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Art of Mexico (5th)


Teachers Sample
So I was working on planning my next 5th grade lesson a few weeks back when I was told that I needed to have a student display of artwork recognizing 'Hispanic Heritage Month' for a school event coming up. So I decided to do a week long 'Art of Mexico' lesson with my 5th graders.
Personally I've found 5th grade to be the hardest group management-wise to work with (because of their class sizes, noise-levels, and physical presence in the room)... but found during an earlier project, that if I separated them into different groups working on different things, I could keep them more focused on their projects. So I decided to go crazy and try doing a week project in which students freely moved amongst 3 centers: Zapotec Weaving, Aztec Suns, and Amate Bark Paintings.
On Monday we all looked at a PowerPoint reviewing the historical background of each center and I had students fill out the information they learned in a brochure we made (we even filled in a map to see where the indigenous groups lived!). Students also used this brochure to create sketches of their project ideas.
Then from Tuesday-Friday I had students moving freely throughout the centers. It was absolute chaos with 3 completely different projects going on at the same time -- but somehow.. it worked. Maybe I am getting the hang of this. :)

My centers (I copied and pasted this from my online lesson planner - so please ignore the odd wording.):

  • Zapotec Weaving:
    • Students will begin with a piece of black or tan 9"x12" paper as their base paper. Students will select 2-3 additional pieces of colored construction paper to make geometric patterns/shapes with to add to their "weavings". The teacher will demonstrate how to cut the paper into strips, fold it, and then cut it to create symmetrical shapes/pattern strips. These pieces will be carefully glued down. When the patterns are completed, students will use a hole puncher and punch holes along the left and right hand sides of the paper. Using bits of scrap yarn, students will tie their yarn into the holes to create a fringe.
  • Aztec Suns:
    • Students will create their own aztec sun replicas. They will begin with a paper plate whose outside rim may be cut down to create wavy points (sun rays). These will then be painted gold using gold tempera paint. Using a circle stencil, students will cut out a face for their sun using construction paper. This circle will eventually be glued down onto the center of their cut paper plate. Additional detail such as facial features and additional lines/shapes/pattern will be added using an assortment of materials (including sharpie, construction paper crayon, paint, sequins, etc.).
  • Amate Bark Painting:
    • Students will create their own amate bark paintings by drawing their designs (in pencil) onto a piece of brown paper (cut down from a brown paper bag). Using an assortment of pre-mixed tempera paints (from an earlier 3rd grade project), students will paint their images onto their "bark paper". Once dried, students will use sharpie markers to create black outlines around their images to really make them pop. Then they will crumple it (to create the illusion of bark texture) and then lay it flat.

Student work
Student work

Student work

If you are interested in a more thoroughly explained lesson plan with visuals, teacher and student directions, and all the other resources I used, check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store!


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Classroom Management

Please ignore my dirty tables. :)
So today I decided to share with you guys some of my classroom management strategies! And it starts and ends with two words - COLOR CODING.
I'm the kind of person that is crazy organized and usually always over prepared (although it's almost always done last second). And when things are not just so, I get crazy amounts of anxiety. So below are some of the ways I keep from completely shutting down in a school of 1800 students (800 of which are mine).

Color-coded table containers.
On each table in my room (I have 9 tables that are divided into 6 color tables) I have two color coordinated containers which stay on the tables at all time. 
One container acts as a turn-in tray -- 
*When it is time to clean up and put our stuff away, I just have kids turn in their work to their table trays. This prevents kids from getting up unnecessarily around the room and makes it easier for me to file their work away properly (more on this in a minute). 
The other container is a craft caddy --
*In it I store crayons and pencils which are always there, and on the bigger side I will change out materials based on what my classes are doing that period. 

I recently ran into a problem however with my pencils in my caddies. I found that I was losing my new pencils and gaining tiny pencils pretty quickly. 4/5th grade pencil swap anyone?
Glorious pencil system.
So I decided that I needed a system to help me keep track of my pencils. So now in each caddy I have color-coded pencils. The bottom piece of tape corresponds with the table color, and the top piece of tape corresponds with the seat number (I have 5 numbered seats at each table - yes the kids have assigned seats) with one extra yellow pencil (the just-in-case pencil). So now if green table's seat 3 pencil goes missing -- I'll know who to talk to. ;)
Is this more work? Yes. Will it be worth it for my pencil supply and mental sanity? YESSSSS.

Grade level table folders.
Now back to my turn-in trays.. Once students turn in their artwork and are lined up at the door waiting for their teacher, I go around the room and pick up the artwork in each table tray and tuck it into a color-coded table folder which is then placed in the grade level drawer. Since I see the same group of kids for a week at a time, my folders are always emptied out by Friday and ready for my new batch of kids on Monday.
This system also works really well because when I'm getting ready for my next class to come in, I can just grab their table folders from their drawer, and slip their work into their table buckets. I save myself so much time doing it this way because I never have to call students names to pass back work - it's already in the trays on their tables. :)

Color-coded drying rack!
I organize my drying racks in a similar way using colored tape! When we do "wet" projects, I'll call students up by table color to bring me their artwork and organize it that way in my drying rack. Then when their work is dry, I know which table folder to put it in. I also use removable grade-level labeled clothespins to label the side of the drying rack by grade (which helps if different grade levels are doing similar projects).

Hopefully in reading this post you found something useful... and as always, please feel free to critique, comment, suggest, or share ideas in the comments section. :)
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Out of This World Art! (1st)

Teacher Sample
EQ: How do artists create and use color? (extension lesson)

So as an extension lesson for my 1st graders (after the Delaunay tissue collage project), I've been doing "Out of This World Art!" 
To begin with, we recap all the color mixing we've been doing that week (primary + primary = secondary color). Then I demonstrate the project process. I pick two primary colored markers and "scribble-scrabble" all over a coffee filter until it is covered with "scribble-scrabbles" (if that's not a real word -- it needs to be). Then I lay it flat on the table and spray it with a spray bottle filled with water. As the water soaks into the coffee filter, it moves the marker pigment around and makes a tie-dye effect.  This is where the secondary color is created. 
Before we get started, I pass out scraps of paper to each student and have them write their names on it to create a name tag; then we sit it aside.
I have each student pick two primary-colored markers and I walk around the room and ask each student what color they are going to make with their color pair and then give them a coffee filter (they must answer correctly first though). This helps me to assess who has retained the lesson content.. and who needs additional concept reinforcement. As students finish scribbling on their filters, they pick another primary color pair and raise their hand. If they can name the correct secondary color that would be made with the color pair, I give them another filter to color. Towards the end of class I have the students put all their colored filters into the middle of their tables and I come around with the spray bottle. The kids LOVE this part!! So exciting! Then I give them the chance to walk around the room and look at all the other sprayed filters. I love hearing all the "woooahhhs!" and "awesomes!!"
Students Working
After a minute or two I ask the kids to go back to their tables and we move all the coffee filters onto plastic trays, put their name tags on top of their filters, then put them on the drying rack.
The next day we come in and look at a series of outer space pictures and artworks. We talk about all the things they see and then talk about the sizes of the planets in the images. I have the students use their fingers and try to "pick-up" the planets from their seats (at least 15 feet from my projector screen). We look at how little our fingers are spaced apart.. and then I run up to the screen and show them how when I get closer to the image, the planet seems to get bigger. How come the planet "fit" in my fingers when I was far away.. but when I got closer.. it didn't? Ahhh! Because objects that are supposed to appear closer are drawn larger.. and things that are farther away are drawn smaller! This is a subtle introduction to the idea of creating the illusion of depth - an idea that I really hit on in 2nd/3rd grade.

Using various sized circle tracers, I have students trace circles onto their colored filters and then cut them out. These circles are glued down onto a black piece of paper and additional details (like planet rings, moons, stars, and spaceships) are added using construction paper crayons.
Each student walks away from this project really excited about what they've produced!

Throughout the project we listen to / watch a video all about the solar system. The kids LOVE it. Check it out!


Student Sample
Full Color Unit
Student Sample

Student Sample

Student Sample

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Delaunay Tissue Paper Collage (1st)


To begin this project, I use the first day to talk about the color wheel and "color clubs". We start by reading the book "Mouse Paint" by Ellen Stoll Walsh and talk about how primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) can be used to mix the secondary colors (purple, orange, and green)!
"Mouse Paint" by Ellen Stoll Walsh
Then we continue our conversation by looking at a Powerpoint I put together that looks at the color wheel. I tell them all about the six color friends that live on it. I tell them all about how one day, three of the friends decided to start their own club. The colors red, yellow, and blue made a club called the "primary color club!" They knew they were special because when they mixed together, they could create all the other colors! Feeling left out, the remaining three colors decided to start a club of their own called the "secondary color club!"
We review this idea of color mixing over and over and it is reinforced constantly throughout the project. We look at blending the primary colors (and talk very briefly about intermediate colors), mixing them (in my magical color mixing bowl!), we watch a video I made of me mixing the colors using food coloring (link to it here), and finally we complete a "color math" worksheet by using primary-colored transparency math chips and holding them up to the light to check our answers.
On the second day we look at artwork made by Robert Delaunay and Sonia Delaunay and talk about how they created abstract works of art that really focused on color! I have students make guesses as to what they think the artists were thinking about when they created their works of art. I get a lot of different responses with this - which helps us to understand that abstract art can be interpreted in many different ways because it doesn't look exactly like a photograph - it's not completely realistic! After looking at the artwork, I show students the tissue paper collage hanging in my window. We talk about how it is abstract because it only kinda looks like something (kinda like a bird!). I tell them I created it only using primary colors. *I also have a tissue paper collage depicting a rainbow also in my window that was only created with primary colors.
Then we recap coloring mixing a final time by talking about how we can create secondary colors by layering primary-colored tissue papers. I demo the process for students and then we get started!
*Project setup: I pre-cut black construction paper to create frames for my kids - these are passed out first. The kids use construction paper crayons to write their name on the back of their frame. Then I pass out transparency sheets - these are placed under our frames (they kinda look like tv's at this point - which the kids love to point out). :)  Then I pass out a sheet of cardboard which is put underneath everything. This is just a board to work over - not part of the final piece (it makes it easier to carry to the drying rack).
Students are instructed to use the primary-colored tissue paper on their tables, rip it into smaller pieces, and glue them using watered-down glue and paint brushes onto their transparency paper AND frame. Yes... you have to glue pieces that lay on both! This holds our artwork together because when it is dry, I remove the transparency paper from the back (it is reused for the next class). If the project is dry, it peels right off with no problem!





If you would like a more thoroughly written lesson with all the necessary resources, check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

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Cut-and-Glue Owls! (K)


Teacher Sample
So for my second lesson with my kinders I decided to continue looking at shape and color -  but this time with cutting and glueing as well! I also incorporate 3 books into this lesson as well (as sources of inspiration for my little kiddos).
On the first day we begin by reading "Birds" by Kevin Henkes. We read the book and then look at all the beautiful images. There is one image of like 4 birds sitting on branches with a blue background. We focus on this one and talk about why the artist put blue behind the birds - oh yeah.. it's the sky in the background! :)
Using blue liquid watercolors, we paint our 9"x9" white papers!
On the second day we come in and read the book "Wow! Said the Owl." by Tim Hopgood and talk about the rainbow that was made when it was raining but still sunny outside - which segues to a brief talk about the color wheel. Then we go back to our tables and pull out our now blue 9"x9" papers. Using a smaller square stencil, students trace around the outside of the square to create a frame on our papers. Once the frame is drawn, students are instructed to color outside of the square with any colors they'd like (although naturally I get a lot of rainbows drawn). :)
On day three we begin by learning a rhyme to help students focus during instructive transitions. It goes like this:
"Whoo! Whoo! What do I do? Listen for directions and learn something new!"
This is a rhyme I made up for my kinders during my student teaching as the school I was at had owls as their mascot - but I find it appropriate for this lesson. 
Once we learn the rhyme, we start talking about the shapes and colors they see on my teachers sample. We decide that a we need to start by adding a brown oval to our papers inside the square in the middle. I give students a piece of brown paper with an oval already drawn on it and they cut it out (depending on your kinders developmental level - you can have them draw it themselves). For glueing, I've used both glue sticks and liquid glue with different groups - both work fine - it's just a matter of what you want to use with your kids. I find that glue sticks help to control the mess a bit more.. but my kids often destroyyyyyyy my glue sticks and we go through them super fast. When we use liquid glue.. it's a bit messier (but I do teach my kids that "a dot is a lot!"  Next we add the red oval which they cut out and talk about where it needs to be glued down (in the middle, but closer to the bottom). Then we need a blue triangle for the head feathers... but wait!! All Ms. Gram has is blue squares!! Oh no!! Wait a second -- check this out! I show students that they can hold their blue squares in one hand with the corners pointing up and down (like a diamond) and start their scissors at the bottom corner and cut "up, up, up," all the way to the opposite corner. Voila! Now we have two blue squares (one ends up in the scrap bucket). The kids are AMAZED by this -- which is why it becomes my favorite part of the lesson to teach. I love seeing their faces light up with amazement! :)
Next we add a yellow beak by using the same cutting technique.
Afterwards we look at our owls to see what we're still missing. The eyes and the wings!
To create the eyes I give each student a rectangle piece of white paper and we fold it in half hamburger-style to create a "little book." Then we draw a circle on the "cover" of our book and while keeping the book closed, cut out our circles. Because the paper is folded - we really end up cutting out two identical circles. Another AMAZING moment for my kinders. :)
We use the same cutting technique for the wings, except this time with a blue rectangle folded in half... and instead of a circle, we draw a freeform shape! *Some of my kinders remember this word from our first lesson - others need to be reminded that: 
"A made-up shape is a freeform shape!" (said with rhythm)
While not all my kinders end up making a wing shape, I encourage any shape they want to use for their wings - after all, it's their art! This also helps to relieve the anxiety some of the kids get from having to draw and cut out their own shapes.
The next day we begin by reading "The Little White Owl" by Tracey Corderoy and talk about how the owls were all different and had lots of decorative patterns and colors. Students are given crayons and asked to add whatever additional detail or pattern they want to their owls to make them unique and special!

The kids to an amazing job with this project and all the owls end up looking adorable. I LOVEEEEE it! :)








If you'd like a more thoroughly written lesson with visual directions, check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store!


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Lunch Time Fun!

So here I am sitting at my desk during my lunchtime.. working on my blog.
I'm pretty sure I don't know how to take a break from my job. :/
Although I must admit.. reading art blogs during my lunch has become one of my favorite activities. Sandwich in one hand.. mouse in the other.

Just wanted to write and let any readers know that this weekend I plan on doing a lot of catch-up blogging (told you I never stop)! I am making a trip down to Statesboro this weekend so I can get out of my apartment.. but it will be a working mini-trip. Just desperately need a change of scenery from my classroom and apartment. :)

Posts coming this week:
-1st grade "Delaunay Tissue Collage"
-Kinder "Cut-and-Glue Owls"
-1st grade "Out of this World Art"
-5th grade "Art of Mexico"
-4th grade "Votive Paintings"
-3rd grade "Ice Cream Parlor Project"
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Bad Hair Day! (2nd)

Teacher Sample
EQ: What is symmetry? (Extension lesson)

I'm pretty sure everyone has done a variation of this project.. but oh goodness it can be used to talk about so many different things! Symmetry, line types, drawing what you see (observational drawing) not what you think you see, details, color, etc.  I used this project as a two day extension to my symmetry unity!
The Colors of Us
We began by reading the book "The Colors of Us" by Karen Katz and discussed how we are all different variations of the color brown (something we identified as being "neutral colors"). Then we went back to our tables and began working on our artwork by folding a piece of white drawing paper in half (hotdog style) - which acted as our 'line of symmetry'. During our first symmetry project we had mentioned that faces had linear symmetry - so this project simply expanded that.
Then with our paper unfolded, we began drawing our portraits by looking closely at the details on the faces of the people sitting around us (so we could work on drawing what we really saw). I did ask my students however to leave off drawing the hair for now, and to leave plenty of space at the top of their pages.
Once the basis of our drawings were completed, I showed students how we were going to draw the "hair." Students were asked to use a variety of line types (good time to review!) to create the hair! They were reminded that lines should be symmetrical and so whatever they drew on the left side - had to be reflected on the right side.
Once all the pencil drawing was done, students used fiber pens to outline their art, then multicultural crayons to color the skin and regular crayons to color the rest of the portrait.
Overall the kids were really surprised with how great they ended up drawing! :)

Students Working
Symmetry Unit

Student Work in Progress!

Student Work in Progress!


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Roberto the Insect Architect (2nd)

Teacher Sample
EQ: What is symmetry?

We began our 2nd grade lesson this week by talking all about symmetry and the difference between linear symmetry and radial symmetry! To help us illustrate the difference, we looked at many pictures and decided whether they had linear symmetry (like bugs!) or radial symmetry (like snowflakes!). Then using a piece of drawing paper that we had folded in half (hamburger-style), we drew half of a bug shape along the folded side and then cut it out. When we opened our fold up, we found that we created an awesome bug shape with linear symmetry!
Roberto The Insect Architect
On day two, we began by reading the book "Roberto the Insect Architect" by Nina Laden. Unsure of what an architect was, we read the book looking for clues to help us figure it out. Eventually we figured out that it was an occupation, it had something to do with building, and it involved making plans called 'blueprints.' Ah!! An architect is an artist that designs buildings (and in this book -- designed houses for bugs)! :)
With the practice we got from making our first symmetrical bug under our belts, we created another bug using the same paper folding method and glued it down to a piece of blue construction paper. Then we used construction paper crayons and cut paper to create our beautiful collaged bug-houses!
Once we were finished, we decided to do a little creative writing about our bug-houses. Some friends wrote about what their houses looked like, while others described the bug that might live inside of it!

*This was a great project to do to burn through some scrap paper I had saved up from the "Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli" project too!!

Student Sample
Student Sample
Student Sample

Student Sample

Student Sample

Student Sample

Student Sample






Bulletin Board
Hall Display

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