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Looking for a statement piece for your art teacher wardrobe? Or just something prettier to hang your keys and ID on? Be sure to check out my new creative venture, Rainbow Palette Jewelry.
All necklaces and lanyards are hand-painted and assembled by myself and are designed for all other color enthusiasts to enjoy!
On Friday, May 24th at 7pm eastern time, I will be doing a restock of my collection at www.rainbowpalettejewelry.com. During my first stock in April, almost everything sold out within 24 hours... so if you're wanting a piece, you'll want to make sure that you set an alarm. :)
To keep current on all things Rainbow Palette Jewelry, be sure to follow my instagram accounts @rainbowpalettejewelry and @artwithmrsnguyen.

Below are just a few of the pieces that I've made for the collection.



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I am SO excited to share this resource that I've been working on with you guys!
After seeing some absolutely gorgeous paper weavings on Instagram, I was inspired to create one of my own! So I googled basket weaving designs, then used that to guide my paper weaving.
That's when it struck me! What if there were designs or templates created specifically for paper weaving that made it easier for younger students to do too?! Note: I recommend this for students who have already done paper weaving before. I would not use this to introduce the technique for the first time.
Yesssssss!!
To use these templates, you just print them on regular letter size paper (I recommend using Astrobrights cardstock), and then weave in the weft strips so they cover the X's and go under the blank squares.
Easy peasy!

Check out this video showing how to use the templates for paper weaving:
Paper Weaving - YouTube

I arranged my materials into a binder that would work PERFECTLY for an art center or even just for early finishers who need something fun and engaging to do while others finish up.
The binder is arranged into a few sections:
1. Instructions
2. Design catalog (showing all the designs in the binder)
3. Weaving templates (with cover pages)
4. Student designs
5. Instructions for creating designs and then making those into templates (to be included in the binder for some art room fame)

Check out this video showing how I set up my binder:
Weaving Template Binder - YouTube

My favorite part of the binder is the section for student designs. What better way to motivate students to do their best work, then with the promise of art room fame! :)

If you're interested in getting a copy of this package, you can find it in my shopify store or on Teachers Pay Teachers!
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Geometric watercolor quilts? Yeah.. I don't know about the name either.. but it's the best I've got for this one (the designs certainly do remind me of a quilt design). :)
This design lesson is totally inspired by the absolutely amazing Josie Lewis (see her instagram here). She works in a whole bunch of mediums.. but her watercolor paintings are among my favorite pieces! She uses a whole bunch of geometric designs in her work and paints in a way that requires the utmost patience and attention to detail (one slip and the design gets messed up). That's why in this lesson, I use white wax pencil (or you could use white oil pastel) to mark out my grid lines.

To begin, start with a piece of 9"x9" 80lb white drawing paper. Check out the image below for folding directions.
After folding the paper to divide it into 16 squares, you'll need to use a white wax pencil (or oil pastel) to trace over all of the fold lines. Once that's completed, you'll use that wax pencil to draw diagonal lines going in both directions through all the squares (to make X's).

Once this is done, it's time to start painting!
The watercolor set I used for my examples is actually a set that I picked up from Josie Lewis' website (link here)... but you could really use any type of watercolors.
The way each triangle is painted is really up to you and your goals for the lesson. You could have students paint in the triangles with random colors, by using a specific color scheme (I like the idea of analogous colors contained within each square), or even using tints and shades.

Once every triangle has been painted, it's time to move onto adding texture and pattern with oil pastels! In my examples I selected oil pastels, that for the most part matched the watercolor paint it was going over.


I absolutely LOVE these! I can't wait to go back to work and do this lesson with some of my upper elementary (definitely using analogous color schemes)! Could you imagine how amazing a hallway display with a bunch of these would look?!
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I LOVE LOVE LOVE this lesson! It's colorful, fun, and full of cheer! :)

To begin, start by reviewing color mixing with your students. If you're teaching upper elementary they probably already know that a primary color + a primary color = a secondary color.. but do they know that a primary color + a secondary color = a tertiary (or intermediate) color?
This lesson is GREAT for teaching about those tertiary colors!

After reviewing, give students a sheet of heavy drawing paper and have them LIGHTLY draw out 6 (or 7) balloon shapes (upside-down egg with a small trapezoid at the bottom) that overlap each other. The size of the paper is totally up to you, but this lesson does lend itself to doing some different sizes (like tall and narrow).

Once the balloons are drawn, have students paint in every other balloon a primary color with watercolor paints. The first balloon should be red, the third should be yellow, and the fifth should be blue. I personally like painting them so that one side of the balloon is more heavily saturated with color (to help create the illusion of form) - but the highlights we add later will do this as well.

At this point it will likely be the end of class. This is a great stopping point because it allows the primary color balloons to fully dry before painting the secondary color balloons. You want them to be dry so that the colors don't accidentally bleed into areas that are not actually overlapping.
If you're using watercolor paper, the water in the paint will sit on the surface longer - so it's even more important to make sure that it's FULLY dry before continuing. 
If you're using a heavy drawing paper (recommended) then it should just take a few minutes for it to dry out enough to be able to continue painting.

Once everything is completely dry, give students colored pencils to add the ties and ribbons to the bottoms of the balloons. 

Then finally using a white chalk pastel, have them add a highlight (or more) to each balloon. To get the most realistic highlights, the curvature of the highlight line should match that of the balloon (so rounded like the edge of the balloon). Have student lightly blend in the chalk pastel with their finger.
The highlight is what really makes the balloon look like a balloon! :)

To add a nice finishing touch, try mounting the pieces of art of black construction paper. Then using all those bits of colored scrap paper (that I KNOW you have haha), add some confetti pieces to the border. I think this finishing touch REALLY makes this lesson even more fun looking!

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This cute project is perfect for anytime during the year, but especially around Valentines Day!
It combines the ideas of stained glass, collage, and yes - even color mixing if you want! Layering tissue paper is one of my favorite ways to reinforce color mixing knowledge without using paint!

To get started, you'll need the following materials:
   • Black Construction Paper
   • Liquid Glue
   • Paintbrush (like the kind you'd use for tempera)
   • Transparency Paper (or sheet protectors) 
   • Non Bleed Tissue Paper 
     (color depend on desired result)
   • Scissors
   • Water
   • Small Mixing Container (for glue and water)

To begin you'll need to create the black frame that you'll be working within to create the stained glass-esque hearts. To do that, simply fold a sheet of black construction paper in half, then draw half a heart along the folded side of the paper. Then about 1" inward, draw another heart. Cut along both of these lines.
Next, prepare your pieces of tissue paper by tearing them up in pieces. You don't want them to be too small or too big. The perfect size would probably be between 1-2" in height or length (but of course this is up to you). **If you want your art to have a more stained glass look, you may want to cut out squares to use instead of tearing. If you want to make this lesson into a color mixing lesson, try giving your students the colors red, yellow, and blue and challenge them to overlap them to create secondary colors! 

To prepare your glue solution, mix liquid glue and water into a container. The exact proportions aren't super important.. but it should be about 50/50. 
Once you have everything ready, it's time to get started!
Lay your black frame on top of your piece of transparency paper (or sheet protector). Once students start gluing, they cannot move the transparency paper (or the tissue paper will tear). Ultimately you'll peel the artwork from the transparency paper.. but while wet it must remain exactly where it is.
Take a piece of torn tissue paper and lay it so that it is partially on the black frame and partially in the middle space. Dip your paintbrush into the glue solution and paint a layer of watered-down glue onto the tissue paper. The ENTIRE piece of tissue paper needs to be glued down. If any bit is left dry it will not hold together when it comes time to remove the transparency paper.

When teaching this to students it's EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to emphasize the importance of gluing tissue paper partially on the black frame. If students don't do this, the tissue paper won't hold onto the frame.

It might be a good idea to have students begin by covering the entire edge of the frame first BEFORE filling in the middle exclusively.
That way you can ensure that they've covered the entire inner perimeter of the frame!


Once the entire inside of the frame has been filled in, go back and double-check for any little spots that may have been missed. Look for any holes or any areas that look like they haven't been glued down sufficiently and fix them.
I've found that when doing this lesson with younger students (K-1st), I often have to go back and double-check their work once they think they're done. You'll save yourself from a lot of ruined projects and heartache later if you get these things fixed correctly!


Once everything looks good, put the work up to dry in a drying rack. DO NOT try to remove it from the transparency paper until it is COMPLETELY dry (best to leave it overnight).
Once everything is dry, slowly peel back your work from the piece of transparency paper.

Colorful Alternatives
If you know me, you know I LOVE any and everything rainbow! Teaching your students about rainbow order? This lesson would be a great opportunity to have students demonstrate their understanding!
Look at those tertiaries!
This was another version I tried. Color wheel-esque!

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I have tried doing a pumpkin lesson with my 2nd graders for a while now.. but nothing ever really stuck. UNTIL NOW!
Ladies and gentlemen.. let me be the first to tell you how much I vehemently HATE chalk pastel. It make a giant mess, I have to constantly be on kids about not blowing the chalk dust into the air, and everyone's clothes somehow get covered in it EVERY. TIME. With that being said.. it does the most beautiful things. The way colors can be blended together is breathtaking and every child leaves feeling like an artist. How can I say no to that?

So to begin this lesson we started by examining a fake pumpkin I bought from Wal-Mart. I asked my students what they noticed about it and they mentioned that it was covered in glitter, had different kinds of orange on it, and it had a lot of lines. I held the pumpkin up to a color mixing poster I have hanging up in my room and pointed out that the majority of the pumpkin was orange.. but it also had a few yellow-orange and red-orange spots.
Then I addressed the lines on it. We talked about how the lines were straight vertical lines.. but when they were placed around a sphere-like object.. they looked curved.
Then it came time to draw! I asked students to start by making at least 3 circles on their page (one large, one medium, and one small). Then I demoed step-by-step how to draw the rest of the pumpkin.

Once their drawings were completed, students outlined their work with a sharpie marker.

The next day they came in was chalk pastel day! I'm sure as my students walked in they saw a look of horror on my face.. they KNOW how much I love/hate chalk pastels.
Nevertheless we got down to business. Before we took the pastels out I gave each student a wet paper towel. The paper towels are meant to help students keep their cool (and mine) during the entire process. I cannot tell you the number of times my students got up and asked if they could wash their hands ("No because you are still using them!"). So they use the paper towel to wipe their finger and/or table spot.
 I went step-by-step with my students through all of the chalk pastel directions by demoing on my document camera. First we laid the orange chalk pastel on its side and quickly rubbed it over the pumpkin area.. then students used ONE finger (hahahahahaha yeah right) to rub the pastel into the paper.
Next I showed them how to apply the yellow chalk pastel to the center part of each of the pumpkins sections.. then lightly blend it in.
Then they used a red pastel to lightly outline all of their pumpkins sharpie lines (sans the stump).. then use one finger to trace over those red lines to blend them in.
Then they used a white pastel to add a couple highlights to the top of their pumpkin and brown or green for the stump.
Then we spent like 10-15 minutes washing our hands and cleaning up the tables. All while I debate in my head why I'm even teaching this lesson to begin with.

On the last day I had my students come in and sit on the carpet. We looked at two similar pictures of pumpkins and compared and contrasted them. Which one looked more realistic? Why? What did the artist do in one picture that was different from the other?
I think putting the two images next to each other really helps students to see the differences.
We eventually get to talking about shadows, size, positioning, and overlapping as ways to create the illusion of depth (which they continue to pronounce "death" - even though we've practiced several times at this point).
Then my students went back to their seats while I passed out 12"x18" dark blue construction paper.
I had them write their name on their blue paper first and then set it aside as they cut their pumpkins out from their paper.
Once most of my class was done cutting, I showed them how to use the side of a lime green chalk pastel and their ONE finger to create the ground on their paper. I instructed them to make their horizon line almost halfway up their paper so they'd have plenty of space to arrange the pumpkins in their picture.
Once they finished the ground, I had them lay their cut out pumpkins on their paper and arrange them how they'd like (preferably using some of the techniques we just talked about). Once they were happy with the placement I showed them how to create shadows for their pumpkins. First they lifted up a pumpkin on the page (furthest back first) and color a dark green oval on their page. Next they used ONE finger to rub the dark green into the lime green, then glued their pumpkin into the dark green space.
The last step of the project was to use a chalk pastel to create a moon and stars if they wanted to (or had time to).

I'd say that the results speak for themselves. As much as I can't stand chalk pastel... I couldn't imagine not allowing my students to create such a beautiful piece.










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This post contains affiliate links for each picture book title.

In the art room, I often use picture books as a source of inspiration for my lessons - especially with my K-2 kiddos! Not only do I have an appreciation for the gorgeous illustrations, but I also love the vividly descriptive language that is often used. In fact, most of my lower grade art lessons actually start with me doing a read-aloud with my class. The kids love it (because who doesn't like having a book read to them?), my administration loves it (uhhh incorporating literacy anyone?), and I love it (gotta savor those few quiet art room moments). :)
Recently I had a colleague ask me to send her a list of books that I often use in my classroom, so I decided to turn it into a blog post! Of course this is not an exclusive list (I literally have more than 100 picture books in my classroom), but it's a great place to start!
Each of the 8 book recommendations below includes a brief description of the project(s) I normally do with it and links for more information.


The Grouchy Ladybug - By: Eric CarleThis is a book that I use as a basis for a couple of kindergarten lessons that I teach.
• Clay'dy Bug lesson: In this lesson my kinders create a clay ladybug using a pinch-pot as its base. I love this lesson as it's fairly short and sweet. This is the first time that my students have an opportunity to touch clay, so we keep it fairly simple.
• Grouchy Ladybug Collage: In this project I teach my students about texture and then they create a variety of painted papers using paint scrapers. Afterwards we cut and glue those papers together to create a collage.

Snowmen at Night - Written by: Caralyn Buehner, Illustrated by: Mark BuehnerSnowmen at Night is one of my very favorite books to read in my classroom! The kids love the rhyming words and I absolutely adore the illustrations!
I use this book to help introduce my 2nd grade students to our Winter Value Landscape project! In this lesson we explore value as an element of art and talk about tints, shades, highlights, both cast and form shadows, and how to create the illusion of depth in our artwork. This is one of my most popular lessons! You can read the blog post about it here or you can check out my TPT store for an even more thoroughly written lesson (with PowerPoint)!

How the Crayons Saved the Rainbow - Written by: Monica Sweeney, Illustrated by: Feronia Parker ThomasHave you ever seen a cuter kindergarten lesson?! After reading the book, I talk to my kinders about 'rainbow order'. This is something that they've all learned about long before I mention it (rainbow writing anyone?). The only difference between 'art rainbow order' and the 'rainbow order' they've heard about is the lack of the hue indigo.
Indigo is a point of contention for me. The only time we talk about indigo is when teaching ROYGBIV. Is it on the color wheel? Nooooo. Maybe it's the way that I've grown up teaching, but I'm not a fan of indigo - as much of my color theory is based off of the color wheel.
Either way, if you like indigo, you'll find it on the rainbows in this book. But when teaching my kinder painted paper mosaic lesson I have my students leave it off.
Since I have my classroom split up into color tables, I have each color table create a piece of painted paper that matches the color of their table. After a night of drying I tear up these papers into smaller pieces and put multiples pieces of each color at each table to be used for my student's rainbow painted paper mosaics. You can find more about this lesson on my blog here.

Snowballs - By: Lois EhlertWhat an amazing book to teach students about collage/assemblage! Lois Ehlert creates the most beautiful books! I've used this book to help teach a couple different lessons before... but these days I use it mostly for teaching my kinders a snowman collage project. You can find the write-up for that lesson here.

Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli - Written by: Barbara Jean Hicks, Illustrated by: Sue Hendra This is one of my all time favorite books to use in the art room! Not only is it a rhyming book (which the kids LOVE), but it also has some amazingly awesome illustrations to help teach the ideas behind creating the illusion of depth. It has pages with a very clear foreground, middle-ground, background, it shows objects getting smaller as they move back into space, overlapping, etc.
I typically use this book when teaching my 2nd graders about creating space and then also getting deeper into the ideas of texture. If you'd like to see my lesson - you can check it out here.

Mouse Paint - By: Ellen Stoll Walsh Mouse Paint is such a great book for teaching color mixing at the K-1 level. Because my lessons have continuously changed over the years, I've used this book with a variety of different projects. Here are a few of them:
Cut-and-Glue Penguins: In this lesson my 1st graders learned about color mixing and then used that knowledge to paint a colorful background for a collage we later built on top of it.
Delaunay Tissue Paper Collage: In this lesson 1st graders learned about color mixing and then looked at the colorful work of both Robert and Sonia Delaunay. Afterwards they created their own abstract tissue paper collage pieces that demonstrated their knowledge of color mixing and layering. This project is a fun alternative to teaching color mixing with paint.
Kandinsky Color Circles: This is one of the first lessons I ever taught EVER! In this lesson students learned about color mixing and then looked at the work of my favorite painter, Wassily Kandinsky. Naturally we looked at his painting "Square with Concentric Circles" (1913) and then talked about how he must have mixed his paints to create specific colors. Then students did a step-by-step painting experiment to create their own set of concentric circles.

Mouse Shapes - By: Ellen Stoll WalshIf you can't already tell - I'm a fan of Ellen Stoll Walsh books. :) This book is a PERFECT way to introduce the idea of combining shapes together to create larger and more complex shapes or images (which also touches a number of kindergarten Common Core geometry standards).
Once again as my lessons have changed over the years, I've used this book with a few different projects:
Shape Trains: In this lesson kinders get some practice using glue sticks and learn the basics of combining shapes to create shape trains.
Cut-and-Glue Owls: I've taught this lesson a number of different ways (using different books), but my most recent version includes using this book before we start cutting out shapes to create our owl collages.
Tangrams: After reading the book Mouse Shapes, students manipulate pattern blocks to complete tangram puzzles (click the link to find the FREE tangram downloads that I use with my students).

Louise Loves Art - By: Kelly LightThis is a lesson that was originally derived from my amazing supervising teacher way back when - and now I use it with my 1st graders! "Louise Loves Art" is a book about a little girl who creates her greatest masterpiece (a drawing of her cat) but then her little brother cuts it up and makes it into something else (his greatest masterpiece). We use this as a jumping in point to talk about the idea of taking something and transforming it into something else. We take that idea of transformation and apply it to turning a letter of the alphabet into an animal drawing! To see the full lesson including a pretty awesome extension, click here.


What are your favorite books to use in your art room?
Comment below to continue the conversation!

Pin it for later reading! :)
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