Most posts have video which may require a computer to see.

Monday, December 31, 2012

From Ordinary to Extraordinary Drawing

One of the things an art teacher tries to do is have students look at things from a different perspective. It may be a different viewpoint or just to put things together that they didn't think of. Students were handed a brand new #2 pencil to study and then were able to choose a bird that would be made out of pencils. These are the work of my Holy Family students from Whitefish Bay, WI. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

6th Grade Block Printing

6th grade classes have been working on block prints. Some of the students had to carve a fairly hard linoleum, but most got to work on the easy cut carving material. They had to draw either a bird, flower, fish, or butterfly from book resources. None of the drawings was traced because the books and the carving materials were not the same size. Students transferred their drawings by rubbing the graphite onto the carving material. They then used sharp gouges to carve away the negative spaces and leave behind the positive. Each carved plate was printed using a brayer to roll the ink onto the plate and then rubbing the paper covered inked plate with a barren. The best carving can be ruined by using too little or too much ink, so the students practiced a few test prints before using the marbleized papers.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Learning Form Through Clay

Many of our families do not have the means to have art supplies in the home and all kids need to have tactile experiences with art supplies. I try to provide at least two 30 min. classes where students just get a chance to interact with the clay with no objectives or expectation. This was done under the radar because although sound art education, I would have failed any formal observation because I didn't interrupt kids by asking questions or requiring a final product. The art room should be a social arena where kids learn to share and help each other with their personal explorations.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

"Elf" Yourself!

After simple cartooning exercises using a SMART Board game, I decided that it would be fun to do something inspired by a current holiday movie with really cute elves. As an early literacy connection for very young kids, I had them turn a simple block capital letter into an elf. Later I put them together into holiday greetings so they could see how they could be used.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Learning to Sew

Since the kids were no longer allowed to do any holiday crafts in the classroom, and I didn't usually do such things, I decided to integrate it into my fibers lesson. Along with weaving, I wanted to make sure they knew how to sew something simple. It was a rush job because several classes were cut for various reasons, but it was something fun to do that classroom teachers were almost forbidden from doing because of the focus on testing.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Character Counts Zentangle

This assignment was a tie to the Character Counts curriculum which was implemented to instill positive character traits into the students. Kids chose a short word and carefully lettered it onto a large piece of paper. Then they divided the letters into sections they could add zentangle patterns to. Watercolor washes were added for an added element of color.

Dia De Los Muertos MIM Reception

Because we agreed to create an ofrenda display for deceased musicians for the Musical Instrument Museum, we were treated to a reception and tour of the museum in November of  2012. The children had boxed lunches on the patio and then saw their work on display. It was a wonderful event including a cello concert.  

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Second Graders Butterfly Symmetry

Second graders applied what they learned about vertical symmetry to the drawing of butterflies. They had played symmetry games on the SMART Board and drew butterflies on whiteboards before they used colored pencils and paper. By that time they were more confident in their freehand drawings and had a sense of mirroring from one side to another. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dia De Los Muertos Ofrendas

Students worked as hard as they could to finish up their ofrendas for the Dia De Los Muertos display at the Musical Instrument Museum. Students and their parents will be treated to a light dinner and reception at the MIM followed by a cello performance. It is a gorgeous facility and we hope to get some great pics of the kids and their families that night.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Drawing Ishly

Second graders read the book ISH by Peter Reynolds and then drew their own vase of flowers. No one was afraid to start because we did it on whiteboards so they knew they could wipe it off and not waste crumpled up paper like Ramon did in the book. The whiteboards are a good way to practice drawing "ishly."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Watercolor Flowers

Students in first and second grade got a chance to use watercolor to paint their big flowers similar to Georgia O'Keeffe. We looked at O'Keeffe flowers on the SMART Board then drew large flowers on whiteboards. They had a demo on proper brush care and how to clean the water prior to working with the watercolors.


Progress on Ofrendas

Fourth graders in Mrs. Pinuelas' class are spending their art classes working on the Day of the Dead ofrendas for the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale. The backdrops are tissue paper and meant to emulate the blankets of real flowers used on elaborate altars. Next we will work on decorated stuffed felt skulls. Since we only have 35 minutes twice a week, we are having to work as quickly as possible to meet the deadline of October 25th.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Fractions, Percentages, & Degrees, Oh My!

Fourth graders learned something about radial symmetry along with degrees, percentages, and fractions while creating designs that were one quarter of a circle. In an effort to recycle, the circles were CD labels that were of no further use. They also learned how to use a protractor during this activity.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Going Green in the Art Room

Second graders continued their art education with a SMART Notebook presentation about Georgia O'Keeffe and her flower paintings. Some of these students were with me last year so they recognize several artists and their works. Georgia O'Keeffe was new to them.

Now that they have a little watercolor experience with concentric circles, I thought moving into the radial symmetry of large flowers would be a good next step. After looking at her paintings, each student drew a large flower on our newly received whiteboards. It's very easy to use up a lot of paper in the "learning to draw" activities and the whiteboards are a good fit with trying to conserve resources.


Here are some of the first graders doing the same activity.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Circles inside Circles inside Circles

Due to the generosity of some very kind people, I now have replacements for the books that were damaged and back on track for primary literacy integrated into my art lessons. First Grade students read along with the book, The Dot by Peter Reynolds which I scanned into SMART Notebook so everyone could see. The story supports the idea of art making as well as the art element of shape. There is also a language arts connection when I ask the children to tell me how the main character feels, what might happen next, who the main character is and to identify the setting of the story.
We then looked at Kandinsky's Concentric Circles. The concept of concentric circles will come in handy later in math so it is a great integrated curriculum connection. At this age the kids soak up quite a bit so I throw a lot at them and see what sticks.

As a pre-painting activity, I had the kids draw concentric circles using markers. I would have used individual whiteboards but I did not get mine until Friday. During their next art class, they used watercolors to paint their circles. These are the more successful ones. Many of the children simply need more experience with painting since there is a lot to remember about the amount of water and paint to use, what happens when you lift up your paper vertically, what happens when you spill all the water in your rinse container, etc. The children are also not all at the same developmental level in art and may not yet be capable of doing what others can do. We will do this same activity again during our next class just to get more practice being around and interacting with the materials.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Touring the Musical Instrument Museum

Ms. Pinuelas' 4th graders are doing a Dia De Los Muertos art project for the Musical Instrument Museum. The museum kindly gave us an excellent tour of the museum to get us excited about the project. Our "ofrendas" will be dedicated to deceased musicians. Part One of the project is to emulate the chrysanthemum blankets in the shapes of instruments or other symbols related to our deceased musicians. We are limited for time so we used a quick technique using tissue squares folded over the end of a pencil. The pencil is dipped in glue and held in place briefly before removing the pencil. (See Animoto below)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rain Damage

Arizona schools are not built for rain and our roof is in very bad shape. My room is one that is a focal point for rain damage and parts of my ceiling have leaked and/or fallen several times in the past few years. This summer I purchased several new books that I planned on using as a way to integrate more literacy into my art classes. After this last rain, they turned into mush. I had to rearrange my syllabus till I can replace those specific books. After teaching for so many years, it was an inconvenience, but improv was my life for 5 years and I managed well enough. (See Animoto below)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Using the Crayola Site in the Primary Grades

On Wednesdays, special area teachers at Herrera cover two classes they may or may not normally have so that classroom teachers have the time to attend professional development sessions. This week I had Mrs. Diaz' first grade class and the students got a chance to share laptops to use the Crayola interactive painting and drawing website. The tools are exactly like you could purchase in real life but they do not dry out, break or wear down! In addition, students can have as many pieces of virtual paper as they want! This prepares them for using more sophisticated digital tools later on.

Getting to Know You Jr. High Wordles

As a getting to know you activity for my Jr. High Digital Art elective, I had the students make a list of their favorite things as a WORD document and then copy that into WORDLE. They were supposed to emphasize their name, use the snipping tool, and save to their folders. Additionally, they were to edit the color palette in WORDLE and place the design in their PowerPoint portfolio. (See Animoto below)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Rainbow Fish Crayon Resist

I wanted something that would let the kids work with metallic water colors and a crayon resist. The book "Rainbow Fish" not only dealt with the concept of sharing, but the fish shape is one that is fairly easy for primary students. Students learned to share materials, how not to have a bad hair day with their brushes, when to change out the rinse water, and how to carefully put their wet work on a drying rack. (See Animoto below)

Patterned Dragonflies

Zentangle seems to be the rage now but art teachers have always taught pattern as an element of design. These first graders watched a bit of a Zentangle lesson, sketched dragonflies from SMART Notebook, and followed along with me as I drew projecting with a document camera. I was not thrilled with the markers we had. Next time we will use bullet tip, not chisel tip. Some of the kids would have done a better job with thin markers but I didn't have any of those either. (See Animoto below)

Thursday, May 24, 2012


These creatures were worked on by many classes during the school year and will be on display in my artroom atop my cabinets during the next school year. I really didn't have anything "cute" in the room for the younger kids except on the SMART Board so this year I'm going to cutesy it up while giving all students a chance to have a tactile activity they all need. (See Animoto below)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Jr. High Needlework

The last embroidery projects were butterflies that included cross-stitch, satin stitch, chain stitch, daisy stitch, and French knots. Quite a few were done by 8th grade boys and they used very good craftsmanship. I liked these iron-on patterns so much that I did many myself. In addition to the sewing skill, students learned that this was a relaxing activity to de-stress at the end of a school day. (See Animoto below)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Painted Color Wheel Designs

Students showed mastery of color theory by painting color wheel designs. They got the primary colors, white, and black to create all 12 colors in the color wheel plus tints and shades of those colors. They used acrylic paint on heavy hot press watercolor paper. When done with great craftsmanship, these are artworks that make wonderful keepsakes. (See Animoto below)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Jr. High Zentangle Pattern Designs

Repetition, pattern, and texture have been components of artwork for decades and teachers have given various design assignments using them just as long. In the past few years, pattern has evolved into a cottage industry called "Zentangle." What I like about it is the complexity of some of the patterns which fit nicely into problem solving activities for students. They are more challenging and I certainly enjoy raising the bar when it comes to making kids think. I also love that there are so many wonderful online resources providing students with more choices than they could possibly imagine. (See Animoto below)

Friday, April 6, 2012


Although Artopoly does exist, Artistopoly is geared as a fun way to work on visual recognition of famous masterworks and art styles. This is meant to be used on the Reaction Grid so it only existed virtually. I would give clues and the kids as avatars would run towards the correct section of the board. It was so much fun for everyone and they really showed visual recognition. (See Animotos below)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Salon Des Enfants 2012

Every spring, Phoenix Elementary art students exhibit at the Alwun House. I was lucky enough to teach a middle school elective geared towards creating finished pieces using methods chosen by me but using whatever subject matter they wanted. One of the techniques we all did was stippling. We watched a video called "Hero" on Vimeo which showed an artist stippling a portrait. (See Animoto below)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Finished Teddies

Students did not have very good scissor skills. Test pushing administrators do not understand how many hours of basic life skills they cut because they want classroom teachers to focus on testing. They did their best but some bears had to be fixed before they could be sewn. Some of the kids showed real patience in their stitching and I was very proud of that. Everyone loved the display! (See Animoto below)

Monday, March 5, 2012

3rd & 4th Grade Sewing Unit

Most third and fourth graders worked very hard to master stitching and applique work. Their bears are coming along nicely and even when stitches have to be redone, students have been taking it in stride. This not only teaches them patience, but also resilience. (See Animoto below)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Creative Stick Puppets

Fine motor skills are something we embed into the lessons and if we get a fun little object or drawing afterward, that is just icing on the cake. Skills embedded in this lesson were tracing shapes, cutting out shapes, gluing shapes to a stick, sorting colors and shapes of foam pieces, adding embellishments to the stick puppet, and using the stick puppets to interact with classmates. There were lots of directions to follow along with these basic skills and not all children are developmentally capable of all of the skills to complete the task successfully but adding embellishments usually can cover up for that fact. Everyone was successful in their own way and got a chance to practice skills not always taught in the classroom anymore. (See Animoto below)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Stippled Drawing Work

Students were introduced to the technique of stippling this week. I played the video Hero using the Vimeo website. It shows a teenage boy drawing a picture of his father using this drawing technique. We also looked at a Frayer model of the word and samples of stippled artwork using SMART Notebook & the document camera. Students completed a stippled value scale and worked on an exercise using a teapot as subject matter. After doing the exercise, students chose their own subject matter and drew a light sketch they can follow for their stippled drawing. I will add pictures to this Animoto as the students work. (See Animoto below)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Basic Sewing

Students experienced cooperation during this basic sewing unit because they had to help each other while tracing the bear template onto the felt. We did this because pins would have been difficult to force through the pattern. (See Animoto below)

Digital Color Theory

My color theory class not only had to learn how to mix tints, shades, secondary and intermediate colors using only primary colors, black and white, but they also had to transfer that knowledge to digital media. In the process they learned how to use Gimp layers, save to several formats, colorize using hue, saturation, and lightness sliders, and the rotation tool. (See Animoto below)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Needlework in Progress

Students moved on from samplers to floral and animal designs. Some of the kids just didn't have the patience to complete the work with good craftsmanship but several students completed more than one piece in the time given. When I decided to retire in 2013, I made sure those more dedicated students were given hoops, fabric, iron on designs, embroidery floss and needles as a lovely parting gift. (See Animoto below)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Low Fat/Sugar Free Edible Color Wheels

Color Theory usually involves colored pencils, paint, and other traditional art materials. I had known about an edible cell project for many years but the other art teacher at my school did this with her students and I decided that it sounded like a good way to teach tints. I did a demonstration and then each group used white sugar free frosting and food coloring to mix the colors in the color wheel. Low Fat Vanilla Wafers were frosted and arranged in color wheel order. This class will be painting color wheel designs soon so this is great practice mixing colors.(See Animoto below)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Another Chapter in the Paper Mache' Beastie Saga

More layers are added by various classes and the beasties become more sturdy. By alternating types of paper, I can tell how far the students get during the period. We have no windows or outdoor access so students can only add one or two layers during the 30 to 40 minutes available. (View Animoto below)