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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


16 Sep


It sure has been awhile since I have updated but here I am! I transferred to a new elementary art position this summer and have been busy these first few weeks of school settling in. I will share more about that adventure soon! For now, I want to continue with my posts from last school year. There are so many wonderful creations to show.

My second grade students created giraffes for their African Art project. We studied some interesting facts about the giraffe through a NatGeo video. Did you know giraffes can crush a lion’s skull with their long legs? Or that their feet are the size of dinner plates? How about that they only sleep for about 20 minutes a day and eat 75 pounds of food daily?? Fascinating stuff. After studying the patterns and details of giraffe faces up close, students began their sketches.

After tracing pencil lines with a Sharpie, students used crayons and earth toned watercolors to give their giraffes a resist texture. For the background, we studied the traditional Adrinka symbols and viewed this video. Students had handouts to reference and created a pattern using their favorite symbols. They look great together!


The student above wanted to draw a baby giraffe too.




11 Jul


For our 1st Grade African Unit lesson, students studied the lion and created these magnificent mixed-media collages. To begin, we read What the Animals Were Waiting For by Johnathan London, which tells the story of the dramatic cycles of life on the Masai Mara range in Africa. Many different African animals are depicted in rich, oil painted illustrations. On our document camera, we zoomed in on the lion illustration so we could see how the artist carefully blended monochromatic earth tones to give texture and depth to the fur. We also studied real lion photographs to become familiar with their features. Students then were ready to draw their lion faces, blending and mixing earth tones using oil pastels for the fur.

The next class, we reviewed photos of crazy lion manes and students folded strips of earth toned paper to create a wild mane around their drawings. Lastly, students used texture rubbing plates to create interest in the background. They sure brightened up the halls!

Inspired by these awesome lions on Artsonia.




29 Jun


My 4th Grade students focused on the zebra for their African Unit lesson. To start off the project, we viewed many photographs and read some facts about the zebra from the San Diego Zoo website. They were fascinated to find out that their stripes help to confuse predators while in a large group. We also had to go on a fact-finding mission to answer the age-old question: “White with black stripes or black with white stripes??”. Turns out both are true!

Armed with this background information, students jumped right into their practice drawings, using a guide to give them confidence. It’s kind of funny that they all ended up facing the same direction, but each one does have their own personality! Students were so connected throughout the project and took great pride in their final drawings.

Lastly, we studied the characteristics of the zebra habitat, the savannah. We studied many photos of the landscape, noticing how there are many layers and textures found in a savannah. In order to give the illusion of depth, students cut different colors of paper to create grass, hills, and mountains. Beforehand, students used rubbing plates to create textures on their papers to create more interest. The final projects are so striking.

Inspired by these colorful zebra projects found on MaryMaking.




24 May


This was the first version of The Grouchy Ladybug lesson I did with my Kinders, way back when I first started teaching! After reading the story, students use different shades of green tissue paper for the background. They viewed examples of ladybug’s anatomy, then used construction paper crayons to color the shapes and designs. They made sure to count all six legs. After creating the body, students cut out two red wings and attached them to their ladybugs. The last step was using foam stamps to print their black spots (this was some type of round, foam weatherstripping gap filler my husband helped me find at Menards).

I love how each ladybug seems to be in a different stage of flight or rest.



24 May


This is a great May lesson to explore texture and read one of my Kindergarteners’ favorite stories: The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle. Students find this story so amusing and love the part when the great big whale smacks the ladybug back to his leaf. It’s a good lesson on being kind and friendly instead of mad and grumpy.

After reading the story, students continued their knowledge of texture as they completed a crayon rubbing over texture plates to prepare their papers for their grass and dirt. Then, they used their cutting skills to cut a bumpy line for their dirt and strips of green for the grass which they glued to their backgrounds.

The next class, we went over the parts of the ladybug, noticing how they all have different patterns of black spots. Students created however many ladybugs they wanted and glued them to their grass and sky. They made sure to add six legs and some tiny antennae to finish off their bugs. They turned out great!

Check back later for the printmaking version of this lesson!

Inspired by this project found on Artsonia.


24 May


Here is the continuation of our reptile unit I meant to share before our Spring Art Show took over my life! My 2nd Graders were fascinated by all they learned about chameleons and their enthusiasm definitely carried over into this project. I created a Powerpoint of lizard facts and photos so they could discover the many colors and patterns found on these amazing creatures. The red and blue lizard was one of their favorites–they called it the “Spiderman” lizard!

Students then used this inspiration to design a colorful, patterned lizard on black paper using construction paper crayons for vibrancy. Last year students designed a tissue paper collage leaf that gave a nice, thick base for their creations. The previous year we just used regular construction paper and their sculptures weren’t quite as sturdy. They loved discovering how to bend and fold their 2-D drawing into a 3-D lizard. It really allowed their friendly lizards to come to life!