Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Zentangle Habitat Art - 2nd Grade

This art project was developed as a group project with the 2nd grade teachers to create a truly integrated art project that encompasses both the study of science and language arts. 

To provide a bit of background, I went to a Zentangle workshop last spring and had wanted to do some type of pattern art project with the 2nd grade.  Mrs. Marx  had also visited Alaska last summer and purchased a coloring book featuring spirit animal artwork created by Sue Coccia at  She said this coloring book reminded her of Zentangle and she thought it might provide some inspiration.  The other teachers loved the idea and so with the inspiration of Sue Coccia and Zentangle, we created this unique project.

As a combined Science/Writing/Art project, each 2nd grade class selected their own animal, and then we drew elements of the habitat within the basic shape of the animal.  After we had drawn the little illustrations of the habitat, we filled the background of the animal with basic pattern art and "tangles" that might be part of the animals habitat. Each class also wrote about the animal and it's habitat. 

We think you will enjoy looking at some of these great line drawings.  All of these illustrations were created by 2nd grade students!  

Ms. McCoy's Class studied the wolf and the mountain/forest habitat.

 Mrs. Brockman's class drew these darling raccoons as they studied the brown bear and the forest habitat.

 Mr. Christensen's class studied the arctic fox and the tundra habitat.

 Mrs. Wall's class studied the tortoise and the desert habitat.

 Every child started with the same basic form and then added their own illustrations and patterns within the outside shape of the animal.

 We asked simple questions to help the children explore the habitat and we worked together as a class to create the basic illustrations and patterns.

 Mrs. Gordon's class studied the porpoise and the ocean habitat. 

Mrs. Slaugh's class studied the lion and the savannah habitat.  All the students had the opportunity to color their picture with colored pencils after they finished their design.  We kept a black and white original and made each student a copy of their original artwork to color.   

 Mrs. Embleton's class studied the boa constrictor and the rainforest.

 Mrs. Marx's class studied the Eagle and the Moutain/Forest habitat.  This particular picture was expressly inspired by the work of Sue Coccia and
This project was posted with her permission and we hope that you will visit her website and support her work by purchasing a coloring book, some cards, or some of her original artwork. It is fabulous!

Ms. Baier's class studied the frog and the pond/wetland habitat.

I am working on writing up all the details of this lesson plan and will publish it on the UEN website as I finish it.  This project was fun for 2nd grade, but it was difficult, and I think it would be amazing and probably even more effective in older grades...even up to adult.  Everyone who has participated in this project has loved it and we appreciate all the positive comments and support.

Sue Coccia sent us the following quote:

"If you will talk to the animals they will talk to you and you will know each other.  If you do not talk to them, you will not know them.  And what you do not know you will fear.  What one fears one destroys"
Chief Dan George

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Raccoons and Curvy Communities

2nd Grade Animals and Habitats:  If you want to see some beautiful artwork you will want to come visit our school in the next few weeks.  The 2nd grade classes are working on a project that is simply unbelievable.  As part of a science unit, each class is learning about and creating art about different animals and the habitats they live in.  

These cute little raccoons were drawn by a student in Mrs. Brockman's 2nd grade.  Each 2nd grade class is learning about different habitats and  the students are learning to draw elements of the habitat within the outline shape of an animal.  Once we have our little illustrations done, we will be adding pattern to the backgrounds.  This is a very fun work of integrated art.  Watch for more photos to come!

 First Grade Curvy Community:  The first graders are reading a story about different people who work in their neighborhoods.  As an extension, we are learning about curvy lines and we created this beautiful pattern art with fun elements of design.  In contrast with the straight lines we drew in our Mondrian artwork, this  art is all CURVES!!!!

 Each child in the first grade created curvy community complete with curvy kids, curvy cars, curvy toys, curvy food, curvy roads, curvy rivers and curvy wind.

The children had a lot of fun with this artwork and they took a lot of ownership as they were thinking up things to draw in their picture.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Math Art and Ladybugs

Some of the first grade teachers at East Elementary school have using art to help reinforce concepts in math and writing. I walked down the hall and took a picture of a few student samples. Each child created their very own little math problem and then created a little ladybug picture to solve the problem. This kind of artwork can be used in a variety ways to teach all kinds of math problems. Older children could practice multiplication by counting the dots on the ladybugs backs, or by figuring out how many legs each ladybug has.

There are 4 lady bugs on th grass and 2 down in the dirt. How many are there altogether?

5 ladybugs are on the grass and 1 is on the ground. How many altogether?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gyotaku Fish Printing

The first graders had a wonderful time over the last two weeks creating these beautiful fish prints. This lesson went along with a story in the first grade reading book and this lesson also reinforced social studies and science concepts.

We broke this project into two sessions. The first week we learned about Japan and we shared stories about how this art was developed and why it was useful and fun. We studied the wood block print of The Great Wave by Hokusai and talked about how the printing process was developed for both books and art. During the last part of the lesson we learned how to draw a fish by sketching one in our sketchbook.

The next week when came to art, we broke into small groups and each child took turns creating two prints after the fish was painted with acrylic paint. Two wild fish that were donated by Mrs. Peterson's son and we also bought Tilapia from the local grocery store. I kept one fish paint free for the children to touch and explore.

While the students were waiting their turn to paint, I had an assortment of books about fish and Japan for them to look at. About mid-week, I could see that they needed more to hold their attention, so I created a center with oil based clay. Each child was given a small cube to play with and I showed them how to make a little fish with the clay. This was really fun for the children and kept them occupied, mostly quiet, and very happy while they were waiting to paint.

In past years we have used tempera paint, but the acrylic paint is vibrant and pretty and creates excellent prints with vibrant colors. I think many of these prints are good enough to frame! Each child took one print home that day and the other print will be kept in their file to display for the spring art show.

1st and 2nd Grade Texture Pumpkins

The 2nd graders studied the life cycle of the pumpkin to tie in with both a story in their reading book and also the 2nd grade science core.

One of my favorite things about the Fall season is drawing pumpkins. It is our first real lesson in observational drawing. As part of the lesson I bought seven real pumpkins so that each group of children would have a pumpkin close enough to enable each child to be able to touch and explore the pumpkin. We find the blossom end, and feel the stems, the ribs and bumps. We look for interesting details on each pumpkin that might be fun to draw. We had fun learning how to draw with a fine permanent marker. If the student makes a mistake, they have to figure out a way to incorporate it into the overall picture. Once we drew the basic pumpkin, we added some fun pattern to mimic shading and add texture to our design. Some of the children added faces by drawing simple shapes and then filling the shapes with pattern. After the children finished drawing their pumpkin, they painted them with watercolors. This a a charming project and one of our favorites!

While the 2nd graders were using sharpies, the 1st grade classes were doing a similar project with oil pastels. This project is really fun! I used to do it with kindergarten classes, but I feel like it lends itself a little better to first grade, so I took a few years off and reintroduced it this year. In this lesson we talked about line, shape, texture, pattern and color!

We drew the basic outline of the pumpkin and then colored each section a different color and added pattern and texture. The tendency for this age group is to draw a symbolic pumpkin with a circle and a square little stem so our main goal for this project was to create pumpkins with interesting shapes and realistic looking stems! The pumpkin on the upper left was drawn by Mrs. Rutledge and all of the other pumpkins were created by 1st grade students.

The following pictures show two books that are great resources when teaching this lesson.

This book is a beautiful book with stunning photography showing the life cycle of the pumpkin. It is perfect for teaching with a scientific approach.

This book has whimsical illustrations showing beautiful artistic pumpkins throughout the entire book! I love this book and it ties in beautifully with this lesson.

Fun Art Integration Ideas from Classroom Teachers

There is an ART to good spelling! Mrs. Brockman had a great idea to make spelling practice fun for her 2nd grade students. Instead of writing lists to practice, she created some different "artsy" pictures based on some of our art projects and other topics she wanted to reinforce for her students. When it came time to practice, the students got to write their spelling words on these interesting pictures and turn their spelling into art!

This picture was based on our Zoo in the Sky art lesson! It is a fun way to practice spelling words.

Spelling is out of this world!

This picture teaches a math principle at the same time the student practices spelling! This is a great double integration!

The students in Mrs. Brockman's class LOVE to practice spelling!

This is a great example of a writing project for first grade students. Mrs. Brinkerhoff read a book to her class on the life cycle of the pumpkin, and then helped each student write and illustrate a simple story with 5 parts. This is a good way to introduce writing to elementary students because the pictures are part of the writing process and it helps the students organize their thoughts.

This is another fun first grade writing/art project that is a favorite of Mrs. Peterson. Each student created a spider web by dipping a marble in white paint and then letting the marble roll around inside a box lined with a black piece of paper. The spiders in this project were copied and colored by the students and glued on the web. Each child then wrote about their project. This is a great authentic writing experience because the children were able to write about something they created and it makes it more meaningful for the child.

In the BTS Arts Learning Program, the teachers are encouraged to integrate art as much as possible while teaching language arts.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

First Grade Writing with Mondrian Art

Mrs. Percival's first grade class has been learning about writing using a four square writing graphic organizer. After each art class, she returns to the classroom and the children write about their art project using this format. First, they planned the writing project by writing the topic in the middle of the planning sheet and then writing four different supporting items in each of the squares. In this student examples, each student wrote about a diagonal line, horizontal lines, vertical lines, and the three primary colors. Once they planned the writing, they wrote a paragraph based upon the details in the graphic organizer. This is a great basic writing format and teaches expository writing according to the first grade Common Core. This becomes an authentic writing experience because the children are writing about something they made. It builds vocabulary and teaches basic sentence structure as well as how to write a paragraph.

Above: Jocelyn first created the artwork, then she wrote about it using a four square graphic organizer to help structure her writing.

This is a close-up of Andee's planning sheet.

This project teaching Common Core Standards:
Grade 1: ELA.W.2 (English Language Arts Informative/explanative texts which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic and provide some sense of closure.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

2nd Grade Fall Windy Day Art

The art lesson this week was really fun! We studied the paintings of Van Gogh and learned how about how great artists create movement in their artwork. We also studied how plants and animals get ready for a change in seasons and we studied a little bit about weather as we created windy day pictures showing plants an animals preparing for cold days ahead. To start this lesson we created leaf rubbings and then we wrote a sentence/poem our leaf. Then we talked about the change of seasons and how some animals migrate, some adapt and some hibernate. We learned about the life cycle of plants and why trees lose their leaves for the winter months. Finally, we got to talk about weather!

You will notice in our pictures that the house and trees are bending to the wind. We used a sharpie to draw trees in the style of Gustav Klimt. Then we added a house that was leaning in the wind, animals getting ready for winter and some leaves blowing in the wind. We colored our pictures and then we used crayons to create movement in the background. Finally, we added a watercolor wash of grey paint to make create a stormy, cold day!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Red Fox and a Yellow Box - First Grade Art

Rhyming Words: The Big Blue Ox, A Red Fox and a Yellow Box

This year in art we have been focusing on art that reinforces stories in our basal reader. As part of our new focus, we are attempting to do sketchbook activities as part of every first grade lesson! This has been quite a new adventure, but the children are doing wonderfully well and are having a lot of fun drawing in their sketchbooks and writing words to go with the lessons.

For our FOX lesson, I selected an illustration from the story and we studied the picture to look for basic shapes. The theme for art this year is "Look and then Draw!" I am trying to teach the children to study the world around them and observe it before they draw. To reinforce this principle, every child was given a small picture of the mama fox and baby to glue in their sketch book. Before starting, I showed them how to draw a little symbolic fox starting with a letter "V". I explained the difference between drawing symbolic art, and drawing art that looks real. Then we looked at the picture in their sketchbook and tried to draw the fox using our EYES instead of our brain! The children drew while I talked them through it! I was personally amazed at the quality of illustrations from the first grade children. They loved this project even though it was difficult.

Observational Art: After we drew in our sketchbook, we created a larger picture using oil pastels. We tried to add texture to our pictures using different colors for our fox and blending them. Then we also added grass to our pictures, also blending two different colors.

The next week, our story was about a bird nest, so we decided to create eggs in the style of Piet Mondrian. We are working on rhyming words, so we reminded the children that the YELLOW BOX in this picture, rhymes with FOX and OX from previous lessons.

Mrs. Peterson created this writing assignment to extend the art project and shared it with other teachers at East Elementary. This year, our main focus in art is to improve the English Language Arts, so we are focusing on writing, vocabulary building, speech and language skills as well as visual art. This can get challenging, so we really appreciate it when the teacher goes the extra mile to reinforce the literary concept back in the classroom!

We had fun creating beautiful art with simple black lines and spots of brilliant color in the style of Piet Mondrian.

Miss Eberhard's class created these Mondrian inspired eggs.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Color Wheel Week

It is color wheel week! We are having fun playing with mixing color. The kindergarten classes are making color wheels from Play-doh and the first grade classes are creating swirling clouds of color with powdered paint and ice cubes! There is always that thrilling moment when the children start to mix the colors and a new color appears like magic! This is fun for children of all ages.

The first grade classes made this little hurricane color wheel using powdered paint and ice cubes. I saw this idea at an art conference four years ago, but I had never tried it until now. I will definitely do this again. It was fun for the children and it was a great science experiment for them. The children learned problem solving techniques as well as cause and effect. To start, we gave each child 3 little piles of paint in the primary colors. This color wheel was mixed using an ice cube with a popsicle stick frozen into it. As the ice cube started to melt, it was just wet enough to mix the paint. We tried this many different ways, and the best way was to just start with yellow, pretending that there was a little hurricane that gradually moved over to to the red, then gradually moved over to the blue and then back again to the yellow. The best color wheels were made fairly quickly, without stopping. If the ice cube melts too quickly it just makes a big mess. If the child tries to clean off the ice cube between colors, it seemed to cause more problems because they lost "the flow" of the project. Ideally, each child will create a color wheel with 6 colors... starting with yellow, moving to orange, red, purple, blue and then green! This was fabulously fun! I like to do it over and over again just to play with the colors and see the magic happen before my eyes.

We tied this project in with a story about a big blue OX. The next week we drew a red FOX and then we created a yellow BOX creating art with all three primary colors, but still reinforcing rhyming words and focusing on literacy. All of our are lessons this year are tying into basal reading stories and reinforcing elements of the English Language Arts Common Core as well as science, social studies and math whenever possible.

Here are a few finished color wheels.

The children are so proud of their work!

Here, the kindergarten children are showing off their little play-dough color wheels. This is a favorite project. We read "White Rabbits Color Book" before we mixed our color wheels. Again, we just used the 3 primary colors to create all the colors on the color wheel. The kindergarten children were especially delighted as they saw new colors appear before their eyes!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Constellations, Wild Things and Pattern Cats

We are back to school and having fun with our artwork!

The 2nd graders have been studying space and they have been creating these beautiful constellation pictures based on the book Zoo in the Sky published by the National Geographic Society.

This first picture is a lovely bird of paradise floating in the sky.

Here we have Draco...

And finally the lovely swan, Cygnus.

This has to be one of my all-time favorite art projects. Every one is so beautiful!
For a copy of my lesson plan follow the following link:

While the 2nd graders were busy creating constellations, the 1st graders were learning how to draw cats with basic shapes. This art project was based on the first story in our basal reader, Sam Come Back! Once we finished drawing our cats, we added pattern! The cute little mouse was a creative touch!

... And the Kindergartner's were having the most fun of all! We read the favorite story, Where the Wild Things Are, and then we created our very own Wild Thing pictures!