Saturday, November 17, 2018

Merry Christmas Art Lesson Directions Bundle

I put together a bundle of my K-2  Catholic School Christmas Art Lessons directions.  As I mention in the description, the end products aren't very unique from one another when they are finished, but they are cute when done in the children's own hands. 
It's the constant struggle of "step-by-step do this and it will look awesome" vs. "have at it kid".  The end results of these three lessons come out fantastic for my K-1s especially.  I know my second graders can do more riveting things.  Parents love them and tend to purchase lots of things on Artsonia, which makes me happy.  Plus, we do learn valuable skills along the way.  Think of it as process and skills over product.  That helps me sleep better.

See more in our Artsonia Galleries:

Friday, November 16, 2018

Shaded nutcrackers in time for Christmas! With Directions and a Rubric.

I finally got my nutcrackers in a project that I actually like!

Several years ago I came across the tutorial on Art Projects for Kids on drawing nutcrackers.  I varied the lesson each time I taught it, but was never happy with the results.  I would like the children to personalize their nutcrackers, but they would come out looking like mutant robots.  I started adding shading with oil pastels to the mix, then we had these nutcrackers with no background and a mystery light source... or worse, A CORNER SUN!
This is my daughter's.  It is a mutant robot dancer "nutcracker" floating in the abyss.

I passed out the directions to my fourth graders, as well as the nutcracker tutorial from above.  In the directions, I ask the students to follow the instructions on the tutorial, but before they start drawing too many details  I stop them.
I pass out the Nutcracker Brainstorm page next.  We talk about how the artists who designed these nutcrackers wanted them to all look unique.  Some had occupations, some were royalty, some had beautiful patterns and designs on them (the handout is 2 sided).  We talk about ways we can turn our nutcracker into a me-cracker.  Which - quite frankly - is hilarious, because the rest of the hour I have kids asking me if their project is a "me-cracker," and I respond with, "yeah, that's a you-cracker!"

When the you-crackers are drawn and traced, and colored with oil pastel, we actually DO draw a corner sun on the right side of our papers.  I make a huge deal about it and pretend like I am having a heart attack and my hair is falling out because of all the corner suns, but alas - for our art - I carry on! I tell them about the corner sun being the light source and how we are going to add shadow to the other side/left of our nutcrackers.

I demonstrate how to smear their oil pastels, and we talk about which parts, cracks, and crevices might have a shadow and which might not.

Once their is a shadow, there may be a glare. The nutcrackers are probably wood and lacquer so they might have a shiny spot!  We add that with our white.

Here is the genius part of this whole lesson.  I printed photographs of burning candles on 11 x 17" paper.  I just downloaded some stuff I found on the web, and printed on the Xerox machine in black and white.  Now, these are Christmassy, and the one is an advent wreath (I teach in a Catholic School 2 days).  I printed 6 of each and let the students choose which one they wanted.

Finally, students cut & paste, and we had our finished product.  I was so pleased to have finished looking nutcrackers for once!

Finally, students completed the Rubric for this project.  See the rest of the class at

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Notan Leaves in Complementary Colors with slideshow, video, directions, and rubric!

Notan Design! It's a classic fourth grade art project. Isn't it? I have never once in my many years of teaching ever taught Notan design, but I saw this pin and thought, ooooh this looks cool.

My fourth graders had just finished up this seriously long color spectrum painting project, so we did not paint our papers, but perhaps in the future, this will be a nice twist. We discussed positive and negative space, which was also discussed in our color spectrum project, and learned about Notan Design from this slideshow. Okay, I always fess up that I am a picture stealer from the web. I'm not selling anything, I'm just resharing what is already out there...however this time, I'm resharing another slideshow that I worked into my slideshow to make it work for me. It was from SlideShare. I edited to my needs, and do give credit at the end. By the way, my fourth grader's heads' just about EXPLODED when they saw the face in the vase pictures. They were mesmerized. This was about 10 minutes of our whole discussion.
I passed out instructions, and every child was super confused. I knew this was going to be a tough one for some friends to grasp, so I made another video.

The kids were super impressed that I drew my leaf in one shot on the tracer without sketching, mistakes, and erasing.  Pro-tip- I had it drawn in white colored pencil on the paper first.

Students made their tracers first.  The project isn't about the tracers though, it is about the positive and negative space and complementary colors.  I had about 6 students struggling to get any semblance of a leaf on their card and offered "pre-made" tracers to the entire class at the very end of the hour. That small handful took me up on the offer.  My only intention here was to not have them already turned off from the project after the first step.

We folded and traced onto the colored paper.  The trickiest part is the cutting, like I showed in the video, it's easy to forget what you are doing and just start cutting.  But don't. Make sure students cut on the fold first!  Then cut our their shapes.  After that it is pretty easy peasy.

A few kids had a hard time figuring out the positive and negative parts, but overall it was smooth sailing.

The last day we went over our rubrics all together.  
Here are a few completed pieces:

Check out our entire gallery on Artsonia.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Spoopy (spooky) Silhouettes - Printable Lesson, Tacer, & Clipart for Halloween

Last year I was asked to leave an art project for the 5-8th grade to do during their Halloween Party/free time afternoon.  Unlike what sometimes happens, I did not get a classroom full of kiddos in head-to-toe costume dropped off to have art class in lieu of their party...or after their party.  

I did not want to leave something lame, but I didn't want to leave anything too involved since I wasn't going to be there.  Hence, Spoopy Silhouettes was born.

It's a classic Pinterest project.  All I've done is put it into one nice downloadable package for you. This is a nice one to do on Halloween when you do have to teach, but you don't dare touch those beautiful landscapes the kids have been working on for weeks, or get out the chalk pastel self-portraits.

The lesson includes:
2 page printable instructions
1 tracer
10 pages of halloween clipart - from the internet, I just curated them for this project.  I did not draw them!

You will need:
Coffee filters
Watercolor Paints & supplies
Black Construction Paper
Sharpie Marker
We put our coffee filters on the air vents to dry quickly! 

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Abstract after Kandinsky - First Grade Lesson with video and printable directions!

I enjoy teaching about Wassily Kandinsky's art mostly because I like to play Flight of the Valkyries for the first graders and kind of scare them a little. I read that Wagner was a favorite composer of Kandinsky's, so I go with it.
 I also like the kids to pretend like they have synesthesia to an extent.  I want them to learn about lines, line qualities, shapes, and colors.  I don't actually care if they "feel" the music in a classroom setting of 23 first graders, or I'd end up with 23 scribble scrabbled brown and green "masterpieces".  Not my jam. Feel the music at home, kid.
I like to show the Mati and Dada Video about Kandinsky to start off the lesson.  Most of these videos are pretty great because they show just enough information to keep the kids entertained and then end.  Whoever decided 7 minutes was enough art history in cartoon form was a genius. If you watch these on YouTube, definitely bring the link over to ViewPure though.  These videos are cluttered with pop ups!!  Also, if you've watched nearly all of them like I have, there is a formula that they follow that the kids haven't picked up onto yet.  Literally the same thing happens in every episode with a different artist, different media.... anyway.

This year I made my OWN little video demonstration of the entire lesson.  I make goofy voices. It's how I teach.  If you want to see the whole lesson in action:

When I do actually start to teach the lesson, as mentioned above, there are some limitations.  Even so, no two projects look the same, and the kids are still learning what I'm trying to teach.  There is also a direction sheet for this lesson.  Direction sheets are great for students to see what they are supposed to be doing, and what is coming next.  It is not a step-by-step-do-it-this-way-or-the-highway page, it is just additional guidance.  Plus, when you get kids saying "what am I supposed to do now?"  You can say, "Read the directions!"

This lesson ended up being spread out over several weeks for my class because of holidays and field trips.  To review the information I showed the class a video of someone reading the book "The Noisy Paint Box."  It is cute and gives some nice information about Kandinsky's life, work, and inspirations.

Here are some pictures from my friends painting on day one:

I was a little nervous on our last day when I passed out the black oil pastels for our super black-thick-black-outlines.  I was suddenly seeing little black finger prints all over the place. However, I needn't worry.  I started hearing music as I photographed the finished pieces!  

See the rest in our Artsonia Gallery!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Alma Thomas Radial Design Rainbows with Slideshow and Directions

First grade learned about the color spectrum and the colors of the rainbow by looking at the art of Alma Thomas. I started by sharing this little slideshow about the artist and her art. We discussed her color paintings and specifically what colors she used, and sometimes what colors she used them in. We started our own Alma Thomas inspired rainbow collage with construction paper. To mix it up a little bit, I told them they could start in the middle with one square, like it says on the directions... but it didn't have to be red. For whatever reason this made the place go bonkers. I said if they didn't feel comfortable mixing it up, they should use red, but if they were up to a challenge they could use a different color. It was a sneaky way to differentiate. Then on the board I wrote:

Roy G. Biv   and we talked about what each one of those initials meant.

Then I wrote:
Oyg B. Ivr
Ygb I. Vro
Gbi V. Roy
Biv R. Oyg
Ivr O. Ygb
Vro Y. Gbi

The pressure was on doing that in front of a bunch of 6 & 7 year olds and not making a mistake.  I did in fact make a mistake and a kid caught it.

The students just had to look at the rainbow order that they actually started with to complete the rest of their collage.  I had the strips of paper up front in traditional rainbow order as well to help them.

Here is the link to my artsonia gallery for this project. And here are some great ones!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Pumpkins in Chalk Pastel Complete Lesson with video, slide show, rubric, directions, & more!

My third graders rocked the pastel chalk pumpkins this year.  It is one of those classic lessons that isn't too difficult to get awesome results, but admittedly, sometimes they "get" it and sometimes they don't.

First, before I get into the actual lesson, I want to bring something to the attention of the art teachers out there.  This first pumpkin was outlined with traditional Elmer's glue.

This pumpkin below was outlined with Jot, AKA Dollar Tree glue.

Under normal circumstances, I despise the Jot because of it's glossy, and honestly, not as adherent and liquidy quality, but in this instance it is amazeballs!  I love the way that turned out.  

I have Jot in one of the schools I teach in because the students bring in supplies to donate to the art room and about 2/3rds of the kids purchase the kits where I have dictated the brands etc...and the other 1/3rd bring in rando things.  Sometimes rando things are okay.  They'll bring in amazing artist quality pastels that I would've never asked for, or super nice sketchbooks for their cubby, but sometimes you end up with Jot glue.

Back to chalk pumpkins.  I began this lesson with a slideshow where we discussed still life objects, and what makes up a still life.  I am completely honest about stealing images off the internet for my slideshows for educational purposes.

The second part of the slide show discusses analogous colors, but I usually save that until after the drawing part of our project is done.

I have been using direction pages a lot this year.  They have been great for when kids are not paying attention, kids who need a little extra help, and for the kids who are constantly asking what they are supposed to be doing.  Sorry, this one isn't the best quality.  It was before I learned I had to use a 5B pencil to write it out!  Anyway, the directions page shows the kids how to draw the pumpkin.  I draw with them too.  Like I said, the direction page just help keeps them on track.  It's not a substitute for my teaching.

As they drew the additional objects in their still life, I had little items for them to look at set out around the room.  Some kids did just take ideas from their imaginations though, which I said was OK.  I tried not dissuade them from anything Halloweeny though, simply because our art shows at both schools are in the Spring, and pumpkins will look okay, but jack-o-lanterns will look out of my place in my opinion.

Once we have our still life drawn, I have a video of me adding glue and color to my project.  It is about 5 minutes and gives those visual learners a little extra nudge to see what it is exactly we are going to be doing.

The practice coloring sheet isn't really necessary.  They could just practice on one of the pumpkins they practiced drawing. However; my kids usually practice in their sketchbooks, and it got kind of messy last year.  So, this year they practiced on this pumpkin, but I printed the rubric/assessment page on the back...and well....when I went to grade projects it was also very messy.

Timing wise, this project may have it's issues.  The gluing of the black paper has to be done the week prior to using the pastel - so if you end up with a weird time thing - I sometimes have them put a glue outline on their practice papers too.

Besides the video, I did go step-by-step through their practice page on how to mix the colors.  I walked around as they did the rest to see if there were any major issues.

As mentioned above, I had great success with this project this year!  I hope you do to!  Check out my school Artsonia galleries below.

Holy Trinity School Third Grade

Elm School Third Grade