Sunday, November 30, 2014

Art Centers for Extended Learning

As art teachers we all know our students never ALL finish at the same time. I needed to have something available for them to do when some were finished and other children were still working. It occurred to me  have some activities ready for them.  At first, all I had was a drawing center and some books. 

 I soon realized that there were too many children competing for space and I needed to put more thought into it. As I was trying to figure things out – I was offered a Lego table. That would be perfect. 

 Now at that time I had students at 4 different tables in my room and felt I needed a center for each table so that students had room to work.  Lego table made 3. 
I still needed one more center –then I remembered seeing centers in another art room and that teacher had plasticine. So I thought I could have a Play Doh center.
The drawing center wasn't very appealing so I needed to fixed it up. I added several baskets of drawing sheets from the series: How to Draw 101 Animals, Monsters, Manga Characters, Super Heroes etc. I photocopied and laminated each of the pages from the books onto a different colored paper to be able to keep everything organized.  I added stencils and tracers, paper, basket of pencils and clipboards.
 The reading center also needed to be improved. Having books on shelves proved to be a problem as students couldn’t really see them and books weren’t being put back the right way. At the time there was a big push for classroom libraries and I was able to get bins from the reading specialist to set up this center. I also added puzzles and blocks to this center.

It occurred to me if I didn’t come up with a system for students to rotate they would all end up at Legos. What I did originally, is I printed out signs for each center. I now had a reading and puzzle center, a drawing center, a Lego center and a Play Doh center. 
 (This photo is from how it looks now……don’t have any from when I first did this.) I put the signs at the top of my white board and placed colored clips on them that represented the tables in my room. Students go to the center that matched their table according to the clip on the sign. I added photographs for the students who needed the visual representation.

Centers were working out rather well or so I thought. Two things happened that made me re-evaluate. 1-older students were doing a lot of fooling around. 2-Admin was implementing a Response To Intervention Program or RTI, to take place the first 20 minutes of specials. That's when I present my lesson and now students would be missing. Soooo do centers first! 

What about the older students? I had all these interesting books about artists and all these wonderful Scholastic Magazines that students were not looking at. I had all these artist reproduction posters that I never had the time to share and so much more that I wanted my students to learn about. And that is how I came up with the learning stations for my older students.

The space that I use for art centers double as my learning stations or what I like to call my Learn Abouts.  There is Learn About an Artist, Learn About an Art Career, Learn About Vocabulary and Learn About Artwork center.

Older students Learn About Artists by taking out a book or magazine from the bin and responding in writing on a worksheet. 

In Learn About Careers there are cards from the series Careers for Kids –ART.  Students read about a career and fill out a worksheet. Some have inter-actives with it.

Learn About Vocabulary has a poster filled with words for the students to pick from. They write the word down on a worksheet, define it, draw a picture of it and tell me how an artist might use it.
Learn about Artwork has an art poster hanging up for students to answer questions and write about. I have since changed to hanging up postcards of famous art to give students more of a choice.

My students have been enjoying the centers for a few years now. I was able to present My Art Centers for Extended Learning at the FAEA and NAEA conferences. Feeling brave, I have opened a store at Teachers Pay Teachers where I have posted for FREE a suggested list of Art Centers for primary and intermediate students.  

Centers in art have been very popular. If you have centers, how are yours set up? And, if you don't have centers, was my blog or suggestion sheet helpful to you? Thanks for Reading!


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Beginning to Print: Gumball Machines

We all know printing is a process, and a messy one at that. Again, I will reference The Art of Ed's online 2014 Summer Conference, where my inspiration came from. However, it is password protected so I can only share how I chose to use it.

Soooo, after watching that segment about printing with students, I decided to try it. Printing has not been a lesson that I do often, but I'm totally gonna do THIS again! What I really liked about it was that it was broken down into grade levels. AND, students learn a little more about printing as they moved through those grade levels. Today's blog is about the Wayne Thiebaud inspired gumball machines that I did with my kindergarten and first grade classes.

 First thing I did was a really short slide show with four Thiebaud paintings. With the last photo being the inspiration piece.

 We talked about the different Elements of Design, breaking it down into the different lines, shapes and colors we saw. We looked at the texture of the icing in his painting of Four Cupcakes. By then we all were VERY hungry! Children shared with me that they had gumball machines at home and that they come in all different colors. So they were given a choice of colors for their machine. However, since I decided to use this opportunity to reinforce primary colors, they used red, yellow and blue to print the gumballs.
Next, students traced a round Chinese food lid for their circle.

 Then because I really didn't want the colors to get messed up I rotated the children around the room.
The red table had red paint, blue table had blue paint and the yellow table had yellow paint. Their papers were in trays (names on the paper to get a tray) that they carried from table to table.

They had around a minute at each color, then they lined up for the drying rack. This was a GREAT way to instruct students on how to put their paper in the drying rack! Students used these really great dot dippers that I had gotten years ago, from Oriental Trading, and never used,
When students returned to art the following week, we reviewed what we had learned. I then modeled for students the steps to creating their gumball machines. They did have tracers for the machines, at this age I want them to feel successful and not frustrated.
AND, of course I had students that were absent the first week! My solution was to have them cut all the pieces out, put the gumball machine together and then print the gumballs on!
One student really got into it and added a shadow! We had briefly talked about lighting and shadows with some of the art work.
Soooooo, now for some controversy.............
Must every student follow directions? What were my learning goals with this project? At what point do we allow students to interpret art their own way? What if they are a Picasso and not a Thiebaud?
Just saying if art is the experience, the ability to be creative and the learning of different processes, who's to say the above art is incorrect? I've always told students that there is NO wrong way to do art! But NOW we are going to give end of course exams to students as young as kindergarten? WHY? It just doesn't make sense..............
Let me know your thoughts! Thanks for reading!
I'm going out of town for Thanksgiving and plan to leave my laptop at home!! Enjoy! Will continue to blog when I return.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Museum Marvels

Does anyone remember back in the day, when you were planning a vacation, and you needed to figure out, what you wanted to do? Were you going to sight see? Visit museums? Shop? I ALWAYS picked SHOP!!  Well, things changed back in the early 1990's when I became a museum educator for The Museums at Stony Brook. I REALLY enjoyed learning all sorts of things and making connections with history. I was even called upon to do some of the art or signage for exhibits. This was (and I'm sure still is) a really great experience. There are 3 different museums on the grounds along with a little red school house. It was fun taking students back in time, as well as behind the scenes!
However, I thought it would be a good change to see the same students each week and make lots of different art as opposed to doing the same thing ALL the time. That's when I decided to teach art in an elementary school. But, there was still a small part of the museum educator in me, when I created a hallway museum for my students.
Then a few years ago, I received a flyer from an art teacher at a local charter school asking for submissions for a display at The Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, a local museum. How COOL was that? Well, it turned out there wasn't much of a response and ALL of the student work I picked out was displayed. Along with students from the charter school.
Some close ups from the first year. We did self portraits.

But the best part of having student work displayed  in a museum was getting permission to take students to see their work! And to experience a real museum and learn about different careers in art and different ways of making art. One of those win, wins!
For the next year students did oil pastel mono prints. I was split between schools and still took classes from both schools! It was decided that this special trip would become an annual event for our fourth graders.

Last year students had free choice making their art and they wrote an artist's statement to go with it.
 I NOW make it a point to visit museums in my travels and found a really great one in Nashville to take the grand kids who live there to. It's The Frist and they have this awesome interactive room just for children. How cool is it to sketch a giant mannequin? And for the current exhibit it has clothes on!!
And in DC over the summer 2 of my grandsons went thru the giant maze at 
The National Building Museum. Photo was taken from the second floor!
I have been able to get grants for field trips that I take my students on. Also, school district buses for local trips are cheaper to use. Do you have the opportunity to take your students to an art museum?
I would love to hear about it!
Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 16, 2014


The Art of Ed is a wonderful website for teachers. They have articles, lesson plans, online classes and  winter and summer online conferences. This past summer a Blick representative was part of the conference and did a lesson on "selfies". This required those transparent sheets we all used with our overheads. Anyway, those being obsolete, I have boxes of the stuff from teachers that no longer needed them. PERFECT!!! Getting really excited about this, I started taking all these selfies, of myself (I know redundant). Went to some really great museums in Washington DC over the summer. Took a picture of myself learning to navigate the bus system along with more interesting backgrounds.

Had it in my head to share these photos with my students, but, then came across this poster (in the closet) of Henri Rousseau's Self Portrait with Palette.

And that just worked out so much better! After all today's selfies are yesterday's self portraits. The painting is a treasure trove of information to learn from, especially after having attended The Summer Teacher Institute with the National Gallery of Art. Where I learned about  French art and culture and the changes in the art world due to the impressionists. In fact, as I started to really look at this painting with my students, I noticed the sun in the upper left hand corner. And a little light went on! Check out the sun in Claude Monet's Impression, Sunrise. Wow! Talk about artists inspiring other artists. I did a little research and sure enough Rousseau would copy things he liked from other artists.
In Rousseau's self portrait there are many things that give a sense of when and where this was painted and some clues about the artist. I am starting to get SO good at all this art history stuff!!

Soooo in doing this lesson with my students first we explored what was happening in the painting. "What can we learn from looking at this?" "What do you see?" And so on.  I also had a small photo of Impression, Sunrise that I shared with them. Then I played the video for them, which can be found on Blick's website or here (providing I have figured out how to link)  I had students take selfies with the iPads (from the grant). I had the photos developed when Walgreen's was having a sale. Students were also encouraged to use the available technology to research where they would like to put them self.

And I believe they did a super job!!

I did this with with my 4th and 5th grade students. And I know they really enjoyed this!
Have you tried a different way of doing self portraits? Do you have your students do them every year? Or with a certain grade level?

Thanks for reading!