Showing posts with label teaching. Show all posts
Showing posts with label teaching. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Teaching Kindergarten: Vincent van Gogh

Teaching kindergarten is currently my most favorite thing. Maybe it's this particular group, maybe it's because I've finally caught up to being just as crazy as they are...I dunno but I do like it. I've been sharing a lot of videos of myself teaching kindergarten (as well as those older kiddos) on my Instagram but I'm limited to only sharing one minute clips. I thought it would be fun to share the longer version here. I LOVE watching other teachers teach...and I have a feeling you might feel the same. I always learn SO MUCH! I also learn SO MUCH from recording and watching myself (1. I talk too much and 2. I talk too much). I totally recommend you give it a shot. Several of my classes were learning about Vincent this week and I thought I'd record my intro...so, here you go! 
If you enjoy this video, you can find more like it on my YouTube channel. I'll keep you posted on how our lesson progresses!
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Sunday, March 27, 2016

In the Art Room: An Art Teacherin' Mix Tape

I did my time in high school at the height of Mix Tape Era. I musta made and received dozens of the best doggone tapes my lil Walkman ever played. Tell me I'm not the only one who would put their heart and soul into each mix tape made. Kids these days (OMG, did I really just say that?!) will never know what it was like to receive a plastic case of musical treasures which said everything an angsty teen just didn't know how. 
I'm no longer an angsty teen but an occasional angsty art teacherin' type. Sometimes I feel that, in the course of one day in Art Educationville, I experience all the same emotions I had as a teen: surprise ("Did you really just eat the papier mache paste?!"); happiness ("Y'all, we're actually gonna be on time for P.E. today!"); anger ("Okay. WHO GAVE THE PAINT BRUSHES HAIRCUTS?!"); and despair ("Between snow days, field trips, assemblies and absences, y'all are gonna have exactly two works of art in this year's art show. TWO.")
Despite all of that, we know, deep down in our paint splattery hearts that we have the best jobs in the world. So, for all y'all art teacherin' types, I give you my heart and soul in 12 tunes or less: An Art Teacherin' Mix Tape. 
Now, this here mix is in chronological order, from the start of our wild and wacky day to the sticky-icky, how-did-that-painted-handprint-end-up-on-my-butt end. If you're like me, your day usually begins under-caffeinated and over-slept which means it feels as high energy as this...
1. Breakfast at Pee-wee's
Do y'all love Pee-wee as much as me? He's actually my art teacherin' inspo! Sometimes, when certain stuff is about to hit the proverbial fan, I stop and think "What Would PeeWee Do?" and attempt to just go with the flow. Especially with kindergarten. Okay, always, with kindergarten. 
2. Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf
Nothing sets my drive to school on fire like a lil "get your motor runnin', head out on the highway, lookin' for adventure or whatever comes my way!" I also like to play a lil medley of metal (G&R's Welcome to the Jungle) and rap (Beastie Boy's Fight for your Right) to get me in the art teacherin' mood. I ain't proud. 
3. 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton
Y'all know once you get to school, it's nonstop: preparing paint trays, cutting paper, sharpening pencils, writing your I Can statements, washing paint brushes, unclogging glue bottles, you get the idea. I swear some days, I'm worn out before my first class even arrives. And when they do, y'all know they better...
4. Think by Aretha Franklin
"You better think about what you're saying. You better think about the consequences of your actions." Oh, yeah. Aretha is who I try to channel when I need to spark a lil comin-to-Jesusness in the art room.
5. Respect by Aretha
Getting respect is pretty hard to do when you are wearing a rainbow wig or a hat shaped like a paint palette. But a girl can always try to get a lil R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
6. Celebration by Kool & the Gang
On those days when there isn't a full moon or a highly-contagious, vomit-inducing flu epidemic going around, then you know that calls for celebration! 
7. We Are Family by Sister Sledge
I try really hard to instill this idea in the kids. We're all in this art making, imaginatin' business together, y'all! We are family. 

8. Sabotage by the Beastie Boys
HOW. How do they always know when Ima bout to be evaluated? WHY. Why do they always decide it is then to go all Men-in-Black/flashlight-in-their-face and erase their memories clean of everything taught? I'm tellin' y'all, it's no accident. It's sabotage. 
9. Girls Art Teachers Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper
Evaluations, evalu-shmations. Grades, shmades. Gag me with a spoon, y'all. Art teachers just wanna have fun! 
10. Rainbow Connection by Kermit the Frog
Can you tell I'm an 80's child yet? I love that I got to grow up on a steady diet of The Muppets, The Electric Company, Sesame Street and School House Rock. Kermie wants to know why are there so many songs about rainbows but the art teacher in me wants to know, why aren't there more?! The lover, the dreamer and me will never know. 
11. Shout by Otis Day and the Knights
Now waiiiiiiiiiit a minute! You know you make me wanna SHOUT! Sometimes happily. Sometimes unhappily. Regardless, art teacherin' never fails to bring out the emotions and the hootin' and hollerin'. In other news, this is my second song featuring John Belushi and that would be because I lurves me some Belushi. So deal wit it.
12. Harper Valley P.T.A. by Jeannie C. Riley
Don't get me wrong, I have a fabulous P.T.A. that has yet to send me a letter in the mail about my ensembles. However, this here song is a great anthem for any of those times you find yourself standing up for what you know to be best. Git it, y'all.
13. This is How We Do by Katy Perry
In our house, we love some Katy Perry (read: the hubs really loves him some K.P.). This song just had to make it's way into the mix because the video, y'all. THE VIDEO. I love Katy Perry for the imagination and creativity she brings to everything she does as she has a heavy hand in her costumes, videos and overall look. Love her, love this video. 
14. Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive by Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers
We all have those days. When you say the wrong thing. Do what you feel is a lousy job. Struggle to keep your head up. It happens to us all. And, if you are like me, you sometimes allow those negative thingies to play on a permanent loop in your mind. Don't do it, y'all! To end this here mixtape, I leave you with this: 

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene 
(lyrics by Harold Arlen)
That's all, friends! Hope you enjoy this here mix. Love to hear in the comments your fave art teacherin' tunes (or just your fave tunes in general!). Til next time, I'll allow these kitty cats to take it away.  photo signature_zpsd10b3273.png
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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

In the Art Room: Sewing and Embroidery

No matter what your passion is in life, I bet the seed was planted when you were young. One summer, when I was probably 10i-sh, my grandmother taught me how to embroider. And I've loved creating stuff with fabric and thread since. 
This year, I decided to open up my art room to the folks I work with for a Sewing Group. Some of my 4th grade students caught wind of this and wanted to know if they could join. I kinda put the idea on the back burner as I had no freakin' idea how I'd use sewing machines with the youngins...and I kinda thought the kids would forget about it. But, as you know if you work with children, they never forget anything. When one of them started pricing sewing machines at the local thrift store and another petitioned her friends to enquire about a class, I started to toy with the idea of making it happen. When I accidentally said, "I'll think about it," the kids cheered and asked, "Yay, can we start TODAY?!" 
There is a wonderful enrichment program at my school called Gentry's Educational Foundation founded by Evelyn Hickerson, a teacher. I approached her about teaching a sewing class and she agreed to purchase some sewing machines. Because she's seriously that awesome. This woman is so dedicated to the education of all students that she'll stop at nothing to make it happen. We are so fortunate to have her enriching all of our lives. 
In my after school sewing class, I had almost 20 students (3rd and 4th grade) and two adult helpers. I was a little nervous having that many children sewing on machines at once...and I also felt like the kids should have some basic sewing and embroidery skills first. So I decided to start by having the kids create an embroidered sampler using this book as my guide.
I picked up this book years ago when I wanted to teach sewing in my art classes. I've since had to let go of that notion (30 minutes just seemed impossible to teach sewing to the under 10 set) but was thrilled to give it a go with this group. My after school classes were a lovely 60 minutes in length and that felt like absolute heaven. No rush, plenty of time to explain, chat and sew. 

Interested in giving this a go? Here's what we used:
  • Gingham fabric
  • Patterned fabric
  • Embroidery floss, 24" in length, split into three strands
  • Bees wax. This isn't necessary but it does come in handy. We ran our embroidery floss over the wax to prevent it from tangling.
  • Large eyed, sharp needles
  • Embroidery hoops
  • Graph paper
  • Sewing machine
  • Pins
  • Stuffing

  1. Our first of business was writing out our names. We first did this on graph paper using the guide found in the book. This was then rewritten onto the kids' chosen piece of gingham in pencil.
  2. Next we learned how to split our embroidery floss. I had the kids work with a partner to prevent the floss from tangling. This was then threaded into the needle, doubled over and knotted.
  3. After that, we hooped our fabric. 
  4. We didn't embroider our name first. We chatted about what a sampler was and how this would showcase a sample of embroidery stitches we learned. Our first stitches to learn were the running stitches seen under the name.
  5. Once those were complete, we moved onto cross-stitching our name. Some students sewed buttons onto their sampler while others learned how to create a satin stitched heart.

All that took a couple of sewing classes to complete. Once they were finished, the kids chose a piece of fabric for the back of their pillow. Thankfully I'd just been donated a huge stash of fabric (which included some coveted Scooby Doo fabric). The kids laid their samplers on the fabric, cut it to the same size and pinned it right sides together on the top and sides. We left the bottom open for adding the stuffing.
Now I wasn't at all comfortable with the idea of the kids sewing for the first time without adult supervision. This is where my two super adult sewers came into the picture. They called each child one at a time to a machine and gave them a private sewing lesson. Perhaps in the future I'll be more comfortable leaving the kids less supervised...but until then, I'm all about the one-on-one.

So what were the others doing in the meantime? Well, they set their pillows aside and began creating mini-stuffed animals! In My First Sewing Book, the author gives a ton of animal patterns for the kids to chose from. I simply enlarged them and laid them out for the kids to pick from. Of course, I gave them the option of creating their own stuffies too (see last photo, ya'll. Too cute). With that sampler under their sewing belt, this proved to be the perfect project for them to work independently on while they waited for their turn at the machine.
For a Stuffie, you'd need the following:
  • Two pieces of felt per student
  • Embroidery floss
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Patterns (or paper for creating their own)
  • Stuffing




  1. After picking their pattern, the kids pinned the pattern and two pieces together. This was then cut out.
  2. After removing the pins, the kids were told they had to use a satin stitch to create a face. Buttons were available for eyes. 
  3. Once that was complete, the two felt pieces were pinned together and stitched almost all the way around with a whip stitch.
  4. Stuffing was added and the stuffie was stitched closed. Most kids were able to create more than one.
When their turn was up at the sewing machine, they stitched those three pinned sides. Stuffing was added to the pillow and they had the option of hand-stitching the pillow closed or using the machine again. I was surprised that not all of the kids picked the machines. I think some of them really enjoyed the control of stitching by hand.
Since completing these stuffies, the kids have started bringing in things they've sewn at home. They've independently created purses, pin cushions and stuffies for their buddies and siblings. Which makes me so super happy.


And excited. I've already started my yearly process of begging for longer art classes next year so I can do this with all my students, not just an after school class. I know how much I loved creating like this when I was a kid...and I want all of my students to have this very same experience.

Do ya'll sew in your art room? Would you mind sharing with me the projects you do? I'd love to have more ideas and share them with my sewing group! Thanks, ya'll!
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