2 Apr


Hello again! Life has gotten busy with a full school schedule and my now one year-old son. I am excited to share some of the great creations my students have been working on. Thanks for reading!


The Central Idea for my 4th grader’s Where We Are in Place and Time IB unit is “Civilizations are dependent upon the geography of a region”. The unit explores how individuals contribute to the culture and growth of a region and explores the physical features of that region. We focused on the architect Frank Lloyd Wright as our inspiration.


Students first studied the varied landscapes of Wisconsin, from the densely forested Northwoods to the sandstone bluffs found near the Dells, to the sand dunes and waterfalls found in our State Parks. We talked about how Frank Lloyd Wright designed his buildings to fit within a landscape, allowing nature to play a star role in his designs.


Students then illustrated their backgrounds as inspired by their knowledge of Wisconsin landscapes. They made sure to add many details to make their scenes interesting as well as to use previous techniques learned to create the illusion of space.


After their backgrounds were complete, we studied some of the local buildings designed by Wright. We are lucky to have Wingspread and the S.C. Johnson building in our very own backyard! We also looked at other Wright architecture found in our state, from the Monona Terrace to his Taliesin studio in Spring Green. We discussed how his style of architecture uses many geometric shapes and angles. They loved his unique style and were eager to design their own inspired houses or buildings that fit into their landscapes.



After their buildings were complete, we made pop-ups to attach to the back of them so that they would pop out from the backgrounds. The added dimension really made their buildings stand out. I can’t wait to see what my 4th graders this year come up with!


We found quite a bit of interesting info in the book Frank Lloyd Wright for Kids: His Life and Ideas. This computer animated video of Fallingwater and its construction also fascinated the kids.




11 Oct

glue resist pastel leaves. colors of my day blog.

Fall is such an inspiring time of year and I love to incorporate the changing leaves into art lessons whenever possible. I am currently working on this lesson with my third graders this year; these examples were created by the students at the bilingual school I previously taught at.

We start out the lesson by viewing examples of real leaves that students bring in. I also like to show them Autumn Leaves by Ken Robbins and Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert for additional examples and inspiration. We study the contours of the leaves, noting how some have wavy, zig zag, or curvy lines. Some are symmetrical while others aren’t. We talk about their shapes and the patterns the veins make.

glue resist pastel leaves. colors of my day blog.

After sketching out ideas, students draw one large leaf on black paper then outline with white glue. The next class, we view some close-up leaf paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe and study the real leaves again, noticing how the colors blend softly together. Students use warm colors for the leaf and cool colors for the outside to create a bold contrast.

glue resist pastel leaves. colors of my day blog.

glue resist pastel leaves. colors of my day blog.

Each student’s leaf turned out so bright and colorful and the student’s loved how the lesson connected to the current season. They were so excited to share both their found leaves and their beautiful artistic representations!

glue resist pastel leaves. colors of my day blog.


30 Sep


We have been busy settling into the new school year and have just begun focusing on our fall-themed projects. The next month I will be posting some spectacular and colorful art projects created in the past autumn seasons. The leaves here in Wisconsin have just started to change so what perfect timing!

This was a lesson third grade students worked diligently on last fall. We started the lesson by observing a real pumpkin and making a list of adjectives to describe it. Students noticed that the pumpkin was shaped like a sphere with curved lines that started at the stem. These lines also gave the pumpkin a bumpy texture. We practiced drawing the pumpkin from life, making sure to carefully observe each detail in order to create the most realistic pumpkin. Once confident, students drew another large pumpkin on their final papers. They then drew two diagonal lines to create a background.

pumpkin pattern2

The next class, students again observed the pumpkin and came up with a list of colors they noticed. We practiced mixing new colors out of yellow, orange, white, and brown paint. This was by far the most joyful part of the project as students were amazed at all the new color combinations they were able to create. They blended colors for the pumpkin then also had to mix 4 different tints for the background.

pumpkins pattern1

Lastly, students used their knowledge of line to create bold patterns for their backgrounds using black paint. The simple outlines and patterns also helped to emphasize their lovely pumpkins as well as all the great new color combinations created.


Inspired by this lovely pumpkin project.


3 Apr

chalk land2

When I found out my 2nd graders were studying landforms in their Social Studies unit, I knew I had to try these Ted Harrison landscapes again. We went about the project in a pretty similar fashion but this time, instead of using glue to trace the lines, the students traced over their lines at the beginning and end with black oil pastel to help their designs stand out. My students were so eager to share and apply their knowledge of landforms and their enthusiasm really shone through on the final artworks.

Chalk pastels are definitely one of the messier mediums but there’s something about their vibrancy and boldness that make each project stand out. I’ve found it helpful to give students a baby wipe after each chalk session–cuts down on clean up time at the sink and encourages the more mess-adverse students to continue knowing that they can spiff themselves up at the end.

chalk land3 chalk land4 chalk1


2 Apr

topo maps 4

2nd grade students created these colorful 3D topographic maps to correlate with their classroom unit on landforms. We studied some of the ways in which these types of maps are used by scientists and environmentalists and viewed real-life examples. We also were impressed by these awesome works of art created by paper artist Jen Stark. Students got to work creating their first large shape and had to follow a formula to continue making smaller, concentric shapes. We used small recycled cardboard pieces between each layer to make our maps pop. The technique was tricky at first but the second graders rose to the challenge and were able to create these masterpieces!

topo maps1 topo maps2

topo maps3


25 Mar


Classes have been busy this spring exploring our IB units in depth. 4th graders were learning about animals’ use of mimicry and camouflage as a means of survival in their homerooms. To begin our unit, we watched this great video about animal camo. We viewed different animal patterns up close and students had to choose an animal with a distinctive design or texture for their projects. After printing off reference photos, students got busy on their practice drawings, trying to make their animals as realistic as possible. Once confident they had their best, students transferred their drawings onto the scratch art paper. We learned different scratching techniques with the stylus tool to help represent the texture of the animal’s fur or skin. For the finishing touch, students recreated their animal’s pattern with oil pastels for a border, again trying to use blending and coloring techniques to represent that texture. Students were very focused and engaged while working the entire quarter on this project! The results are absolutely amazing.










24 Jan


4th grade students studied the Cubist paintings created my Swiss artist Paul Klee, focusing in on his Rose Garden masterpiece in particular. We discovered that in the Cubist style of painting, the artist uses lines to break up the picture plane into many different angles. Students took this inspiration to make a design using heart stencils they created and then drew over using horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines. Each newly created space was then colored in with crayon and painted over with liquid watercolor in a wax resist style.

Inspired by this lesson from A Faithful Attempt.