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Gingerbread Houses (2nd)

Student Sample
Once again due to winter break I had a shorter than usual amount of time with my second graders (only 2 days!) - so I decided we would do a fun gingerbread house project! We began by looking at a variety of images of gingerbread houses and talked about how the builders of the houses had to think creatively to find ways to use candy to create the features needed for their house.
The 2nd graders had free reign over my scrap paper buckets, construction paper crayons, some glitter dots (the hole-punches from glitter paper), and then finally on the last day - "frosting" (shaving cream + glue + glitter).
Best part about this project was that it was completely self-directed. I did not give the kids any verbal direction besides "make a gingerbread house and be creative." Students were free to take risks and make their own artistic choices - no pressure!

Remember kids - DON'T eat the frosting! ;)



Blizzard. I love my gifted students :)




Some went a little "frosting" crazy. haha





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Kinder Color Mixing (K)

Teacher Sample
EQ: How can we mix colors?

So I've been dreading posting this week's kindergarten lesson because I've literally changed it up every single rotation (still trying to get it so that I'm 100% happy with it -- hahaha like that will EVER happen). We start off by reading the book "Mouse Paint" by Ellen Stoll Walsh and then transition to looking at a PowerPoint on the projector which reiterates the ideas of primary colors mixing to create secondary colors. Then we look at artwork by a variety of artists and talk about their color choices. Finally, we end on Kandinsky's "Squares with Concentric Circles" (1913) and talk about all the colors he used and how he could have made them. I then have students go back to their seats and using crayon, they practice drawing rainbow concentric circles!
The next day they come in we are ready to paint! I only give them red, yellow, and blue tempera paints. Inspired by the Kandinsky painting, my kinders get experience mixing colors on their papers by following my step-by-step demonstration. I do this lesson VERY directed for two reasons. #1 - This is my first time painting with tempera with my kinders and I want to see how well they can handle the materials and following painting procedures. #2 - I want all of my kinders to have success (at least once in my classroom) mixing all three secondary colors on their papers.
The next day they come in I let them have a little more freedom in their paintings. All I asked was that they mix all three secondary colors on their papers using primary-colored tempera paint. Once their paper was painted, they used popsicle sticks to "draw" anything they wanted in their paint (patterns, shapes, letters, pictures, etc).
Now here is where I've really varied my approach. I originally wanted to use the painted paper they created to cut out mice shapes (inspired by the book Mouse Paint) and have them "splashing" in the correct primary colored puddles - HOWEVER this is not how it worked out each time. I've ended up going in a few different directions with this.. so feel free to check out the images below.

Drawing mice directly on the painted paper.

Cutting out body parts for our mice.

Cutting out body parts for our mice.

Drawing mice on a separate sheet of paper then cutting them out and gluing them.

Again. Drawing, cutting, gluing.

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Snowglobes (1st)


Because of winter break and other holiday-time activities, my week with my 1st graders was cut down into only 2 days, so instead of trying to do the alligator weaving project, I opted to change it up and we made snowglobes instead!
I had students use tracers to create the shape for their snowglobes on blue paper, brown paper, and a sheet of transparency paper for the "glass" on the snowglobe.
The first day students cut out all the parts and used white tempera paint to create their snowy scenes!
The second day they used color pencils to add details and then glued them together!
Very cute and fairly quick two-day project!



If you are interested in a more finished lesson plan that includes shape templates, check out this lesson in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!


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Colored Value Lights (4th & 5th)


Once my 5th graders were finishing up their oil pastel space art, I had them begin this beauty!

My school has a die-cut machine and one day as I was using it, I noticed this Christmas light die-cut and knew I had to find a way to use it! :)

So how we did it -
I had my 5th graders begin by coloring their die-cut light bulb one solid color with oil pastel. Then they used a white oil pastel and drew in the filament and highlight on the tip of the bulb (some did this step - others chose not to), then smudged it with their finger. Then the filament was drawn again (again in white pastel) to refine the line a bit.
Once they were finished with their lights, they were given a piece of 12"x18" black construction paper and glued a piece of green yarn to it anyway they wanted to (this is the "cord"). After their yarn was glued, they arranged their bulbs on the paper and used a pencil to outline the shape. They then removed the bulbs from the paper and used white chalk pastel to go over their outline, and then went over the white outline with a colored piece of chalk pastel. This line was then smudged outwards to create the illusion of a glowing light. The bulb was then glued into place.
Voila! I LOVEEEEEEEEE THESE!!  

Student Sample (5th)
Student Sample (5th)
Student Sample (5th)

Student Sample (5th)
Below is a set of examples from my 4th graders!

Student Sample
Student Sample (4th)

Student Sample (5th)
If you are interested in a more descriptive lesson plan with step-by-step visuals and light bulb templates, check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

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Updates and Teasers

So tonight I added more student project samples to the 3rd grade Aquariums post and the 2nd grade Winter Landscapes post. I also added a part two to the 5th grade oil pastel solar system project and also posted the Colored Lights extension project (which could really just be a stand alone project) I taught afterwards.
Please feel free to check out all the new images! :)

Also.. just to give you a little taste of what's coming...

4th grade totem poles....

And kindergarten color mixing....
 ... WITH 3 different versions of my Mouse Paint project.

Ohhhh where does all the time go?!

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Oil Pastel Solar System - Part 2 (5th)

Student Sample
EQ: How can I create the illusion of form with color?

So this entry is really just another version of a project I posted within the last month or so (although in my opinion it is now much improved!)

Changes made:
  1. The white paper I gave students to draw their planets on was smaller this time.
  2. I suggested a maximum planet radius of 2".
  3. Instead of using construction paper crayons, we painted on the sun and splatter painted the stars in the background.
I love this version so much more! :)

Student Sample
Student Sample

Student Sample

Student Sample

























Student Sample

Student Sample

Student Sample




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Winter Value Landscapes (2nd)


I think out of every project I teach - this one has to be one of my absolute favorites. EVERY child is successful on some level.. and each piece of artwork created is gorgeous. This is one of those projects that hangs up in the hallway and gets "oooohhhs" and "aahhhhs" every time a class and/or teachers walk by! :)

Lovely hall display!
We begin by looking at my new and improved 'Value PPT'. I sunk like 2 hours into this baby getting it animated and awesome.
I am always mesmerized by this every
time I go to Wal-Mart. :)
We talk about value referring to the lightness or darkness of a color (and no - when I say value.. I'm not talking about money - the kids ALWAYS answer this when I ask them what 'value' is). We look at a variety of images showing value scales including a wall of paint chips (which the kids love because they have all seen this before). Then we talk about what a "tint" (color + white) is... and what a "shade" (color + black) is.
Then I show them an image showing a paper filled with progressively darker concentric blue circles... and ask them how they think the artist created this. Because the circles appear to get darker.. the kids naturally say "the artist created shades!" Ahhh but this one is a tricky one I tell them... because black was never added to the blue! Instead the color blue was added to the color white until it became a pure blue by the time it reached the final outer circles on the page. Then comes the awesome animated part of my PPT - I created a bunch of slides which demonstrates how to slowly add blue to the color white to paint progressively 'purer' blues; then I demonstrate in real life.
Each set of students gets a paint palette top (the clear plastic circular lids work awesome for holding paint puddles) and a puddle of white and blue tempera paint. Students then begin by painting their pure white moon in the upper part of their page (exactly where is up to them). Then they dip the tip of their paintbrush into their blue puddle and slowly mix the blue paint on their brush into the white puddle (this creates a very light tint of blue). They use this to paint a concentric circle around their white moon. Then they repeat this process until their entire page is filled with progressively darker blues.
Once they are done, our paintings go into the drying rack until the next day!
On day two.. we begin by drawing a horizon line on our papers for our winter scene to take place in. We talk about how the horizon line should be further up the page so that we can show a lot of the foreground and middle ground in our pictures. Then they paint this space in with white tempera. The white tempera doesn't completely cover the blue background opaquely.. which ends up actually being a really nice and desired effect as the various streaks of blue helps to create the illusion of depth.
Once the white ground is painted, we go back to the projector and talk about what silhouette is (the dark shape of someone or something visible against a lighter background). I then ask students to think about a time that they've seen a silhouette. Lots of my students answer with 'trees at sunset' which is a great answer as it leads us into what we are going to paint next - bare tree silhouettes.
Painting bare trees can definitely be a challenge for all students.. but if you break it down for them and show them what not to do.. it helps them to be a bit more successful with their paintings.
I tell them to start with the trunk of their tree... then start adding 'Y' branches onto their trunk (they are just branches that create a 'Y' shape on their trunks. As the branches get higher up on the tree.. they will appear to become skinnier and more sparse. I also remind them that trees grow UPWARD.. so when they are adding branches.. they shouldn't draw upside-down 'Y's and that trees typically do not grow completely symmetrical.. so they want their branches to be somewhat asymmetrical. :)
"Snowmen at Night"
by Caralyn Buehner
Students practice painting tree silhouettes on a scrap piece of paper.. and then when they are done practicing.. they start adding trees to their winter landscapes. We do also talk about placement on the ground and how trees that appear closer will look larger and will begin closer to the bottom of our page.. while trees that are farther away will appear smaller and will begin closer to the horizon line on their page.
The following day, we begin class by reading the book "Snowmen at Night" by Caralyn Buehner. The illustrations in this book are a beautiful example of how tints and shades can be used to create highlights and shadows on shapes to help give them the illusion of form (like the spheres that make up a snowman's body).
We also talk about using a light source (like the moon) to position highlights and shadows more accurately and how shadows on shapes are not always created with black (we examine the picture to the right). Students then go back to their tables and use white paint to add the bodies of snowmen to their artwork. A streak of light blue is added for the "shadow" on the backside of the snowman.
Finally, on the last day we begin by talking about cast shadows and details to add to our winter landscapes. We talk once again about directional light.. and how the light from the moon will cause a cast shadow off of the figures in our landscape (like the snowmen and trees). We then also predict where the cast shadow will fall (based on the positioning of the moon on each students paper).
As the students begin adding cast shadows and details to their papers with colored pencils, I read the book "Snowmen at Work" (the sequel to "Snowmen at Night"). This book is filled with more bright colorful decorative pages of snowmen doing various jobs. It's great inspiration for the kids!








Picasso'esque snowmen. I LOVE it! :)

If you are interested in a more thoroughly written lesson with step-by-step teacher procedures, a simplified student handout, and a how to video - check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store!!


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