Wednesday, July 30, 2014

2nd Grade Contour Watercolors

My elementary kids love painting. (Duh). Liquid tempera is usually the favorite because they like the opacity but the second graders had a good run with watercolors after a mini lesson/refresher in the spring. We talked about contour drawing and reviewed watercolor techniques. Many were inspired to try portraits after I showed them THIS pin but there were a lot of other choices, too. The students either drew directly with sharpie or traced over pencil before adding color with watercolors.
These two students observed some of the artificial flowers in my still life box.
And as always, touches of mixed media were common.

One of my concerns when researching TAB was how to make sure students were getting some breadth when it comes to materials. I really didn't have anything to worry about. If there is one student who does the same thing over and over and avoids trying new things, I just encourage that student to try something different, or make it a requirement if I have to. If I notice that a group is collectively not using a particular medium, all I have to do is a mini lesson showing a cool "something new" and pretty soon everyone wants to try!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Loving Lumpy Pots

I almost didn't share my 3rd grader's clay projects this year, because I've been using basically the same lesson based on the book "The Pot That Juan Built" every year. When I went to delete the pictures, I just couldn't do it! I was struck by the lumpy pots, the pots that reminded me of my first experience with real clay. 
In my hometown, there's only one art teacher and the students don't get a real art class until high school. But when I was in second grade, we had a special project! We were each given a ball of red clay with which we made bowls. I remember forming the clay and thinking how smooth I had made it. I was so proud! We even got to glaze the pots and the high school art teacher fired them in the kiln.  I chose a pinky-mauve color. I kept the bowl until it fell in the sink and broke a couple years after I got married. I was a little sad that my lumpy pot, thought to be perfect by my 2nd grade self, was broken. I glued it back together and it broke again, as broken ceramics tend to do.
So the point here, friends, is to cherish those lumpy pots (and the smooth ones). Are my students' projects perfectly constructed? Nope. But they're elementary students who only get to use clay once a year. And the students are so genuinely excited about and proud of their projects that it makes me excited and proud, too.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Fibers is a common studio choice in TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behavior). I didn't have a ton of fibers options last year, but I did make lots of yarn available. Weaving was the most obvious choice for using yarn, but students made use of it in other ways, too.
An old shoe organizer worked pretty well for holding skeins of yarn.
I started 4th graders off weaving in the fall and introduced it to one grade at a time since it was so popular that every loom was used. I introduced it to my 3rd graders in the spring and ran out of time to introduce it to 2nd grade.
I made almost all of my looms, most out of mat board or cardboard scraps. I started off measuring but eventually started eyeballing and just going for the same number of slits cut on each side. The mat board looms worked pretty well, but the easiest for the students to use were looms made of foam trays. I saved (and thoroughly washed) foam meat trays from home and used them at school. The students have an easier time going under the yarn when there's some space below to move. The trays hold up really well, unless the students pull to hard when warping and break a tab.
A 3rd grader asked if she could glue yarn down to make a picture. I let her use scraps and I think she would have kept working on this even longer if it hadn't been so close to the end of the year!
Speaking of scraps.... Sometimes ^THIS happens. My intermediate kids were pretty careless when it came to the scrap yarn, often just throwing it on top, and cutting way too much yarn to begin with. Many ignored the "wingspan at a time" rule. I will have to work on a better monitoring system for that this year. 
One of my 6th graders used a longer loom and ended up turning her weaving project into a hat. I thought it was pretty clever.
My 3rd graders used a larger loom and scrap yarn to make this group project which was donated to the PTO auction. I hoped to have each student weave one scrap of yarn but had to let some go back and add multiple strips to fill it in. I think we'll try it again next year on the even bigger classroom loom I ordered with Artsonia money.
I ordered a box of yarn at one school where we started to run out of some colors, but I think we're already set for the coming school year. I've scored some good deals at garage sales- like a trash bag full of assorted yarns for a dollar- and had another trash bag full donated by my husband's aunt, a retired school teacher. I'm glad that yarn is one supply that can be found so cheap!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

2nd Grade Clay Sculptures

I recently posted about some second grade "Mud Pony" sculpture projects. Some of the students chose to sculpt things other than horses. There are a few examples below:
 I didn't encourage snakes since I thought just making a coil was a little simple for 2nd grade, but this pink and orange snake was pretty cute. Students who did make snakes had to at least make them more interesting than a straight coil.
 Other sculpture choices were landforms such as islands or volcanoes, a table with a meal on top, a guitar, and a flower.