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?
Brush Lettering is all over pinterest, target, and the holidays is general. It's a great activity for older kids through adults. I encourage you to try it in your classroom using crayola markers, you can get some awesome results and it's what I always start out all my students on (even the adults). If you have the budget for brush letter pens or the means to have them donated or brought in by students below are the brands and types that I like the best.
One of the biggest tasks of running an art program is ordering and managing the mountains of supplies. Being a fairly organized person, I developed this Art Room Inventory a few years back to help streamline my ordering and keep me abreast of what I had and how much remained.
I wrote a blog post about it back in 2014, you can find that here.
Now that I've left public education (for now) and embarked on teaching in a small studio environment I still manage and order supplies but the types and amounts have changed greatly. I have classes from toddlers to adults so the type and quality of supplies varies greatly, making the variety of materials that I order much more than when I was teaching in a traditional school environment. I also order a lot less quantity due to me teaching in much smaller groups.
I revised my inventory to be reflective of the studio mentality versus a traditional elementary school classroom, as seen below. (If you're interested in the Art Classroom version, check it here)
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?
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've attempted figure drawing in grade school a few times ... it's been ... what I would categorize as, unsuccessful.
Until - I had a lightbulb idea to approach figure drawing through the eyes of the artist, Keith Haring. Such a better, more successful idea! Kids found it fun and "easy", I found it fun and rewarding! We started by viewing the artwork of Keith Haring and learning a bit about him and his life and work habits.
In my search for information on common core and how it will influence fine arts education I've been looking deeper into assessment.
I've developed a rubric that I've been fairly satisfied with so far and have been using for about 5 years. I use the rubric at the completion of a project with 3-5 graders and it includes a checklist of expectations, a self assessment table, and usually a few short answer questions. An example of one can be seen here.
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.