An art education blog written by an elementary art teacher. This blog showcases hundreds of art projects and lessons for kids. Here you will find painting, drawing, clay, sculpture, crafts and many more kinds of creative inspiration for teaching art.
My students and I recently made two colorful artworks for our school fundraiser.
We painted a stool with acrylic paints. I had kids from grades K-3 come up two or three at a time to take turns painting the sections. After the base layer was dry, we used magazine cutout words to decoupage the stool. Black sharpies were also used to outline and accent the edges. Students in grades K-3 helped with this project and I had some older kids do some touch ups.
Students in grade 3-5 created this “Happy Hearts” picture for our fundraiser. It was inspired by the artwork of Romero Britto and his heart pictures.
After the devastating fire this week at the Notre Dame cathedral, I put some of my previously planned lessons on hold. We are making a bulletin board in tribute of the Notre Dame cathedral.
One of my classes is making some stunning and highly detailed pen drawings of parts of the cathedral and the gargoyles. Watercolor washes will be added to the background. I am super impressed with how these are coming along, but none are finished to show you yet. Two other grade levels are making different styles of faux stained glass pictures.
In this blog post I will share with you two different ways to make “stained glass windows” with your elementary students.
Here are some pictures of the windows in the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Tissue Paper Stained Glass
Tissue paper stained glass rose windows are being made by my 2nd graders now. The students are still working on these. When they are finished, I will post some more examples of their creations. I created a video to show you the steps!
Tissue Paper Stained Glass- Inspired by Notre Dame Cathedral - YouTube
This is what the back of the window looks like.
Scratch Art Faux Stained Glass
My 3rd and 4th graders are working on Scratch Art Stained Glass Windows.
Hi! I am here today to tell you about 2 products that I enjoyed learning about at the NAEA Convention in the vendor halls. What is the vendor hall at NAEA?
The vendor hall is one of my favorite parts of the convention. I love trying out new art materials, techniques and buying art resources! Here are some of the things I got as samples or purchased in the vendor hall. (Most were free!)
Some of the vendor booths were very inspiring and colorful!
There were a lot of hands-on demonstrations.
Activa Air Dry Clay
Now I am going to tell you about two of my favorite products from the convention: Activa clay (not the yogurt company) and Jack Richeson Collegiate Metallic watercolor paint. I did not get paid to write about either of these products, but I thought they were cool enough to share with you. I am using some Amazon Affiliate links which provides me a small compensation for your purchases, but adds no extra charge to you!
First, I learned about ACTIVA Plus Natural Self-Hardening Clay from Ruth Post, who is a representative for the company. We have been friends online and had a chance to hang out at the conference. I had actually written off air-dry clay because my students’ projects always break and crumble. She mentioned how wonderful the Activa air-dry clay was and told me I should stop by her booth. Ruth was an elementary art teacher for 30 years (not sure the exact number, but teaching art was her career) and she said she would never promote any product she didn’t think was great.
Here’s me and Ruth at dinner!
Here’s Ruth at the booth!
–Activa Air Dry Clays Available in a 1lb, 2lb, 3lb, package or 22lb block. What I like about the Activa clay is that it is very easy to work with and feels very much like regular clay. No kiln firing is required. I made this llama at the booth at the conference and managed to take it all the way from Boston, in my backpack, on the plane, without it breaking. I think that says a lot about the clay! When it is cured after “drying” in the air, it is pretty darn hard and solid. I painted my llama with acrylic paints, glitter glue, puffy fabric paint and Sharpie.
Air dry clay is more pricey than regular clay, so I would use it for small projects with the kids. FREE clay lesson tutorials by Little Budding Artist!
I experimented with some amazing and fun art techniques at the NAEA ’19 Conference that I am going to share with you today. These are ticketed hands-on workshops that are longer (2 hours) and cost a little extra ($39 each). But, the extra cost is SO worth it!
INSIDER TIP: Before I start going through some of the tips that I learned, I wanted to tell you that if you download the NAEA Convention App for your phone, you can search the sessions and access all the handouts that have been uploaded by the presenters. Both the tooling foil workshop and the encaustic workshop had handouts uploaded to the app. You can access these even if you didn’t attend the convention.
I have always been hesitant to work with tooling foil with my students. I have done projects before with limited success. I decided to try a robot tooling foil project earlier this year and you can see the robots here. So, the robots turned out nice, but I still wondered how to achieve more depth and how to deal with those pesky sharp edges that resulted when you cut out a shape.
Here are some of the examples that Phyl brought:
I learned how to make the edges less sharp when you cut out a shape: The trick is after you cut out the shape, lay it flat on a table and rub over the edges with the edge of a popsicle stick. Flip over the shape and rub the edges on the other side. Continue to do so and the edges will not be sharp anymore! The $39 was worth that tip alone!
The other tip I learned to make the relief pop out more is that after you press out the shape on the reverse side, lay down the foil flat on a hard table and rub around the shape with a popsicle stick to flatten out the “right” side again. Every time you work the reverse side, you should reflatten the front “negative space” with a popsicle stick on a hard table. This definitely helped to make my bird parts stand out more. We colored our images with India ink brushed on with a foam brush. Then, after it dried (use hair dryers to speed up the process), we used steel wool to lightly rub off and reveal our textured designs.
I like how on the above examples Phyl used acrylic paint and Sharpies to add color to the foil, as well as decorated the boards she mounted them on.
Here is my bird made with tooling foil:
My plan with this bird is to add a little bit of color, then punch holes on the tail and attach wire and beads. I will also mount this to a board and paint the board background.
I had never done any encaustic artwork before, so this was very exciting to learn about. What is encaustic? Encaustic is a Greek word meaning “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos). Heat is used throughout the process, from melting the beeswax and varnish to fusing the layers of wax. (From the Encaustic Art Institute).
The presenters started by showing slides of encaustic work and in particular, focusing on Jasper Johns’ encaustic works. (You can see all of their slides on the NAEA Convention app in their workshop description.)
Here is a close-up of Jasper John’s flag. You can see the brushstrokes of paint and newspaper scraps through the encaustic. One of the fun things about encaustic is that you can place collage pieces or draw in between layers or
You may be familiar with Jasper Johns’ number artwork.
We used number and letter stencils to draw a design. Then, we colored our designs with oil pastels and colored pencils. Collage elements were also glued on.
After the drawing was complete, hot beeswax was applied to the picture. Since the workshop is about encaustic for elementary, the resin was left out of the beeswax to make it safer. To set up the stations, beeswax pieces were put into metal tins and placed on top of a pancake griddle on low heat (under 200 degrees.) The beeswax was painted on with cheap foam brushes. I have not tried this with kids, but I would advise you to take extra precaution, as the wax is hot and could burn. The presenters have taught encaustics with their upper elementary students. They set up one or two stations and stand in between them to monitor the kids as they apply the beeswax.
Adults can use heat guns to remelt the wax on the paper to spread it away from areas you want to show through more clearly. (Not a good idea to use with kids.)
After wax is dried, more collage elements can be added or oil pastel drawn on top. Additional wax can be painted on to create further layers. The one caveat is that since there is no resin in the mixture, you should not place these pictures in a hot car or direct sunlight, or the wax could start to melt.
Here are some other beautiful examples from the class.
One of the presentations I was most looking forward to going to at NAEA ’19 was the author Peter H. Reynolds. Most elementary art teachers are familiar with his books.. they are all so colorful and teach about those concepts we want our students to learn.
The book called The Dot is the one that I think most people have heard of. I have done lots and lots of projects about dots using this book. You can see some of my students’ dot art here, here, and here! We have even celebrated the International Dot Day, which you can learn more about here. International Dot Day is a day to elevate creativity. The book is about learning to be creative and passing it along to someone else (taking care of others, which is a theme throughout Reynolds’ books.)
Peter got the idea for this book when he was in a classroom and there was a little girl who said she couldn’t draw. He felt that was so sad, because “not being able to draw” is the equivalent of felling like you are not able to show who you are.
Peter did a read-aloud of this story for the crowd.
Connecting the Dots
He told us a story about his 7th grade math teacher. Peter was always doodling in class. His math teacher told him to look through the math book and find a concept to teach others through his doodling and creativity. Peter came back to his teacher with a comic book about math. His teacher told him to make a video about it. The teacher modeled curiosity and also that it is ok to not know how to do something. The teacher did not know how to make a video, so he asked the media teacher to help them. The math teacher, the media teacher and Peter worked together to make his first animated film about math.
His teacher “connected the dots” to find Peter’s strengths and tie that in with the content area, instead of shutting him down. He was able to merge his own desire to teach math with Peter’s talents of storytelling and drawing.
Today, Peter founded a multi-media production company called FableVision Studios. In addition, FableVision Learning offers creative educational materials, computer programs and professional development. On top of all that, he and his brother opened a bookstore too! I was so impressed to hear about all Peter has accomplished in his life. The bookstore is called The Blue Bunny Bookstore and is right in Boston. If I had had more time on my trip, I would have stopped there.
Themes in Peter’s Books
I love that so many of his books have underlying themes about all of the good qualities we want kids to develop.
I have used several of his books in my classroom, but now have ordered more.
The book Word Collector is amazing! This would go great with an art project that includes found poetry. I can’t wait to do this with my students.
His newest book, called Say Something! was written to honor all voices. He encourages kids to speak up and speak what they believe. It is dedicated to Emma Gonzalez, a young student who is saying something and taking action. This would be a great book to read if you do art projects about social issues or causes that kids are interested in.
Here are more of his books that you may be interested in. The first two shown here I use when teaching art lessons about kindness or peace. (Amazon Affiliate links have been used at no extra cost to you.)
I had a very exciting trip to Boston last week for the National Art Education Association Conference. If you have never been to one before, you should really try to go some year. It’s quite the experience!
The conference was from Thursday-Saturday last week and it was jam-packed full of workshops, speakers, vendors, meeting friends, site-seeing and walking back and forth around the hotel/conference center. I am going to split up my experience into a few different blog posts. Here are a few highlights from my trip!
The speakers were top-notch this year.
I was able to see several really stellar speakers – Amy Sherald (who painted Michelle Obama’s portrait), Howard Gardner (psychologist who developed the theory of multiple intelligences) and Peter Reynolds (children’s book illustrator.)
I went to 3 hands-on workshops to learn new techniques.
I did a “one-step” mosaic making workshop, totally terrific tooling foil with Phyl Brown and an encaustic for elementary workshop. I will share more pictures and tips I learned in a future blog post.
The vendor hall was filled with art supplies to try and resources for art teachers.
One of my favorite parts of the conference is getting free samples! The vendor hall is full of art supply companies, colleges and companies that will show you ways to use their products.
The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is a treasure trove of inspiring artwork, like this Chihuly sculpture seen here.
I spent an afternoon at the MFA. What a great museum! I have lots of pics and selfies to share.
Hanging Out with Other Art Teachers
One of the best parts about the conference is getting to spend time with art teacher friends, both old and new. Some of these gals I have known online for a long time and we finally got to hang out in person. Others I have met before at conferences and we enjoyed reconnecting! It was also a blast rooming with my college friend Dawn (in the rainbow wig).
I’m looking forward to sharing more about my conference in the next couple of blog posts! Stay tuned.
Did you miss me? My blog has been on the back burner since January, because February was taken over by mountains of Girl Scout cookies! My daughter sold over 1,000 boxes of cookies and we had all the troop’s cookies stored at my house, so it was general craziness here coordinating selling cookies literally everywhere we could.
In this hot air balloon painting project, my 2nd grade students learned about types of lines, watercolor gradations and warm & cool colors. I saw beautiful, colorful hot air balloon paintings awhile ago from Painted Paper, which you can see by clicking here. I knew I wanted to try something similar.
The students learned about warm and cool colors. I set up liquid watercolors in little cups inside muffin tins. I have tried so many different ways to set up liquid watercolors to avoid spillage. This seemed to work fairly well. Warm and cool colors were separated. I showed them how to make strips of color and to blend them together in a color gradation.
Next, the students traced a balloon shape using a balloon tracer. They used India ink (Amazon affiliate links to my product recommendations at no extra cost to you) in little squeeze bottle daubers to trace the shape of the balloon. The students used the bottle daubers to draw a variety of types of lines on the balloon. We used these bottles from Handy Art.
Thanks to Cassie Stephens for the idea on using India ink in bottle daubers!
When the ink on the balloons was dry, the students colored in each of the sections with Kwik Stix. I cut rectangular brown baskets from construction paper and the students used their scissors to round off the basket edges. They drew the basket weave and glued all the pieces together to their background.
Some of you might know that I am a Girl Scout troop leader! This blog is mostly for talking about art teacher related things, but I thought other Girl Scout leaders might find this useful!
I made this math sheet up for my Girl Scout troop! They are 3rd graders and they enjoy math, so I figured they would get a kick out of this sheet. (For the one I gave my girls, I used their names. I changed the names in this sheet.) We have the ABC bakers cookies and our boxes are $4 for the regular boxes and $5 for the gluten free. I know it varies by baker and council for pricing. But, this could give you some ideas for math problems for your girls to try. I thought it would be great for them to see how much it actually costs for a badge and how many boxes of cookies we need to sell in order to fund our troop’s activities and supplies.
My students are making kindness bookmarks now when they have free time. These are some positive mindset affirmations and mantras that I wrote or collected. Great for kids! Great for art projects or art journaling!
For a high resolution PDF copy, visit my TPT shop for a FREE DOWNLOAD: