Wednesday, April 2, 2014

64 Colors

To kick off painting in my middle school classes this year, grades 6, 7, and 8 all did an exercise where I challenged them to mix 64 different colors using only primaries (red, yellow, blue) and white paint. I gave them a grid with 64 pre-printed squares (I just made it in Microsoft Word by using the table maker) on 11x14" copy paper. We didn't bother with water and instead blotted brushes on dry paper towels between colors. The paper towel method has been a favorite of mine this a room with no sink it really saves time now that I don't have to fill water containers on painting days! Another perk: my students have much more sophisticated colors due to the inevitable color mixing!

Monday, March 31, 2014


This poor blog could use a dusting...sorry for disappearing! I am in my 6th year teaching and have a 14-month-old daughter! I now teach preschool in addition to Kindergarten through 8th grade. Prepping for 10 grades and being a full-time mama has kept me busier than I'd sometimes (okay, most of the time) like.

Any teacher-moms out there have any tips for being a great teacher AND a great mom? I feel like I am always behind at work and home. Over my 5:45am morning coffee today I read this article about ways to be a better mom and latched on to #9:

"Stop chasing work/life balance. It doesn’t exist. Seek out opportunities to demonstrate work/life harmony instead."

I hope to be back soon with some of this year's new projects and look forward to catching up with all of you!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy New (School) Year!

I realize that I haven't posted in almost a full year! Last year was a wonderful school year and I have many photos of great projects that my students worked on. I will try to share some of them this year!

My absence from blogging was the result of a tough year for me personally. My husband and I had been struggling with infertility and, besides the lovely time I spent in the Art room, the void and sadness caused by our inability to start a family threatened to take over my life! I realize that sounds dramatic, but it is true. Without going into too much detail on this Art Education themed blog, I will share that after a diagnosis of endometriosis in January 2012, we were told that we may not be able to have children naturally. To have our best chance, my doctor recommended laparoscopic surgery to treat my disease. We decided to wait until June  to have the surgery so that my recovery would not affect my time in school. Well, as I have been told by numerous friends and family recently, If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans...

At the beginning of May we found out that I am pregnant! So, we will be welcoming a little one into our family in January 2013. I am extremely lucky that after almost 2 years of waiting and hoping for a baby, I am able to take the remainder of the school year off after the arrival of Baby J! So, in addition to regular Art room news and project ideas I plan to share my preparations for my long term substitute! I am thankful to other bloggers who have done the same, especially Art Project Girl who had a beautiful daughter in 2011.

Wishing you all the best as we begin our 2012-2013 school year - it is sure to be a great one!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

No name artwork...grrrrr...

Artwork without names quickly became a pet peeve of mine my first year teaching.  No matter how many times (or in how many ways) I asked/told/begged/demanded(!) that names be put on artwork there were always several unidentifiable papers collected at the end of Art class.  This turned the beginning of class on day 2 of a project into a zoo, made publishing to Artsonia impossible, and caused chaos on portfolio packing days!  I started putting "no namers" on the carpet in the front of the art room for kids to claim as I passed out projects.  This made the room a (bigger) mess and the kids never remembered where to look if their project was not passed back to them.  My solution?  A little rhyme I heard somewhere years ago...

Don't be a toad, write your name and class code!*

Now I have this guy hanging out on the drying rack:
And anyone who encounters a no namer puts the paper in the "Toad Box" that some of my second grade after school helpers made last year:

Now everyone knows where to look and the papers of the guilty parties are contained!  Thankfully, there are fewer and fewer no namers (probably because no one wants to be in the toad box! ha!)!

*Class codes have also been a giant time/sanity saver for me...they make sorting projects a piece of cake (which I appreciate SO MUCH while emptying the drying rack!)!  The class codes are the grade level and first letter of their homeroom teacher's name (so KD for Ms. Dauer's Kindergarten class, 5L for Mr. Lindstrom's fifth grade class).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

4 Years...of marriage and teaching Art!

Today is our fourth wedding anniversary and in a week and a half I get to start workshops for my fourth year teaching Art!  My husband has been with me through it all - He encourged me to change my undergrad major to Art in my junior year when I was second guessing myself. He picked me up from across campus at 2am so I wouldn't have to walk to my car alone after long nights in the studio printmaking and throwing on the wheel (or he'd stay with me and do his studying in the clay room or where ever I needed to be at those crazy hours!).  We got engaged at the end of our senior year of undergrad, shortly after I decided to apply for the Art Education masters program.  I started my teaching program 2 months before our wedding, began my practicum 2 days after our honeymoon ended, and student taught during a good portion of our first year of marriage. We spent our first anniversary mopping the floor and painting shelves in my first, very own classroom (with help from our amazing friend, Jen!).  He got to listen to me cry over dinner and a bottle of wine at the end of my first week in a school where I had been eaten alive by my 8th graders.

I am so thankful to have a husband who supports me 100% in my work, reminds me to take breaks for myself, and can always find a way to make me laugh no matter what kind of a day I have had.  He is truly phenomenal!

I have come a long way as a teacher in the last 3 years (I no longer get eaten alive by my middle schoolers, for example) and am looking forward to a new year at my school with a new principal and new teachers in grades K, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8!  Although I am sad to see my outstanding (very supportive of the Arts) principal and several terrific teachers move on to their new jobs, I am excited about the fresh ideas and energy that will come to our school with the new faces.  It should be an adventure!

In year 4, I hope to share more about my classroom management techniques with you in addition to the project posts (my intention was not to be solely a project poster but that is all I have done so far! Oops!).

I will leave you with some images from my bachelorette party 4 years ago (it was very tasteful, so don't be worried!).  My super creative maid of honor, Rose, threw an art and color themed party for me (this girl would be an unbelievable event/party planner - let me tell you!) and one of the games was to create an original image of me with my groom-to-be based on Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss."  They crack me up...especially because of the weird pictures of us she chose to use for them! 

I have since done a similar project with my 6th graders using magazine pictures and scratchboard (but that will have to wait for another time!).  Enjoy!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Don't Let the Pigeon...

Many of my art lessons are inspired by children's picture books and Mo Willems is one of my favorite current children's authors!  I remember the first time I saw his book Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! I couldn't stop laughing as I read the story and admired Willems' expressive illustrations (I was a library clerk still in college earning my Art degree back then!).  I even checked it out so I could bring it home and read it to my family.  Most of them were less impressed than I, but luckily my first graders always share my enthusiasm for these silly books!

Day one we read the book Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and then drew our own pigeons with black crayon following Mo Willems' directions from his Let's Draw the Pigeon! handout (just Google "Let's Draw the Pigeon! and it should pop right up).  This year, we colored with crayons so we could immediately cut out our cute pigeons, but I've also done this lesson using oil pastel and tempera to make the pigeons.  I asked all of the first graders to finish the sentence "Don't let the Pigeon..." with a rule or expectation from Art or Music class.  As they were coloring and cutting, I buzzed around the room to record their sentences. 

Day two we started by reading Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! and then talked about Mo Willems' use of word bubbles in his illustrations.  I had typed out their sentences from the previous class and they cut them out in the shape of a word bubble.  Finally, they assembled their pigeon and word bubble on construction paper using glue stick and drew their pigeon legs using black crayon.  Because I knew the book and collage assembly wouldn't take up all of our 40 minutes together, I showed the kids how to make a simple 8 page book using a standard sheet of printer paper and then they wrote their own mini "Don't Let the Pigeon..." stories.  I wish I had a picture of some of their books to share with you, but the first graders were so excited about them that they all took them home at the end of class!  The first grade teachers told me that the pigeon has made appearances in many of the first grade anything journals, on the backs of tests, and in the margins of assignments!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I missed making a post last week and am going to try to get back on track!  Things have been busy inside and outside of the Art room...we had our annual school auction a couple of weeks ago (the theme this year was Masquerade...see the felt bird mask I made to wear to the event!) and I donated 2 "Teacher Treasures" with other teachers in the school.

The first treasure I did was a basketry class with the school Librarian.  She is an expert basket weaver and is really fun to teach with!  We set the limit for the class at 5 students so that we can give lots of individual attention.  This year we had 2 second graders, 1 third grader, and 2 fifth graders (all girls) and they did a great job!  We gathered in the Art room after school and I had the girls wash the tables with shaving cream (fun and it gets all of the gunk from oil pastels and glue off of the table in no time!) while I got the water basins for soaking the reeds ready.  The Librarian brought all of the reeds and tools (and her expertise) and guided the class from measuring and cutting their own reeds all the way through finishing their rims.  Very impressive!  To make a beginner basket it takes about 3 hours and all of the girls ended the class with a unique basket to take home!  The picture you see is the third grader weaving.  She was so thrilled with the beautiful, hand dyed reed that our Librarian brought.  She decided to use red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple (in rainbow order of course)!

For the second treasure, I always team up with one of our awesome first grade teachers and take 4 first graders out to lunch and to a performance at the Children's Theater (we have a great family at our school who donates the tickets and even lets us use their car [which has all of the necessary booster seats] to cart the excited kids around).  This year we enjoyed Annie.  Now that the teacher treasures are over with I hope I will have more time!

Here is one more non-art-room project that I have been working on!  My husband's cousin just had her first baby (a girl!) and I used freezer paper stenciling to make her a custom onesie (it is hard to tell in the photo, but I mixed the screen printing ink to match the green from the super cute BabyLegs I bought for her).  Freezer paper stenciling has become a new hobby of mine - it is so fun!  If you have never tried it, I highly recommend it! 

Please stay tuned for more art projects from the Art room!  I'll try to do a better job with posting consistently!