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Gingerbread Houses (1st)

Winter is probably my favorite season solely because I then have an excuse to do winter-themed projects - and this architecture lesson is no exception!
I began by reading the book "Iggy Peck, Architect" by Andrea Beaty with my students and we discussed how Iggy had to work creatively to create structures with very unusual materials (pancakes, pies, shoes, dirty diapers {ewwww}, etc.). Then we discussed what features a home might have.
After we finished discussing, I showed my students a variety of images of gingerbread houses that I found on the internet. We looked at how the gingerbread house creators used different candies to create different architectural features (both functional and decorative). Then students went back to their desks and drew their own gingerbread houses on a sheet of paper with pencils, colored pencils, and crayons.
On the second day my students began creating their own gingerbread house collages with scraps of colored paper. The only standard thing I supplied them with was a pile of brown rectangle pieces to be used for the body of their house (the gingerbread - or graham crackers if you will).
The following day they continued decorating their houses and I gave them a shaving cream and glue mixture to dab on to create a snowy/icing look.
On the fourth day I surprised my students by telling them they'd be working in pairs to create their own real gingerbread houses! Man were they excited! They got to be both the architect AND the builder in this project!
I gave each pair of students a Styrofoam plate and a ziploc baggie with 5 square graham crackers inside (I prepped these before they came in to save time). Each table also got a cup of marshmallow fluff to be used as the "icing" (this is like 10000x more cost efficient). Then I demonstrated to students how to dip the sides of the graham cracker square into the marshmallow fluff and use it as the glue to connect the "walls" and "roof."
Once their basic structures were built, we put their houses into my storage closet to set and they washed up.

The next and final day students got to decorate their houses however they wanted to with like 8 different types of candy that I provided them. They LOVEEEEDDDD it.
At the end of class they kept their houses in my room to set once again.. then I returned them to their classroom a couple hours later with baggies so they could break their houses in half and each get to take home some of the house.


Watercolor Snowflake Paintings (3rd)

Before we even started talking about snowflakes I reviewed the differences between linear and radial symmetry with my students. Afterwards we viewed a variety of images and they told me what type of symmetry each image had. Once it was clear they had this down, we moved on to begin talking about snowflakes and how they are a great example of radial symmetry in nature.
To help us become better informed on why snowflakes look the way they do, we watched an excellent BrainPop video describing how and why snowflakes form.
Then on a scrap piece of paper I had my students practice drawing a variety of snowflakes (I did one with them first on my document camera - then they went at it themselves). To start drawing their 6-sided structure, I had them draw a narrow "X", draw a line horizontally across, then add as much detail as they wanted (as long as they repeated the same thing on each side of the snowflake).
After drawing for a bit, I gave each table a sheet a reference images to help them develop some more intricate designs of their own.
The next day I had my students begin drawing snowflakes on a sheet of 9"x12" watercolor paper. Typically I do not use watercolor paper (solely because of the cost), but I knew this project really needed it to get fabulous results. I had my students draw their snowflakes as lightly as they could with their pencils and use rulers to help straighten out their lines. Once they finished drawing, they outlined their snowflakes with either white crayon or white oil pastel. I showed them an example of a snowflake created with both materials so they could better decide which they'd like to use (I personally would go for the white crayon because I feel like you can get more defined detail since its composition is hard wax). Most of my students needed one class to draw their images in pencil and half of another class to do the outlining. 
Since I wanted all my students to be able to paint at the same time, I waited until the fourth class period to take out the paints. When we did start painting I had my students use saturated liquid glitter watercolors (because you know - glitter makes everything better). They painted their entire paper, then had the option of adding salt (we just used regular table salt) on top of their wet paint.
*The salt interacts with the watercolor paint the entire time it's drying to create some really interesting effects - so it's important to note that the final dried painting will look much different than when it's wet.
The next day when they came in, we trimmed off 1/2" from each side of their painting (to make it 11"x8"), mounted it on top of a 12"x9" sheet of white drawing paper, and then onto a 15"x12" sheet of black paper.
I LOVE these! Abstract watercolor painting is one of my own personal favorite things to do - so it was awesome getting to share this experience with my students.

If you're looking for a complete version of this lesson with teacher directions, student directions, a PowerPoint, templates, and video - check out my TPT store!


Winter Birds and Birch Trees (1st)

The idea for this lesson came from "A Day in the Life of This Art Teacher" and I absolutely love it!!
The first day students came in, we read the book "Snowballs" by Lois Elhert which features some really beautiful winter-themed collages (one of which is birch trees and birds). We talk about how the illustrations in the book were created (collages - and technically assemblages <- but we don't go into that) and how the art in the book looked so unique.
Once we were done talking I gave each student a piece of 6"x12" white drawing paper and had them draw two vertical lines on their paper with a ruler to divide the space up into three sections. Students were then given a Styrofoam plate with black tempera on it and a rectangle piece of scrap cardboard (about the size of an index card). I demonstrated how they could lightly dip their cardboard into the paint, then drag it on an angle across each section to create a birch tree looking effect. Students repeated this for all three sections. **When you put the black paint on a plate you need to shake it side to side to spread the paint out so the puddle isn't so deep!
On the second day students created a piece of textured painted-paper using a watercolor resist technique (crayon & pan watercolor) on a sheet of 15"x12" white drawing paper.
On the third day I had my students cut their paper from the first day (the trees) along the pencil lines to create 3 trunks. Then had them cut a really skinny rectangle from their widest trunk. This piece was divided into 4 smaller pieces to create the branches. Students then picked a sheet of 15"x12" colored construction paper to use for their backgrounds and glued their trees to it.
On the fourth day I had a really short class period with my students (only 20 minutes because I had to take them to the winter assembly), so I gave them a container of white tempera and had them use the back of their paintbrush to create "snow" dots on their page.
Finally on the fifth and final day students got back their textured painted paper and cut out shapes to create birds. The only thing I gave to the students to help them with this was a main body template (teardrop shape) to ensure that they made the body of their birds big enough. All other details they created entirely on their own.

I can't wait to do this project again with another group when we get back from winter break! So cute! :)


Winter 2014 Projects! (K-5)

Ahhhh I love this time of year! Family, friends, and winter-themed art projects! :)
Just wanted to give you guys a sneak peek of the things going on in the art room this week! I'll be doing full write-ups on the projects I haven't already posted on later (once I collect some more images)!

Kindergarten: Winter Penguins
1st Grade: Gingerbread House Collage (last week)

1st Grade: Gingerbread Houses (last week)

1st Grade: Winter Bird and Birch Tree Collage (this is NOT my image - just an example of what I'm doing)
This image belongs to "A Day in the Life of this Art Teacher"

2nd Grade: Winter Value Landscapes (see post from last year)

3rd Grade: Watercolor-resist Snowflake Paintings

4th Grade: Birds-Eye-View Snowman (see post from last year)

5th Grade: Origami Trees

5th Grade: Value Lights (see post from last year)

Annnddd for this year's classroom door decorations -
A collaboration between me and the teacher next door! Okay, okay - it was mostly her. My contribution to this was the brown paper and the "icing" around our door windows. :)

Annndddddddd a sneak peek of this week in winter-themed baking! I've decided to make treats for my fellow teachers everyday this week. So far I made Oreo Snowmen on a Stick and Santa Hat Trail Mix. Still to come is Melting Snowmen Cookies, Holiday Light Cookies, Candy Cane'd Chocolate Marshmallows, and Holiday Pretzel Rods.

Monday: Oreo Snowmen on a Stick

Tuesday: Santa Hat Trail Mix

Wednesday: Holiday Light Cookies

Thursday: Assorted Chocolate Pretzels


Birds-Eye-View Snowman II (4th)

This is another repeat of a project I did last year. Just wanted to share the pictures! If you want the full step-by-step (which is pretty thorough).. follow this link!

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