Sunday, October 28, 2012

What I Do When I'm Not Teaching

I've always been interested in writing and illustrating a children's book, but writing something unique and creative enough to get published doesn't seem feasible in the near future. But, my niece turned 1 this week, so I wrote her a book for her birthday. I drew all of the illustrations by hand, scanned them, and uploaded them to Blurb. Blurb has lots of nice publishing options, with paperback books at reasonable prices, and lots of size options to choose from. I chose a smaller book (8" x 8"), but I did choose a hardcover with "image wrap" (the cover design is printed on the hardcover, instead of on a removable slipcover) which is a more expensive option. But, I was very happy with the results, and my niece received a one-of-a-kind gift with a few inside jokes in it she couldn't get elsewhere.

This is my sister reading the book to my niece:

And here is the whole book, including the front and back cover. The best way to read it would probably be to click on the first image and then use the arrow keys to "turn" the pages.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kindergarten Sunset Cityscapes

I rarely make my little kindergartners spend 3 weeks on one art project (I think this was a first!), but it was so worth it! The first day, we used tempera cakes, and painted the whole paper in sunset colors. The second day, We talked about shapes, and the difference between rectangles and squares. We painted all of our buildings with black liquid tempera. I told the students to make big, tall rectangles for their buildings. The last day, we reviewed the difference between rectangles and squares (a square is a kind of rectangle, but not all rectangles are squares!), and made the windows with yellow construction paper. The students made strips of yellow paper, and cut the strips into squares. I know that a lot (most, actually) of these windows are really rectangles, and not squares, but they completely understood the concept, and the difference between the tall, skinny buildings and the (mostly) square windows is pretty clear. 

Overall, I am really happy with the results. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Nonobjective Circle Art with 1st Grade

1st Grade recently studied the artwork of Wassily Kandinsky, who is known for nonobjective art. We had a great aesthetics discussion on why you would want to make a picture that is not of something. Then, the students traced round objects to make their own nonobjective circle art. We used crayons the first day, and watercolors the second day.

The picture below is by a student who received "Artist of the Week" for his amazing work. Below that are two photos of my bulletin board, where I put up every single students' art. It didn't all fit on one camera screen! The text above the art says, "Nonobjective Art is art that purposely doesn't look like anything. Nonobjective art can be patterns, designs, shapes and colors!"

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


On Monday, I had a substitute teacher, and I left her instructions to do mandalas with the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students. I gave her images of Indian mandalas, instructions on how to explain radial symmetry, and a few step-by-step example posters I had made. When I got to school later, I was really impressed with the beautiful work my students had done for the sub!

Below are some of their pictures. The first 4 are by 6th graders, and the last 4 are by 4th graders. The middle ones are all by 5th graders. They are marker on white paper (copy paper cut into a square (8 1/2 by 8 1/2).

I had initially planned to have the sub show a YouTube movie on mandalas (, but unfortunately the subs at my school do not have computer access. I student taught in a school corporation where the subs each had a guest log-in so they could show movies, slide shows, etc., but my school doesn't do that. So, I'll have to use that video myself sometime. The students' mandalas turned out so nicely that I'm planning on doing mandala printmaking with my 4th graders in a few weeks!

These are the example posters I left with my sub. After I drew each step (with a black sharpie), I copied it on the copy maker  Mandalas are very easy if you just follow the simple rule of radial symmetry. Something simple like a swirl, loop, or teardrop becomes very ornate when repeated multiple times!