Wag Your Tail for William Wegman

Every year my 5th graders create awesome collages based on the work of Romare Bearden. It is usually the hit project. This year because of our "Wild" theme I decide to do the same lesson with a different artist. 
Why do we love him? 
Because he takes pictures of DOGS!! What kids don't love dogs? Not many..
We discussed photography and how a photographer was also an artist. We also talked about Wegman's work where he creates scenes with his weimaraners in costume. 
Objective: To create a William Wegman collage by drawing, using magazine cutouts, and painting. The main focus was to find animal heads and paste them onto human bodies. The bodies could be drawn or cut from the magazines. 
My wonderful librarian saves magazines for me at the end of each year and I hold on to them for various projects. Especially this one. 
I placed the magazines on my demo table. Animal magazines were in one box, then I had a pile of "boyish" magazines and "girlish" magazines. Tables could get 6 animal magazines at a time and one other magazine for each person. When I announce "Trade Time" students could swap out magazines as they pleased.  
First, students could either draw a background in pencil or find their animal/human hybrids.
Students had some great finds!

 Pictures were then glued into place and drawings were traced with black permanent marker. (Don't forget to put a mat under your paper!)

Finally our collages were made complete with watercolors. 

 I love their imaginations!
More pictures to come.


Art Marks Update

This has been the best classroom management tip I have ever used. It came from Mrs. Brown's Art Class. Here is her facebook page where she describes her lessons in better detail. 
The competition is fierce!
All classes have a good behavior art party at the end of the year, but only one from each grade will have a surprise party! The class in each grade that has the most GREEN DAYS will win an Art SURPRISE PARTY!!
I have many ideas that include ice cream, splatter paint outside, water balloon fight, and many more. But I want more ideas!! 

If you could throw an ART surprise party.... What would you do? 

More on this topic click here.

Random Name Calling

   A few years ago I observed a teacher in the middle of her Grammar lesson.  She was asking questions and then pulling out a popsicle stick with a student's name on it to answer.  I thought it was such a great idea.  Completely random! 
   Alas, I thought I would never be able to do this with my class. What would I do? Write all 500+ students' names on popsicle sticks and then have a cup for each class? I could, but can you imagine the time it would take to do that? So I left the idea alone. 
   Then, one day when I was looking back through my blog at this post on my Art Helpers, and I realized that I could bring my random idea to life. 
Ta-Da introducing my "Random Name Calling" system!
A set of 4 popsicle sticks for each of my 7 table colors
Each set is dipped into the 7 colors of my tables
The sticks in the set have my helper codes written on them:
Monkey 1
Monkey 2
Zebra 1
Zebra 2
This randomized system has made Q&A time so much fun for the students. I just ask a question then pull out the stick and call out, "Monkey 1 Orange Table" and so on. I have also used the system to help with changing up the seating chart. I'll have students come in the room and draw a stick to see where they'll sit. If I need a helper to assist with something and too many hands fly up, I'll just pull a stick and so on. 
I love randomness! 

Pre-K & Kindergarten AHHHHH!

   I love that the big topic this week has been teaching art to Kinders!  This is a subject that I enjoy discussing because I love to teach them.  I would like to refer you to my previous post on Teaching Kinders with Art Centers before reading further. 
   Kinders aren't so bad once you understand them.  I have taught whole group instruction with this age during my student teaching and it was not too successful. I was constantly losing them! Not to mention that some would be done in 10 minutes and I still had 30 more minutes to go. And I didn't feel like constantly finding things for them to do.  I would even create projects that were tedious that they ended up hating rather than learning something from.  
   When embarking on my quest in my own classroom, I looked to the first book that I ever bought when I decided that I wanted to be an Art Teacher : The Art Teacher's Survival Guide by Helen D. Hume. It was and still is my bible. Along with her other great book: The Art Teacher's Book of Lists.  Hume lists characteristics of children at each grade level. Here are some that she lists for Kinders:
Unable to sustain any activity for terribly long
Leave out things that are not important
Allow students to experiment with materials
Give skills and media lessons step-by-step
A Kindergarten Matisse Snail
   With this knowledge I devised my plan of teaching Kindergarten with Centers. Their class period is 50 minutes long so I divided my time accordingly. 
3 centers, 15 minutes each with 5 minute clean up and line up. 
- 2 centers are "do-it-yourself" which need little supervision
- 1 center is the Project center where the main lesson is taught
   Once again please refer to my earlier post for Teaching Centers details. The art lessons are kept simple and are broken down into step-by-step directions. Most of the time I use lessons that are based on experimentation. I cover lessons on the elements and principles, and apply them to projects that will cover most art techniques (Collage, Crayon, Paper, Painting, Sculpture, etc). 
   I even teach Pre-K for 45 minutes!! The Centers are more like 12 minutes with this time frame.  I don't have standards for Pre-K; therefore, all of their project lessons are experiments with different types of art and how to correctly use art materials.  I have Pre-Ks that can "Swish, Wipe, and Blot" a paint brush during painting better than some 2nd graders! Pre-K is also made easier by having their lovely assistant Pam with them. She supervises the "DIY" centers while I spend nearly all my time at the project center
Classroom Management
- I use the "Give Me 5" signal to let students know I need their attention.  (Eyes Watching, Ears Listening, Mouth closed, Hands free, Feet still) I do this as soon as I close my door. Students are sitting quietly at their center with hand up or I will not let them begin. I can then check to make sure they are at the correct center.
- I clip color cards to my shirt or apron for whole class behavior and will change them if need be: 
  Green - a good day - no or one warning
  Yellow - okay day - noise and direction reminders
  Red - bad day - lots of noise and direction reminders 
Please refer to this Post for why I do this. 
- Individual behavior problems are warned first and then sent to time out for 5 minutes on the next offense. One trip to time out is usually enough to fix the issue. If not, they go back for longer time and I inform the teacher. 
- For final cleanup the project table will be given damp rags to clean the table if need be and I will ask a helper from each table to bring me the supplies. 
- The table that is the quietest and cleaned up first will line up first, second, and so on. 
- The "Quiet as a Mouse" game is the best one to play when lined up!
- I give them their "Art Mark" when their teacher arrives. 
   I know it may be scary to teach these little ones and we all teach differently. My suggestions may not help some of you, but this method is what works best for me. The best advice I can give is patience. My management methods don't work every single time, but as long as I stick to my plan everything will work out in the end. 

Here are some links to others who have addressed this issue:
Art for Itty Bitties
The Teaching Pallete
In Art Class
Barbara's Thought of the Day


What color is your Dog?

I look forward to this all year because it peeks students' interest in Modern Art as well as gives me a look into their interests. 

To begin the lesson I introduced students to the artist and creator of Blue Dog, George Rodrigue with this great video from CBS on YouTube. 
The students were hooked. In a 3rd grader's eyes, nothing is cooler than a dog project.  After a little Q & A session I read the book, Why is Blue Dog Blue? by George Rodrigue.  This book really jump started some ideas! So to prepare for the painting students had to complete this sentence: "When I think of ______, I paint blue dog _______."

To begin, students followed along while I demonstrated how to draw Blue Dog. I really enjoy drawing lessons. I always try to use key Element of Art words to help guide students through the process. After the drawing lesson some students were disappointed in their drawing. They thought that since their drawing didn't look just like mine that it was no good. "On the contrary," I explained. "If everyone's drawing looked the same then our drawings would look pretty boring. What's fun and interesting about seeing the same thing?" The students began to understand and loosened up. Their personalities began to shine through as they continued to draw the background. 

Next class time, we discussed how to make our Blue Dog "POP"! George Rodrigue uses a bold black outline around Blue Dog to emphasize  the importance of the image. Plus is makes our dogs "POP"! We traced our drawing with black tempera cake paint. The tempera cakes allow us to have a better sharper outline. Plus, it dried very quickly and allowed us to continue to paint right away.

We then continued to paint Blue Dog with the tempera cakes. This step took two days. 

Students loved this project because it was a way to express themselves which made the students take their time and do their best. Students always do their best when it is a project that peaks their interests. 

This lesson was taken from Arts and Activities Magazine, April 2009 issue
What Color is your Dog? by June "Sam" Compton


Plast'r Craft by Pacon Fish Sculpture

Thanks to the wonderful Pacon company, my 6th graders and I were given the opportunity to try out an awesome product! 
Plast'r Craft is a plaster impregnated gauze that you have to wet in order to mold.  The students were so excited to try out this new material that we decided to use the Plast'r Craft to help study sculpture and form by creating a fish out of  recycled materials.

On day one and two of our 50 minute class, the recycled bottles were used for the basic structure of the fish.  Bottle caps, cone cups, recycled cardboard, and masking tape were used to create the fins and eyes. 

Once the body of the fish was built it was time to bring it all together with the Plast'r Craft on day three and four.  The packaging was a great design that allowed us to pull the gauze from an opening on the side of the box and then easily cut with scissors.
 Each table of students placed their gauze on a styrofoam tray along with newspaper and scissors for less mess and easy transport.
Newspaper was laid in front of each student to place their fish on while applying the Plast'r Craft.  The gauze was cut to fit the largest areas of the fish first.  Students dipped the gauze into a bucket of warm water that was sat at each table.  Creating very little mess, each piece of gauze was dipped into the water as students used only their fingers to slide down the gauze to cast off excess water.
Students would then place the wet gauze over a section of their fish and rub it with their fingers to set it in place and cover any tiny holes that were left in the gauze. Once the large areas were covered, they continued to cut, wet, and mold the Plast'r Craft to the other parts of the fish.  The fins and mouths of the fish were the hardest areas to cover, but the Plast'r Craft was easy to cut and mold around small areas.  Students made sure to overlap each new piece of plaster and smooth it out to create a nice sleek fish body. 

Most students were able to complete their fish with one layer of plaster.  Some cut small square pieces of gauze to cover any tiny areas that were left.

Day five began the painting process, which took two days.  Acrylic paints were used to create the vibrant colors.  Students painted their fish with at least two layers of paint for the best coverage.  


Overall, I am thrilled that Pacon gave me and my students this wonderful opportunity to try this great product. There was little to no mess, it could be distributed easily, the plaster set in about 15 minutes, and was very easy to paint. The plaster fish sculpture has now become THE favorite project! 
Thank you,  Pacon for letting us try Plast'r Craft!

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