Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Shrinky Dink Jewelry

This is not the first time I have shared how amazing shrinky dinks are in class on this blog, and it probably will not be the last. As I was wrapping up the school year I wanted to give my 5th graders a WOW project.... in this case, I mean a project that will make them say WOW!! Shrinky Dinks was just the thing!! 

For those of you who did not grow up in the 80's (the first go round of this product) as I did, you may not know what Shrinky Dinks are. It's plastic sheets that you can draw on, cut out, and punch holes in. After you are finished manipulating the plastic, you place it in an oven at 350-ish degrees and watch the magic happen. The plastic shrinks to about 1/3 of its size.  On it's way to shrinkage, it folds and bends and looks like it is being destroyed.  It's quite entertaining to watch. 

A regular oven will work.  You just need a cookie sheet or something oven safe and has a flat surface. In a classroom situation, I have a toaster oven that works well. This way, the students can see first hand the magic.

The materials for my students for this project was a 1 1/2 X 4-inch sheet of plastic (cut down from 8X10), colored pencil/sharpies, an elastic string, and beads. I always get the 'frosted' Shrinky Dink because there is a little tooth or texture to one side that allows the students to use colored pencil or sharpies.  The time allowed to work on this project was about 45 minutes, but most students were done in about a half hour.

I had the students design the plastic (on the rough side of the plastic) using either colored pencils or sharpies. I asked them to keep it as a design rather than words or numbers.  When students use characters, they will often end up backward because there are two sides to this plastic. Once they bring the plastic up to me, I use a hole punch for each end.  I typically punch 3 holes next to each other so there is space large enough for the elastic to easily go through. YOU MUST PUNCH THE HOLES BEFORE SHRINKING!!

For this quick make and take, I gave students elastic and beads.  They strung the elastic through each hole as shown above, and then added the beads. Finally, they tied off the bracelet! I gave the suggestion to add clear nail polish to the knot when they get home to assure it's connection for a longer time.  A little drop of nail polish hardens and makes the knot more secure.  This was a GREAT send off for the class of 2024.  Good luck in the middle school kiddos! 

For a more advanced version of Shrinky Dink jewelry, please see this previous post. or for a more focused lesson on the design of the jewelry, please click here for this previous post

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fiber Weaving on a Loom

In the last month of school, I have been posting on Instagram the amazing weavings that I do with my 1st graders.  Why are they amazing?? Because they had all my first-grade students working hard on these magical little fiber weavings right up until the last minute of Art class. Motivation can be challenging at the end of the year, but I have always found that fiber weaving engages my young artist like nothing else. 

I was asked so many questions about the weavings that I thought I would put together a little 'how-to' lesson to explain all the things I have learned over the past 15 years of teaching students fiber weaving.  I made a presentation with resources about weaving vocabulary, suggested materials list, students samples, but best of all, I filmed 6 videos explaining the how to start and end these weavings in my classroom.

The videos talk about how to string a cardboard loom.  This process is something I start early in the year.  I also have volunteers help me with stringing the looms. This is a great job for parent volunteers to either complete at your school, or at home. I show how to prepare the yarn for your class, as well as a successful way to distribute the yarn.  I give a video sharing how I teach my students how to weave... it has been tested and improved year after year, and it works... really works for most if not all students.  Another video shows how to successfully take the fiber weavings off the loom and distribute them to your classes. It's everything I could think of.

This lesson plan is intended for teachers who are a little nervous to introduce fiber weaving to their students. It could be helpful for a Visual Arts teacher, however, I also make it to assist a Regular Ed teacher who feels fiber weaving would be a great addition to their classroom. I think weaving is one of the best activities to support and improve fine motor skills in our young students.

To celebrate this new lesson I'm putting on a sale for this item for a limited time.  I have this item priced at $12.00 (resources, students samples, and 6 videos).  For the next few days, I will sell this item for $9.60.  That is 20% off!!  This sale will end on June 19th so please visit soon!  

Friday, June 16, 2017

Creating Discussion Without Speaking a Word

Creating Discussion 
With this post, I'm exploring Adobe Spark.  You know me, I'm always trying something new.  So for the back story, resources, and more information... click through the Adobe Spark presentation above. 

Now let's talk about having one of the best discussions I've ever allowed my students to have with one another in class... and they did not speak a word.  After completing these amazing Pagoda's in class, I wanted to give the students a chance to do a gallery walk... but better.  I wanted each student to give feedback, to think about the art they were observing.  In turn, every student 'heard' from several viewers their thoughts on the work they created! 

I gave students 5 minutes of uninterrupted critique time.  They were asked to go around the room leaving notes on post-its for as many artworks as they could visit before the time was up.  Because this was the first written critique these students had done, it was important to me that it was only positive.  I also asked every student to sign their initials beside the message they left. They were also asked to move around the room looking for someone who needed a comment, looking for people with a little writing on their comment sheet.  We talked about how there is always something good about every artwork.  Finding the strong parts of an artwork is what makes up better Artist. Finally, I told them, they can not talk while doing this activity.  At the end of the school year, this was the most difficult part of this activity. 

I set the timer and they were off. Students were kind, thoughtful, and respectful of one another.  Their comments were amazing. The details in their writing were fun to look at.  Students walked away with more feedback than I could have ever given them myself.  This was one of the most valuable activities I did this whole last school year.  It's a practice I need to make time for in the short time I have the students in the Art Studio.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Art Education Pro

So excited about the new way to receive professional development for Art Teachers!!  What an amazing resource The Art of Education has put together for us.  You can try it out for free this summer!! That is amazing! You can get clock hours for watching some of the most amazing teachers share about their experience in Art Education.You can join for a month... or the whole year.   The best part is you can purchase this PD, or you can have your school look into a purchase because there is group pricing!

I was honored to record on a couple of different subjects. What a treat to be able to share the things I feel successful with, to an audience of peers. They did little clips to share of each of the instructors as just a taste of the quality and message. 

This is the best way yet, in my opinion, to get PD.  Purchas, when you need a boost of energy for your job, when you have been asked to start a new class, when working with a new level of student, or when you just need some clock hours and you want it in ART EDUCATION instead of non-Art related subjects that districts so often provide. Having this PD on Demand is the perfect fit for so many of us. 

Great work to The Art of Education for seeing what Art teachers really need, for catering to us, for making us the main focus!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Central MN Arts Board- Arts Camp

I presented to a group of enthusiastic educators today on Flipping the Classroom. I always love this Arts Camp because it brings in so many different educators.  We had subs, homeroom teachers, home school teachers, employees of the Girls and Boys Club, and even Kathleen Kempa author of Magic Time Kids.  What a great group of people with such amazing questions and curiosity.

In this post, I first wanted to share the link to the presentation (click here) if you would like to review the information from today.  Of course, this is more of an outline of everything that we covered. 

Second, I wanted to address a lot of the questions during or after this presentation.

  • Q. What kind of headphones do you use?  A. Here's a link to my first blog post about these amazing headphones.  Here is the actual DonorChoose request so you can request the same brand if you are interested in that.
  • Q. Where do I get new music for my videos that is safe and copyright free?  A. Visit Bensounds.  It's a great website and he only asks that you credit him if you use his work.
  • Q. You mentioned The Art of Education for flipped classes and other courses, are the classes good. A. I was open and did explain that I have worked for The Art of Education, but I have also taken many courses through the company.   I have always learned from every class that I have taken. Here's the website for AOE classes.  New today, AOE announce their new way to get PD... called Art Ed Pro.  Worth checking out for sure! 

It was a great session with good feedback. Thanks to all who came and if you have more question, please comment below or email me at