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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.




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.




29 Apr


Continuing with the literature-based art theme, here are some spectacular chameleons created by my 2nd grade students last spring during our lizard unit. During this unit, we read two great chameleon books:

Chameleon’s Colors by Chisato Tashiro

A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni

We also viewed some National Geographic Kids videos of real chameleons changing colors. The kids thought they were pretty much the coolest lizards in all creation.

They prepared their chameleon paper by brushing water over multi-colored bleeding tissue paper squares. They used texture rubbing plates to create a texture for their leaf and branch papers using crayons. These papers were then painted over with watercolor, creating a textured wax resist.

The next class, students practiced their chameleon drawing skills using a step-by-step drawing sheet, a lifesaver for my easily-frustrated students! Yet notice how each chameleon still has its own personality. Once comfortable, students created their final drawing on the prepared colorful paper. After cutting a large branch, leaves, and adding their chameleons to their composition, the masterpieces were complete.

Check back later for the 3D lizards from this unit!

These chameleons were inspired by this drawing lesson found on Art Projects for Kids.




23 Apr


I’ve mentioned this before, but I really do make an effort to incorporate literature whenever possible into my art curriculum. As a kid of a teacher mom, some of my fondest summer memories are visiting the public library to check out stacks of books every couple of weeks. I loved getting lost in the stories, studying the illustrations that sometimes accompanied the book, or creating the settings and details in my imagination.

As an art teacher in a high poverty school, it’s an important job to promote and encourage a love of reading for our students. I have to admit I am still drawn to children’s books and have a passion for sharing their words and illustrations in my classroom. Introducing a lesson with a book helps to calm my students down and get them excited to start their own inspired projects. In my five years of teaching art, I have built my entire curriculum around quality works of literature. I can connect other subject areas like science, social studies, and art history. It’s the perfect starting point for many lessons and I am on a continuous hunt for more amazing books. Here is my Pinterest board where I keep track of my favorites. I am going to share some more of my favorite literature based lessons this week.

First up, Eric Carle-inspired Seahorses!


My 2nd grade students read Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle (one of my favorite illustrators to use in the art room!) to start out the lesson. They were fascinated to discover how many sea creature Dads take care of their babies. We also viewed some videos of seahorses swimming as well as many photographs to see how they were shaped. We used bleeding tissue paper the first day to prepare our papers in the style of Carle. Students also painted a wavy background using cool ocean colors. The next class, students cut out their prepared papers into a seahorse shape. You can see some added babies as well. They added floating seaweed to the background then glued their seahorses on top. I think they all turned out so fantastically!

Stay tuned for more beautiful literature-based art.




31 Mar


My youngest students always find our color mixing unit so magical. My favorite book to introduce the concept is Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. They love guessing what colors the mice will mix up next and I find many of my students I had previously in PreK will actually remember the formula for creating new colors! They are amazed that you can create so many new colors out of the three primaries.

After talking about the primary colors, I showed them a Powerpoint of Mondrian paintings, where we noticed that he used lots of rectangles and squares as well as the primary colors. They made a collage with black paper strips, creating different sized rectangles and squares.

The next class we went over the color mixing formulas. I worked with the students in small groups, making sure to only keep two primary colors at each table. So, I had an orange table, a green table, and a purple table. This really helped to give them the full color mixing experience rather than ending up with brown paint all over their papers. They mixed the colors inside each square or rectangle. They all had such a blast and were thrilled to discover they really could make a new color just by mixing two primary colors. Success!

Inspired by this project found on Artsonia.


3 Mar


Last year my 3rd graders created winter landscapes inspired by Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon. This quiet, simple story filled with descriptive language and metaphors, as well as the muted watercolor illustrations, alludes to the stillness of a winter’s night and the magical feeling a child gets when going on a special adventure for the first time. The story always gives me goosebumps. We watched the video version of the book as an introduction for the lesson.

Afterwards, students created a watercolor wash for the background, using the cool winter colors found in the story. After painting, salt was sprinkled over the paper to create additional texture. The next class, students viewed photos of winter tree silhouettes and used recycled cardboard to print a winter tree and snow. Q-tips were used to create falling snow and the owls sitting on the branches. We used white tempera paint but I would recommend acrylic if available as it would be more opaque. Each student’s winter landscape looked as quiet and peaceful as the story.

Inspired by this project found on Kids Artists.



1 Mar



This Kindergarten project from last year went along the same lines as my PreK’s winter mural. Again we read the book Little Tree by e.e. cummings, which has lovely watercolor illustrations. Students used soft, cool colors to paint a winter sky using a watercolor wash technique. Everyone was so quiet and focused as they painted their papers. Their favorite part was sprinkling on a little salt to give it a sparkly, unique texture. The next class students learned how to cut two triangles from one square shape. After they had a pile of triangles going, they glued on rectangle trunks to their watercolor paintings and built their trees on top. They ripped some white tissue paper pieces for a snowy texture. The last class, we read Snow by Cinthia Rylant, a book with descriptive, poetic verses of all the different types of snow. Students printed snow flakes using a q-tip onto their turquoise papers, the perfect frame for their peaceful winter landscapes. Notice the tiny, cozy cabin one of my kiddos added to hers.



21 Feb


I love the message one of my 3rd grade students drew across the top of his painting–it goes so well with the history of Vincent Van Gogh.

In my 5th year of teaching art, this was actually the first time I did a Starry Night painting project. They turned out so well. I used Google Art Project to introduce my students to Van Gogh’s most famous painting. It was helpful to be able to zoom in up close and see Van Gogh’s thick, painterly brushstrokes. We also viewed this mesmerizing video of the Starry Night in motion, which once again highlighted his many pronounced brushstrokes. Apparently it’s also interactive on an ipad, something I’d love to have my students play with for a future lesson. Students practiced making small lines with their oil pastels in Van Gogh’s style. The starry background was created this first class.

The second class, we read The Starry Night, by Neil Waldman, a book about a young boy going on a painting adventure through modern day New York City with Van Gogh. All illustrations are done in his style and it fit in great for the lesson. Students then painted a watercolor resist over their backgrounds.

The last class, I read The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson, a Caldecott Medal-winning book. It was the perfect intro to adding our village silhouette details, as the illustrations are simple black and white textured silhouettes with bright golden light details. There’s even a painting of the Starry Night in the girl’s bedroom, a nice surprise pointed out by one of my observant students! After adding their villages, the maserpieces were complete! They are all so great.

Inspired by this beautiful art project on Artsonia.