Sunday, December 29, 2013

Changes Abound...

Watercolor Ink Flowers -   Students created ink blots and then transformed the blots into flowers.  
All art requires courage.  Life requires courage.

Last May, my dear friend Allison passed away from stomach cancer. She was my substitute, my friend, the one who got me through the death of my husband.  Somehow, I couldn't see continuing without her.  About the same time, an art job opened up at the high school, and after some thought, I  made a career switch… going from elementary art to high school.  I was hoping this new job would work better with my family, and in many ways it has. There were so many changes in my life so quickly.  Making this switch has been a huge change for me.

On that level, I have found that dealing with high school students is challenging and rewarding.  Art is such an emotionally charged field, because of this whole courage issue.  It is scary putting your work up there for everyone to see.  It is easy to say "I can't draw" because of the fear of failure.  Sometimes it is so much easier to not try.

That said, the first semester is almost over.  I have taken a group of students who couldn't draw and they have transformed themselves in to amazing competent artists.  I couldn't be more pleased.  I will try to post some of their work over the next few months.  I hope you will stay tuned and share your own ideas as well.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sorenson Legacy Awards

Sorenson Legacy Award Winners - Duchesne County School District

Congratulations to two of my friends for being selected as Sorenson Legacy Award recipients for 2013.  This is a great honor!   Chris Dye is our Junior High Art Teacher and  Michele Catten is our wonderful art volunteer!

My Essential Art Supplies

These are the supplies I order over and over again and are essential for teaching elementary art.  I am sure other supplies are great, but these are my favorites.

Crayola Tempera Paint in a variety of colors.  The white and yellow paint in other brands is very translucent but I like the texture and opacity of this brand for nice coverage.  I use this for  my cherry blossom painting and for sponge painting.

Sax #10 round paint brushes.  These have a nice spring to them and they are a good size for young children.  I have been very happy with the quality at the price.  I purchase these brushes from

Super large round brushes with a nice tip for watercolor washes and large scale painting.  Sometimes these are called stubby brushes.  I tend to spend more money on this item to get quality rather than buying these in bulk as the cheaper brushes have flyaway bristles.  A nice set of these will last a long time.  

Cray-Pas Oil Pastels.  These come in a variety of sizes, but I usually order the 25 color sets.  This gives a nice variety to the color and allows for shading.  If you get the larger color packs, the primary colors will be used up before all the rest of the colors.  In teaching 200 children with a project, 25 boxes will b used up by the end of the project, so you will need to order enough boxes for multiple projects depending on what you will doing.

Sharpies -- both fine point and regular point.  I love love love these for outlining.  If you are teaching 200 plus children, you will need multiple boxes as the points will start to break down.  I usually buy 6-8 dozen of each size per year depending on the projects I am working on.

Basic Watercolor Sets -  Get a good brand for the best color.  More expensive paints have less filler and more color.  My basic advice is that you get what you pay for.   30 sets will last a long time especially if you refill the colors you use up.

Crayola Construction Paper Crayons - Bulk Pack.  We don't do many art projects with crayons, but when we do, this is the crayon I use.  I try to buy a bulk pack box of these each year and they are my favorite for anything we do on construction paper.

Watercolor Paper -  I have struggled finding a good student grade watercolor paper in past years.  Right now, I don't have anything to recommend to you. I have found that the quality of paper is going down and that sometimes the paper won't work with a certain process.   I would recommend that you buy the best paper you can afford and test the paper before you begin the project.  For student work,  I am leaning toward the Canson Student Grade Watercolor pads that I purchased from Art Supply Warehouse.  Heavy weight 80# drawing paper can also work well for painting with young children.    For my own work, I use Arches 100% cotton 140 pound paper.  I prefer the cold press because of the texture, but the hot press has a very flat texture and is also very nice.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Keith Haring Revisited - 2nd Grade Art

I have been very behind on the blog!   Now that school is out, I will try to go back and post some of the best projects and also share some of our fabulous displays at from our spring art show.  We hope you are able to get some great ideas for your own art projects.

As one our our last projects of the year, Mr. Christensen's class decided to revisit our Keith Haring Jumping Kids art lesson, this time creating art for our recycled art journals.  For the art journal ideas... see the post from earlier in the year.   This Keith Haring art was such a fun little project an the 2nd graders really had a wonderful time in a very relaxed art lesson.  I use this lesson to teach self-awareness.  The children really had fun thinking about how their bodies move... and then drawing little people to represent the movement.

To begin this lesson we watched a power point about Keith Haring and practiced drawing little "tornado" people to get the children used to drawing the basic shape of the human form.

Once the children had practiced drawing people in their sketchbook, they created a "texture" floor on a two page spread in their recycled art book using crayons.  We did this a bit differently than we did in the past.  You could also do this art project on regular paper instead of in a book.

After the children had finished making their floor, they started drawing little people on construction paper, cutting out them out and gluing them down to show creative movement.

The motion lines gave the feeling of movement and rhythm to the artwork.

This was so much fun!  The children really loved doing this art in their recycled art journal.  For a copy of my lesson plan for this project  please visit the Keith Haring foundation at this address:

I teach this a little differently every time, but the basic components of the lesson are there!

Monday, February 4, 2013

First Grade - Sentence Structure Action Research

In Mrs. Percival's first grade, we have been working on an action research project.  The goal for this art lesson was to help the children with their writing skills with an art correlation.  To do this, Mrs. Percival reviewed the basic parts of a sentence before they came to a special art class.   When the class came to art, we did a brief review and each child selected a postcard of an animal they wanted to draw.  We used Crayola Color sticks and I gave them a basic lesson in observational drawing.   This is a difficult skill, but the children did a great job!  First they drew the basic shape of the animal, added the details and colored in a background.  We started running out of time, so towards the end of class, Mrs. Percival and I helped each child as they wrote a sentence about their animal. The goal was for each child to write a complete sentence using a noun, a verb, at least one adjective and proper punctuation. Some of the sentences are more complex than others.

 The little bobcat is climbing a log.

 The fuzzy wolf is howling.
 The little raccoon is studying the meadow.
 The huge eagle is soaring in the sky.
 The little baby fox is licking.
The huge brown elk is bugling.

This was a fun project and we hope it gave them a BOOST in their understanding of sentence structure.  The children will be taking a standardized test soon, and we are interested to see if this activity might have helped.  We will let you know what the results are!

Poetry Out Loud 2013 at East

East Elementary held it's annual Poetry Out Loud contest today!   This is a friendly poetry contest where children recite poetry and earn points for using good verbal skills. We are grateful to PTA this year for sponsoring our contest and providing the awards for our students. Mrs. Arko also provided each student that participated with a small gift certificate for developing their literacy. We love poetry at East Elementary! 

The winners for Kindergarten are (L to R) :  First place: Sienna Scholes, 2nd Place: Corbin Hall and 3rd place: Sadie Staker.

The winners for first grade are (L-R):  3rd Place: Brecklan Weaver, First Place: Sydney Negus, and 2nd Place: Grace Staker.

The winners for 2nd grade are (L to R): 3rd Place: Brooklyn Bell,  First Place: Sandra Baadsgaard, 2nd Place Brooklyn Scholes.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Peanuts - 2nd Grade at Neola

With a short week and the beginning of a new year, I had the chance to visit Neola Elementary School and create a collaborative lesson with Mrs. Parry.  Her class had been studying about George Washington Carver, so we decided to spend some time exploring the peanut plant.   When I arrived, her students told me everything they knew about George Washington Carver.  Did you know that he invented over 300 products using peanuts?  Mrs. Parry's students knew more about George Washington Carver than I did!   We decided that it would be fun to explore peanuts and how they grow.  This lesson ties in nicely with the 2nd grade science core.  We made sure that none of the children had  peanut allergies before we started the next part of the lesson.

To start our scientific evaluation,  we opened a bag of peanuts that were still in the shells.  We looked at the peanuts, broke them open, felt the texture and then we drew them.  We learned that peanuts are a LEGUME, not a nut.

After we had spent time observing peanuts, we decided to start drawing them.  We practiced drawing a peanut with pencil on manila drawing paper.  We drew curly roots and lots of peanuts underground. We drew the plant and flower above ground with a cutaway view.  Once we had all practiced, we did our final piece of art using oil pastels on 80 lb. white art paper.

Finally we painted our picture with watercolors, brown for the earth and blue for the sky.  The results were very lovely and the children were thrilled.

The inspiration for this painting came from this website:

Friday, January 4, 2013

Beautiful 2nd Grade Pottery


We painted our pottery with earth tone colors, including gold and silver to give it a bit of holiday sparkle.  The children working so carefully on their painting this year and the overall results were simply beautiful.


It was fun to see the beautiful color and symbolic designs on each pot. 

Once the paint was dry we added a coat of clear varnish to give each pot a nice shine.  Needless to say, the children were thrilled with their beautiful pottery.

Clay Month at East

The entire school worked with clay during the last month before the Holidays.  The Kindergarten classes made little pinch pots and texture medallions.  The first graders made large texture medallions/ornaments and little pinch pots.  The second graders studied the pottery traditions of the Ute tribe, and decorated their pinch pots with traditional native American symbols.

There is something magical about working with clay.  We learned how to center our clay, create a sphere, and get the feel of the clay in our hands.  

Our 2nd graders learned how to make simple pinch pots and then  carved into the clay with different tools to create different types of texture and designs.

We learned about symbolic language and each child was able to look at a reference sheet to get ideas about how to decorate their pottery.  We allowed the pots to dry for two weeks and then we painted them using colors of the earth.  More photos will follow!