Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Rocks and poetry

Well, this was a super cool lesson and I have to thank New City Arts for the great idea! Definitely check out her blog. I even used her student examples on my handout to show my kids the haiku and free verse poetry that we were trying out. I started by asking teachers for rocks to borrow, because the only ones I had were kinda boring. Little did I know, we had so many rock collecting teachers!
We used a range of shading pencils to complete a 7-part value scale, then set to work with our sketches and poems. Many kids asked, "Can I trace my rock?" which sparked a great conversation about drawing three-dimensionally versus a "footprint" drawing. Students used at least 4 of the values in the final drawing, along with a cast shadow.
The poems are so expressive - as we sketched, we jotted down descriptive words on our worksheet and even added a little personification by noting what our rock's mood or personality would be like. Some are serious and deep, while others are funny and light.
At the end of class, when most were finishing up, we watched an interesting 5 minute video from the TV show "How It's Made" about graphite pencils - it's attached at the bottom of the post. This is definitely a keeper lesson and a great start to the year.

Haring figures, complementary colors

Keith Haring's symbolic figures are a great subject matter for my 4th graders, who learn about gesture drawing, color schemes, and value in the first unit. His work is so relatable because his figures show no gender, age, race - they could be anyone! This lesson hits so many standards, and the kids love posing for each other and making gesture drawings, which we made contour lines around to make them resemble Haring's figures. We selected a pair of complementary colors and mixed tints and shades for the backgrounds - I really like the painterly backgrounds with the crisp figures on top, and the gray paper behind it all really shows off the colors better than white.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The many ways to stay connected

I have added some new ways to follow our art room learning, so you can pick your favorite! In addition to the "follow" links from Google and Bloglovin' and RSS feeds (I still don't know what that means, but if you do, great!), you can also sign up to follow by email, which seems like the easiest way if you aren't a regular blog reader.
I have also just joined Instagram, and we use Twitter for our Free Art Friday activities. 
You can find all of these links in the right sidebar. 

Isn't this a great pic and message?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Colors and Shapes in Nature, KDG

Alma Thomas was our artist of inspiration for our very first project with the new group of kindergarten artists at Dolvin. We looked at examples of her simple and beautiful paintings of falling leaves, radiating suns, and curvy rainbows.  Did you know she was born right here in Georgia? Studying artists from our home state is one of our objectives, and when I discovered this fact about her I was very excited to add her to our artist list.  The students really enjoyed the watercolor paint over crayon resist technique, and, of course, watching the water change color every time we rinsed our brushes.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Get the Good Stuff!

The Dixon Ticonderoga Company is promoting their quality school and art supplies this back-to-school season by asking art teacher bloggers to put their products to the test. I was happy to welcome these donations into our classroom and will share with you what we have found, now that we have had the joy of opening, unpacking, and sampling a box of free art supplies. 
First off, everyone knows that the Ticonderoga pencil is about as high quality as you can get. They arrived pre-sharpened, a deal breaker for me if they are not, and have a latex-free eraser that withstands some serious use. The competitor pencil erasers wouldn't have lasted a day in my room.

The Prang watercolors are removable from the case, which is great for painting with a selected color scheme, and the brush is well made. The colors are nice and bold, and my professional artist friend Sherry says they are her favorite travel watercolor set, and her studio mates agree. Prang's box seems a little sturdier than the competitor set as well.

This is my first time trying out the Prang markers and I was a bit skeptical after only using a competing brand for many years, but you can see here in the comparison photo that the ink coverage is very smooth and vibrant. I like that the tops are all white, which can make cleanup go a little quicker, and the only thing I can say I missed while using the Prang markers is that the tip shape doesn't really allow for thick line coverage, but there is a slight thickness difference from tip to angle.

The colored pencils were quite impressive, even before unpacking them. They had a nice weight, a triangular form for staying in place on the table, and a sharpener is included. The thick lead puts down smooth, saturated color and they don't feel fragile, like the competitor pencil. They seem as though they would last a long time.

I will continue to review these products as we begin our lessons this year, and share results on how they are holding up. I wanted to go ahead and post what I've found so far during the back-to-school campaign, and so far I am impressed with what I've seen from all four of these products. Thanks Dixon for sharing your products with my class!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Starting out: Unit 1, 2-D elements

I start my classes at the beginning of the year the same way I like to go into a pool, tiptoe in slowly! All grades are focusing on basic elements, observational drawings, gesture and contour, value scales, primary colors, geometric shapes. Although these activities are simple in nature, they are still very striking and visually appealing. Sometimes less is more, especially when we are emphasizing one or two elements. Check out some of our early progress...

Kindergarten classes capture nature, Alma Thomas style, with some crayon and watercolor resist. Thanks to New City Arts  for this lesson idea, and also the rock drawing below. Shannah's lessons always inspire me.

First graders explore primary colors and geometric shape with a Piet Mondrian-style collage. I've tried Mondrian in every way possible, and I love this fresh take I found over at Artsonia

5th graders showing off their shading skills with special sketching pencils - these are going to be fantastic.

Here we have a fabulous pose during our 5th grade gesture drawings, one of their favorite things.

Friday, August 16, 2013

300th post, 22nd year, 1st week

We are back in action at Dolvin Elementary, and ready to "reach for the stars" as this year's schoolwide theme. I can't believe this is my 22nd year teaching, and my 300th blog post! I have updated my class schedule, as seen here and also in the tabs above. Parents, please follow my blog by clicking on your method of choice to the right, so that you can see all the amazing things we are learning and making in art class. All of the student portfolios will remain in the art room until the end of the year, and they will be so excited to show them off to you next spring. Remind your little artists to wear art-friendly clothes on their art day, because even the washable materials can leave stains. Smocks and aprons are always welcome.

Click to enlarge

My 4th and 5th graders enjoyed a funny video while we were passing out materials, and they were dying to see more. You can find these skits on YouTube by searching "Kid Snippets" - they are hilarious and kid appropriate. Here's the one we watched called "Art Class" - thanks to The Art of Ed blog for posting these.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Inspiration to Fruition... Thank you!

My room and planning have been highly influenced by all of the sublime finds I've been collecting on Pinterest over the last year or two. You will see from my pics below that some of my work is my own twist on your innovative ideas, and some are just outright stolen "as is"! I am excited to be a beneficiary of some amazing best practices - thanks so much to those of you who contacted me through email to tell me you are enjoying my blog, and extra thanks to all of you who generously share your hard work for the benefit of art students and teachers everywhere, and those who share through pinning.

Now, how many of these things do you recognize from Pinterest? So glad to get them off my "pin boards" and into my real life classroom :) I am not going to credit each item to the original creator here because there are so many, but you can find them with a simple click from my Pinterest boards (most of these are from "Art Room") at Have a wonderful new school year, readers, and welcome back Dolvin families - get ready to "reach for the stars"!

                                                           Noise level indicators

            Student-friendly, small sized higher order questioning words for each table

New portfolios - I now have 2 different ones for K-2 and 3-5
with more specific information - this is year 3 of portfolio development for me
^^update 09/14 - new portfolios available on Teachers Pay Teachers :

Posters I bought from Scholastic after earning a $20 gift card for taking a teacher survey online, and smaller ones I printed from Pinterest

             Unit 1 bulletin board: Art is a Language - love the "Be ARTiculate" word list (again, stolen)

New table numbers made with specialty paper from Roylco

                                Two rubrics, one for k-2 and one for 3-5

                                       Two fun and simple critique sheets

I am trying my tables in a rounded configuration this year with small group table in the center

We purchased some new books and DVDs with our fundraising profits 
to update the art room book collections

Dixon/Prang company sent us some complimentary supplies to review 
in an upcoming post - stay tuned!

A still UNFINISHED room sign I have been piddling with since the beginning of last year.
I just can't get it finished.  One day...