Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rainbow Crayons

Problem: LOTS of old, broken, nasty looking crayons.  Baskets of them.  I want to start using my class packs of crayons but don't want to be wasteful.
Solution: Make rainbow crayons!  

At the end of the school year when students finished projects early and wanted to help with something, I told them they could help peel paper off of the old crayons knowing that I wanted to recycle them.  I bought a cool old muffin tip for a quarter at a garage sale that I could dedicate for to the sole purpose of crayon recycling.  

If you've never tried before, it's super easy.  First, make sure all of the paper is peeled off of your crayons.  Next, sprinkle crayons of different colors into muffin tins.  Make sure that you break up larger crayons into small pieces and try to get a variety of colors.  I had more brown crayons than any other color but I tried to spread them out.  You don't need to fill the muffin tins all the way up, I aimed for about 2-3 layers of crayons in each tin.

After the crayon bits are in the muffin tins, set your oven to a low heat.  I tried about 250 degrees.  Place muffin tin in the oven, check the crayons and remove when melted.  I wish I would have paid more attention, but I think I left them in the oven about 10-15 minutes.  If you leave them in too long, your nose will let you know!  Try not to jostle the tray too much when removing so the colors keep some separation instead of turning into "mud."
Remove muffin tin and let cool.  If you're lucky, as the rainbow crayons cool, they will slightly pull away from the edges of the muffin tin.  I had to pop some of the crayons out and even turn the tin upside down and bang on the counter for a couple stubborn crayons.  Don't judge your crayons by the top side visible in the tins.  It kind of looks like the impurities come to the surface when everything is melting.  When you flip the crayons over, you will see the bright colors and neat designs that the colored wax makes.  I have seen some rainbow crayons made in molds to get fun shapes which looks really cool, but the circles work for me.  I made about 4 dozen rainbow crayons over the period of a couple nights.
I plan to use these crayons mostly for texture rubbings with Kindergarten students.  I think the crayons should be a good size for their little hands to hold onto.  These crayons also make a fun gift for a little kid!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Make Art. Save Art.

I got an email this summer about Make Art. Save Art.  a collaborative campaign by and Hewlett-Packard about the importance of Art Education and thought I would share!  The Make Art. Save Art. contest asks youth to create and submit PC wallpapers for a chance to win a grand prize of $5000 and 5 HP Pavilion dv6z laptops for their school art program. Finalists will also win HP laptops as well.

Here are the steps off of the site.
The Make Art Phase

  1. From August 2 to September 30, create a PC wallpaper design to show your artistic talent. Photography, graphic design, and traditional visual art are all eligible.
  2. Submit your wallpaper design and tell us about the importance of art education and why art should stay in schools! (You must be 25 years old or younger to participate)
The Save Art Phase
  1. Starting September 1, share your design with your friends through Twitter and Facebook. NOTE: My students are too young to enter since you are supposed to be 13 to have a Facebook account.  Well, I guess I don't know the rules about Twitter but this is probably more appropriate for middle school or high school.
  2. Get your friends to share your design with their Twitter and Facebook friends too.
  3. You can also share your design with local representatives to advocate for art education!
  4. Each "share" counts toward your chance to win.
The Judging Phase
  1. The five wallpaper designs with the most "shares" will win sweet prizes!
  2. A panel of expert judges will review the 5 most “shared" designs and choose the Grand Prize winner.
  3. Winners will be announced October 12!

P.S. There is some great advocacy information on their website too!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Some Kansas Photos

I started a Project 365 in January... then when the migraines and nausea from my pregnancy kicked in, I missed some days and decided this was not the year to take on such a project!  Now that I've been feeling better, I've been taking photos again.  I have had really good luck the last couple of weeks (now that it is occasionally cool enough to spend some time outside!) so I decided to share a few photos until I have some finished school projects to write about.
^My favorite!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Double Dose- Need Tips!

I apologize in advance for how long this is but I need to explain and I need help!

So last Monday was the first week at school for students... Wednesday morning, I get my class schedule and see that there are two teachers' names in one class slot.  I kept looking at it thinking that surely I must not be understanding it correctly.  I started to ask another teacher and then saw my principal.  I asked him about it and he said that since we had to add another Kindergarten class this year due to a large enrollment (now 7 classes of 18 students,) the only way to fit them all in the schedule was to send two Kindergarten classes to art at once, 36 students!  My jaw literally dropped for like the second time in my life.  It took me a minute to process and then I asked where I was supposed to put them!  (I currently have room for 24 students.)  After talking with my principal and both of us trying to come up with other solutions, he said we could go to the cafeteria and he would get someone to help me.  I talked to him today and one of the Paras is going to help with that section.  I said that was certainly better than 36 five year olds in my classroom with just me, but I am still really stressed out about it!

I just feel bad, like those students won't get the same experience as the others.  For example, I use my classroom projector ALL THE TIME to teach the art history inspiring some of the projects that I don't have posters for.  Also, it'll be back to buckets of water when we paint since the closest sink will be in the back of the kitchen.  I know we always have to do the best we can with what we have, and I'm sure going to do my best!  I bought a child's easel that was on clearance last December and I need to try to find that since I won't have a chalkboard and I'm not really sure how I'm going to demonstrate for that many students.  Maybe I need to come up with some sort of age appropriate beginning of class activity and then demonstrate at each table?  I guess I'm just feeling overwhelmed since I'm only starting my second year of teaching and I was wondering if anybody out there has had a similar situation?  Or if anybody just has some ideas for me!  If you have any suggestions, PLEASE comment and I will be eternally thankful!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

5th Grade Clotheslines

I came up with this idea when I was flipping through the Artist Trading Cards I traded for and collected a few years ago.  This project was a big hit- voted the favorite project of my 5th grade students.  On my survey, I asked the students to give a reason why the project they chose was their favorite of the school year.  The students who actually answered the full question said they liked the clotheslines because they got to express their personality.  This project was completed in two 40-minute class periods.  Most students could have used extra time so next time I will allow three class periods.

Day 1: I demonstrated the first several steps of the project.  I have a ton of really dense cardboard pieces, sized about 8x10 inches that we used for the base.  I showed students how they could use blue and white tempera paint to make their skies more interesting than a flat blue.  *BEFORE the students paint, remind them to write their name on the back of the board!  The students painted all of the board blue, using horizontal brush strokes and then worked a tiny bit of white paint into the blue starting at the bottom for variation.  After the background was painted, the students cleaned their brushes thoroughly and used the white paint to add clouds.  I told the students that I used to have a really hard time painting clouds because I tried to make them PERFECT.  I finally got over it by not taking it quite so seriously!  I showed the students how to dab and swish the brush (not scrub!) to make clouds.  I also suggested giving the clouds a flatter bottom to make them look a little more realistic than big circles.  After the clouds were painted, the students used white glue to add a piece of yarn to be the clothesline.  I briefly touched on the rule of thirds and suggested the students glue their yarn 1/3 of the way from the top of their sky- to make their compositions more interesting and allow plenty of room for the clothes.  I had precut pieces of yarn a couple inches wider than the boards (yarn can be trimmed or wrapped around and secured on the back) in as many different colors as I had to give the students more choices.

Day 1 progress on the drying rack.  *I saved the boards I created during demonstration so students who missed the first class period could use one and have time to finish their projects.

Day 2:  I had scraps of old shirts and jeans, fabric remnants, ribbon, buttons, and construction paper available for students to use to make their clothes.  When I introduced the project to the students, I used my completed clothesline to show how clothes can express your personality and tell something about you.  On my example (which I should have photographed) I included an art apron like the one I wear at school everyday.  I didn't want to sound shallow when talking about the clothes but I know my students are at the age where they are really getting in to fashion and expressing themselves through their clothes.  We discussed how clothes can show your interests (favorite color, sports fan, etc.) and can show what you like to do (uniform, jersey, career clothes, etc.)  I asked the students to cut a smaller section of the big pieces of fabric to work from so the others would have a chance to use it.  I talked about setting the fabric on their board before cutting to make sure it was big enough for at least three items of clothing.  Some students felt comfortable just cutting the shape of the clothes and some drew it out first, either with chalk or a sharpie.  I suggested cutting the basic shape first and then thinking of details to add with other materials.  Up until the point in class where I felt I needed to tell the students to just finish what they had started, I suggested cutting the clothes and playing with the arrangement before gluing down.  We talked about contrast- you don't want to put a really light colored fabric on top of a white cloud, and trying to get a variety of colors, textures, and patterns.  I was super impressed with the creativity of my students.  I don't have photographs of the most innovative artwork because I don't have Artsonia permission slips for those students.  :(  One student cut little slots in her miniature jeans so she could thread a belt through and made tiny functioning pockets!  If students got their clothes glued on the line in time, I showed them how they could use little pieces of construction paper as clothespins.  I wonder how many of my students have actually seen a real clothesline?  They are becoming a thing of the past but are a fun framework for an art project.