Saturday, September 22, 2018

Colorful Table Wreaths

Recently I moved into my new/old classroom.  I left for a year to go to another school and now I'm back.  I am working on redeveloping my classroom. One of the first things to go were the color table indicators hanging in my classroom.  I bought them years ago from a party store... you know the kind... the honeycomb tissue decorations?  Anyway, they were lovely and worked well, but now it's 5 years later and they are faded and full of dust... well, they had a good run but they had to go.

I wanted something new, something quick, and something cheap. I was inspired by the Dollar Tree! I bought the nine floral foam wreaths for my tables and walked out with not much of a clue what to do with them.  That is when I ran across my inspiration on the Gelli Plate Website. I love it!! If you haven't spent time exploring their website, it's worth an hour (or hours) of your time.

Refer to my requirements... something new- check, something cheap- check, and something quick-no... if I created the Gelli Printed Paper, it would have taken a long, long time (but would have been fun, don't get me wrong).  I compromised with my crazy HUGE supply of scrapbook paper (I mean sickly, huge... lots of paper... lots). So... I started by separating the paper into color groups.  Not a pretty picture, but certainly part of the process. 

I created a template and started cutting... and cutting, and cutting. I created these little piles of color groups.  I tried to make them random by dealing them out like playing cards and then putting them back together in a pile of 'like colors'. I would say I cut about 100 leaves for each wreath. 

Then I gathered the rest of the supplies. The glue gun, hot glue sticks, paper clips, and string (they come in a little later. 

Before starting a wreath, I brought each leaf through my two fingers to create a curve to the paper. 

Then I started gluing. You can see from the picture below, I started with the outside of the wreath and then moved to the inside. Adding a second layer to both the inside and outside was helpful. Then, on the top... I filled in with leaves going in different directions and creating a ton of overlap. 

I created the primary colors (red, yellow, blue), the Secondary colors, (orange, purple, and green), then two neutrals (black and white, and earth tones) and one pink (because I like it). You can see that I was intentional of the colors that I chose to also continuously reinforce my curriculum with even the decorations in my classroom.

How did I get these wreaths to hang?? I'm glad you asked. Again, I was working on a shoestring budget so I used paper clips as my hangers. By bending them as you see below, I glued three clips to the 'bottom' or once hanging, top, of the wreath.


Strings were measured out so they were consistent. I ran the string through the clips. 

I was able to level the wreath out with the string and added a small not on the top to keep the three points together.

Then... I repeated... nine times. 

The wreaths are hung and the kids noted the change every hour since I have placed them in class. Because these little crafts were made and not bought, there is a little extra sense of pride. My students wanted to know how... I told them I would be posting. I know some kid, and their parent will create one of these for themselves. If so, share a picture and let me celebrate with you! 

Share how you used this idea. 

Twitter: @MiniMatisse
Instagram: @MiniMatisseArt

Monday, September 17, 2018

Collaborative Paper Quilt

I'm a person who is often inventing my curriculum over and over. I love the creative part of lesson plans. This year, I was greatly inspired by Don Masse of Shine Brite Zamorano who does a collaborative paper quilt every year with his students. I have always been impressed and this tradition is a highlight for Mr. Masse's school.  This year, as I moved schools, I thought... keep it simple, let the kids play, create something beautiful together... This led me to Don's collaborative lesson.  

Here is the deal... I believe that we build off from each other's ideas.  You will often see me highlighting other educators and Artist who have inspired my lessons. I'm sure it's never taught the same, or with the same emphasis, or even materials... That is why we share our ideas, to see where the seed can grow. Don planted this seed and over the years so many people from all over the world have planted that little seed into their own communities and classrooms. LOOK HOW IT HAS GROWN!!

I also believe that if you are going to use someone's lesson, share your tips and tricks with others too. So, here it the slideshow that was presented to my students (K-5) to teach this lesson. When going through the slideshow, you will see our inspirational Artist, Libs Elliot, as well as Don Masse and the links to his students' work. My students would ask me, do you know Mr. Masse, after I had introduced him as one of my BFF's. "When do you see him?" "How can he be your friend, he lives so far away." This was a great opportunity to talk about how I learn from educators and Artist all over the world. They would also ask, "Will you take a picture and show your friend?" Will I? Heck yes! I'll also share it with the whole world if you don't mind. 

Here are a few additional tips and tricks. 

I used the best paper cutter EVER. Every time I put this out there I have people ask... Where?? How?? I need one.  I get it.  I had to cut the white paper with my own 'traditional' paper cutter and it took me, no joke, 4 times longer.  So, yeah... get your self one. They ROCK! (click here)

When I was creating this lesson, I wanted to check off the list that I had reviewed with all my 3rd-5th graders how to glue with a glue stick and white glue. With my 2nd graders, it was an introduction to white glue... and with my K's and 1st graders... we used glue stick only for this lesson.  The 4th and 5th grade would laugh when they heard how I presented the instruction of the glue stick in my YouTube video... I would joke and say, "I know, Right? Well, this is how I teach my littles. You can teach little people in your life in the same way." They would all laugh and think that this was a good idea. But really, many of my 4th and 5th graders are still working on this skill of gluing and all the little tips and tricks really help. 

I had placed a tray at every table with the extra paper. They would put their scraps in there and I would add some little papers here and there. It allowed for the rainbow effect that you see on the wall. I would only divvy up certain colors at a time. The trays also had the scissors and glue in it so it was easy to pick up.  At the end of the day, I would go through all the trays and clean up the paper sheets and get it ready to go for day 2... then 3 and all the way through the 6th day of my digital day rotation. 

For my littles, I had them practice cutting a triangle together. It was many of these kids first day EVER in school (or in my art room) so we really broke it down... "Here is a square, everyone turn it and show me a diamond. Great, now pur the top corner and the bottom corner together.  Now press it down on your table. Now, what shape do you have??" They would call out together, "A triangle!" I love the wonder and enthusiasm of K's. 

I never said, "You're Wrong". See this is the first day in Art Class for these buddies... If a student didn't 'follow the rules', I would let it go. This was not a formal assessment, they will all look amazing on the wall, and if the kid is proud of their work, so am I! 

I would ask students to arrange their 'mini' quilt on a table when completed. This would give the work a little dry time and allow me time to arrange it on the large format after the students have left. This way we both got to practice our composition. As you can see below, I measured out the paper before attaching the individual sheet. I also numbered and marked it for the connecting points so it would be placed upon the wall correctly

I took some training on a practice called ENVoY this summer and I started implementing it right away. One of the practices of this is to have the directions posted on the board.  I'm sure there will be a LOT more writing on some of the ENVoY tips and tricks but in the meanwhile, check out their website

Because kids in the Art Studio have different times that they finished up (Art is an hour long at my school), I was sure to have some 'play' available. I had blocks, toys, cleaning tools, books, and free draw. Only some opportunities were 'opened' depending on the time left in class for the students. 

I had the quilt slowly growing over the last two weeks... this allowed for everyone to see the progress of the Art Project. 

I shared my lesson plan slideshow with my staff. This allowed them to understand what we were doing in class and what to expect.  It gave credit to the Artist, Libs Elliot, and the inspiring teacher, Don Masse. Plus, it gives others the opportunity to collaborate with you... as you see here, a coworker and friend of mine brought in a quilt that her grandma made and she shared it with her students and myself.  It was awesome and filled my heart. 

I labled the work and tried to educate more people with some little tidbits on Libs Elliot and pictures of her work. EVERYONE that uses the school (sports, scouts, and so on...) is in this area of the school at some point.

And yes... I took a picture with the Artwork. I was so proud of getting this done, up, and displayed! It was a big job but yep, I celebrate my students work too... That called for a picture upon completion. 

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Illinois Art Education Association FREE Webinar

Have you registered for this FREE event? Illinois Art Education Association has opened this webinar up to anyone who would like to participate... Non Members as well!!  They host several webinars over the year with truly amazing Art Educators highlighting the 'GREAT' in their classrooms.  

I will be sharing the many ways that I'm creating a Connect Effect in the many communities that I belong to.   My students, my homeroom teachers, my school, the families of my school, my local community, my online tribe, and my global world. No matter what your goals are this year, creating a Connect Effect in your classroom will not only enhance your students experience but help support and fill your soul! 

Can't wait to 'see you' all on Sept. 10th at 7:00 CST.  Sign up by clicking here

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Introducing Studio Stories- Books to Support the Art Studio

Well, it's back to school time... you know what that means? It's time to start thinking about mARTch Madness. That might seem silly to think about March when we are not even in September yet, but it's the drive to my 'warm-up' lesson this year.  In the past, I have done Monster Mediums, Process Pigs, and Bit-O-Bios. These have all been a little warm-up for all the students and in March, we have a big celebration where students get to vote for their favorites. This year, I'm starting Studio Stories

I have spent the summer looking for books that support the efforts of my lessons, books that promote the Arts, books that talk about BIG ideas that can be a jumping off point for my curriculum. I enjoyed every minute and found so many books!! I'm continuing my quest throughout the year.

I am collecting all the books, but if they are in my library, I borrowed them and read them so I would have the books available to my students at all times. I recorded them, I also created many lessons inspired by the books I found.  I plan to share the books and lessons throughout the school year.  I will be posting here as well as adding to this playlist on Youtube.

I will be using these books for this years mARTch Madness.  Each book will be presented to the students at the start or end of class. This way they will get a little flavor of the books that we are studying. No, they will not be making a project inspired by each book... sometimes it will just be a few minutes of a story for my kiddos to hear. In March, we will vote for our favorite. 2018/19... Here we come! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Huey’s in It Wasn’t Me by Oliver Jeffers- A Digital Drawing Lesson

This 'Studio Story' lesson is inspired by Oliver Jeffers book, "It Wasn't Me". I feel in love with the illustrations the first time I picked it up.  I love the simplicity.  I love the story told without words. Take a look at both the story and some thoughts about the illustrations in the video below. 

I have created a digital lesson inspired by this book. I think so often we teach students to 'use an app' when we should be teaching them to 'use a system'.  In this case, I will use two apps to prove my point. One of the biggest systems and hardest concepts in digital Art is layers. Layers are used in some of the most advanced digital Art programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator. I used every chance I get to show students as young as 2nd grade how to use the idea of layers in drawing apps. 

The first app I want to talk about is Brushes Redux... This app is not very highly rated, but it's one of my favorites for my younger Artist.  I like it because it's free! Anything that students can go download at home as soon as they learn it, earns extra points in my book. I also like how simple the program is... but that also means that it's simple... don't expect a TON of options. One thing that Brushes has... LAYERS and that is the 'system' that I'm trying to teach in this lesson.

First, choose a canvas for your image.

Then I change the brush to be solid... I have shown how to do that above... One thing that you can't see is the 'Dynamic' has three settings... I put them all in the middle. 

On the first layer, I drew two of the characters from the book. I'm using my finger to draw the simple black lines.

On a second layer, I play with the colors of the characters. I added the colors right over the top of the line drawings. At first is looks like I'm covering up the drawing I just created... but then I 'WOW' the kids with a switch of the layers. There are three lines by the layer and if you press your finger to them, you can move them up or down. This is magic for anyone playing with this app. 

With the next step, students are playing with the transparency of the brush. Take a look in the second image where the blue color is being selected.  You can see the bar below it allow you to make the brush more transparent or more opaque. 

This too will be added onto a new layer. 

The last layer bit is the 'discussion' in the bubble... I choose to make this an argument like the book... but I could see leaving this portion of the assignment open-ended so that the viewer must guess what the conversation is by looking at the clues in the bubble and the body language. As you can see, I used a new layer for every color in the 'conversation'. This way I can play with the layers, moving them up and down to create the best composition. 

And there we have it.. a finished work of art.  If you are using Brushes Redux, it also records your process so when you are completed, you can see the steps you took to make your Artwork... another big 'WOW' portion of this app. 

The next app that I used to explore this lesson is Tayasui Sketches Pro... as well as Tayasui Sketches... the free version, and that is really good too... just fewer options. I happen to love this app so I bought the pro version. Also, in my research, I found a Tayasui Sketches School. Not sure what the deal is with this version of the app, perhaps you can get a class discount for your app purchase. Really, all of the apps by Tayasui are pretty amazing.  I'm a huge fan! So here we go with this app.

I like on Sketches that you can choose the canvas. Here I have a watercolor paper behind my image.  I'm also using an Apple Pencil in these examples, not something we could probably use in a classroom setting for too many Art programs.

As you can see, I'm using the layers as well on this app... It's easy to switch the layers on this app as well as change the 'medium' or brush.  It's very intuitive. 

My favorite tool on Sketches is the ability to fill a shape with any of these options. It comes in handy! I used it for the speech bubbles in this case. 

Again, each layer has some 'conversation' on it. That way I can play with the placement of all the elements by moving the layers up or down. I also had fun with all the 'mediums' or brushes in the side for this portion of the Artwork. 

Here is my final artwork above... can you tell what they are arguing about?  Below I have several examples of kiddos in my life doing this lesson with me. These examples range from age 6 to 10 years old. 


For this lesson, don't get stuck on the app. Think about the system. Use any app that you have available to you and your students.