A friend recently gave me a beautiful book about illustrators and the story behind their work.
The cover design of Artist to Artist was the inspiration for my art project for 2nd grade. I read the Eric Carle section of the book with interest and looked up videos of Eric Carle explaining how he creates his illustrations.
Various shades of blue tissue paper
Scrap book paper
glue and scissors
After watching the video with the children, I explained our under the sea themed collage. The children would draw and cut out sea creatures using scrap book paper and then the sea around it (or over the top if they preferred) would be made using a collage of tissue paper.
The children chose their paper , drew sea creatures of their choice, cut them out , drew features with a sharpie and stuck them onto their paper.
Following this the children added different colours of tissue by tearing it into strips or small pieces to make the Ocean. I showed them how they could put a thin layer over their creature to show it was under the sea and give it a shadowy effect or collage around the creatures.
Some children didn’t want to have sea creatures in their picture and instead chose to draw stones or shells.
I explained that we would combine the pictures to make a complete under the sea scene. Some had clear ideas as to where their picture should fit into the display. This child for example asked if the dolphins could be jumping out of the ocean and used white tissue to make the foamy waves, her picture was placed at the top.
Once the pictures were dry, I coated them with modpodge. This gave them a varnished effect and helped loose bits of tissue to lay flat.
One observation I have made with this class is that often I come away feeling that some children have been so carried away with the process that the finished product feels rushed and very messy. I wish we could have a process session before making a product as I do with Kindergarten . However, my main observation is, even when I feel some children’s projects really will not come together properly, somehow they always do. Every child has a different idea (which I encourage) and somehow they all work in different ways in the end.
And once they were all put together they looked like this.
We have an art walk later in the year. I intend to add a 3-D art project to this piece and hang it, so it looks more complete.
This month we were asked to create something for square one art using the theme of water. Square one art is an annual fundraiser to create an art project that prints onto mugs, key rings etc. Since it rains a lot here, I decided it would be apt to create a rain themed project.
For square one, I always try to make something that is unique to each child and that parents will think is cute enough to persuade them to place an order. With this is mind, I decided to ask the children to draw a picture of themselves under an umbrella. The rain would be painted on top of the picture but the area under the umbrella would remain without any rain by marking it off with masking tape.
I collected images of rain paintings to show the children different ways of painting rain. Some showed rain dripping, others had splashes or fine sprays and some just had a mix of crazy colours in streaks.
I decided to practice rain painting techniques with kindergarten before creating the finished product. When I told my daughter we were painting rain she asked, “But how can you paint rain because rain doesn’t really have a colour? ”
I started the lesson by showing the children pictures of rain paintings. We talked about some of the techniques and I demonstrated how to make paint drip down the page using a paintbrush and using a pipette/dropper. I also showed them how to flick the paintbrush to make a fine mist that looked like a rain shower.
Each child had the following materials:
a pallet with tempura paint colours
a pot of water
The children went away to practice. They tested different ways to make the paint drip. Some made their paintbrush really wet and then dipped it into the palate.
Some painted a splodge of colour at the top of their paper and then used the dropper to add water to make it drip.
Some found it worked well if they painted splodges all over the paper and then added water with the dropper.
Some used a combination of techniques.
and some did completely their own thing.
When I came to do the project with 2nd Grade, we didn’t have practice time. I decided to water down the tempura paint in advance and give each table pots to share.
The 2nd graders started by drawing a picture of themselves under an umbrella. I marked out a border so that the drawings wouldn’t be chopped off. I think with hindsight I would also have drawn a square within which the children should fit their pictures as some of them were a bit small. We then taped over the pictures with masking tape and then dripped and splattered paint to make rain. The 2nd graders loved the drippy part as much as the kindergartners and some were a little over zealous.
The next day when I came back to remove the tape from the dry paintings some of them needed to be fixed because the colours from their drawings had bled.
Some I was able to fix myself by re-colouring them but some needed to be painted over with white acrylic and the children coloured them in again or in some instances re-drew the whole picture.
The kindergartners had already drawn their pictures on a small piece of paper. When I prepared their project, I decided to measure the pictures and then place masking tape over an area of the same size. We could then create the rain picture, remove the masking tape when dry and stick on the picture, hopefully avoiding any colour bleeding.
I showed the kindergartners some of the 2nd grade pictures to show how they had chosen to paint rain and how they might be improved. We saw that the paintings needed to have paint all around the masking tape for them to clearly show them sheltering under the umbrella. We also discovered that too much paint sometimes didn’t leave a perfectly clear area; although in some cases this left an interesting effect, like rain dripping from the umbrella.
I watered down the paints and showed the children how to put the paint at the top of the paper and let it drip. It was important that they made their brushes really wet before dipping them in the paint as this helped it to drip. Having experimented with painting rain beforehand, the children had clear ideas of how they would like their rain to look. I added a yellow paint to the kindergartners colour choices, the 2nd graders had shades of red, blue and purple. Some children mixed a green shade.
The 2nd grade rain pictures were more experimental as the children explored the materials, whereas the practice session enabled the kindergartners to be more precise and have a clearer picture of the finished product. Each child found their own way to depict rain. Some used all the colours,
Some chose their own colour scheme,
Some used individual dots dripping down,
others spread paint along the top and let it drip.
Some added lots of paint splatters by flicking the brush,
Others used a lot of water to make softer colours and spread them with the brush, creating the effect of rain blowing.
One child wanted to spread paint all over the picture and made the rain by running her finger through it to make lines.
The kindergarten pictures were much brighter than the 2nd grade ones. My personal favourite is this one. I love the big splashes of colour in a heavy downpour, in contrast to the person walking in safety under his umbrella.
The colour choices, use of droppers and the volumes of paint make the 2nd grade pictures darker and more intense like that of a grey, winters day with heavy rain.
The Kindergartners are more akin to spring showers.
Perhaps a cool project would be to test out different techniques and colours to make a display of rain through the seasons.
I’m always frustrated by the infrequency of my art sessions. I can already see the progression and probing questions that might make this into an extended project.
How does the use of different colours change the way we see the rain?
What colours would you choose for winter rain, tropical rain or a spring rain shower? Test out your ideas.
Does the texture of the paint and how much water we add change the type of rain we paint?
How does the size of the brush alter the painting.
Try other ways of painting rain, use sponges, droppers/pippettes, cotton balls and what else can you suggest.
Make a giant collaborative painting of rain – what can you drop onto paper to make a splash?
How can we paint a heavy rainstorm?
What would happen if we tried a different type of paint?
Do you like rain? What colours would you use to show that you didn’t like rain? What colours would you use to show rain is fun?
Think about all the different types of rain you have in your area, are they the same or different? How would you paint each type to show the differences?
Make a list of rain adjectives or similes under the title ‘Rain is'(particularly after spending time in the rain) – choose one and paint a picture to illustrate the description.
Look in a large puddle. What do you see? Can you try to draw/paint it?
And that’s just the art – the possibilities for other areas of learning is endless. Perhaps you’d like to use my pictures as a springboard for an extended rain project? I’d love to see the results if you do.
It was party time again recently and this time my six-year-old chose a Minion theme. On arrival they were given a Minion hat made from a builders hat with a pair of cardboard goggles attached.
Minions love bananas, so they had to be on the menu. My eight-year-old decorated each banana to look like a Minion.
My six-year-old did the same with the cheese sticks.
I found Minion shaped fruit snacks and we had a selection of fruits and snacks.
It was all topped off with a Minion beach party cake.
Whilst we were waiting for guests to arrive, I printed colouring sheets for the children. My daughter had requested cookie decorating, so we decorated mandolins ( a perfect shape for a minion) with blue and yellow icing, black icing to add detail and edible eyes to make a Minion cookie.
I laid out pictures of Minions and gave each child a piece of yellow and blue polymer clay to make Minions. They added black and white for the eyes. I love how they turned out and that they were all so different.
Pin the hat on the Minion
This was a pre-bought game and acted as a good time filler while I laid out the food.
Pass the parcel
A Minion themed gift was wrapped and then covered in multiple layers. The parcel is passed around a circle to music and each time the music stops a layer is unwrapped. In previous parcels we had an activity to complete in each layer but this time I simple placed a lollipop in each layer. The person to unwrap the last layer, gets to keep the gift.
A variation of musical chairs. Lay out the same number of laminated pictures of bananas on the floor as there are children. The children dance and move around the room and one banana is taken away. When the music stops everyone runs to collect a banana and the child left without one is out (but gets a treat as consolation). The last child left in wins a prize.
Balance a banana on your head and walk to the other side of the room. Complete it successfully and win a prize. This was a big favourite. We ran out of time for more games but below are a few more banana games you may like to try.
Race to peel a banana wearing a pair of gloves
Hide bananas for a banana themed treasure hunt.
Stick pictures of bananas to a blow up palm tree and hold it high. Jump up and pick as many bananas as you can in a given time frame.
December’s Art project with Kindergarten and 2nd Grade was a still life Poinsettia using oil pastel. The Kindergarteners had only used chalk pastel up until now, so our first lesson introduced them to oil pastel techniques.
The children were given a selection of oil pastels and a piece of paper and asked to try them out and think about how they might be different to the chalk pastels we used in the previous session.
Here are some of their observations.
The colours are brighter and you can press harder.
When you press hard it gets softer and easier to mix
They are like crayons
It didn’t blend across the colours like the chalk pastels but it worked when you put one colour on top of another.
You can blend chalk pastel with your finger. You can still blend with oil pastel but it is harder.
I can add white to blue to make light blue.
I showed them how to blend the pastels using baby oil and a Q-tip/cotton bud. the children practised making pictures using the blending technique.
I can colour just a little bit with oil pasteland then use the oil on my Q tip to fill in the rest – it makes a lighter color.
It looks like paint when we add oil to the pastels, it makes it smoother
You can use the Q tip like a paint brush
If you use too much oil it rubs the color away.You need just a little bit to blend.
I gave them another piece of paper and they drew around their hand using pencil. They then coloured the hand in stripes using the oil pastels. The colours were blended using oil. We painted the background with liquid water-colour. They thought it was very cool that the pastels repelled the paint.
For the follow-up session and with the 2nd Graders who are familiar with oil pastels, I chose a still life drawing of a Poinsettia. The Kindergartners haven’t followed a project inspired by an artist, so I asked for suggestions of still life oil pastel artists on a Reggio-inspired Facebook group. After a bit of research, I decided upon Georgia O’Keefe. I liked the way that O’Keefe draws flowers but doesn’t always focus on the whole plant. I felt that if we looked at examples of her work as inspiration, the children could choose to zoom in on one part of the flower,if they didn’t feel confident enough to tackle the whole thing.
I limited the oil pastel colours to shades of red and green, black for shade and yellow and white for highlights. The children drew the picture with the pastels and then blended using oil. The final touch was painting the background with liquid watercolour.
Since the children hadn’t done anything like this before, I was aware that they may find it challenging. To start the lesson we read ‘Ish’ by Peter Reynolds. This is the story of a boy who gives up drawing in frustration because his pictures do not look like the real thing. His sister persuades him to look at his pictures in a new light, as tree-ish, afternoon-ish and vase-ish . I wanted the children to understand that this was not an exercise in replicating exactly the plant in front of them because each of us view it differently. My aim was for the children to study the plant and replicate it in their own way. I think we achieved that aim perfectly.
Interestingly the Kindergartners were less anxious about the task than the 2nd graders, who found it hard to decide which part to draw and spent a lot of time considering how to make the shapes. A few children needed a lot of encouragement and support to make their own marks on the paper.
2nd Grade Class
I love how different they all are. The Kindergartners really focused on the shapes of the leaves and the 2nd graders paid more attention to the details in the leaves and petals and were more abstract with their use of colour. I’m really impressed with the finished results and it was a really valuable exercise to see how differently we all see things.
At Christmas time I always like my teacher gift to be home-made to add a personal touch. This is a simple gift we made last year.
The reindeer were made from wine corks, with tooth picks for legs and pipe cleaner antlers.
Push the toothpicks into the corks at an angle to make legs and cut them to an equal length.
We joined the necks to the body using craft wire. It is Easier if you push holes into the cork using a skewer or knife before adding the wire. Add the Antlers and draw a face adding a pom pom nose if desired.
To make the sleigh, tape bars of chocolate together with two candy canes taped to the base. Wrap the sleigh in gift ribbon and attach to the reindeer.
A simple inexpensive gift for a teacher, neighbour of friend.
Wayne Thiebaud is an American artist, known for his paintings of everyday objects. These include many works depicting food; in particular, cakes, pies and pastries. For our second grade clay project, we used Thiebaud’s cupcake paintings as inspiration for teaching two basic techniques for making pots.
The base of the pot was a simple thumb pot and the lid a coil pot.
Each child was given two pieces of clay, a selection of clay tools and a damp sponge in a pot, all laid on a slightly damp cloth.
Take one of the balls of clay and knead it to get rid of any air bubbles. Then press thumbs into the centre to make a hole.
Push thumbs outwards to make a pot shape.
Smooth fingers around the top edge to make it flat and even.
Carve patterns into the bowl. Some children made lines to make it look like a cupcake case and others chose their own designs or carved names into the sides.
The coil pot lid
The base was put to one side and the second piece of clay kneaded to make the lid. The lid was coiled to look like frosting.
Shape the clay into a cylinder with your hands and roll it on the mat until it makes a large sausage shape to equal the length of the mat.
Keep moving hands along the length of the clay to avoid thin parts that will break off. The paper moved around a bit so it was helpful to have their partner hold their mat down whilst they rolled.
Measure the sausage around the top of the thumb pot. Keep coiling, sloping the sides inwards until it closes at the top. Add a clay cherry, if desired.
Dampen the inside of the coil pot with a sponge and rub your fingers over the joins on the inside, until the surface is smooth. This will stop it collapsing and falling apart.
Fire in the kiln
Session 2 :The Glaze
I showed the children pictures of Thiebaud’s cupcakes for inspiration.
The glaze colours were selected to match those used in Thiebaud’s paintings. Pastel shades, along with red for the cherries and brown for chocolate.
Each table had a paper plate with a selection of glaze colours on it and every child was given a fine and a thick paintbrush, a pot of water and a paper towel.
They applied two layers of glaze, being careful not to leave white spaces.
The finished results were pale and matt. I explained that the colours would become vibrant and glossy once they had been fired.
The Finished Results
The glazed pots are placed on stilts when fired in the kiln, so they don’t stick to the shelves.
I love the results. I think they will make a perfect Christmas gift.
My daughter wanted a cat party for her eighth birthday. I hosted a dog themed party for a friend’s daughter a few months ago, so we re-used some of the ideas and added a few new ones.
For their arrival, each child had a pair of cat ears and my eldest drew noses and whiskers on their faces.
The food was simple. My daughter asked if they could have tuna fish sandwiches and I cooked a pizza cut into triangles to look like a mouse. We had cheese triangles with slices of cheese string for mouse ears and tails and strawberries with strawberry lace tails. My daughter baked cat shaped cookies and cupcakes with paw prints made from M&M’s and Minstrels (British chocolates that are bigger than M&M’s). Goldfish and other snacks completed the ensemble.
Plain, black plates were decorated with cat ears and faces and whiskers drawn on black paper cups.
One of the parent’s commented that it was the calmest party they had ever seen, as the group of mostly girls settled down to crafts.
First they coloured in wooden cat masks from Michaels, which gave us time to wait for everyone to arrive.
Once everybody had arrived, we made cat faces with polymer clay. At the dog party we made dog faces into necklaces but this time I decided to turn them into fridge magnets by attaching magnetic tape.
Finally we made pipe cleaner cats. The pipe cleaner was coiled around a finger, leaving a piece for the tail. Pom pom heads were attached and ears and faces added.
The first game was a magnetic fishing game. I made a fishing rod with a magnet attached and cardboard fish, labelled with numbers and a paperclip attached. Each guest caught a fish and then were handed a package with a corresponding number. Inside the package was a cuddly cat and a certificate for them to adopt the cat and take it home.
Pass the Parcel
Pass the parcel is a traditional British party game and one of my kids favourites. A gift is wrapped in multiple layers and passed around a circle. When the music stops the child holding the parcel unwraps one layer. Inside each layer was a cat themed action that the children had to perform, if they performed it correctly they received a treat. The child who unwraps the final layer wins the gift.
Musical Cat Beds
Following the same rules as musical chairs but using cushions as cat beds. When the music stopped, the children had to find a cat bed to sit on. Each time one cushion was removed. When a chid was out, I let them choose a sweet from the bag and the winner chose a larger prize from our goody bag.
We played this game at the dog party and it was a big success, so decided to use it again. Two bowls with a small amount of chocolate cereal are placed side by side (the cereal looks like pet food). Two children race each other to see who can finish the cereal first, by only using their mouths. The winner received a prize from the goody bag and the runner-up a sweet treat.
The second silly race, was to push a ball of wool/yarn across the floor to the finish line, using their nose. Some children worked out very quickly that if they gave it a significant nudge, it would roll a long way.
Pass the flea
I found a glow in the dark bug to act as our flea. This was an adaptation of hot potato. The children pass the flea quickly around the circle to music. When the music stops, the child holding the flea is out. The last child left in, is the lucky cat not to catch fleas and wins a prize from the goodie bag.
The party was a great success – I think the birthday girl would agree.