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Tessellation Monsters 2.0 (5th)

Once upon a time (in my first year of teaching), I taught a tessellation project to my 4th grade students. Just like any good fairy tale, at some point things took a turn for the worse. As great as some of the projects turned out, I was exhausted by the amount of hovering it required me to do as a teacher and left me yearning for a different project. But again, just like any good fairy tale, this story has a happy ending... After taking a 3 year break from tessellations, I have finally made my comeback with an awesome tessellation project for my 5th grade students. Yayyyy!


Winter Pine Tree Paintings (2nd)

It's beginning to feel like the most wonderful time of the year again.. and you know what that means - WINTER-THEMED ART PROJECTS!

Guys.. this is what I live for! There is something about working on winter art projects that just puts me in a better mood. It takes me to my happy place - a place filled with scarfs, Starbucks coffee, Christmas lights, family time, and 2 weeks off of work! And while all these things might still be a little while off.. it sure doesn't feel like that in my classroom! :)

This whole project came about as I was trying to find a quick 2-day replacement project for my 2nd grade students this rotation. I'm taking two days off to take a trip to the mountains with my hubby.. so I knew there was not enough time to do my usual Winter Value Landscapes project during this rotation. So I hoped onto Pinterest and found this inspiration.


Still Kickin'!

Well it's clear that I must have been in hibernation because I haven't written in two months! Yikes!
I gotta tell you guys.. I've had quite a bit going on!
First off I FINALLY moved into my new construction home in August and have been unpacking things literally for the past month (my new office is still a war zone).
AND... I'd been feeling a little under the weather for the past.. ehhhh let's say about 13 weeks?
But that's just because of the baby. :)



YES! Mrs. Nguyen is having a baby!

I am so beyond excited about having another little one. My existing son is about to turn 8 years old this month.. so he's been waiting a LONG time for a sibling!
And to top things off - we got to find out the gender really early!
Guys.. science is amazing. Like really. 2 vials of blood from me and the lab was able to determine the baby's likelihood of inheriting any genetic diseases AND could tell me the gender.

So without further adieu...

Brody's getting a baby brother!


Clay Architecture II (3rd)

To read the background for this post click here!


Cup Stacking

It's the end of the year. You've already cleaned up your classroom and you are done making messes.....buttttt you still have a few classes to teach. What to do - what to do?


I know this isn't a new thing.. but man is it effective. Break your class up into a couple teams and give them a ton of plastic or paper cups.. then let them go wild.
Who can build the biggest tower? Who can build a bridge? Who can build a castle?

The best part is when the cups come tumbling down - which will inevitably happen. The kids go crazy!
It's the happiest I've ever seen them in my classroom without paint or clay everywhere. :)


My Dirt

I'm going to begin by apologizing for not blogging as often lately. I've been a little bit distracted.
We all know the end of the school year is crazy.. but it's even crazier when you throw building a house on top of that!
My husband and I are building our first house - which is so incredibly exciting AND so much paperwork! Just when you think you're done signing stuff or fetching documents... nope.
I realize that many of you wonderful art teachers already own homes, so this may not be as exciting of an announcement for you (also perhaps because I'm some random art teacher), but I just wanted to share it!

I've driven by our lot 10000 times already and I'm pretty sure both my husband and son think I'm insane. Our lot is still a pile of dirt and weeds, so every time I drive by I eagerly check to see if anything has changed. It hasn't. Construction hasn't even started yet.. and won't for another week or so. Sooooooo I really don't know why I expect it to.  ;)  Again.. I'm insane.

"My Dirt" as my sister calls it.
We just recently has our appointment at the design center to pick out our design selections. I think I'm in love!
The brick color in the image below might be a little off.. but it's super close to that.

Though it isn't represented in the picture above, I think the very best part about this new house is going to be my walk-in-closet. You guys.. it's like the size of my son's entire bedroom. LEGITTTT.

Also - the covered back patio complete with a ceiling fan. I'm so excited to sit outside without having to be directly under that hot Georgian sun (too bad I can't escape the humidity).

Anywho.. so that's what's going on with me.
On the bright side - I am so behind in posting my latest lessons on here, that I am pretty much set for content for this summer's blog posts! :)

Emoji Soft Sculptures (5th)

This lesson started off by me showing my students a PowerPoint presentation which introduced the Pop Art movement and some of its major artists. I really emphasized that Pop Artists wanted to connect to everyday people, so their subject matter reflected the pop culture of the time (movie stars, advertisements, comic strips, food items, etc.). People saw their work, recognized it, and connected with it (a BIG difference from Abstract Expressionism).
Then we began talking about popular things in our culture today - which of course lead to talk of iPods, iPads, video games, Instagram, Facebook, texting, and a slew of other apps I'm sure I'm not cool enough to know about. It hits hard when you don't even know what your students are talking about - I used to know it all!
I explained that emojis are also a great example of contemporary pop art because they are super recognizable and relevant to the tech-savvy time we live in.
Then we looked at a few different (emotion) emojis and talked about what they meant. Then I asked students what they would mean if they were used in a different context.
So for example, the emoji with one eye closed and its tongue sticking out. On its own my students said it meant "crazy." Then I asked them what they thought it meant if it were sent with a text message that said something like, "I hate you." The words on their own sound mean and hurtful, but when sent with the emoji, they become almost endearing - clearly not meant to be serious.
Emojis can help to provide context to written words, like in the previous example, or they can be used decoratively in a fun illustrative manner.
As visual people ourselves, I think art educators are in an amazing position to teach our students about the power of this type of visual imagery and its effectiveness in communicating more meaningful messages.
Once we were done talking about the symbolism of emojis, we began talking about what soft sculptures are. I told my students that they would be creating their own double-sided emoji soft sculptures using felt and yarn.
Guys I gotta say - I love it! I used to do an angry birds sewing project with my 5th graders, but decided to change things up this year to keep the project super relevant to my student's interests. They were crazy engaged during this lesson!

Prior to deciding to do emojis (and the decision was made pre-happy meal) I was planning on doing Minecraft Soft Sculptures with my kids. If you are interested in that lesson, click on the image below to go to my TPT store. :)


Goodbye Dear Friend

Tragedy often strikes when we least expect it. 
One second everything is just fine, then the next it's not.
It makes you think about the things that really matter in life and reminds you to always hold close those special moments in time. 
Oftentimes we take things for granted and don't even realize how special something is until it's viciously taken away.
I don't think I'll ever understand how they could do it - living with such disregard.

With that being said, I'm so sad to announce that at approximately 9:39am this past Friday morning - my sweet beautiful area rug was (figuratively) taken away from me - splattered in blue tempera paint.

It's hard not to close my eyes and still see the bright blue pigment strewn across my classroom floor.
Why oh why did you have to be in the way that day. 

The worst part is that the 7-year old offenders got away - never punished for their crimes. An "accident" they said.

Goodbye dear friend.


Textured Clay Initials Project (2nd)

I'm always on the lookout for simply yet awesome clay projects - and this one is inspired by Cassie Stephens!

On the first day I went through my now standard "Journey of Clay" PowerPoint with my students and we talked about the four main ways of building with clay: slab, coil, pinching, and wheel.
Afterwards I showed my students how to use my slab roller to flatten their chunk of clay into a lovely "sheet of clay" (aka - slab), then each student got to try it out themselves.
Once they had their slab, students cut any shape they wanted into their clay and then pressed some texture into it (I have a ga'gillion texture plates now - I went a little crazy on Amazon). Once they had that done I had them put up their clay, clean up their spot, then wash their hands.
On the second day I demo'ed how to roll out a coil, create a letter, and then properly attach it to a slab using the score and slip method. Students could create 1-3 letters to add to their slab. Then they used a straw to poke two holes into the top of their slab (to hang them later).
After a few days of drying out, I bisque fired the clay in my kiln.

Then during my students next rotation (about a month later) we got down to decorating!
I wasn't sure what I wanted my kids to paint with. Normally we just use tempera, but I was worried that it might cover up the texture too much, so instead we used oil pastels and watercolor paints. It's a technique that I've always wanted to try anyways, so I thought what the heck.
Once their clay pieces were dry, students added pipe cleaners and beads to make their clay slab into a lovely hanging decoration.


NAEA Webinar!

I'm so excited to announce that I will be one of three art educators presenting during an NAEA 'Snapshot: Best Practices' webinar on April 19th, 2016!
If you've never registered for one of these webinars before - you should check it out! They are free for NAEA members ($49 for non-members) and you can get an hour worth of professional development credit from NAEA! 
The other two presenters will be Nichole Hahn (from Mini Matisse) and Debra Pylypiw.

To give you a taste of what the presentations will be about:

Nichole Hahn: The Connect Effect is powerful with Art! Explore how art can create connections within the schools, between students, classes, and disciplines. Make community connections through artists in residence, authors, illustrators, and dance groups. Art can connect a student to something as big as a global art trade and something as small as a personal connection shown in their personal exploration.

Debra Pylypiw: All-County Art—Highlight Your Most Talented Students! Have you ever looked at the music program's All-County, All-District, and All-State programs and wondered how you could give the same recognition to your talented visual artists? Learn about this successful program in North Carolina that does just this! Find ideas for developing an honors program in your school system.

Melinda Nguyen: Organize Your Classroom and Optimize Success! Give your classroom management a boost with great organization! Learn about an organizational system implemented in an art classroom used by 1,000 students, optimizing instructional time and teacher sanity. 

Please consider joining us on April 19th from 7:00-8:00pm EST!
I'm so exited to have been chosen for this opportunity! 

Succulent Garden Still Lifes (5th)

Guys.. I've been so excited to post about this project!
I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE my 5th graders work! So beautiful! And best thing is that they were super proud of it too!
The subject of this artwork was 100% inspired by some art I found on Pinterest that linked back to the Jamestown Elementary Art Blog. If you're not already a follower - you need to be! Those ladies are absolutely fantastic at what they do!
I just added my own flair to it. :)

So to begin with we looked at a PowerPoint I put together about how Southwestern Native American art and its influence on more contemporary art from the region. Then we briefly talked about the harsh climate of the region and how it limits the type of vegetation that can survive there.
Afterwards I had my students do a practice succulent still life with me on a sheet of copy paper.
Once they were comfortable, they created their own final design on a piece of watercolor paper (some chose to use the arrangement from their practice drawing). Then they outlined in sharpie marker, colored in with oil pastels, and blended with baby oil.
Once all that was done, we finished up by painting the background with liquid watercolor paints.

This friend didn't get to finish his work - but I love how technical it was looking!

If you are interested in the full version of this lesson, please check out my Teachers pay Teachers store! The package in my store includes fully written teacher directions with pictures, student samples, the PowerPoint presentation with all the background info, and an instructional video to help your students will drawing their still-lifes! :)

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