Bike project done – but not finished.


Bike project

bike7 bike4 bike6The “awesome bike project” turned out a little different than I had initially imagined – that’s okay – this is art class, we go with the flow :)

After building pretty sweet bikes from cardboard rings, pipe cleaners, and candy sticks – (see post) we attached the bikes to heavy boards and painted a background.  Of course it makes sense to do the gluing AFTER the scenery is complete – but do to the logistics of this class I did the gluing ahead of time.

(plus the glue was too powerful to use in our very enclosed classroom)

It still worked out, so all is well.  bike10 bike11Little update: Today I had to take the new pup, Margo to the vet.


Margo, the new pup, at the vets. :)

While waiting I spotted this fabulous sculpture –

Now THIS is what I wanted to do with the bike sculptures – sigh – so stinking cute.

cat and dog on bike

next time, next time…..


Cityscapes -simplified


I love cityscapes. The possibilities for art projects are practically endless. Each year I try a different approach – night scenes – silhouettes – careful perspective drawings – sculptures – using blocks of wood – cardboard collages – newspaper – paint – charcoal and anything else I had around the classroom….


After half a year with my young 4th period students, I knew if we were going to pull this off it would have to be eeeasssy – both to explain, manage, and create.

(and fairly inexpensive – oh, who am I kidding – cheap or free works best!)

Cityscapes – Simplified

You will need:

  • Construction paper scraps (precut into rectangles, squares and triangles with my paper cutter – before class.)
  • Stickers – lots and lots of small labeling stickers
  • Glue and paint brushes (we actually used cotton swaps ) -glue sticks will also work of course
  • Crayons

    Very open-ended project

    1. Color the background
    2. Add buildings
    3. Add stickers for windows



cousins helping each other color the background


one city is an explosion of color – the other a creative design :)

  city12 city13 city3 city16 city18 city9 city11 city8

Love when projects cause such happy faces.

Chill, I got this

Stuart is the BlogFEST host of the day, his post “What if you could take charge of your life” is brilliant….and now, here is mine…

In Charge? 

When I put my teacher hat on, I am in charge REGARDLESS of what it may look like to a casual observer.  (teacher assistant, hall monitor, class across the hall…)

My classes are often appear chaotic to those used to lecturing teachers, or those who plan projects that can be completed by trained monkeys…

I have a very GOOD REASON for allowing moving about and laughter – namely creativity likes to sneak in the backdoor. Of course there is time for focused activity – but at the beginning, when I am brainstorming with tiny children – there will be commotion.

It’s okay though, I got this.

“I love chaos…it’s the poetic element in a dull and ordered world.”
~Ben Shahn

the painted faces? …yeah, um all a part of the creative process :)


Party in room 208

BlogFEST 2012 kicks off today with the prompt – Party – Jenn from Wine-n-Chat asks the question,  “Are you the life of the party, or the one sitting back being entertained?”
My answer falls somewhere in between – I love throwing parties. And, teaching art feels like I am throwing a party every time I walk in the classroom.

* I plan out  fun projects

*  Welcome kids with enthusiasm

* Pass out supplies

* Excitedly introduce project

* ….and have FUN playing with the art supplies along with the kids

* sometimes I even bring “party favors” like these wrapped erasers, or a take-home project just because.


There is a technical art teacher in my school – that is not me. She is meticulous and organized…structured and all those other foreign concepts – I am a lot more free form in my approach.

Last year my classes were called “Creativity Explosion!!!”

… this year,  they are simply “Art Exploration” – because I promised the powers that be there will not be any explosions this year :)

My biggest class consists of nearly 30 – first and second year olds. They are wild and loud and I love it.  – I am not wild or loud normally,  but noise does not bother me…noise, mess, chaos – as long as I see smiles, all is well.  It is party time in my classroom and the kids know it.

This does not mean we do not accomplish anything though – our loudest project this year was fun and complete in one 50 minute class.

I read Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch and then demonstrated the proper bag smashing technique so we could make

Fall trees.

Supplies include paper bags, scissors, scrap paper, glue sticks
Normally, the directions call for paper lunch sacks, but I say, Go BIG or go home – so I ran into Aldi’s and bought 40 paper grocery bags.

  1. Directions:
    1. STOMP – We stomped and smashed the bags until they were soft and pliable.
    2. REACH – Then I had the class watch as I reached in the sack and grabbed the bottom to turn it inside out (without ripping it) Some of the smaller kids needed help, but overall this worked well.
    4. CUT and SMASH – Then we made two cut from then open end of the bag to the mid-point, twisted the trunk,
    grabbed on the the middle and SMASHED it against the table – so that it would stand on its own.
    5. CUT and TWIST – Then we made another cut in each large section…twist, twist, twist until they look like branches.
    6. TEAR and GLUE – Finally, the kids tore pieces of construction paper and used a glue stick to attach fall leaves.

Ta da!

only in art class

I love teaching art, but my lessons and my penchant for personifying inanimate objects sometimes brings out the oddest phrases. I am glad the hall monitor knows me, otherwise some of the following comments, commands and questions would have alerted the powers that be a long time ago. 

Things I have heard myself say in art class

-stop already, you aren’t making any sense-

1. grab your head off the shelf
2. now just push your head on the nail, make sure it goes all the way through the back
3. you could put a family in your shoe, or play a soccer game, it could be a guinea pig… 
4. switch bodies with your neighbor
5. pigs do not eat bacon
6. squash the bird, squeeze it until it is the right size
7. take off your shoes
8. I do not want to see Bambi on the wall
9. sure, blow up the whole town as long as you keep drawing
10. see these scissors, I better not catch you erasing
11. fill your head with words
12. find your face
13. stand on your toes until the bell rings
14. the milk could be evil… a container of sour milk antagonizing the fridge inhabitants
15. is that a dead dog in your pool?
16. who’s thinking of cows?
17. because your mama doesn’t love you
18. hey sports central, can you segue to the art teacher for a moment
19. whoa, you aged thirty years
20. no need to be human, put hands on a blender and make it your friend

There are many, oh so many more. Odd things tend to fall out of my face while teaching. Most of it makes sense in context, er….some of it.  But I should explain #17. That was unfortunate. I was eating an orange and a piece of dark chocolate for lunch. The hot coffee in my thermos and the book on my lap made it all perfect. I was happy – but this happy, life-is-good-I-am-surrounded-by-goodness moments brings out a dark sarcastic side. When one of my students saw the chocolate wrapper, he whined, said if you get chocolate, why do I have to eat a stupid egg salad sandwich?   This led to incident #17.  He took it the way it was intended (as a joke) and laughed after his eyes got big as saucers, but I wonder how far that comment went….

I considered explaining each one, but it is probably best if I just leave it to your imagination. Actually, it is best if you just forget you ever read this……thanks.

~*~*~*~*~*~* Make a List and Title It ~*~*~*~*~ GBE2 Week #44 ~*~*~*~*~*



Wordless Wednesday – Seagull edition

I took a seagull on our winter camping trip. Not any seagull, this is a rescue. One of my art students made this lovely bird last year and left it in the storage closet. When I reunited the two after the paper bird spent a long, hot summer next to the boiler room – he said “Just toss it.”  

Instead, I vowed to haunt him with the bird until he graduates, er…actually I just took Mr. Seagull on vacation with my family.  

Set him amongst his kin – 

         who ended up being camera shy – or perhaps intimidated by Mr. Seagulls innate beauty.

Slightly creepy shot of my son
and that concludes Mr. Seagull’s adventure
 – he is now perched on top of my bookcase – 
until Ben’s graduation, 
I think a cap and gown would be adorable…


~I also think I completely missed the point of “Wordless Wednesday” -yet again~

relax, it’s just art – or maybe Die Hard episode 413

There was a story that came out last week that I cannot stop thinking about. – here’s a portion of my little write-up about the case….

“Last week a dad was arrested when he came to pick up his daughter from preschool. It seems the picture the little girl drew caused the teacher concern. The four year old drew a picture of a man with a gun. When asked about it, she told the teacher it was “her dad, getting the bad guys and monsters.”

The teacher did not like what she saw, so she called Family and Social Services. When the dad arrived at the school to pick up his daughter and his other children, he was handcuffed, arrested, and strip searched. According to the Calgary Herald, the police were apparently searching for the gun depicted by the girl. They then went to his house and searched for the weapon. What they found was a single toy gun.” 

The gun in question was not even a realistic-looking gun, it was clear plastic and wait, I probably have one lying around…. 

Anyways, let’s recap here, a four-year old girl drew a picture of gun.
Her teacher freaked out – called social services and the police…
Dad was arrested
House was searched
Nothing found
What?  that was just a picture?  oh, sorry for damaging your reputation dad..
But that’ll teach your little girl from ever drawing anything, ever again – maybe she can stick to coloring, within the lines of course, with teacher-approved colors, and plenty of supervision…
 (sorry artist/art teacher ranting)

It was a gun, drawn by a four-year old…not this lovely creation by an 11-year old in my class
– for the record, this rifle or semi-automatic thing was not part of my lesson plan… but since
“my main two rules” for my class include

*Pencils must be moving if they want the privilege of talking throughout the hour*
*No erasing, or I cut off their erasers*

Maybe that last one induced violence… ?  oh well, no matter. NO erasing or I pull out the BIG scissors. 

 The gun in the little girl’s picture was not firing at anyone, no one was being threatened, buildings were not being blown up,  heads were not seen “accidentally” rolling across the bottom of the page….babies were not being set on barbeque grills and dogs were not jumping into empty pools… and the leprechaun did not have a pot of gold fall on his foot….


No, the girl drew a picture of her dad holding a gun to fend away the monsters and bad guys. Or maybe she just didn’t know how to draw a hand, sometimes it is just easier to put something in its place, a purse, a cookie, a gun…

I would like to have seen the picture that caused so much concern from the teacher. I’m sure her intentions were to simply protect the child from perceived danger, but then again, a lot of parents have guns in their homes…for protection, for hunting, b/c they are Vietnam vets (like my dad)

Just because a child does not draw rainbows and butterflies does not mean they are from a bad home, or have evil intentions. It could be meant to shock onlookers, or be an attempt at humor.

One of my classroom helpers mentioned how refreshing it was to see that even the “good families” at the school had kids with a slightly disturbing streak when it comes to their art work.

Like the boy in my class who thought it would be funny to draw a beard on his cartoon baby and then draw a barbeque grill underneath.

He titled his masterpiece “Bearded Baby Barbeque.”

Now, this is not a boy who would harm his baby sister, nor was this image part of his memory bank, but it simply made the table laugh. 

Come on, do these fellas look like they are planning the adventures of a cute puppy or making plans to tell the sweet story of a lost kitten who finally finds her way home?  No, their story involves lots of unnecessary violence and chase scenes…sort of like Die Hard.

I always say Die Hard was written by an eleven year old boy.  Seriously, a semi-truck being chased by a fighter jet and numerous helicopters. Complete with computer hacking en route and a collapsing highway…no panic, just snarky comments throughout….then of course, jumping out of the falling truck onto the wing of an airplane and of course, surviving…

Uh huh, my boys could do better. and have.

No need to call social services, I say, place a call to Hollywood, pronto! 

Cootie Catcher Fun

Remember these? 
Cootie Catchers, Fortune Tellers…whatever you called them, they were an addictive playground or bus trip activity…um, for my generation…. but

– only two of my kids – out of two full classes –

 had any idea what we were doing, or what to do with these things.

After finally showing all the kids how to fold the paper squares correctly…

(that took a little longer than expected) we moved on to the fun.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

First we filled the four outside flaps with a color, (a color heart was suggested)

Kept it simple and had the inside labeled with numbers 1-8
All the way inside they could write a challenge or a wish…suggested Valentine themed, 
but mainly we had a lot of jumping jacks, chalkboard kissing, songs sung, and push-ups- 
those were probably better for all involved.  
 The rest of the class time was spent trying out everyone’s creations.
 -and taking mug shots for an upcoming project, that I am VERY excited about…

what can I say,  last two classes of the day – after sugary Valentine’s Parties, crazy intense gym class and before a much anticipated basketball game- attention spans were shorter than mine!
I said,  “Fold each corner to the center”
(one corner folded)
Kid says, “Now what.”
repeat this sequence X 50  holy bananarama. I need a cup of coffee. 

 – I’ll get back to real posts soon….and real art projects

..right now all my big important coherent words are tied up in generating income.

~Later gator~

Georges Seurat + Valentine’s Day = happy pigs

My first period Friday art class is designed to teach painting techniques. 
Between the limited time –  the early morning –  their “perceived” lack of skills…. and my over-developed need to be liked,  I try to present projects that are fun, while at the same time giving them a little art history lesson and possibly even a new skill. (we can only hope)  

So, as an intro to pointillism, and the art of Georges Seurat, we did not jump into recreating his beautiful Eiffel Tower – nope, not even close. Friday also happened to be the day of the Valentine’s parties so….I showed them how to draw a happy pig. 

huh?  yeah, well it made sense in my head – they can be pink, their spots could be heart shaped…. and, the kids probably think they cannot draw a pig.  yes they can and they are adorable. see

yes, the pig above has an “I love Bacon” tattoo…
~shrug~  he drew a cute pig and painted with dots, 
we accomplished something

pigs this week, Paris next

maybe I should have thought that through…

“Okay, take off your shoes.”  I announced to my fourth period art class. 

hmmmm, did not think that through…..more than half the class just finished gym class…..

oh well. The project was simple enough. I had them do a crayon rubbing of the bottom of their shoe, cut it out and then glue it on another sheet of paper. From there, it could be anything….and I was really impressed with what they came up with. The girl who always draws horses, turned her shoe rubbing into a very nice horse…

and the girl who turns every project into a reason to draw a princess…completely transformed her shoe print into well, just look, it is kind of amazing for a ten year old. 

  I posted more pics on the …art rocks tab, proving this project was worth a slightly odorous classroom. : )

Those who finished early did some life drawing. I suggested they made “trophy” sketches of their friends…. (the princess-artist added a trophy full of roses as I was talking…not quite what I meant, but, if anything, that girl is consistent)

Two boys really got into it – check it out…. (and I should point out, that is a duct tape tie he is wearing, so cute)