast episode, you'll hear me talk about what I now do instead. The key with anything in life is finding what works best for you. I think it's always a good idea to try out different methods and styles. Keep what sticks and works for you and your kids. And don't beat yourself up over letting some things go. You do you, boo-boo. 
 I love acronyms and this one T.A.L.K. really helps me explain to my students the kinds of conversations I hope to hear in my art room. I want to hear them teaching and learning and discussing art all in a kind-hearted way. Providing examples when introducing this concept will really help. In this episode, you'll hear the examples I provide to help my kids learn what T.A.L.K. in the art room is.
This conversation of HOW we speak to our friends comes up in nearly every single art class. Honestly, I often feel frustrated that so much of my art time is "wasted" discussing K.I.N.D. but, you know what? It's necessary. If I can help my kids grow in to kind adults, then I've done my job. If they never pick up a paint brush again but they know to speak kindly then I'll be forever happy. Again, providing scenarios of what K.I.N.D. sounds like helps them understand. And, when you hear a student speaking kindly, point it out. Shout it out! Make it a big deal. It will encourage others to follow suit. I never mind a noise level of kindness!
 Regardless of the noise level you strive for in your art room, I would really recommend beginning the creative process with 5 Minutes of Focus or Gimme 5! It works wonders to help my students gather supplies and settle in to work. Often, when my timer goes off after five minutes, my kids will continue to work quietly. And, if they talk through those five minutes, you better believe they owe me 5 more. 
In this episode, I'm also sharing my favorite quiet classroom hacks! You can read more about my Quiet Critters here. I'll be talking more about music to play and books to read that will help your young artists reach your noise level goals. 

Have fun! 

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Monday, December 2, 2019

In the Art Room: Top Ten Favorite Winter Art Lessons!

 On my way in to school this morning, IT SNOWED! "snowed" Tennessee style. It looked like a blizzard of dandruff bits but for us in the South, that means a lot! It put me in the mood for all things winter and so I thought I'd put together a list of my Top Ten Favorite Winter Art Lessons. If you follow the link on each of these, you'll find a video for most and a lesson for all. Let's go!
 SNOW GLOBE CITIES! This lesson was a hit with my fourth graders last year. They really loved working on their buildings that were inspired by famous places from around the globe...get it, GLOBE?! yeah, it's okay, they didn't get it either. 
 PENGUIN LOVE! My first graders created these last winter and they made our halls so cute, cuddly and happy. We went big with these guys and my students could not have loved it more!
 KINDERGARTEN SNOWMEN! This lesson was pretty similar to the first grade one in that the background involved learning how to paint overlapping spiral lines. 
 WATERCOLOR WINTERSCAPES! My third graders are getting ready to work on these tomorrow! We paint ours on cardboard pizza rounds, inspired by the artist Jen Aranyi. 
 KINDERGARTEN WINTER LANDSCAPES! The smallest of artists made the snowiest of artwork! Follow the link on more lesson details. 
 HOT CHOCOLATE TIME! My second graders were inspired by the artist Heather Galler to create these delicious cups of hot cocoa. I'm thinking I need to bring this lesson back soon! 
 FAUX STAINED GLASS WINDOW! My fourth graders created these fun pieces inspired by stained glass windows. They even learned how real stained glass windows are made, check out the video!
 PRINTED MITTENS AND HAT SELF-PORTRAIT! Oh, these second grade selfies were a hit! This is another lesson I think needs a repeat this winter. 
LOOKING FOR MORE LESSONS AND INSPIRATION? Well, then, just head over here! I've got plenty more. Happy wintery creations! 
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Sunday, December 1, 2019

In the Art Room: All Things Clay!

When I first started teaching, teaching clay was in my curriculum and I FREAKED.THE.FUNK.OUT. I didn't take a single clay class in college and only made a couple of pieces in high school. I managed to melt down a kiln, explode hundreds of pieces and even drop my share of masterpieces. Despite all of that, after teaching art, clay and kiddos for over 20 years now (and having written a book on the topic!), I feel like I can finally share my (semi-limited) wealth of knowledge on all things clay!
While my book was written for children who don't have access to a kiln, many of the projects can be used with kiln fire clay! 
Over the last three weeks, I have shared everything I know about kiln fire clay on my podcast! It's so much...that I had to break the series into three episodes just to squeeze it all in. So, if you'd like to take a listen here, here you go:

But wait, there's more...

AND just a pinch more...

In case you need a visual, as I often do, here's a video of some of the clay tips I mentioned. For the complete blog post, you can visit here. 
 More details on my favorite tools and how I set up for clay in the video and my podcast!
Part 3 of this series is all about glaze and glaze alternatives. If you'd like a video with more, check this one out:
The blog post with more details on glaze can be found here. 
And if you need a visual of the clay projects I mentioned or just some clay project ideas, then check out this post with my very favorite clay projects! Have fun! 
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Friday, November 8, 2019

In the Art Room: ASL in the Art Room

A couple of year ago, my students created a giant collaborative piece that says Learning for All. We had a great time making and my P.E. teacher buddy Ali and I had a not so great time trying to figure out how to assemble it (thanks, Ali!). But now it proudly hangs in our front lobby. Here's look:
 At my school, we have a few deaf students who have interpreters. And, while the interpreters speak for me, I often feel there is a disconnect between myself and those children. At my school, every morning on morning announcements, students throughout my school are taught signs to better communicate with everyone. Recently, I decided to start doing the same in my art room. We have an Art Class Catchphrase as well as an Art Class Greeting. We recently learned how to sign them. And, slowly, we are adding signs to more areas of our art education. Here's a clip of us signing our greeting and the colors in Mouse Paint.
The interpreters in our building have been WONDERFUL at helping my students and I learn how to properly sign. It is not easy! It is a new language to learn so it does take time. But I'm so glad we are doing it and hope to continue to reach all of our amazing learners. If you've not tried introducing sign language to your students, start with something simple, like color. You won't regret it. 

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Early Finishers, Part 3

 Ah, yes. Early finishers. I have spoken so much on this here blog about my early finishers area that I thought I'd do a little bit of a recap...and share with you my latest addition! But first, you might want to check out this podcast episode as I cover the biggest question I get: How do you get kids to slow down and not rush to (what I call) Early Finisher Land? Take a listen here:

One of my early finisher options is reading...and my wee library has NEVER been touched. It makes me so sad! The other day, I found this adorable wooden house at the thrift store. I decided to paint it and add my art room collection of stuffed animals. Now the kids have the option to "read to a stuffed friend"! I'm hoping this inspires more visits to this spot. 

To see more of my Early Finishers Land, you should click on over to these here linky-loos: 

Early Finishers, Part 1

Early Finishers, Part 2

Or you can check out this video:
And if you'd like to watch more about Sketchbook Town, here you go:

 I'll keep you posted on how this goes in my art room! Here's hoping my students want to read to these sweet fuzzy friends!
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Friday, November 1, 2019

In the Art Room: More Art Games!

Recently, I shared with y'all a new game I introduced to my students: The Gallery Game (click the link for a couple of free downloads too!). I let my second graders give it a shot the other day and I noticed something: after playing the game, they still were confused on painting genres. Oh man! Such a bummer and the game had worked so well with my older kids. Here, let me tell you what happened and what we're doing in addition to the Gallery Game:

After that lesson (for me), I decided that my students needed another 30 minute art class to review painting genres. I was going to review and then let them tackle the Gallery Game again...but instead I created an anchor chart. We reviewed the genres and filled in the chart. Then I explained the Yes! No! Maybe! game and I told them we'd play a couple of rounds. You all...they BEGGED to play more!

I purchased the buttons off Amazon and now we use them for EVERYTHING. I play games with my kindergarten if they finish early, asking them color mixing questions. Instead of me answering, I use the buttons and it's an instant hit. They are battery operated and I just hung them on my wall to keep them out of my way. I love them there, they are within the perfect reach. So many uses for something so small and silly! We do what works, right?!

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