Friday, February 24, 2012

A Different Kind of Portrait

I am most like my bird Snow on my shelf because I want to be free, I want to be adventurous, I love to sing.   I am also like the baseball because I am strong, powerful, hard.          Melissa, grade 3

What objects would you gather to tell the story of  your life experience? Would it be an old photo of your grandparents, a treasured letter, or maybe a pair of shoes that bring back memories of that long summer?  In this lesson, the cupboard became a vessel on which to place these items held dear.

I am most like the soccer ball because I am fast, strong and black like the soccer ball.  I am also like gold because I am cool like gold.
Maverick, grade 3

I am most like the cell phone because I am smart  like the cell phone, strong like the cell phone and unbreakable
like the cell phone.  I am also like the candle on my shelf because I am bright like the candle.
Amer, grade 3

I am most like the Rockets poster on my shelf because I am strong like a bull.  I run fast like a lion and flexible like clay.
I am also like the mountains on my shelf because I am an artist.  
Ian, grade 3

Although most self-portraits have the artist's image, some do not, as we can see in Vincent van Gogh's Chair With His Pipe


Class Discussion/Process:


Describe the chair - looks handmade, looks old, simple, may be from the past
Describe the room- floor looks like it's from another place, tile, not very many decorations, simple


What clues can you find that may tell us about this artist?  - pipe/smoker, only one chair so this person may live alone, not very wealthy because there isn't anything fancy

Now compare to Gauguin's chair


This is the handout that I passed out on how to draw a cupboard.  It is not perfectly drawn as that was my intention.  I  wanted them to understand the goal was the journey thus all the parts would come together beautifully  in the end.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Beyond Invented Insects

This was an amazing lesson-
Inventing Insects

As they were painting,  I encouraged them to name their insect, based on the characteristics.    I decided to tap into their musical intelligence by having them compose a sound for their insect.  How could that sound be symbolized?
 They could map it! (video above) One thing that blew me away was seeing the collaboration among students.  Transcending any limitations of spoken language, the map became the tool of communication.  And in its use, students traveled from the abstract to the concrete and back again.  What a journey!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Inventing Insects

1st Grade Invented Insects
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I think insects are such an engaging subject for study.  Did you know there are nearly 1 million known species? Ah, but this lesson is not about the known species, it's about the unknown species.
To deepen our understanding of this amazing part of life,   I'm planning on doing a few lessons on insects but just vary the media .  

great insect source here

We started by discussing how artists often find inspiration from nature.  We looked at images of parks and forests and talked about what you might hear or see there.  This led us to the world of insects. Adult insects have the following characteristics: 6 legs, 2 or 4 wings,  a segmented body including a head, thorax, and abdomen, antennae, proboscis and eyes.
 I demonstrated painting the 3 body parts first and then going back to add eyes, antennae, legs, wings, etc.  A  wonderfully challenging  part of this lesson is for the kids to free themselves up and create a new species of insect.  Many of the students also gave their insect an amusing name.

This is one of my favorite sites: Encyclopedia of Life

Location: Europe > Portugal > Algarve  Date Photo Taken: August 19, 2007  Info:...

Friday, February 3, 2012


Winning the Corn Festival Race
1st Grade Student

I love this celebration artwork because it makes you visually anticipate what's going to happen next.
Kindergarten Student.
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Happy Day
4th Grade Student

This is the celebration of the departure of the Titanic.
3rd Grade Student

Concept: Celebrations
Essential Questions:
Why do we celebrate?  Who celebrates? How do we celebrate? How does art help us understand celebrations from other cultures and our own?  Is it important to celebrate? Do celebrations bring us closer as a whole?

That's how we started this lesson, by looking at celebratory artworks throughout history and sharing our own stories of celebrations.  I tried this lesson with various classes from K-4th.  I must say it was successful at each grade level because the students were able to connect the concept of celebrations to their own life experience and what is important to them.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I Give You My Heart

Don't you love how K and 1 students just throw themselves into their art?
   It was all smiles and anticipation as soon as the kids saw the enormous Jim Dine heart on my screen.
 Today they were going to paint a heart for someone special.

 Jim Dine Hearts Paintings

link to Jim Dine source


  1. For Kinder, I lightly drew a heart to get them started.
  2. We looked at Jim Dine's Month of June Hearts and noticed how each heart was just flooded with colors.
  3. I demonstrated how to paint  in a sort of "scribble scrabble" method  to fill in the heart and then the background.  
  4. Wait for them to dry about 5 minutes  (the kids just kind of waved their pictures around).
  5. Use the chalk over the paint and blend with your fingers.  

Limit the colors to about  3, otherwise they may get muddy.
These are 9x12 on watercolor paper.
A wonderful thing about this lesson is exploring the potential of materials.  With that said,
use paper that can take a beating because they will keep going and going and...