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Happy 25th Birthday to meeeeee! :)

Me and my younger sister
Michelle. She's an elementary
technology teacher (until she
can get a classroom teaching
job at her school)!
So here we are... my 25th birthday. Guess it's finally time to start growing up (hahahahahaha) - says the girl with a 5 year old son. Been there - been doing that. ;)

I normally don't make posts about non-art related things.. but hey, this only comes once a year so why not. I also wanted to take this chance to share some of my grown-up family Christmas photos with you guys. Granted - this was 4 days ago when I was still only 24 (gah - how immature).

Last year we started a tradition of taking a silly
Christmas Eve photo shoot. The goal is to take a bunch
of ridiculous and fun pictures. :)

We planked last year. We planked this year.
Planking on people is harder than it looks! You gotta find your
center of mass.
This is our planking picture from last year (2012).

Hope you all have had a wonderful winter break so far and have a happy new year! :)

The Rainbow Fish (1st)

Student Sample
This drawing and painting lesson began by reading the book "The Rainbow Fish" by Marcus Pfister with my first graders (a childhood favorite of mine). There are a few different versions of this book (one is longer and one is shorter), so you can choose the one that you think would work best with your class. The book itself carries the themes of friendship and sharing, so it's a nice one to read. :)
Once we finished reading and talking about the book, students went back to their tables and we began a step-by-step rainbow fish drawing! I demoed how students could draw their fish on the board, while students drew their fish on their own paper. They could follow along with me as I drew or they could create their own version. Regardless of how they chose to approach it though, I made sure to emphasis the importance of drawing it BIG. I gave them a sheet of 9"x12" drawing paper and had them try to fill the whole page with their fish. I also emphasized the importance of drawing their fish scales BIG so that when it came time to paint, they could do each scale a different color if they wanted to.
Once their drawings were done, they outlined their line drawing with a black crayon.
The next day we began at the carpet again and looked at a variety of images of the bottom of the ocean (I got a bunch of pictures from google of coral reefs and screenshots of 'Finding Nemo'). We brainstormed a list of all the things students might find at the bottom of the ocean, then we went to work drawing their own ocean backgrounds on a sheet of 12"x14" white drawing paper with crayons. *Before they began I showed them how we were going to do a watercolor-crayon resist, so they could even draw in white crayon!
Liquid GLITTER Watercolors.
On the third and fourth days, students painted their fish and background drawings with the best paint ever - LIQUID GLITTER WATERCOLORS. Ahhhhhhh! Although you do have to spend a minute warning children of the dangers of getting this on their clothes (it won't come out) - it is SO worth it!
It isn't very often that I crack out the glitter (for obvious reasons), so the kids are crazy pumped for this! I bought a set of liquid glitter watercolors last year from the Nasco catalog and I think I may have paid like $35 for a set of 8 bottles. To prepare the paint, I squirt a splash of the liquid glitter watercolors with a splash of regular liquid watercolors and then mix with water in a 2oz souffle cup (you can add more liquid watercolor for more intense colors - although the glitter watercolors will already make your paint pretty saturated).
Finally on the last day, I have students cut out their painted fish drawings and glue 2-3 pieces of cut corrugated cardboard to the back of them. Then they add glue to the back of the cardboard pieces and attach their fish to their background painting (this creates a slight relief painting).
Once everything is done, students are ready for the last and best step - adding the single glitter scale (just like in the book)! Students are allowed to choose ONE scale to add either gold or silver glitter to.. then their work goes into the drying rack.
I love how these turned out! Very pretty!

Yes that is a sun in the top right corner. Hahaha
And another sun. ;)

If you're looking for a thoroughly written lesson with teacher instructions, simplified step-by-step student directions, and an instructional video - check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store!


Cut-and-Glue Snowmen (K)

This past week I decided to change my kindergarten lesson plans last minute.. and suddenly found myself in need of 3 one-day lessons to do with my kids. Fortunately I have this wonderful blog and was able to quickly get online to look up some of the projects I did last year with my kinders (that took care of two of them), but I still needed one more -- and it was literally like 5 minutes before class began. So I quickly scoured my room to see what supplies I had readily available in an attempt to put a lesson together. Next to my cutting board I had a giant stack of 6" x 12" light blue construction paper leftover from my birds-eye-view snowman project (we used a piece of 12" x 12" for that) and a giant pile of 4" x 12" white drawing paper leftover from my winter value landscapes (we used a piece of 14" x 12" for that). Suddenly it came to me - SNOWMEN! Yay for this time of year! I had a stack of foam cups sitting on my shelf from a 3rd grade lesson I'd been doing the past few weeks and decided that they would be the perfect size for circle tracers for snowballs. I also had plenty of orange and brown construction paper already cut to size from my birds-eye-view snowmen lesson. All I needed was something to pull this altogether.. so I walked over to my bookshelf and pulled out the book "Snowballs" by Lois Ehlert.
"Snowballs" by Lois Ehlert
When my kinders walked in we started out at the carpet and read the book "Snowballs." Afterwards we talked about all the different materials the illustrator used to create the snowmen in the book and brainstormed a list of things my kinders thought would be good materials for making a snowman. Since we live in Georgia, many of my kids have never seen enough snow before to even imagine making a snowman.. so this was really interesting to them!
We also talked about how the illustrator didn't just create boring snowmen, she created snowmen and snow-women, and snow-animals with personality by adding a lot of unique details!
After a quick demo of how to get the project started, I sent my kinders back to their tables to begin creating their own special snow-person!
This ended up being a really great project for this particular class as well because it gave them room to think more creatively AND it got them to work on their fine-motor skills (cutting circles as you know can still be problematic for this age group). :)

Some snowmen about 90% done.
Wanted to make sure I could get a picture before they left!

Some 3rd grade snowmen :)


Bird's-Eye-View Snowmen (4th)

It seems to me that all of my lessons end up deriving (or directly coming) from something that I've seen on Pinterest - and I'm okay with that.
#1 - I always connect the projects that I find on there to the standards I have to teach anyway.
#2 - I teach more effectively because I am honestly excited to do the project with my students.
#3 - It keeps me on my toes in terms of problem-solving. Quite often I have to figure out the steps on my own, find the best ways to achieve them, and sequence them correctly.

With that being said... yes this is another one inspired from a pin on Pinterest. :)
I've been wanting to do this for the past year... and I finally got around to doing it!
I began by talking to my 4th graders about perspective and point-of-view and how changing the point-of-view in an image can make a composition more interesting.
Then it was on to the project - aerial perspective snowmen!
To begin I gave each student a sheet of 18"x12" and 9"x12" white drawing paper.
Using a Safe-T Compass (a project in itself), students had to create 3 circles in pencil on their papers (see sizes in image below). Once they were done drawing that, they traced over their pencil lines with a light blue chalk pastel, and then smudged the pastel inward with a quick brush of their finger.

As they were finishing drawing their circles and adding the blue chalk pastel, I walked around the classroom with a stack of different colored construction paper and let students choose which base color they wanted for their scarfs. On this paper, they drew a 3" radius circle and two rectangular pieces for the hanging part of the scarf. To further decorate, I gave students color-stix to add more color to their scarf. I told them that in order for the scarf to look more cohesive, they needed to make a radial design in the circle and a linear design on the hanging parts.

As they continued to work, I also went around the class and passed out a 12"x12" sheet of blue paper for their gluing base, a 6"x4.5" piece of brown paper for the stick arms, and a scrap piece of orange for the carrot nose (the eyes were drawn in with black sharpie).
Once they finished drawing and cutting out everything, it was time to start glueing.

Once again I absolutely LOVE the results my kids got and they were really excited about getting to create a piece of artwork with a different point-of-view. So often they create pieces at eye-level (landscapes, cityscapes, portraits, etc...), so this was an exciting change for them! :)

And a few snowmen were even staring straight up! :)
Evil snowman with a mustache.

Should say "Birds-eye-view Snowmen" ... not "Aerial Perspective Snowmen"
Forgive me - Art teacher working on 4 hours of sleep. :)

Should say "Birds-eye-view Snowmen" ... not "Aerial Perspective Snowmen"
Forgive me - Art teacher working on 4 hours of sleep. :)


Holiday-decorated Classroom Doors!

So Wednesday afternoon I was flipping through Pinterest when something caught my eye - holiday-decorated doors!! I've never done this to my door before, so I wasn't sure how easy/hard it would be. I used butcher paper for the big shapes and construction paper for the smaller shapes on my penguin. It took me about an hour and a half.

The next day when I came in I found one of the ladies who works in the book-room next to mine finishing up her own snowman door (guess I started a trend)! :)
She did an AWESOME job!! Hahah I told her I was going to have to step up my game!

The kids LOVE our doors! I love hearing them whisper to each other as they walk past our rooms - "LOOOOOOOOK at the penguin and snowman!!!!!!"
They love them so much in fact that I decided to use them as an incentive for a fundraiser I am starting on Monday morning.
Along with my other school duties, I am also now heading our yearbook committee. In the past our yearbook has been done rather simply in black-and-white.. no candids.. just kids staring at the camera either in their school portrait and/or in a class portrait. No bueno.
But this year we wanted to change things up! So we are doing a fully custom-designed book (NO templates) in FULL color!
One of the reasons for only have a black-and-white yearbook in the past was to keep costs low for our students ($15 per book) since we have a VERY high-poverty population. We still wanted to keep costs low.. so for the next month we will be offering the same price of $15 for our yearbook.. and then afterwards the price will go up to the regular price of $19. The yearbook committee really wanted our kids to get a better product for the same affordable price.. so now we are fundraising to make up the $4 difference per book!
One of the fundraisers we are doing are "holiday-grams"! Students can purchase a holiday-gram for $1 and send their friends or teachers a holiday card with a blow pop! As an added incentive, the class that buys the most holiday-grams before winter-break will get their own custom-decorated door by yours truly (for when they get back from the break)! The winning class will vote on what they want their door transformed into!

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