Like most people I know there are times my kids need a quiet activity, whether to calm down at the end of a rambunctious game or to help them wake up in the A.M. - I took ideas from a wide variety of schools of thought and started to have these, what some people would call invitations to play out on a table every so often. I think this would also work wonderfully in an art room as an "after activity", especially as a way to introduce new materials or techniques.
Over winter break I started to lay out materials and tools on simple white trays.
There were a variety of different activities over the two weeks, mostly seasonal. My kids gravitated towards them throughout the day for different intervals of time.
Whether my kids complete them in the way I intended is up to them. Unlike what I understand to be the Montessori school of thought, I don't care if my kids do what I thought they would with the material. For example, I thought Auggie would enjoy pouring the rice back and forth between the pitchers; which he did. But then when some spilled out he asked for a spoon to put it back into the pitchers, and then he just started playing with the rice as a sensory experience, all A-okay with me.
Above are some of the setups we used over winter break. I took inspiration from the Montessori approach of setup and used a blank canvas of a white tray to keep it clean, for visual and practical reason. Over the weeks I learned to put anything that could be easily spilled (water, rice, etc,) in a higher rimmed tray. I had a great clear acrylic tray from the container store that worked wonderfully.
What invitations to play have you had success with, have you placed any in your home or in your classroom?
I put together a small, very short, VERY basic handout on watercolors for my adult class that started this week. And, it got me thinking, why didn't I do this for my elementary students?
I have always felt that more elementary art teachers should be taking advantage of watercolor paint and teaching more advanced concepts to kids, rather than just using it as a paint choice to fill in color. The very basics of watercolor technique, flat and gradient washes, wet into wet, wet on dry, and glazing techniques lend lots of room for great lessons on color theory and paint application that, in my experience, lead to great results.
I tried something new with my third graders this year.
I wanted to reinforce old watercolor skills with this particular group of students but also introduce new technique. And, I didn't want it to take forever. We had a discussion about how one would workout to keep up a strength, just as an athlete would workout particular body parts, artists must keep practicing to keep up their good habits and skill.
We filled out the watercolor workout below. We went over each technique together. The following week when they dried, students were asked to "bulk up" on the skills that they needed more practice on. They referred to their original workouts and grabbed scrap watercolor paper to practice those skills that they were weakest. We then quickly moved on to our watercolor paintings with students keeping their workout around to refer back to, whenever they needed it. What do you do to have students brush up on skills?
I was on the hunt for a new color wheel project to reinforce primary and secondary colors this week. I wanted something fun that they could use to review and remember their color mixing. I found some old colored gel laying around and created this color wheel necklace. It was a big hit with my own kids so I had classes make them as well. I used color cellophane with students I I ran out of the old gels) They were a big hit and easy to make.
I prepped ahead of time by cutting square pieces of cardstock 2.5x2.5" and cutting the colored cellophane 2x2". Kids punched the holes using large punches common in scrapbooking and glued the cellophane between the panels. They then punched holes and threaded them on string to hang around their neck.
We completed an activity following where we challenged one another on color mixing questions.
Every time I go to order for my art room I spend too much time second guessing myself on what I need. I start writing up the order at school, finish it at home and then ultimately mis-order in some way. I thought to save time in the future I would fill out a quick inventory to help me complete my order when I returned to my comfy couch. I typed up this Art Room Inventory to use this year to aide me in being better at ordering. Feel free to download it by following this link.
What did I miss? Is there anything on the inventory that you order every year that I missed? I'm always looking for new and cool stuff!
In my opinion, organization is key in an art room. It makes the year flow smoothly and keeps me sane. Keeping track of student's artwork over the course of a year is a big piece of that organization test. I have found that storing completed artwork in labeled boxes according to grade level and filed by class works the best for me and my students.
I label boxes at the start of the year by grade level along with cut sheets of chip board with the individual classes labeled inside each box. As students complete projects they get added to the correct "file".
I did something really smart this year and timed it right so when we returned from winter break all my students made a portfolio. These were labeled and filed in each appropriate class and then filled with their previous projects. I will continue to add completed artwork to their portfolios as the year progresses. At the end of the year kids will take their complete portfolio home to share with family and friends. This also makes a GREAT sub plan! Don't waste precious class time making them and an easy to leave behind plan with minimal supplies and prep. Feel free to snag the pdf sub plan in the Shop up top and use for your own sub plans!
1. Fold a 18x24" paper in half
2. Take two 12x4.5" colored papers and fold them in half
I like to have each grade level have a specific color to better keep track.
3. Glue the folded color paper to the edges of the white paper.
Leave a little gap in between white folder and colored paper to allow for 9x12" papers ot fit in easily.
4. Label the edges with grade and class and names.
I was so taken with Catherine Rayner's illustrations when I stumbled across a few on the world wide web. I did a little digging until I connected her beautiful watercolor sketches to her website which can be found here: www.catherinerayner.co.uk.
Catherine is an award winning author and illustrator. Her artwork features mostly animals and showcases her amazing ability to coax and entice watercolors to make the most amazing color and texture combinations.
She was a perfect artist to explore with my classes when I needed a simple project that highlighted the different values that you could achieve with watercolor. First grade has been talking about authors and illustrators in their classroom and it was a great tie in where they had already been talking about the likes of Beatrix Potter and Leo Leonni in their homeroom.
I find art sub plans to be very difficult. I never know what substitute I'm going to get, what their comfort level with art is or if they will follow through with what I've left behind. I've had a few bad experiences where I left behind our project in progress only to return finding that we had to scrap it because the sub had given incorrect directions or not followed through with the plan.
I never want to "waste" that precious hour time that I only get once a week with classes and have struggled with coming up with valid art lessons, geared toward curriculum, 21st century learning, and enjoyable for students and the substitute.
Today, I found success!!
Please Excuse the Mess
I'm slowly transferring blog posts from my previous website thebeeskneescousin.com It's taking a considerable amount of time to sort through things. Thanks for your patience.