Sunday, May 18, 2014

3rd Grade: Mondrian Unit (Part 3): Glazing Our Cubes

On Friday, my last class of 3rd graders glazed their cubes.  This process took a total of two class periods to complete.  I pulled out my tubes of Spectrum Raised Accent colors in black (of which I received when I ordered the Nasco Spectrum Tile kit last year).  I instructed students to paint over their carved lines with the black glaze, and then to paint in their squares.  When one side was finished, they rotated the cube and did the next side.  

If you remember from my first post in this series, students were able to choose from four different color families to design their cube...they didn't have to do just primary colors.  I set up four stations at my for each color family (primary, secondary, warm and cool), with two different glazes for each color.

One class's glazed cubes!  These were all loaded into the kiln and fired on Friday, just in the nick of time for art show set-up on Monday of next week!!!  I can't wait to get to school Monday morning to see them!  
And of course in my haste to get them loaded in the kiln 2nd period, I forgot to load my cube!!!

Part 4:  Finished Cubes Coming soon!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Please Vote for My Student on Artsonia!

I'm so excited!  One of our students is a finalist on Artsonia in the 7th-9th grade category for Artist of the Week!  This is the FIRST time this has happened in the four years I've been using Artsonia!  If you wouldn't mind, could you hop on over to and vote for my student!!!???  The picture chosen for the contest is the one on the right in the photo collage below...her screen name CF26!

Thank you everyone so much!  And remember, you can vote once a day per computer!!! :-)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Studio Art: Masters Paintings

On the tail feathers of our zentangled masters project in Studio Art, I decided to follow-up with a master's painting project.  I figured that this was probably going to be our last big project before the end of the year.  This week ends the 5 week marking period of the last quarter.  For high school in our district, they technically only really attend school for 8 weeks of the 10 week quarter, as the last two weeks are for exams.  So, the rest of the school year will be for review (per student request) and for my exam and post-assessment drawing.  

My students wanted to do a sculpture project and a painting project, so I tried to find something that would fit both interests.  Before the spring break, some of my studio students had a little bit of free time to create art while others finished up, and one student created a sculpture using cardboard and paper towel rolls.  I thought that this was something we could all do so I did a little searching on Pinterest.  I found this pin, which showed how to make a 3-D letter out of cardboard, paper cups and masking tape.  I altered it a bit and used the paper towel rolls (which ironically depleted my stock!  Never in my almost four years of teaching now have I ever depleted my paper towel/TP roll stock!) instead of cups.  I then found this pin, which completed my idea for this project.

Students covered the sculptures with masking tape (which, much like the packing tape people sculptures we made, took a lot more tape than I thought it would).  Some did a really neat job doing it, which gave them a nice smooth painting surface, while others just slapped the tape on their however they wanted.  One thing I found that we had to do was put two layers on the outside edge, one layer horizontally across and then another layer vertically down to cover any gaps in the tape.

After the letters were taped up, I had students paint two coats of gesso over the cardboard and tape to create a good painting surface.

Here are some in-progress pictures of this project.  It is currently due this Friday, however I know I will have some stragglers who won't finish until later next week.  It's ironic...all the students ever do is want to copy other things in their art but when you ask them to copy a master's painting, suddenly "copying sucks!".  I almost think that this kind of project would be good to use with a group of students who are constantly plagiarizing others in their artwork...
A Monet...turning out amazing!

We have quite a few VanGogh's and Renoir's.

I allowed one person to do a Jackson Pollock in each class, as well as one Mondrian.  I tried to steer the lower students towards those artists.

I also think that this project is a great one to use for impressionism.  I have to say that impressionism is probably my favorite art movement and the style of painting is one that I favor myself.  The students who are doing impressionist paintings are actually enjoying themselves and finding that it isn't that difficult to get the same effect that the artist did!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Art 7: George Segal Inspired Hand Casts

I am SOOOO excited to share these!  They have taken FOREVER to complete, mainly due to the fact that my 7th graders were very rude and mean to my substitute while I was out for a week, and thus had to face the consequences of a weeks worth of writing assignments.  Needless to say, it appears that most of them learned their lesson and for the most part, they have been relatively sane since then!

This was the final project in my sculpture unit for 7th grade.  It has been a big hit and has even made my Studio class jealous!  After we did the wire sculptures, I broke the students up into groups and had them research a sculpture artists.  They had three class periods to research and compile notes to share with the rest of the class.  They then had two days to present their findings.  Once that research project was complete and students had been quizzed on the artists (which they actually did very well on!), we started this George Segal inspired project.

It took three art periods for the students to cast each other's hands in the plaster.  I used Plastkraft plaster strips...which are very similar to the Blick version here on their website.  (I had almost 10 boxes of the Plastkraft stuff when I started teaching...I think it was ordered through Boces and haven't been able to find a link to the exact stuff I'm using.)  We took one entire art period to cut up a box of plaster into three different sized strips...large ones to cover their arms, medium ones for the wrist and hand, and small strips to wrap around the fingers.  Next, they were split into groups of three.  Two students covered another's arm and hand.  As a safety precaution and to prevent plaster burns, the model was required to wear a plastic glove and then wrapped their arm and wrist in saran wrap.
Students had 15 minutes to cover their model.
The model had to let the plaster set for 15 minutes.
While the plaster set, the others started cleaning tables.
In the last 10 minutes of class, I went around to the models and cut a slit in their casts so that they could spread the arm and slide themselves out.
The models then patched up the cut with more plaster and then were on their way.

***A word of advice...only let students do two layers of plaster on the model's arm...any more and it is nearly impossible to cut through the plaster to get the cast off!  I actually had to use a small saw on one student because it was SO thick!

Once all the casts were off, I asked the students to look at their casts and to figure out what the shape of it reminded them of.  They then had to paint their cast to turn it into something else.  In the sculpture packet, which can be found on the SmartTeacher website here, I included a planning page where students had to answer a series of questions about what colors they were going to use to get the planning juices flowing.  (The packet also includes the rubric I used to grade the's located on the last page.)

Before we started painting, I had them cover the plaster casts in gesso.  That took one period.  Then, I had them paint a base color on their hand casts...that took another period.  Finally, students took on average, another three periods to paint their casts.  Some got really creative and added to their casts, while others took a very non-creative, easy way out.  Usually I don't share the projects that I'm a little disappointed in, but I'm going to share all of the finished casts I have received so far so that you can see the range of what I received.  For the most part, I am extremely happy with about 80% of the projects.  Students who normally struggle in my class really enjoyed this project and stepped up big time!  Unfortunately, all of the photos I took of the in-between processes (creating the hand casts, priming them, etc.) magically disappeared off of my phone.  I had some pretty cool shots of the students with their hands all in casts and I've lost them! :(

The Galaxy

A snail!


A storm...

Shark!!! I LOVED this one!  This is one of those struggling students who did awesome on this project!

I was a little skeptical when this person started painting clouds and rainbows...not my cup of tea, but when she started adding the quotes, I thought it worked a little better.  The only thing that would have made this better was if the quotes were her own!

A platypus...though I thought it was going to be a mallard duck...turns out this is from a cartoon...which I always tell them they aren't allowed to copy from...tsk tsk tsk!  (Especially Sponge Bob...yuck!)

Basketball player, a turkey and a fox.  On the fox, we used fishing line to make the whiskers.

This one could have been a lot more successful...she started without a plan and was going to just cover the whole thing in cheesy yellow stars.  I said, "What about a night vs. day?" This is as far as she took it...

A tree, flower, house, and the last one on the top row was one I was not happy with...the student didn't have a plan and didn't execute what he did very well.
The bottom row starts out with a locker, an obvious hand, a snake in the grass and an Easter egg design.  The snake one isn't bad, but the rest obviously had no plan and didn't care very much about their execution of the project.

A bunny and a tree.  

The middle one here is interesting in terms of the colors and's from a student who plays a lot of video games.  The rest, again, had no plan.  The top left is supposed to be camouflage....a decision made on the last day when the student painted over everything she had done already after spending every period chatting and gossiping...ooooooh 7th graders...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

3rd Grade: Mondrian Unit (Part 2): Clay Cube Tutorial

So here is the clay cube tutorial.  Once again, I have resorted to using my slab roller to pre-roll the clay out for students.  In this case, we had to assemble our cubes in one class period because I wasn't sure that I would be able to keep the clay wet enough over a 8 day time-span in between classes.  In reality, I was able to keep the clay moist enough that we could have done this in two days, but I didn't want the students to drag it out either.

1. First, students had to cut out 6 squares from their clay slab.
2. Next, I had students bevel their edges.  That is, cut the edges (all 4) of each square at a 45 degree angle.  (This makes it easier to connect all of the pieces together.)
3. After the edges were beveled, students then had to score all four edges of each square.

4.  Next, students rubbed some slip onto the edges that they were connecting and pressed them together.  During this process, I went around and showed students how to use their fingers to simply press the clay together to get rid of the cracks from where they were connected.

5.  Lastly, the final piece was laid into place.  Students used whatever time they had left to start smoothing out their cube.
6.  Don't forget to add your initials AND poke a hole through at least one wall of clay to create an escape hatch for the air trapped inside during firing!

7.  This final step came during the second class period.  First, students smoothed out their surface and made sure their cube was shaped into as much of a cube as possible.  I showed the students how to gently drop their cube onto the table on each flat edge to help shape it back into a cube.

8.  Next, students simply laid their ruler parallel to the edges of their cube and drew in vertical and horizontal lines.  
9.  Students then made sure everything was still smooth, they picked off the "clay boogers" they made from carving their lines into their cubes, re-carved their initials and re-poked their hole on their cube for safe measures.

Part 3:  Glazing the Mondrian Cubes Coming soon!
Part 4:  Finished Cubes Coming soon!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

3rd Grade: Mondrian Unit (Part 1)

Currently, my 3rd graders are in the middle of a Mondrian unit.  I've posted before how I've used Mondrian, and in this case, the final project is something new I'm trying out this year.  Before we get to that, however, here is how I opened up the unit.

This unit was started with a substitute as it was during one of the weeks I had to take my husband to his chemo treatments.  My substitute used my power point to introduce the works of Mondrian and to review the mathematical vocabulary that corresponds with Mondrian (i.e. horizontal line, vertical line, squares, rectangles, geometric shapes...COMMON CORE MATH!)

Students then created these Mondrian animals on white paper using markers and rulers.  This was great practice for them on how to hold a ruler. 

Students cut out their animals and glued them onto black paper to make them look nice and crisp.

After the Mondrian animal project, I was back to introduce students to the final project, which is a clay cube project (something students are currently working on in math...3-D forms).  

On the front of this worksheet is color theory review.  These students already knew what primary, secondary, warm and cool colors were.  The complementary colors were a new addition.

On the back of the worksheet, students once again used a ruler to draw in their lines.  This is where I pushed students to not just simply draw a grid, as many of them did on their animal above.  We looked again at Mondrian's work and students realized that he used a variety of sizes of squares and rectangles.  The final aspect of this worksheet was that students had to color their cube using the color scheme of choice.  Mondrian used primary colors, but I didn't want to hold students to that color scheme, thus the color theory review.

Part 3 of this post will show you how we glazed our cubes. Coming soon!
Part 4 of this post will be our finished, glaze-fired cubes! Coming soon!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Phoenecian Tablets

Students in my 3rd-6th grade 12:1:1 class learned about the Phoenicians a while back.  When they were in Social Studies, one of the students had no clue what a clay tablet was, so their teachers asked if I could do something with them about clay tablets.

This project was simple and took two days to complete.  On the first day, I taught students how to roll out clay on the slab roller. Each student got to roll out their own slab.  They took it back to their tables and then rolled the edges to give their clay tablets an old scroll look.  I know that's not how real clay tablets were, but I wanted to make them a little more interesting to look at. 
I know, I know, using the slab roller is kind of cheating, but since I only see the kids once every six days, the slab roller has become very beneficial to time management.  I at least taught them how to use it!

After everyone had their slabs rolled out, I gave students an enlarged copy of the Phoenician alphabet from their Social Studies textbook.  Students had to write their name using this alphabet on their clay tablet.

On the second day of the project, after they were fired, I had students paint the clay tablets with tempera paint.  I used powdered black tempera mixed with water, just like the clay fossils I did last year with my 1st graders.  Students dabbed up any extra watery paint using a tissue, which also gave it an old, weathered look.

Friday, May 2, 2014

1st Grade: Northern Lights

One of the NYS Listening & Learning strands for 1st grade is Astronomy, so I wanted to find a cool art project that I could do with my 1st graders.  I thought about doing a Starry Night-esque painting using constellations, but I thought that would be a little above my students, no matter how much I simplified it.  Despite the simple steps I broke this project down into, it literally took us almost four complete classes to do this...i.e. an entire month!  Needless to say, my 1st grade classes this year are rambunctious!  

Anyways, I found the idea for this project floating around on Pinterest...the link took me to the blog Fun Art 4 Kids, where I pretty much used the process there word for word.  The original poster used this with 6th graders whereas I used it with 1st graders.  I think the project was still successful and probably would have been even more successful if they listened to directions a little better.

On the first day, we drew our mountains on manila tag board and then cut them out.  Unbelievably, this took an ENTIRE class period because students weren't listening.  I had to approve of their mountain line before I let them cut, and they had to cut them out in one piece (so they essentially ended up with two sets of mountains). Students started cutting before I was able to get to them to approve their design...and cut their mountains into four pieces, or did it vertically instead of horizontally, or made them really small...the list is endless.

After we passed that mountain (haha!), we talked about analogous colors on the color wheel and painted our watercolor paper.  Again, many students didn't follow directions when told they had to choose three analogous colors to paint their paper.  During the painting process, I asked them to sprinkle the salt onto their paper.  This was a disaster.  I learned real quick it was better for me to sprinkle the salt as they painted their paper.  They either painted too slow and the paint dried before they sprinkled the salt, or they painted, sprinkled salt, and painted over the top of the salt.  Eventually, I decided to sprinkle the salt and once I did, they weren't allowed to paint in that spot again.

On the third day, we did the lights in the sky.  We took the mountain patterns that we made and choose the biggest (tallest) mountain and laid it on the black paper.  Students had to take three different colors of chalk pastels and draw lines from the mountains up to the top of their paper. Then, we took a tissue and wiped the chalk in the same direction to blend the colors (without making too much of a mess on our hands).  I found that it was a little difficult for the younger students to hold the pattern in place while coloring, so I went around and put paper clips on theirs to help them hold it in place.

On the last day, we traced our mountain patterns on the watercolor paper that was painted on day 2.  Again, they had to cut the mountains out in one piece.  Students took the biggest mountain and glued it in place on their background.  I then asked students to trade their small mountain range with another student.  You WOULD NOT BELIEVE the number of students who were unhappy about this!!!  Usually, they are always giving each other their free draws and swapping, trying to help each other out and draw on each other's work.  When I asked them to switch, I had one boy who almost had a complete break down!

The last step on day 4 was to add the constellations.  This was my addition to the original project and was the big connection to their listening and learning strand.  I handed out a constellation sheet that I found on the internet and we quickly went over what each constellation represented (big dipper, little dipper, Orion, etc.) and how they could tell which constellation was what.  Students simply used white chalk to add the constellations.

So, after all of that, here are our finished projects!