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Rainbow Cupcakes!

Rainbow cupcake
Tomorrow morning is the last meeting of my art club.. so I decided to bake up some rainbow treats for my lovely art clubbers! :)
I made white cake batter (the box kind of course).. then split it up evenly into 6 cups and added food coloring gel to each (I made my secondary colors myself). :)
Then one-by-one I layered each color into a muffin liner and baked! Viola! :)
I used blue vanilla frosting for the sky, white cupcake icing for the clouds, and some rainbow airheads candy rope for the rainbows on top. Ohhhhhh and edible glitter - nearly forgot! ;)


Cooling off!
Pretty rainbow inside!
Final product!

Ah speaking of rainbows - I finally perfected (at least perfected to me) my Kindergarten Rainbow Mosaic lesson. I posted twice already about this lesson (here first.. then here).. but I finally made all the changes I wanted to it and am finally happy with it! No more dark pencil lines! :) I had the kids use crayon to draw a single line (in rainbow order), then had them glue all the colored papers on the corresponding color line.


Recycled Torn Painted-Paper Mosaics (1st)

EQ: What is a mosaic?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a TON of painted paper scraps left over from my chameleon projects. With my kindergarten I decided to make torn painted-paper rainbow mosaics... but with my 1st graders I wanted to do something a little more open ended.
I showed students a brief powerpoint which contained a few examples of some really awesome mosaics.. then explained the process we were going to use. I explained that to start our mosaics, students would be using construction paper crayons on black paper to make a contour drawing (an outline) of anything they'd like. Then instead of coloring our contour drawings in with crayons or paint, we would "color them" in with torn paper! Students used bottled liquid school glue and paint brushes to apply the glue and torn paper.

I really like the results! Students got to be as creative as they wanted to with this one!

Race car


Butterfly *very popular subject :)

LOVE how this student interpreted the project - VERY original!! :)

Possibly inspired by my kinder projects hanging up outside my room

They love angry birds!


Butterfly and flower

On the last day as some students were finishing up, we read the book "Pezzettino" by Leo Lionni. Then I grouped my students into groups of three and gave them a mini white board and a tupperware full of magnetic math pattern blocks. Students were invited to work in their groups to create temporary mosaics with the pattern blocks (something I remember loving to do when I was little)!


Awesome Art Bingo! (3rd/4th/5th)

With only four more weeks to go until school is out for the summer in my county, I'm working on wrapping up projects with my students. Because I have a weekly schedule (I see each class of students for a full week.. then don't see them again until they come back up in rotation - which is between 4-7 weeks)... I'm running into the last week of art with many of my classes now. Most of my 3rd-5th grade lessons this rotation are only 4 day lessons... so I've had one extra art class. I really didn't want to just try to cram in a quick one-day project.. so I decided a review game day would be a great way to wrap everything up.
I had searched and searched online to find something I liked... but unfortunately kept coming up short of what I wanted -- so I decided to create my own.
And thus...'Mrs. Nguyen's Art Vocabulary Bingo' was born. :)
I've seen art bingo done before... but I've never really been pleased with it because it's often just a matter of students saying a word and finding it... or looking for a picture and finding it - which does not really show that a student understands what the term means (kind of a waste of time if you ask me).
I really wanted my students to demonstrate to me an understanding of the vocabulary being used and I think my version does this quite well.
An updated/enhanced version is available at my Teachers Pay Teachers store

Mrs. Nguyen's Art Vocabulary Bingo

Materials: Bingo cards, bingo chips, Art Bingo Clue Sheet, and stack of 25 visual cards

  1. Students pass out bingo cards to each person in their group (up to 6 players in a group).
  2. Students then take turns pulling a visual card out of a bag (basically they take turns being 'the caller').
  3. As a group, students must then determine the vocabulary word that matches the picture on their card using their 'Art Bingo Clue Sheet' (which lists the vocabulary word along with its definition). Once they figure out the matching word, they place the visual card on top of the vocabulary word on the 'Art Bingo Clue Sheet', and then use a bingo chip to cover up that word on their personal bingo card.
  4. First student to get a line of 5 bingo chips wins (although I had my students play until they ran out of visual cards)!
I played this with one of my 4th grade classes today - and they LOVED it! :) It was so awesome watching them try to match the visuals with the vocabulary word and definition (higher level thinking!). Some students read through the definitions to solve them, some already knew the vocabulary words, and some even used the resources in my room to figure it out (my epic visual word wall - click here to go to my Word Wall Scavenger Hunt and Jeopardy lesson/game)!!
I can't wait to play it again with another group!

Visual Cards
Art Bingo Clue Sheet

I have a different color set for each of my tables! :)


Rainbow Paper Mosaics Revisited (K)

My hallway display! :)
EQ: What is a mosaic?

If you're a regular around 'Art with Ms. Gram,' you may remember reading about my kindergarten rainbow paper mosaic project. After 2 weeks though, I decided to make some changes. For example I switched to blue paper instead of they grey I used before, gave my students one more additional class period to work, AND let them loose on some glitter (yayyyyyyyy). :)
It's still not perfect.. but I definitely like the direction I'm going in now with this project. Now the only thing that's bothering me is the dark pencil lines visible behind the torn paper collage.. so what I think I'm going to have my students do this week is use crayons to draw each color band (according to what color belongs there).. then have students arrange their torn paper pieces on top of the crayon line. That way most of the lines are covered.. and if for some reason you do see the line.. it is at least the same color as the band. Not sure why I hadn't thought of that before... but oh well - you live, reflect, and learn (essentially my blog's entire purpose).
Can't wait to try this again!! 
--Expect to see a third post coming eventually. haha


Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day art friends! :)

Above are some recycled painted-paper planet Earth mosaics my first graders made last week. Ohhhhh so cute!
I'll be posting more about my first grade mosaic project later this week (probably).

I also have a bunch of other things in the works for posts.. so stay tuned (and follow)! :)

Mobiles (2nd)

Student Sample
EQ: What is a mobile?

For this lesson we began by looking at a Powerpoint showing some of the work of sculpture artist Alexander Calder. We looked at some of his early work (like from when he was only 4 years old!!)... to his later more elegant and sizable pieces. We talked about how he took great interest in creating sculptures that could move (kinetic sculptures) -- including mobiles (a type of kinetic sculpture that Alexander Calder actually invented!). Students noted Calder's use of material choices, abstracted style, and building method (some mobiles were grounded, while others hung from a fixed point on the ceiling).
Student's also checked out this linked video to watch one of Calder's pieces in action!
Then as a class we discussed how difficult creating a mobile might actually be because the artist REALLY has to take into account the weight of the objects he/she hangs off of each branch section to keep it balanced. We also talked about how the distributed weight on branches had to be spread out a certain way too (and found that having a central hanging point was the most efficient way to distribute weight). **This part of the lesson also lends itself to being a GREAT math-integration section. Students discuss ideas of weight/volume, size, proportion, symmetry, etc.

Weight not evenly distributed.
Central hanging point equally distributes weight.

More complex balanced arrangement.

I then showed students this linked interactive website from the National Gallery of Art.
The site features an interactive 'Mobile Maker' in which students can create their own digital mobiles by selecting branches, hanging pieces, and trying to properly balance and distribute weight.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this website and the kids do too! So much so that I demoed how to use the website one day, then took the kids to the computer lab the next day to play around with it. What an AMAZING interactive tool and great use of technology!

Paper plate cut and hole-punch
The following day students began creating their own real symbolic paper mobiles. Students were given a paper plate which was to be colored completely using crayons (both sides!) in a way that represented them-self (for example coloring your plate really colorful might tell me that you are a bright and exciting person). Once the plate was completed I helped students by making a spiral cut to the center of their plate and punched a hole in the middle part (to attach a central hanging string from). This paper plate would become the central radial branch from which all symbols would be hung (we decided the day before that having a center point of gravity was the easiest way to balance a mobile).

The next day students were given a sheet of scratch paper on which they wrote the numbers 1-4. Students were then asked to think of 4 different symbols which they could use to represent themselves or something about them-self. For example, on my mobile I hung a picture of a mitten because I am originally from Canada where in the winter it snows a lot. I also had a drawing of a can of pink paint because painting is one of my favorite activities to do and I'm an art teacher. The idea was that students would choose 4 symbols so that if I saw their mobile, I could learn something about who they are. *Great way to incorporate writing! You could have students write more about their symbols and why they thought they would be good symbols for themselves.
Students were then given a strip of leftover watercolor paper I had from a fourth grade project I did a while back (however any kind of thicker paper - like cardstock - would work just fine). Students folded this strip in half once and then in half a second time (to create 4 sections). Using pencil students drew their symbols onto each section (front and back - it is a 3-d sculpture after all!). Once their drawings were done, they outlined their images with sharpie, and then colored them in with color sticks. Once they were done drawing/coloring their symbols, they were cut out.

The next day students were given hole-punchers at their table and were asked to punch holes on the top of their symbols and somewhere along their paper plate (the exact location was chosen by them and how they wanted to distribute their symbols along their central branch). I then called students up to select 5 pieces of pre-cut yarn to use to tie their symbols onto their branches. I also had beads available in case students wanted to add a little more flair to their pieces. *It was very important to explain to students why they needed to make double-knots when tying (so symbols wouldn't come loose and fall off!).

Overall I'm quite happy with how these have turned out! They are so bright and colorful and the students have really been super engaged with the whole process! This is one of those projects I can't wait to teach to my next group next week!

Student Sample
Student Sample

Student Sample

Student Sample

Oh Angry Birds. :)


Angry Bird Pinch Pots (3rd)

Teacher's Sample
EQ: How can I build with clay?

This is another project a long time in the making. I started making pinch-pot angry birds with some of my 3rd grade classes over a month ago... but am just now getting those classes back in my rotation so they can paint them!
The clay that we've gotten this year has been extremely dry and difficult to work with (even when additional water is added), so I reduced all my clay projects down to just one working day. So students had one class (50 minutes) to learn my expectation of working with clay, procedures, view a demo, ask/answer questions, and make their own angry birds out of a piece of clay.
I began my demonstration by showing students how to create a simple pinch-pot (something new to a lot of them). First they rolled their clay into a ball, then used their thumb to press a mark into their clay. Then I had them use their "pincher-fingers" to continue pinching in from their thumbprint to the sides of their clay. Once students made a basic pinch-pot they flipped them over and this became the basic frame for their angry bird. I then demonstrated to students how to subtract clay (subtractive process) with tools such as bent paper clips and add pieces of clay (additive process).
When joining together pieces of clay, I had my students learn and follow my "4 S's of joining clay."
1- Score: Score both pieces of clay where you'd like to join them with a paperclip. 
2- Slip: Instead of using actual slip, I have them just 'slip' their fingers into a water dish and add a drop to their scored part (I just wanted to introduce the idea of this vocabulary to them). 
3- Smoosh: Students smoosh together their two pieces of clay. 
4- Smooth: Using a plastic tool or their fingers, students smooth their pieces of clay together to make a smoothed joint. 

 I wish I could've given them more time on these.. but it just wasn't in the cards this year. I'm hoping that I can make next year's version of this project even better (which will be easy to do with some newer clay I'm sure!). After drying out and being bisque-fired, students painted their angry bird pinch-pots with tempera paint (one 50 minute class period). Again - had we had the time I would have liked to have let the students glaze these. Maybe next year...

Some of my 3rd grade favorites :)
Why yes - that is a Star Wars angry bird. :)
Student Sample
Student Sample


Student Sample
Student Sample

Student Sample
Student Sample

Student Sample (front)
Student Sample (side)

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