Saturday, June 4, 2016

This blog, moving to a new room, and entering my last year in full-time teaching. And other stuff maybe....

I haven't posted in this blog in over a year.  Other areas of interest have taken up time in my life (I'm taking jazz guitar lessons for one) and reflecting on my teaching has taken a back seat.  No, make that writing about my reflections.  I always reflect on what it is I'm doing in the classroom, I just stopped writing about those reflections.

I'm going to try to write about my last year in teaching, reflecting on things I've learned, mistakes I've made, and successes I've had.  When I started this blog, I began by posting reflections from an art class I took online.  From there I began sharing the cool things the kids were doing in class.  I at one time had a webpage but Facebook makes it much easier to share my kids work so I have been doing that for a few years now.  The webpage is no more.  There may still be broken links to it.  I fix them when I find them.

My FB page ( is a place where students, parents, and friends can "friend" me and get updates and links to my Community page ( ).  If interested, just press "like" on the community page and you'll have access to all the photo albums.  There you can see the many projects I've done in class.   As I get my ideas from some of you, and Pinterest as well as other blogs, others deserve the credit for sharing their great ideas of art experiences to use in the classroom.  Pinterest has been a life saver for me.  I love how so many of you share your ideas with folks like me.  There sure are a lot of talented teachers out there! ( )

Moving my room next year

So after 5 years on the cart and 10 plus years in a small room, I'm getting a new room.  I'll gain another 1/3 of my current classroom size so that's a plus.  They are putting in two deep basin sinks and lots of shelving in my new room.  I pack up the old art room stuff, they move it, and then I unpack it in my new room.  I hope I like it.  It will be my 28th year teaching and my first year in a portable.  But I'll have my own bathroom!  I like that part.

My last year in full time teaching

I turn 65 in March of 2017.  Since my wife has been retired for over a year now, I plan to retire at the end of next year.  What I hope to do from now until then is to reflect on my work experiences and post those reflections here.

A blog can serve many purposes.  If people benefit what the things I share, that's a plus.   But reflecting on one's work should be an activity in which all professionals engage.  It's a healthy practice.  It doesn't have to be written down but for many, that approach is best.  Part of the reason I want to write about my last year is that I think it will help me deal with the emotions of leaving the teaching profession.  This job has been a huge part of my life.  It's Saturday and still I was up in my classroom for over 2 hours today removing work from the kiln and putting the next batch in.  Yikes!  I really am pushing it this year.  School is over in 10 days!

I will miss working everyday I think.  I love what I do.  And I don't just teach art to kids.  I have after-school guitar students I teach each week.  I have an after-school chess club that's been meeting regularly for over 20 years.  And for the past 5 years or more I have acted as the crossing guard adviser to our 5th grade crossing guards.   Each morning and after school, I'm outside with the crossing guards helping to supervise and offering guidance.  I love this part of my job.

I play guitar, sing lots of kids songs, and am a pretty good storyteller.  I have dozens of puppets that I use on a somewhat regular basis.  I love doing these things and teaching in an elementary school gives me many opportunities to exercise these passions.  

And so I will be exiting a phase of my life that has blessed me beyond my dreams.  I'll still be able to sub and likely will be asked to preform in a few assemblies.  I have entertained in libraries and other schools, sharing my many songs and stories over the past many years.  I can still do some of that.

But it's time to pass the baton.  This is how I am looking at my upcoming retirement.  It's the turn someone else to do what I've been lucky enough to do.  I want to be emotionally ready to give up what has meant so much to me in my life.  My career has given me far more than I could ever give it.  And it's by God's grace that I am what I am today.  I've had the best job in the world, perfectly suited for me.  My job has allowed me to express myself in ways that truly reflect my philosophy of teaching and my love for kids. I know I will miss it.

Stay tuned.....

Monday, February 16, 2015

More clay projects from the 4th and 5th graders.

I usually give kids in the 4th and 5th grade a choice in what they want to make out of clay.  We start with a one day workshop where I go over the basics of working with clay and the clay tools.  After that, the kids create either pinch pot creatures or creations of their own,  I'm always amazed that a few kids come up with their own ideas and take the project to another level.

I just posted a bunch of pictures here.

Here are a few samples:

Sunday, December 28, 2014


I guess I ran out of steam on blogging.  I probably won't do much other than announce when I upload student work.  I have about 3 years left to retirement and am putting more time into my music.

However I would still like to share what I'm doing in my classroom and other items of interest.  I hope some of you may find the things I share useful.  I have benefited greatly from the ideas of others and want to do my part in sharing what's working in my art class.  These days I use Pinterest a lot.  I get many ideas for projects and centers from my fellow Pinterest "friends."  My page is here.

My web page is down (deleted accidently) and so I've put my classroom art projects here:   If you "like" the page you'll get updates.  You can also join here:  (add me as a friend) and you'll get update notices here too.  I think it's only necessary to like the art page for the notices however.

I've recently added the following:

 Block Art
             Christmas Stations 2014 
Clay Projects 4th and 5th grades

I have lots of other albums on the page as well and more are coming.  God bless and Happy New Year to all!

Sunday, November 9, 2014


This is a project that was easy to get ready and the kiddos loved it!  I make the materials available for all grade levels except that for kindergarten and 1st grade we did it step-by-step together.

I cut the hair out as a rectangle and showed the kids how to zig-zag cut the hair.  Even the kindergartners caught on to this.   For K-1 I pre-cut the 8x8 head and the smaller neck square.  I always cut the pieces down for the younger kids so they don't waste paper.  For older kids I direct them to the scrap box.

I found this idea on pinterest.  More examples can be seen on my Facebook community page here:  ArtMakesKidsSmart

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What I love about letting kids do their own thing....

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.  And don't get me wrong:  I model basic ideas and even sometimes require certain activities (like when we learn how to make a pinch pot with modeling clay).  But when it comes time to "express" one's inner artist,  I get out of the way.  I observe and help with ideas where needed.  I ask questions.   I am always surprised by something new.  More examples can be found here.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Cardboard Construction Center

 When I was first introduced to the idea of cardboard construction I was hesitant because it seemed to be an impossible storage task.  But with a bunch of boxes, each with a class name on it, I was able to keep each class's creations separate and organized, even in my very small room.

I set out pieces of cardboard that I had cut in a variety of sized, tape, glue, toilet paper rolls, and other things, and told the kids to build.  I offered a few helpful suggestions here and there but didn't give a lot of instructions on what to make (or even how).  I find that too much information leads to carbon copies of my ideas so I focus on technique and only what's necessary to get started.  I keep my eye on the works in progress and offer help when I see it's needed.

I'm amazed at the results.

Bean Art

It's been a long while since I last added something to this blog.  I have added too many after school activities to my list of "things I want to do" that I've had little energy to add much here.  I've been taking classical guitar lessons and I actually practice every day.  So I've been putting in a lot of energy in that pursuit. 

Well, I have some pictures of some of the things the kids have been doing and I'm in the sharing mood.  So here goes.

My art room is set up with 6 different stations.  In one of those stations I rotate different activities on a regular basis.  Currently station 4 is a "Bean Art) station.  I'm surprised at how popular this was with the kids.  Someone gave me a whole lot of different colored beans and so I put them in a tub along with some glue and gave the kids a few examples.  Here are a few of the results: