Thursday, August 13, 2015

In the Art Room: My Fave Portrait Lessons

Hellllo, friendly faces! For my Back to Art Teacherin' feature today, I thought I'd share with you my very fave self-portrait projects! Last week you saw my fave landscape projects so I thought these fresh faces would be a nice follow up! So, without further ado-ness, let's get the self-portrait party started!
These first grade royal self-portraits are so stinking cute and were super fun! Not to mention, my wee ones learned so stinkin' much! Pattern-making, portrait drawing, relief-style crown design, whew! These artists are now in fourth grade and seeing these self-portraits just makes me so proud. They are still as awesomely artistic as ever! 
Last year, my third grade artists had the opportunity to sing and record a song to go along with the book A Beautiful Oops! In preparation, we sang and painted oops-es. We also learned how to draw a proportional self-portrait to be placed over our paintings. I loved how colorful and happy these turned out! More details about our recording session and the process of these pieces here
Love the splatter paint! 
Teaching kindergarten can be a wild and crazy ride. The key is to harness the crazy. This project was completed near the end of the year after we'd covered line painting (in the background), collage (for the clothing), rainbow order (see that palette?) and the proportions of the face. It was great to see all of their knowledge come together in one good looking project! All the details you could ever need on teaching portrait drawings to the littles, here
Y'all remember about 5-ish years ago when there was no Pinterest and we all had to use that gray squishy thing between our ears? WASN'T THAT A TERRIBLE TIME?! And y'all remember when that one genius art teacher did that one genius rainbow self-portrait project that I think just about every art teacher in the universe did (I know I did it!!). Well, this "We are the World" self-portrait number was a take on that. It was a big beautiful undertaking that you can read about here
Putting this together was a bit of a beast. Thankfully, I had some super amazing practicum kids from a local university put the thing together. Otherwise, it'd prolly still be sitting on my floor! 
Another big portrait-making undertakin' was this dealio:
The Gallery of Gratitude was one of those projects that just made everyone smile. Who doesn't love to see a child's drawing of them along with their words of appreciation? This was a great project do to before Thanksgiving. 
Not to mention we learned about portrait drawing, capturing someone's likeness and colored pencil usage.
When this display came down, I made sure everyone got their portrait and I've seen many teachers, faculty and staff have them hanging in their rooms and offices. How fun! 
My units are usually based on a culture. So many of our self-portraits give a lil nod do the culture we are studying. These second grade self-portraits were all about the kimono and the konichiwa! 
And these were all about Paris! First grade had a fun time flying high with this project
 I love teaching about Ancient Egypt as much as the kids love learning about it. This is one of those self-portrait projects I repeat each time we venture to Egypt because it covers so much! 
 We really got into the correct proportions of the face and shading. 
Last year, we were pinched for time in self-portrait-land for both kindergarten and first grade. Having eight snow days will do that to an art teacher! So we went the quick and easy route: we used multicultural colored contraction paper for the face which we drew in oil pastel. Then we cut that out and glued it to another sheet of paper that we painted hair and a background on. That took us two thirty minute art classes! Like I said, quick and easy. 
And happy as can be! Y'all have been so great about sharing your ideas...I'd love to know what your fave self-portrait projects are! Thank you in advance, kids. 
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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

In the Art Room: First Day(s) of Art!

Hello, cats and kittens and welcome to the very first day(s) of art! It's been a wild -n- crazy week so far and, y'all, IT'S ONLY TUESDAY. Which means we're having fun, right?! Well, somebody is, anyway. Glue sniffing will do that to a gal. 
For the last couple of years, I've shared with you what my first day(s) of art class look like (go here and here for that, y'all) . I keep saying "day(s)" because my schedule is a lil different than the rest of the art teacherin' universe (I ain't complainin', I'm just sayin'). I see my first and second graders for 30 minutes, twice a week; my third and fourths for 60 minutes, once a week and kindergartentown (who don't start until next week) for 40 minutes, once a week. So! What I've got for you today is what I teach the youngers over the course of two classes and the olders in one class. Make sense? 

Before we get started, lemme just tell you a couple of things I decided at the start of this school year:

* My room doesn't have to be perfect but it does have to be functional on the first day. Y'all, I used to spend entire summers in my art room. Rearranging. Organizing. Making visuals. It was exhausting, time-consuming and I never gave myself a break! This year, I seriously spent a handful of days in my room preparing. I always redecorate my room with a theme (see my Paris-inspired art room and my Asian-themed art room) but this year, I've only just begun updating my decor. Mostly because I knew I didn't need it at the start of the year and I was enjoying every last drop of my summer!

* Introduce the art room, routines and other new stuffs gradually. I used to try to cram in everything in the first couple of art classes. What do you think the kid's first impression of art class was? Rules, Do's and Don't's, Procedures and Zzzzzz-snoozefest. I think that whole deal is flawed. The kids only hear about the first two minutes of whatever it is you are talking about anyway. You go over one million boring-ish things with them all at once and you've lost them! I want their first impression of art class to be a fun one so we are covering those necessary things in baby bites, over several art classes. And doing some fun stuff everyday, like painting on the first day of art class!
So, speaking of talking too much, here's a clip of me talking too much TO YOU about what goes down that first day. I go into more detail about what you see here in the post...but if you have any questions, you can find me in the comments, y'all. 
Those flash cards I mentioned? They say: inspire, art, artist, create, creative, imagine, unique, etc. All words that describe the kids, art class and what artists do! My first thru fourth grade students read these at the door. For kindergarten, I show them shape flash cards. More in this vocab blog post. 
This is the view of my art room from the doorway. This is what the students see when they enter my room. The "teacher chair" is on the right and the other students are to sit on the floor in rows in front of the "teacher" (the quotes are cuz the teacher is a student I picked at the door to both monitor student behavior and play the game "see, think or wonder".)
Here's what the kids seated on the floor see. A view of my giant telly with an image from our Artist Inspiration, Henri Rousseau. When I am finished quizzing the kids at the door, I ask the "teacher" who was the best behaved boy and girl. Those two kids will get to be the host of our end-of-art-class game The Smartest Artist
At this point, I take over and introduce our Word of the Week. What the kids don't know is that I am secretly introducing them to our art class routines as we do this each and every art class! Whenever they hear the WoW, they are to "whoop! whoop" which is one part annoying and two parts fun, depending on your mood.
After talking about our WoW and our Artist Inspiration, I (re)introduce my students to Jes, our mascot/traveling tiger! I made a Jes a couple of years ago (details here) and he traveled around the world like Flat Stanely. It was so fun, the kids loved it...and then the poor dude was shipped to China never to be seen or heard from again (in my imagination, he took a turn to Bangkok and decided it was so fun he never wanted to leave!). So I made a new one and the kids are so excited to send him packing. I'll keep you posted on how that goes as I'm going to need your help!
Then we made a list of all the places we thought Jes should go!
After a quick stretch, we talked about rules. Oh, rules. Double snooze. But we made ours all sorts of wild and crazy which I think I explained in el video. So, we'll just leave it at that!
 We have a new incentive this year with a sticker chart! I've never EVER done a sticker chart, y'all. I'm seriously the most unorganized and inconsistent person you will ever meet in your life. However, I juuuuust might be able to do this one. All the special area folk in my school are on board so we are hoping to do it together. The kids have the chance to earn two stickers by following the two thoughts above. 
At the end of a quarter, whatever grade level class has the most stickers is rewarded with (a super cheap/easy) party! Like a 5 minute dance party at the end of class, popcorn party(tho we have so many allergies, y'all. It might have to be peanut-free/glutenless/flavorless/why-bother-living candy of some sort), you get the idea. Who else does this? Has it worked for you? TEACH ME YOUR MAGICAL WAYZZZZ.
At this point, I wanna hear the kids talk because I'm tired of hearing myself. So I call roll. The kids are to respond with a "Hello, Mrs. Stephens" (which helps the newbies learn my name, to hear it said 20 other times!) and then I ask them a silly question like those seen above. Yesterday, I asked one boy, who was new, when his birthday was and he replied "Today!" So, OF COURSE we had to stop, drop and sing Happy Birthday. The kids love these questions because they are random and ridiculous. Which is always a good time, says me.
 Oh, lookie! I can's! I changed up how I post these and I'm really digging it. Let's zoom in, shall we?
 Big, simple, kid-friendly and with visuals! Thanks, Dollar Tree.
This will also help the kids know what supplies to gather for art projects of the day.
So this was the beginning-of-the-school year decorating that I did which I felt was necessary for that very first day. The cute stuff will come later. And when it does, room tour
Another new thing for us this year, the Look What I Learned Today board! I call on three kids to tell me one thing and jot it down. While I do, the kids do their "ooguh, ooguh, OOOOGUHHH" chat. It's fun to see what sticks with them! 
Our wrap up game at the end of class is The Smartest Artist. The Masterpiece Gallery is for the fun art the kids like to bring in to share. 
 Now, for the younger kids, that was the end of art class on day one. But for the olders, the fun was just starting. I told them their table assignments, sent them shopping at the store, had them drop their supplies off at their seats and meet me at my new demo table (seen in the center). After a quick texture painting and printing demo, the kids set to work!
This year, at Tennessee Arts Academy, the super awesome Laura Lohmann of Painted Paper, talked just about everyone into painting with our students on the first day of art. So we did! 
With a limited palette of yellow, blue, turquoise and white, we painted and mono-printed as many papers as we could until it was time to clean up.
We now have a huge stack of these beauties to use for our upcoming jungle-themed projects! Henri Rousseau, eat your heart out...
 So much happiness.
And a beautiful mess at the end of the day! I can't wait to share with you what we do with our papers but that will just have to wait. Mama needs to soak these feets! 

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

What the Art Teacher Wore #144 and a Contest!

 Motivational Monday: Welp, we're back! My small kindergarten thru eighth grade school district is made up of eight schools. To kick off the school year, we always gather for a pep talk by our superintendent (whom I've decided is the best in all the land. Y'all won't find a more kind-hearted or humble person) and his posse. This year, they brought in speaker and singer Keni Thomas, a Task Force Ranger who was apart of what we know as Black Hawk Down. Y'all. I can't even. This man's story was incredible. Never have I attended a professional development that was more inspiring. If you can talk your admins into hosting this amazing individual, I strongly recommend it! dress: made by me! go herescarf: vintage, thrifted; pencil shavings bag: made by Fossil, found on ebayshoes: Swedish Hasbeens, Anthro; color wheel watch: made by Swatch, go here

Well, it's official. School's back in session, y'all! After a week of gettin' all kinds of pro-developmentishness, I finally get my kitten mittens on the kids come Monday. And I'm so excited! I've got big fat plans for those wee artists and I can't wait to get started. By the way, if you'd like to know what I do on my first days of art (and see my "old" art room, I've since redecorated!) go here! But first, I've got news for you!

Do y'all recall last week when I mentioned a lil What the Art Teacher Wore/Back to Schoolin' Contest? Well, the deal just got real, kids! Not only will you appear here but School Arts Magazine has also decided to run a feature of your art teacherin' self! Not only that, but the winner will get a free subscription to the magazine! How fun is that?! Here's how you can enter (please read carefully, I don't want you to miss a single step!):

*  Email me a photo of what you wore your first(ish) day of school! The more art-teachery, the better! If you want to qualify to be featured in School Arts, the photo must be high resolution (so, um, not your phone). Send it on to me at

* Share your look on Instagram! Don't forget to use the hashtags #schoolartsmagazine and #whattheartteacherwore and to tag me @cassiestephenz! This way we can all see what awesomeness you be wearing! 

* All photos will be shared here! In a special edition What the Art Teacher Wore (which will prolly appear after Labor Day to get all y'all late-startin' teachers a chance to enter), your good-looking face will appear here. We'll have a lil vote to see who will be featured in 
School Arts magazine and win that subscription! 

And that's it! Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. I know several of you have already shown your look on insta and I thank you! Can't wait to see what all y'all be wearing! 
School Pride Tuesday: We were to wear our school t-shirts on this day but, ya know, I don't do the t-shirt thang. So I went with our school colors of yellow and blue (with a lil red thrown in). We spent our day catching up with teacher friends and meeting new ones. I do hope all y'all teacher friends of mine love your schools as much as I love mine. scarf: vintage, thrifted; blouse: from Buffalo Exchange, vintage; skirt: another score from Buffalo, originally from Anthro; bakelite: gifts; belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing; shoes: Crocs
 Since we tend to go to Disneyland frequently, I decided to start commemorating our trips by picking up a Disney pin each visit (any excuse to spend money and start a new collection, ya'll). I've got almost a dozen now and I'm trying to think of the best way to display them all. In the meantime, I've been wearing 'em too! This is one of my faves. I grew up with a fuzzy screen, "hey, move that antenna to the left! No, right!" kind of telly so this pin brings back memories. 
 Meet Your Teacher Night! Wednesday: So our district does a lil evening gathering a couple days before school starts. This allows the kids to meet their teach, see their rooms and get the lay of the land. It's a fun night to welcome 'em all back! dress: palette dress, made by me; shoes: Shoe Carnival
 Right before Meet-Your-Teacher night, I ran to the post office. I was chatting it up with the mailman who asked, "What is it you do?" When I told him I was a teacher, he asked, "What do you teach?" I just looked at him with my best dead-eyes face and said, "Really?" After doing a double take, he was like, "oooooh, right. Art." 
 First Day of School Eve Thursday: I decided to go all Mary Blair-esque on this day. vintage dress: a lucky find on etsy; Mary Blair-inspired necklaces: made by me, DIY herebelt: Anthro; Mary Blair-inspired bag: made by me, details here
Of course that means I gotta wear my It's a Small World pin, right?! 
First Day of School! Friday: Our first day was a half day so no kids came to art. However, we did gather them all in the gym during their shortened specials time to introduce ourselves and the staff (our SRO, the principals, custodians, you get the idea) as well as cover some basic school procedures. Of course, I decided to get right to the paint, ahem, with a goofball Steve Martin-inspired crayon-thru-head headband. On third grade girl's comment: You are the weirdest thing I have ever seen. Why thank you! dress: made by me, details hereshoes: gift, Anthro
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