Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Symmetrical Cicada Prints!

Hey, y'all! The cicadas are coming! the case of here in Nashville, Tennessee, they are already here. It's been many years since our last cicada summer and while at first I was totally grossed out by these big carcass-leavin' bad boys (and girls), I know rather ... well, I was gonna say "like" but that's a stretch ... appreciate is probably a better word. I appreciate their...gee, what do I appreciate? Their cool look. It's like seeing a bug under a microscope, they are so stinkin' big! 

I've shared several symmetrical printing lessons in the past and they are always a huge hit with all of my students. We've done butterflies (you can find the lesson video in the link)...

And this is kindergarten!

And now cicadas! 

If you are interested in a list of supplies I used, here's a link!

Have fun and stay tuned! I have more on this project coming your way!

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Monday, April 29, 2024

How to Design Your Own Fabric!

If you've been hangin' around this blog for a while (I thank you!) then you might know that I love to make my own clothing. It started with a desire to craft clothing to teach a lesson in (a la Miss Frizzle) and then morphed into wanting to make everything in my wardrobe. One thing I never seemed to be able to accomplish: Designing my own fabric.

Well...when my book Larry the Line came out, I was able to do just that! But it was easy as the pattern from the book was a stripe pattern. So it naturally repeated making for the perfect pattern. 

However, there were no stripes in my new book Alfred the Ape Knows his Shapes. So I thought it would be a good time to learn how to design my own fabric. I was so excited with how it turned out! When I shared it on my Instagram, I promised I'd give a tutorial...and, so, here we are!

I hope this helps!
Now I always get dress-making questions too...which I share a little about in the video. However, I'm no dress-making expert. I just know what I like and what works for me. 

For the bodice of my dress, I use a vintage Simplicity pattern #4343. If you search around on eBay or Etsy, you may find it. For the bottom, I use a circle skirt pattern and always add pockets. 
Creating a pattern was very hard for me to comprehend initially. So I thought I'd kick the video off with a little Post-It tutorial. I hope that helps!
And, of course, if you'd like a copy of my book, Alfred the Ape Knows his Shapes, I'd love to sign one and send it your way! You can find my books here. And THANK YOU for supporting my small business! I'm an independent seller so...I'm the author, illustrator, social media person, shipper, handler, you name it! 

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Thursday, April 25, 2024

How to Read Children's Books in an Engaging Way!

When I was in art teacherin' school, I could have really benefited from a class about how to read books to kids. I thought that if the story was good, the kids would just listen and enjoy. Oh no...there's so much more to reading a book to children and keeping them engaged! So that I would never forget, I created an acronym: SIMPLE. And in this video, I walk you through it!

Reading and engaging students with books is a fine art but...I've cracked the code! If you follow these easy steps, you'll have em hooked and saying what every teacher wants to hear: READ IT AGAIN!

AND...if you are interested in my can find both Larry the Line and Alfred the Ape Knows his Shapes here! I'm working on a series of books on the Elements of Art for kindergarten through third grade. 

Thanks for stopping by! 

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Monday, March 25, 2024

My 10 Favorite Earth Day Art Lessons!

Hello, friends! 

I know many of you are coming off of Spring Break which means you are officially in the home stretch. That is...unless you teach until the end of June. Then, well, all I can say is...I'm sorry. 

BUT I do have some fun Earth Day lessons for you! Nearly all of them are video format which means you can just hit play. I created them during 2020 so most are just simple supplies. I hope you enjoy and find something here that will help you and your students celebrate Earthy Day which is on April 22nd. 

Here's the first Earth Day project...
If you are in need of a fun How-to-Draw and printing lesson, you may like this project right here. Complete with instructional video!
There is something truly magical about a pop-up card! My students are always fascinated when we make these. You'll find all the kid-friendly instructions in this video right here. 

Have you ever made Salt Dough Clay? This would be so fun to do with a small group of students. Perfect for an after school activity, homeschool, scouts, you name it. Using cardboard means you can recycle which is always great for Earth Day. Here's the lesson and video!

So you want to paint with kids buty ou don't wanna get out the paint? I hear ya! My students always love the marker-meets-water trick! Try it out with this lesson! 
Of course, not every Earth Day lesson has to be Earth-art focused. You could simply use it as a jumping point for landscape projects! Here's a fast one that helps students understand the difference between foreground, middle and background. 
If you'd like a project that includes the whole school, you may want to try making a map of the Earth with self-portraits! You can find details on this lesson here.
If you still have some homemade salt dough clay leftover, you can try making a whole solar system with it! 
If you are looking for a fun and happy kindergarten Earth Day (or any day!) lesson, look no further than here!

And what better way to celebrate Earth Day than a mural dedicated to it? We made this huge mural based on the song What a Wonderful World and it stayed up all year. 

Also! Just incase you missed the news...
My book Larry the Line now has a companion...

That's right! I just launched my new book Alfred the Ape Knows His Shapes last week and I'm so excited! I'm working on a series of Elements of Art books as I always wished there was something like that. I did a limited print run and I'm currently...signing all books as they head out the door. So! If you'd like a copy, you can check it out here! 

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Monday, March 11, 2024

My Book Larry the Line and More!

So...I can't believe I never did this but...I FORGOT TO SHARE ON MY BLOG THAT I WROTE A CHILDREN'S BOOK!


Yes, seriously, I wrote a children's book and yes, seriously...I forgot to mention it here. 

It's official: I'm the worst blogger. 

I think I was just so excited that I posted to my other social media accounts right away...and then I was so excited to pack up and send Larry the Line out that I just, well, forgot. But, better late than never, as they say and we are. 

I wrote a children's book called Larry the Line!
Now for those of you who are the OG's of this here blog, you may already know all about Larry the Line. He's a friend of mine. He can make three straight lines for me!

I came up with the poem during my first year teaching when I was trying to think of a fun and engaging way to teach students about line. It's a short poem and it's aways been a wild hit with my students. I've chatted about it here and here. 
And made plenty of videos about it too. 

After writing and self-publishing Larry the Line, which you can find here, I decided to also create digital downloads to go with it. I had so many requests for them, especially that clay sheet (see below) I thought I'd make it happen. You can pick the downloads up here. 
So...sorry I was keepin' secrets from you but now you know! 

And stay tuned...because I have something big coming soon and I promise, you'll be the first-ish to know. ;)

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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Favorite Art Lessons for Spring!

The weather here in Tennessee has been hinting that spring is on the horizon! Of course, if we all wait a good 15 minutes, then that will change but, for now, I'm embracing the notion of spring! And, with that in mind, I thought I would put together a blog post of my very favorite art lessons for this time of the year. 

Be sure and tap the link I've created for these lessons. Many of the lessons contain free hand-outs and/or kid-friendly videos. I know this time of year, before spring break, is exhausting. I do hope to help you out a little bit! 

Okay, let's get started...
This first lesson is one I loved doing with my second grade students in the spring. We used HUGE pieces of paper, ink-filled bingo daubers and were inspired by the contemporary artist Heather Galler. Once our drawings were complete, we added color with liquid watercolor. 

Seeing these large and colorful beauties in the hallways always brightened our days!
Of course, what better way to celebrate spring than with CLAY! My third graders spent a couple of 30-minute art classes creating these. This lesson was posted to my blog before I created video that lets you know it's an oldie! But I do share step-by-step photos...which would be perfect to print out and provide for students. 

Lesson can be found here. 
This lesson could also be done with air dry clay! I shared that in my book Clay Lab for Kids which is FULL of 52 clay projects for those who do not have a kiln!
If you do have a kiln...I've got a lotta videos and blog posts all about clay. If working with clay frightens you a bit (trust me, I get it. I melted down a kiln once at the expense of $, I GET IT), you might want to start here. 
Since we are on the topic of clay, another fun lesson for spring would be these clay butterflies!
Not only are these super fun to create but also super fast! My kindergarten students created these butterflies in just one 30 minute class period! 

All the details here. 
If you are looking for more kindergarten clay lessons, check out this blog post where I put 'em all in one place! 
Since we are on the topic of butterflies...check out these created by kindergarten! My other students were so interested in this lesson (and loved the printing process) so much that I ended up doing it with multiple grade levels. 

I created a video for students to follow along here. 
A couple years before that, I did a similar lesson with second graders but used chalk for the wings. I thought they turned out so pretty! Lesson with video here. 
The trees are already starting to blossom here so that means it's the perfect time for THIS lesson! I did this one with second graders when we were learning about Japan and each turned out so beautiful!
Vincent van Gogh's cherry blossom tree paintings are always so beautiful and they inspired this lesson here!
Got teachers asking for lessons for Mother's Day? This is one that my kindergarten students created that they loved! You can find the lesson video here. 
In the mood for printmaking? My students LOVED creating these Warhol-inspired prints. We used sunflowers I found at Dollar Tree but real flowers would be fun to use too. Of course, when I busted out the Puffy Paint, that's when the real party started! Full lesson with video here. 
When I shared this printmaking lesson many years ago, GelliPlates were not a thing. I made my own plates! However, I wouldn't recommend it as it's not vegan friendly nor does it last long. Also, who has time to make them?! So if you have GelliPlates or something similar, you will LOVE this lesson!
Each printing plate yields two of these gorgeous prints!
Bringing nature inside is always fun! I've done so many variations of this leaf relief lesson and it's always a hit! You can find all of the details here. 
I love this one with the watered acrylic painted on top!
Bright and cheery landscapes are always fun this time of year! A great way to review color mixing and mark making too. This was a hit with my fourth graders. 

And just look how pretty! Full blog post here. 
Got a million-trillion popsicle sticks?! Behold! A lesson that is super fun and uses 'em all up! Lesson details with video can be found here.
My third graders really knocked it outta the park with this lesson! They loved creating the details on the vases. I loved watching them explore warm and cool colors for their backgrounds. This lesson can be found in detail here. 

If you've never tried using liquid starch with chalk and seeing the AMAZING results...consider this your sign! This lesson comes with a full video created for fourth grade students. They will love it!

In the mood for some fibers lessons? I'm not gonna lie: this project took A LONG TIME. So if you need something to carry you through to spring break...this might be it! 

I promise this lesson won't take nearly as long...and the kids will love it! Especially once they get the hang of weaving. Video lesson here. 

If you are looking for even more fibers lessons, you might want to check out my book Stitch and String Lab for Kids!
So...this lesson is labor intensive because you do have to put the mural together...but when I do large murals like this, they stay up for as long as the walls will hold 'em! This was hung at the start of the school year and left up until the end! Full details here. 
Of course, the idea for that mural came from this one! I created this spring-y mural for Dot Day but I think it would also be fitting for spring. All the details here. 

And there you have it! Over 20 art lessons for spring. I hope you find something here that you can use or are inspired by!
In case ya missed it...I wrote a children's book! Larry the Line can be found right here. This 48-page rhyming book for kindergarten up to second grade (and beyond!) will introduce all lines to students in a fun and engaging way. I promise, you'll love it!

AND...I've not told anyone this yet so...STAY TUNED! This is a series of books on the Elements of Art and the next installment is coming SOON (I'm so excited!). 

If you've not checked out my other book Art Teacherin' 101, you might wanna! You can find the details here, just scroll down.

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