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:

Monday, July 1, 2013

Abstract Art With Shapes

This is a project that we did a few years ago based on an exercise in Mona Brookes' book, Drawing With Children.    The exercise was similar to this art project

I found this similar idea in a google search just now.  Interesting how different people can come up with identical ideas.  The exact inspiration for me likely came from several sources.

The directions are simple.  Draw a variety of shapes using the technique of overlapping.  I distinguish between three types of shapes:  Geometric; Organic (that found in nature); and Free-form.  Some students needed to be "encouraged" to add more shapes to their pictures to balance them out.  When the drawing (done in pencil) is done, it can be outlined in a black marker.  If you're brave, have students just draw in a permanent black marker as it saves a step. 

You can use any kind of color scheme you'd like (for example warm colors for shapes and a cool color background).  Or just let the kids decide.  One rule I had was that they had to use a variety of colors and that two connecting shapes could not be the same color.  Each section of the shapes had to be colored in different colors.  (see the examples to get an idea). 

For coloring we used markers and I teach my students to treat the marker like it's a paint brush.  The tip of the marker is like the tip of a brush.  You can make thick and thin lines depending on how you hold the marker.

All lines in a given area are to follow the same direction.  That means that each section is treated like a canvas unto itself.  Circle and oval shapes can have circular lines but straight line shapes must have straight marker lines (and they must all follow the same direction.  Students may first outline the shape but then all subsequent lines must have the same direction.  The outlining helps students to keep withing the boundaries of the shape.  I have my students point their marker tips toward the black border line when outlining the shape. 

The marker lines in the background should all follow the same direction.  Either left to right or top to bottom or diagonal.  One line is colored at a time and then the next line is added.  I don't allow students to use their markers like crayons (using a back and forth movement). 

I think the effect is rather nice.  Look closely at the lines in each example.  You'll see what I mean.  If this doesn't make sense, please let me know.  I'll try to clarify. 

However, you will likely see where some students didn't exactly follow the "rules" above.  You can decide for yourself if this matters.  Let me know what you think.  It's a great lesson for teaching color theory, balance, overlapping, and technique.