Sunday, October 21, 2012

1st Grade Emotion Paintings

This was one of my student teacher's 1st grade lessons. She had the class discuss Munch's The Scream, specifically how the artist conveyed emotion. She talked about how the compositional choices contributed to the off balance/weird/maybe lonely feeling. I found a set of old photographs of kids exhibiting different emotions and she used them to help the 1st graders brainstorm different emotions. Next, the students divided their practice paper into 4 sections and drew a really small, simple face in each section to represent the emotions sad, happy, mad, and excited. (We thought those would be the 4 simplest emotions for 1st graders.) The faces helped the students remember which section was which so they could draw lines to represent each emotion. Next, they talked about how colors can show emotion. The students got their "real" piece of paper and chose an emotion to focus on. We had them draw a face to represent their chosen emotion next to their name on the back so they wouldn't forget or change their minds halfway through. With remaining time, the students used crayons to draw lines on the front to represent their emotion.
In the second class period, we sorted the students based on what emotion they wanted to paint and put them at tables with colors of tempera paint for the emotion they chose. The students created nonobjective paintings striving to convey the emotion they chose.

I almost forgot! We tried to incorporate a little Whole Brain Teaching. As the students said each part of 
"Edvard Munch", we had them place one hand on their cheek so that when the whole name was out, they were posed like the person in the Scream!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Federal Duck Stamp Judging

At the end of September, I was able to travel to Ogden, Utah to attend a workshop and the Federal Duck Stamp judging as a Jr. Duck Stamp Ambassador. Until I became an official ambassador, I didn't realize just how many people don't know about Duck Stamps!

Here are some Duck Stamp facts 
  • The legal name for a Duck Stamps is Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp.
  • The first Duck Stamp was released in 1934 and was designed by J. N. "Ding" Darling.
  • Duck Stamps have been one of if not the most popular and successful conservation programs in US history. 
  • 98 cents of every dollar paid for Duck Stamps goes to purchase or lease wetlands for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
  • Since the program's inception, more than $750 million has been raised and used to secure over 6 million acres of wetlands habitat.
  • Duck Stamps are not just for hunters, though they are the largest group to purchase them. Duck Stamps are for anyone who cares about habitat conservation, birds, or awesome art on stamps.
  • Only a few species are allowed for the contest each year.
  • Artwork is chosen based on Aesthetics, Biology/Anatomy, Habitat (appropriate for bird, does the season match the plumage, etc.), and Design (will it work well for a stamp?)

You can read much, much more at

You may be wondering how I come into the picture... I learned about the Jr. Duck Stamp program, which is modeled after Federal Duck Stamps and strives to teach youth about conservation through the Arts, as a high school student. When I took my first ever Art class as a freshman in high school, participating in the Jr. Duck Stamp program was a requirement. The next three years, I participated out of choice, because I enjoyed it so much, and developed a love for waterfowl.  I grew up in a "sporting" family around lots of hunting, fishing, and trapping. I could see the value of the Jr. Duck Stamp program and know that Conservation is very important. I started teaching my students about Duck Stamps from the beginning of my career and try to teach others about them as well. This led the Kansas coordinator for the Jr. Duck Stamp program to recommend me as an Ambassador. Jr. Duck Stamp Ambassadors are a new thing. FWS Region 6 was hosting the Federal Duck Stamp contest this year and decided it was a good time to try. I feel so honored to have had this opportunity and hope I can help get other teachers (or parents, or scout leaders, etc.) involved.

The first day of our workshop involved touring the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge (which I wrote about here) and a little reception in the evening with all the FWS people, judges (though we didn't know who they were until the day of judging), and ambassadors. The second day was round 1 of judging, Ambassador discussion time, and a talk by two of the Birds in Focus photographers. The third day was the final rounds of judging, more workshop time, and more awesome food. The judging was INTENSE!
All the 192 entries were displayed in one of the ballrooms before the beginning of Round 1 and were replaced as they were eliminated. Here are some observers checking out the artwork. 
Here is one of my favorites. 
There were a LOT of students and teachers attending Day 1 of the judging. Here is a class looking at all of the Jr. Duck Stamp winners from across the US. Part of our job was to talk to the students and teachers attending and pass out the purple bags you'll notice the teacher above holding, filled with paper, art supplies, and information on the Jr. Duck Stamp program.
Round 1 was pretty brutal. Here you can see the 5 judges (who are highly qualified and represent wildlife photographers, biologists, and stamp experts) voting "In" or "Out" on one of the entries. The judges have dividers between them so they are not influenced by anyone else. There was a small screen  in front of each judge that I'm assuming had a picture of the artwork. Volunteers walked the artwork across the stage so the judges could see the original before voting. All 192 entries were voted on in this fashion during Round 1. I think the 192 was narrowed down to 60, then 7 more were brought back for a total of 7. After Round 1, each judge has the power to bring back up to 5 eliminated entries that they feel deserve more consideration.
In Round 2, starting the next morning, the judges give each of the remaining entries a score of 1-5, 5 being the best. At the end of Round 2, all of the entries with the 5 highest scores move on to Round 3. Voting in Round 3 is carried out in the same score 1-5 method. At the end of Round 3, we had a first place winner, but a tie for 2nd.
 Round 4 was the tie breaker. The volunteers above were showing the judges the two pieces tied for 2nd place, side by side. A final 1-5 vote was taken and the winners were announced!
The winner, which will be reproduced on the 2013 Federal Duck Stamp to be released next June, was a common goldeneye created by San Francisco artist, Robert Steiner.
Here I am standing by the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place entries. (Shhh- I like the 3rd place entry better than the 2nd!)
And above we have Mel (FWS Biologist), Bobbie (JDS Ambassador from Wyoming), Emily (JDS Ambassador from Kansas), Beverly (FWS), me, Jane (JDS Ambassador from North Dakota), and Bruce (JDS Ambassador representing South Dakota.)

If you are interested in learning more about the Jr. Duck Stamp program, please don't hesitate to contact me or check out the Jr. Duck Stamp website. This is a K-12 program that can be taught at school, at home, or in other groups like Scouts or 4H. The new curriculum guides have been redesigned to better reflect national standards across Science and Art.

Swirly Color Wheels

My student teacher wanted to do a color mixing lesson with Kindergarten. She had found an activity where kids mixed paint on plates by squishing it around inside plastic bags and as we talked about the logistics, this is what we came up with. Each student had a disposable plate with a little squirt of each of the primary colors on it. Miss Bennett talked to the students about how to use their special tool of the day- one index finger! The students followed along as she demonstrated pulling a little bit of two colors to mix in between to create a secondary color. After the three secondary colors were created, the students placed a circle of white paper on top and swirled it. (I inherited a ton of pre cut circles- I don't know what they are from but it was nice to use some of them!)

We kept all the plates and plan to use them as scales to form a dragon in the hallway for our East Asian studies.
Here are all the swirly color wheels displayed in the hallway around the giant collaborative color wheel in the center. The week before the swirly color wheel lesson, each of our 6 Kindergarten classes was assigned a primary or secondary color. The students cut 2-3 pictures or swatches out of a magazine for their class color and practiced glue stick skills to attach them to a large color wheel.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I Love You I am a Sea Monster

This is exactly why social media is great. It's all about sharing! A couple days ago, I posted artwork that my 1st and 2nd grade students made after being inspired by Dallas Clayton's artwork. I posted it on Twitter and tagged @dallasclayton. He posted the drawings on his website. Someone told him that I Love You I am a Sea Monster would make a great film, and it inspired him to write a poem! I can not wait to show this to my students, who will surely feel like celebrities (in a good way.) Thank you, Dallas Clayton!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Dallas Clayton Inspired "Positivity Monsters"

My 1st graders' first project for the year was inspired by artist/author Dallas Clayton. I started following him after his book, An Awesome Book, came out and when I saw some of his personal artwork, I got an immediate idea for an Art lesson. Clayton created a bunch of 6x9 inch paintings that all feature a little creature with a positive message written on them. I don't know what he calls them, but I nicknamed them "Positivity Monsters".
On the first day of the lesson, I told the students a little bit about Dallas Clayton and we read his entire book online, projected big enough for the whole class to see. You need to read this book. It has an awesome message. It really is an AWESOME book. I'm planning to order copies for my son, niece, and nephew next year when they are a little bit older. You can read the book for free right here: We talked about how Dallas Clayton wants to use his Art to make the world a better place and discussed how that is possible. The students agreed that you can make the world better by making something that makes people feel good. The students drew an imaginary "monster" and then wrote something positive on their artwork like the monster was saying it. This was the biggest challenge- writing short sentences with 1st graders at the beginning of the year. I tried a one day version of this lesson, with crayon instead of watercolors, with 2nd grade and that was a lot easier. I'm hoping to have a "spare" Art day when I can try this with older students, maybe 5th graders, because I think they would do an amazing job.
 Enjoy a sample of the 1st and 2nd graders' Positivity Monsters. 
And have an AWESOME day.
Dallas Clayton featured some of my students' drawings on his website! Check it out: