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Art teachers were STEAM-ing before STEAM was cool!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dollar Store Preschool Art Ideas

I have two little ones under 5 and there are some times when I need to keep their hands occupied, but I don't want to have a mess on my hands (like just before dinner!). In my travels around cyberspace I've collected a couple of age appropriate art ideas that would work perfectly!


Yarn Art on a Sand Paper Board

I made a list and went to the dollar store and bought much of what I needed! These ideas are not mine and they are out there in abundance. Make a couple of these for your little ones for busy time, a car ride or to give as a birthday gift for your favorite preschooler! ENJOY!

Mini Salt Sensory Table

Supplies Needed:

  • Small tray (a dark one works well)
  • Salt (about 1/3 cup)
  • Miscellaneous stuff: paint brushes, cookie cutters, small scoops, little trucks (we like construction/snowplow ones)
Directions:

1. Place 1/3 cup salt in the bottom of the tray. Too much and the child won't be able to "draw" in the salt properly.

2. Play! Actually, this is a great way for children to explore drawing shapes and letters. They can "draw" in the salt or push it around with the construction vehicles for a mini sandbox experience. This is the messiest activity of the bunch, but cleanup isn't too bad...

Cost: $1.50 (not including Misc. "stuff")
This salt activity tray idea is from "Teach Preschool" blog. I LOVE this blog! It is full of wonderful activities and experiences for the younger set. Deborah is so creative, I look forward to seeing what she comes up with!

Salt: messy, but fun!

Mess-Free Fingerpainting

Supplies Needed:
  • 1 gallon-size zip top freezer bag
  • About 1/3 cup tempera paint
  • Piece of foam core or heavy cardboard, optional
  • Duct tape
Directions:
There are a couple ways to do this: you can either put two colors in the bag such as red and yellow and have the child mix them and learn about color mixing (red & yellow make orange) OR you can just put paint in the bag and move on to the fun! Either way, you'll want to put about 1/3 cup paint total in the bag (too much doesn't work well) and then squeeze the air out of the bag and zip it shut. Then use duct tape to further seal the seam closed. I taped ours to a piece of foam core so it is portable.

Cost: $3.00 if you use cardboard you have at home for the backing

Oldest son says "It's like an iPad!" So sad...

Sand Paper Board (With Variations)

Supplies Needed:
  • Coarse Sandpaper Sheets (Yep, I got a pack at the dollar store!)
  • Hot glue gun with glue sticks
  • Heavy cardboard or foam core
  • Duct tape, optional
  • Sharpie or black paint, optional
  • Yarn bits
1. Glue the sandpaper sheet to the cardboard or foam core using hot glue. Cover the edges of the piece with duct tape, if you'd like a more "finished" edge.

2. On some of the boards, draw lines (horizontal, vertical, diagonal, wavy, curved, zigzag, etc.) with a marker or paint. Another idea is drawing shapes such as circle, square, triangle, etc. 

3. Cut bits and pieces of different colors of yarn and have your child press them onto the sandpaper (following the lines you drew, if desired, or making his/her own pictures). The yarn will stick to the sandpaper and can be removed and reused over and over! Felt and cotton balls also will stick to the board.

Exploring shapes and lines.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mosaic Snowglobe Project Results

This past week I had the pleasure of visiting Mrs. Bevilacqua's second grade class at Wilkin's Elementary School in Amherst, NH. Mrs. Bevilacqua usually does a themed unit that involves snow globes and I thought the children would also enjoy doing the snow globe mosaics from my blog.

All 17 snow globes! Beautiful!
The second graders were very enthusiastic and creative! I started with a revised worksheet and had the students use a limited color palette (10 crayons) so that they could easily match up the paper squares with the colors they chose for their pieces. It was a two-session project, but it went quickly and the children were very happy with the results (me too!).

The revised worksheet has different labels than before.
 It is a bit easier for the children to understand: S = Sky, R = Roof, G = Ground, etc.
They use this worksheet to plan before moving onto the actual gluing.
See the original post for "how-to" info.
A detailed look at one of the mosaic pieces.
This project was a great way for the children to explore math concepts relating to a grid (each child had 100 squares on his/her piece!) as well as exploring color choices and value (in order for the sections of the picture to be easily read, the student needs to vary his/her value and color choices), learn the art of mosaics and, even within the set parameters, there was a chance for choice and creative expression.

What a fun way to spend the afternoon! Thank you, again, to Mrs. Bevilacqua and her students for all of their hard work and energy!

NOTE: I used 5" x 7" canvas boards from www.dickblick.com to mount the finished pieces on (24 for $7 or so). I then added a border above and below the mosaics with navy grosgrain ribbon glued on with hot glue. When done, I attached a paper label with the child's name. I justified the expense because these are "keepsakes." 

If you had less time and a limited budget, you could enlarge the project to 10" square (each square of the grid is 1") and have students do this project on thin white paper paper using 1" construction paper squares and glue sticks. Skip the Mod Podge and mount the finished mosaic onto a piece of construction paper. Very inexpensive, but still great!


Friday, February 24, 2012

Homemade Stamps for Printmaking

Here's a great way for you to explore stamping and printmaking. And, it's inexpensive, fast and fun!



This past fall, at the NH Art Educators Association Conference, I went to a printmaking talk given by Liam Sullivan from the NH Institute of Art. One of the ideas he had for younger students was to make a bunch of stamps using wine corks as the handle. He suggested using bottle caps and such and gave us all sorts of interesting ideas for making stamps. Well, I asked around and someone gave me a big bucket of wine corks and then I started collecting bottle caps, caps from glue sticks, foam shapes, buttons, etc. Once I had a sizable stash, I heated up the glue gun and glued my "findings" to the wine corks.

We used some of the stamps to make Modern-dayAdinkra Cloths, but we also did this simple project that I got from Liam's slideshow. The children had fun digging through the box of stamps I brought in trying out all of the different ones and were very impressed with their finished pieces. This project not only showcases printmaking, but is great for explaining patternline, and repetition.

Stamping Sampler (Or "Stampler")

Supplies Needed:
  • Stamps (see above description)
  • Tempera paint, assorted colors
  • One 8 1/2" x 11" piece of yellow paper
  • One 9" x 12" piece of construction paper for backing/matte
  • Pencil
  • Newspapers
  • Glue stick
Directions:

1. Make the stamps according to the description above. Some good ideas for stamps are shapes cut from craft foam, milk jug caps, glue stick caps, and wooden shapes (I even cut a few NERF bullets crosswise and made some interesting stamps).

The possibilities for homemade stamps are endless!

2. Draw a line on your paper going from one side to the opposite side. The line can be horizontal, vertical, diagonal, wavy, curved, zigzag, etc. 

3. Select a stamp, dip it into the paint and stamp it repeatedly along the line you drew.

4. Choose another stamp and another color and stamp another row of stamps parallel to your first line of stamps. Continue until the entire page is filled with rows and rows of multi-colored stamps!
A work in progress. This piece uses a large sheet of construction paper (12" x 18").

5. Mount your finished paper onto a coordinating color of construction paper using a glue stick.

ENJOY!
Some examples from my home school class.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One Year Anniversary of My Blog! Hooray!

Hooray! It is this one year anniversary of my humble little blog! What started as a way for me to keep in touch with my students and their families as well as get my art ideas down "on paper" has really blossomed into so much more! I have met so many wonderful art educators through the blogosphere and every day I learn so much from them and my students. 


The past week has been a busy one for me...we had some actual birthdays in our house. I also introduced a one point perspective project to my home school students. Today they inked their drawings and began adding color. We'll need another week on that project before I can post it.

My after school art class began two projects this week: Mexican folk art snakes from papier mache in the Oaxacan tradition and tooled metal trinket boxes. We'll be finishing up those when they come back from vacation. 

And finally, I just wrapped up a volunteer project with my second son's class where they made the mosaic snowglobes (I posted that project a while back). All 17 children were able to create personalized mosaics that included paper snow since it hasn't snowed here! Those pieces should be sent home this week.

So, I've been busy! Really I have! I can't wait to resume classes so that I can see all of these wonderful projects get completed!

I have an awesome job! I am so lucky!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Last Minute Valentine: "I Love U"

This is a nice project to teach positive and negative space and symmetry and makes a cute last-minute Valentine for the wall or as a bookmark. It is super-inexpensive and pretty darn easy. Make one of these for your Valentine today!


Positive/Negative "I Love U" Valentine

Supplies Needed For The Wall Art:

  • Piece of black construction paper (9" x 12") in black
  • Pieces of red and pink construction paper (the red sections are 3" tall and the pink sections are 2 1/4" tall)
  • Pencil
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
Supplies Needed For The Bookmark: 
  • Piece of white posterboard (2" x 5") in white
  • Pieces of red and pink construction paper (1" square)
  • Pencil
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Clear packing tape (2" wide)
  • Hole punch
  • 8" of ribbon
Directions:

1. Decide on the order of your colored paper pieces.

2. For the first section, the heart, draw a half a heart shape onto the first piece of colored paper. Cut it out. Glue the outside of the heart shape onto the backing of your piece (either the posterboard if you are making a bookmark or the black construction paper if you are making a larger piece). Line up the cut edge the square with the center of your backing paper.

3. Glue the corresponding half heart shape along the center line, "flipped out" from the square it came from. Hmmm....sounds confusing, but look at the picture for a guide.

4. Continue down the column, cutting out half an uppercase "I" another half heart and half an uppercase "U." Finish with another heart, if desired.

5. If you are making the wall art, you are done! If you are making a bookmark, put a strip of clear of packing tape over your design to protect it. Punch a hole in the top edge of the bookmark and add a ribbon, if desired.

Sealed with a kiss! ENJOY!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Modern-Day Adinkra Cloth

Last time I taught a lesson on African textiles I did the traditional woven paper Kente cloth. This time I wanted the children to explore a type of stamped textile that comes from Ghana: Adinkra. "Adinkra" means "goodbye" and his beautiful fabric was traditionally part of funeral preparations.


To make Adinkra cloth, long strips of cloth are pegged to the ground, then an artisan uses ink and a broad-toothed comb to divide the cloth into sections. Each section is then printed with stamps carved from the calabash gourd. These symbols are sacred and many of the symbols are inspired by nature or from important parables. Many have been used for generations, but some are new such as the Mercedes-Benz emblem, which appears on some cloths and seems to symbolize wealth. The ink used to make Adinkra cloth comes from boiling the bark of the Badee plant.

When the strips of cloth have been stamped and are dry, they are joined with decorative embroidery. I have tried lacing the sections together with yarn, but it was very frustrating for the children. I was recently looking through the book, "Kid Made Modern," by Todd Oldham and he made a screen of little circles joined by paper clips--that's when I knew I had found a way to link the sections of our Adinkra cloths. I found 1000 colored paper clips on sale at Staples for $3--what a bargain!

Modern-Day Adinkra Cloths

Supplies Needed:

  • 4 5" squares of white poster board
  • 6" piece of corrugated cardboard
  • Bits of craft foam for stamps
  • A few wine corks
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Tempera paint, assorted colors (we used green, red, blue, yellow, brown and black)
  • Paper plate for palette
  • A pushpin
  • 9 paper clips, assorted colors
Directions:

1. Make your stamps. I made a few of four common symbols: heart which means love, paddle (looks like a plus sign) which means strength, drum (looks kind of like an uppercase letter "I") which means rhythm, and a crescent moon which means patience. I cut the symbols out of craft foam and hot glued them to wine corks. These are pretty permanent, but you could just cut them from a new kitchen sponge.

2. Put some black paint on the palette and dip the 6" end of the corrugated cardboard into the paint. Use the cardboard to make borders on your 5" squares of poster board.

3. Put some colored paint onto your palette and use the stamps you made to fill the center of the squares with symbols. You can probably get about three rows of three symbols in each square. Check out the photos for inspiration. Stamp all of your squares. Let dry.

4. Decide on the order you want to have your squares in. Use the pushpin to create three holes on the bottom and top edge of each of your squares. The holes should be about 1/4" from the edge and be evenly spaced.

5. Insert paper clips into the holes on the bottom edges of the squares. Rotate through the hole two times. Connect all the squares together (this takes a bit of fiddling, but it is easier than it sounds!)

Detail view of the paper clips joining the squares. 
A few examples of Adinkra cloth from my home school class.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More African Masks...

I just can't get enough of these masks! The children in my after school art class did a great job with color and symmetry and pattern!

For the original lesson, click here.

Enjoy these colorful and unique masks!






Monday, February 6, 2012

Wild Valentine Puppets

Yet another craft idea for your Valentine's Day card-giving needs OR for a classroom project: "Wild About You" Puppets! 
Research shows that 9 out of 10 people people prefer to be bitten
 with pom pom teeth vs. real dinosaur teeth.
I recently was killing time between my sons' basketball games and needed to keep my 4-year-old occupied. I dug into my totebag, folded a scrap piece of paper and "ta-da!" instant puppet. It sure kept him busy, but then I had two teams of boys crowded around me wanting them! Here's a version fancied up a bit for giving:

Easy Paper Puppets

Supplies Needed:

  • Colored piece of paper (your choice) for the puppet head
  • Scrap pieces of paper, optional
  • Embellishments such as googly eyes, pom poms, etc.
  • Tacky glue and glue stick
Directions:

1. Fold the piece of paper you are using for the puppet in thirds lengthwise. Secure the top flap with glue stick. You now have a sort of flat tube. This will make it easier for little hands to know where to put their fingers in the finished puppet.

2. Fold the tube in half and then fold each of the ends back to make an "M" shape. This is the puppet's head.
A detail of the "M" shape that you are creating.

3. Use tacky glue to attach embellishments such as googly eyes and pom pom teeth. If you would like to make features out of paper, the glue stick should work fine to attach them. 

4. Write your message such as: "I'm WILD About You!" or "You're DINO-mite!" on a strip of pink or red paper and glue it in the mouth like a tongue.

5. You can write the "To:" and "From:" info on the underside of the puppet, if desired.

This shows one of the puppets with its mouth opened wide
so you can see how the entire piece is decorated.

ENJOY your WILD puppet!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Easy Valentine's Cards: Stamping with Wine Corks

I love homemade cards! This year, I used a wine cork and acrylic paints to churn out a few simple cards for my hubby and kids. This is a fun way to learn about basic printmaking and the options are endless!
I TOAD-ally Love You!
(OK, so it's actually a frog...)



Easy Wine Cork Valentine's Cards

Supplies Needed:

  • A wine cork
  • Acrylic paints (assorted colors, a pea size amount)
  • Paper plate for palette
  • Cardstock or a blank card
  • A fine point marker (I used a Sharpie)
  • Embellishments such as googly eyes or antenna are optional (the antenna I used are flower stamens from the cake decorating aisle of the craft store)
Directions:

1. Practice different designs on scrap paper before you move on to the cardstock. I found it helped to have a few sayings before doing the stamping. Here are a few to get you started:

  • HIPPO Valentine's Day!
  • I'm WILD For You!
  • You're DINO-mite!
  • HOGS and Kisses!
  • You're My Sweet-Pea!
  • You're My ALL-STAR! 
  • I think you're TOAD-ally Awesome!

2. Dip the cork into a bit of paint (you don't need much) and then stamp it onto the cardstock. 

3. When dry, use a fine point marker to add details and wording to your card. The sky's the limit! Have fun!

Detail of the card for my daughter--my Sweet Pea!

Here are the Valentines for the kids. I thought of things they liked
and then made a card to reflect that interest. These would also make nice bookmarks.

Friday, February 3, 2012

St. Valentine's Day Craft: Pom Pom Critters

One of my sons loves stuffed animals and any funky little critters with googly eyes! One year we made a ton of these to give away to his classmates. They are fast and easy to make (and easy to love)!

The Usual Suspects...
Pom Pom Critters

Supplies Needed:
  • Small piece of felt for base (feet). I use a stiff piece of felt for the base.
  • Large pom pom (for body), ours were about 2" in diameter
  • 2 googly eyes (or one if you are making a cyclops!)
  • Cardstock for mouth (an index card works great)
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Embellishments such as hearts, antennas (mine are flower stamens sold in the cake decorating aisle at the craft store), bows made from bits of ribbon, etc.
  • Tacky glue
  • Tape
  • Construction paper for the card, optional
Directions:

1. Cut out a heart shape large enough so that it sticks out from under your pom pom like little feet.

2. Use tacky glue to glue the pom pom to the heart-shaped base.

3. Add eyes and embellishments. Have fun and be silly! My son knew what he wanted to do and I just let him go!

4. Use tape to secure your critter to a rectangle of construction paper. Write a silly message such as "I'm Wild For You" or "I've got my EYE on you Valentine!" (if you are doing the cyclops) and the To/From Information. ENJOY!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

African Masks from Zaire

This is a great project to teach children about line, pattern and symmetry. It is pretty easy to prep for and easy to clean up after (except for the raffia)--an art teacher's dream! You can keep the project traditional in tones of brown and black, or you can let the children choose their own color palettes and watch these masks come alive!


I started my class with a quick presentation. We'll be covering African art for two weeks so I gave some info about the country and the type of traditional art that is indicative of the population. I made this board with mask examples that show how different African masks can be (and this isn't even an extensive collection!). We talked about how masks can be realistic or stylized.

The display board I made showing different types of African masks.
Plenty of white space to add future info if I want.
Then I pointed to the masks from Zaire that are at the bottom right side of the board. These were carved from wood and have lines that make designs and cover the entire surface of the mask. The little holes around the jawline were where grass was secured creating a beard-like appearance. These mask images came from two books: "Arts of Africa: 7000 Years of African Art," by Enzio Bassani and "Masterpieces of Primitive Art: The Nelson Rockefeller Collection," by Douglas Newton and Lee Boltin. My local library had them and each book had many great examples of masks. I photocopied the images because I could not bring the books in for sharing since there were too many inappropriate images for my age group elsewhere in the books.

I got this mask activity from the book, "Hands On Africa: Art Activities For All Ages," by Yvonne Y. Merrill. It is a wonderful book filled with a variety of art ideas representing the many tribes and countries of Africa. There are projects for wearables, sculptures, musical instruments and more, exploring a variety of art techniques (it's a children's book, but does have some adult content, so view the book before sharing it with your child to determine the appropriateness for your family).

We are going to be covering our masks with lines. Lines can show direction: horizontal, vertical, diagonal. Lines can also be different styles: wavy, zigzag or straight. They can be combined to make patterns.

I explained that these masks are also symmetrical (I whipped out a piece of yarn to hold up to the masks, showing that, if folded, the left side of each mask would match the right side). Elements of art and math concepts--whoo-hoo!

I told my students they could cover their masks with lines and patterns in any color or style BUT their designs HAD TO BE symmetrical. The children had a lot of fun with the project and even more fun wearing them afterwards! Check out the colorful results:

Many of the girls chose NOT to add the beard but go with hair instead.

Nice symmetry and use of line!


Celebrating Different Cultures Through Art

"When I was a kid..."

I can hear the groans now (especially from my 9-year-old)! But I've been thinking about my art experiences as a child. I loved art class in elementary school. We did doodle draws and splatter painting and it was so fun. Of course I remember more from my middle school and high school art classes. Technique and media exploration played a major role in those lessons. In a high school painting class I did an oral presentation on Monet but then somewhere in my research got him confused with Manet--that must have been an interesting presentation for my teacher to sit through!

In 1992, doing a chalk mural as part of a spring arts festival.

By the time I was 15 or so, I knew the basics of painting and drawing, BUT, the Monet/Manet mess-up was pretty indicative of my Art History knowledge at that time. I didn't know anything about art from around the world (or that much about Western art either, apparently). Then, something magical happened! I had been volunteering in Readiness and First Grade art classes and the art teacher I was helping did something amazing with the children: she showed them fine art before doing a project! GASP! Now I know that doesn't seem revolutionary, but to me, at that time, it caught me off guard. These children were six and seven years old and looking at "The View From Toledo"by El Greco! And the projects...they explored things like "Kente Cloths" and stuff! WHAT? These children were being exposed to art that I was just starting to see at the end of high school! I knew that was the way I wanted to do my lesson plans someday.

Then came lots and lots of Art History in college: 10 classes to be precise. Now I had my inspiration for TONS of projects for children! How do I integrate Art History and the art of diverse cultures into my curriculum?


Well...it goes a little like this...


With my after-school art classes, it is a no-brainer. I offer "Art Around the World" classes that focus specifically on certain cultures such as Mexico, China, Africa, etc. In six weeks (1 class a week) we can explore three countries (albeit briefly). I get to discuss the art of that country as it relates to the projects we are doing as well as incorporating other information about celebrations, important people and history. I try to have lots of visuals on hand: posters, maps, story books, nonfiction books as well as play appropriate music in the background as they work. I also tie in different media such as clay, paint and drawing while exploring 2D and 3D, printmaking and more (the combinations are endless!).

With my home school classes, I structure the classes the same: visuals, books, music. But I have 10 week semesters. When planning my curriculum, I sit down with my calendar and the computer and do some fact-finding. I look at the holidays each month and see if there are months designated to celebrating certain cultures or ethnic groups (ex.: February is Black History Month). While some may argue that we should be teaching children about these cultures all year long, I find it helpful to group projects from the same culture together to cement the concepts and give me longer to present info in the culture rather than squeezing it into one lesson. I put the lessons at a time during the year where my students may be learning about that culture somewhere else in school or because of a holiday. For example:

  • Fall is Native American studies
  • Winter (or whenever snow arrives) is Inuit art
  • January (this year) was the art of China due to Chinese New Year being January 23rd
  • February is African art because of Black History Month
  • March is Celtic Art
  • Spring is the art of Japan
  • May is the art of Mexico
This is obviously not an extensive list, but every year I tweak it a bit. Next year, I'm developing a unit of 20+ lessons on Modern Art so I'll be able to touch upon some of the cultures I haven't explored yet such as Tahiti (thanks Gaugin!) and the Caribbean as well as look at contemporary African American and Women artists. 

What a joy it is to see the children making connections cross-curriculum and watch them interacting with fine art! Celebrating different cultures through art truly enhances the children's art experience and brings art class beyond the basics, keeping it fresh and new. Exposing children to a variety of art early on really does "give them the world!"










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