Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Do you have Free Art?

Each quarter my students have the opportunity to earn a free art day based on how they manage their behavior as a group in the art room. Classes can earn up to three squares on the free art chart based on  behavior during instruction time, creative time and clean-up.  It is possible to earn a free art period per quarter.  The motivation for free art is the opportunity to create freely for a class period.  I have a number of kids drawing books for them to pattern after, a few art bases games and some wonderful dice games from Expressive Monkey, as well as some blocks and a felt board.  I try to move around the room and join various groups for a period of time to play games, draw, and visit with them.  I am often surprised and delighted by some of the work my students create for these free days.  It's also a great way to deal with the off days just prior to vacation when you know your students might be lacking in a focus for real instruction.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kinder Bunnies

I think this is becoming one of my favorite Kindergarten lessons.  It's great project for spring.  This year the timing has been wonderful as we completed these the week prior to Easter.  They are going home this week and I am sure will be a wonderful addition to many a family celebration.  Week one, students used a tracer to make a contour bunny on a 12x18 sheet of blue construction paper.  Using white tempera and a small cube sponge cut from a standard household sponge, students proceeded to pounce or hop with the sponge to fill in the form of the bunny.  These were set aside to dry for week two.
Today was week two.  Students were given construction paper crayons to embellish their bunnies.  First three shades of green and a brown were used to draw the grass.  I had the students imagine their spring bunny hiding in tall, tall grass as they used their crayons.  The green grass was tall and the browns grass was stubby and shorter.  Next two shades of pink were selected for adding the color in the bunnies ears, a nose, and the eye.  Finally, students were encouraged to complete their compositions by adding touches of spring through multi-colored flowers, butterflies, bees or anything else from their imagination.  I was really pleased with how these turned out and the students were thrilled by the oohhs and aahhs as they walked down the hall carrying their completed projects.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


My principal recently emailed everyone looking for a place to move a metal shelf.  I jumped at the opportunity to have it placed in the kiln room.  It has been such an asset this year for managing the approximately 400 pieces of green ware that have passed through the kiln room.  I have always found organizing clay pieces and keeping them safe to be a real challenge.  It is the worst possible mishap when I accidentally break a student's work.  I avoid that by carefully managing each piece.  This shelf has made a rough situation so bearable!  Crazy really that I am writing about this wonderful addition of a metal shelf!!  Today I took a few pictures of my clay organization.

3rd grade work
Each plastic bin is labeled by grade and day of the week.  As I unload the kiln, I sort the works into the bins.  I will apply wax resist by class and the glazing will begin!  With the bins labeled it is easy to prioritize which classes I need to work with and in what order.  The 3rd grades will not glaze but will instead paint their pieces.  There is a lot of work there; thanks goodness, no wax resist!  The rack those are store on was assembled from a metal cube system.  It was suppose to go together with plastic caps connecting the intersections.  Instead it is assembled with plastic ties from the hardware store and with extra shelves in each cube that are more suited to the sizes of my bins.

Friday, April 4, 2014


For years I have taught slab work to 3rd grade students.  The focus was always a cultural unit on Adobe Houses of the Pueblo Indians and the current day building of Adobe homes throughout the southwest.  I loved the unit and enjoyed making the houses.  I notice over the last couple of years, these were becoming too challenging and my students were not all experiencing the success I wanted them to feel.  This year I decided to approach slabs in a new way and I really like the way things have turned out.  The new focus was creating a wide variety of projects that all incorporated not only slabs but also the use of texture.  Every week over a three week period, I would introduce one or two new projects using the methods of slab with texture.  Students were given the option to create what was demonstrated that day, something they had learned previously or to create something on their own that would measure up to a high standard of creative endeavor.  The students eagerly tried new projects and experimented with creating their own ideas.  Some were successful, some were not but let the creative juices flow!  Here is a sampling of a few of their completed bisque projects.  These will be completed with acrylic paints in standard colors and in neons.

Fifth Grade Clay Whistles

Ready for the kiln

Elephant in a party hat!
My Fifth grade classes are completing their clay whistles this week.  I couldn't be more proud of this group.  A few of the musicians actually played around with my tools for making the fingering holes and were successful in achieving tones for their ocarinas.  This is in no way an easy feat.  There has been many a time, I personally filled in the holes and gave up my attempts to reach this achievement.  I give the students a bit of freedom in creating their whistles.  The only guidelines are that they must create something from the animal, insect, bird or fish kingdoms and that it needs to be done well.  Meaning, it needs to be detailed and look clean and finished.  I stress making all the additive pieces by forming them from a beginning ball shape and detail  wins me over every time!  Here are a few pieces of green ware that are definitely worthy of sharing as well as some bisque pieces.  I have one more bisque firing before they begin to glaze.
bisque menagerie
Whimsical owl with a tie
Bisque ware waiting to be glazed

Sunday, March 30, 2014

April 1, 2014

All year different groups have been responsible for decorating the faculty room for the month.  My group has April.  We've kicked around a few different ideas but really aren't prepared to assemble the bulletin board.  Here we are days away from April 1st!  So, Friday a few of us were enjoying lunch and some socialization and decided to put up a temporary board for the dreaded prankster day of April 1st.  A little research has turned up some fascinating facts and hilarious pranks from over the years.  After some devoted time on the computer, I really felt I wanted to share a few things with my blogster friends as we begin April as well.
These make me want to create fish projects and kick me signs this week with the kids!!!   Well, just kidding, it is April you know.

BBC announces discovery of Spaghetti Trees in  Switzerland!
Taco Bell helps with National Debt

The original post was from 1976.  Looks like someone is trying this one again!
Jovian-Plutonian gravitational effect

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Three creative weeks with Clay

I'll soon have so much to post but I've been busy guiding students through the process of becoming potters and haven't had much to say lately.  I was giving this some thought the other day as my Kindergarten students were creating these coil pots.  I thought I would share my method.
I try to create a story with students as they work with clay to hopefully cement methods through association. So here goes:

We begin by rolling a piece of clay into a ball to create a yummy pancake. It is placed into the bottom of an inexpensive plastic bowl from the dollar store.  This will serve as a mold to help them support the sides of their bowl as they create.

Next students learn to roll a "snake" coil with clay.
Here is the story.  A snake discovered a pancake in the bottom of a bowl.  It looked so yummy that the snake crawled into the bowl to have a bite.  We take our thumb and try to stop the snake from eating as we push the coil against the sides of the bowl

making certain to have each clay coil touch the clay below it.  The snake tries to escape and crawl out of the bowl, we pinch, pinch, pinch and we turn to bowl and keep the snake "caught" in the bowl.

Once students reach the top of the bowl the coil pot is finished and left to harden before it is removed from the bowl.

Most students are very successful in attaching the coils.  The bowl will have beautiful Kindergarten thumb prints all around the interior but will maintain the appearance of coils around the outside.
inside view of students work
Student Work: Outside view with bowl upside down
Student Work: Outside view with bowl in correct position

Student Work on Left after glazing
Small Kindergarten Pinch Pot on Right