One of the new FCPS lessons involves 1st graders making a collage of their family members with sticky foam shapes for one of the first classes of the school year.  Since I didn’t have any sticky foam shapes, I improvised and cut out thousands of shapes using my school’s Ellison press (using the tangram, 2″ and 3″ circle, 1/8 pie / circle, and 1/8 rectangle punches) and ROYGBV paper.  I gave each student a sheet of 12″ x 18″ black construction paper and, after discussing the lesson’s powerpoint (with some additional Keith Haring images that I liked added in) with the students, I instructed them to create a collage of 2 or 3 of their family members (most of the time, they were unable to fit more than this.)  Here are some of the results from one class:

As you can see there was quite a bit of variation between what each student came up with.  If you decide to use this method, I would recommend cutting quite a few more of the circles and 1/8 rectangles than you think you’ll need, because each student uses a lot of them.


My friend and fellow art teacher, Joanna, came up with this lesson last year, and I decided to try it out this year.  I created the worksheet (attached below) but it might not be exactly what she had in mind… regardless, this is an interesting cross-curricular lesson.

Students use their prior knowledge of Greek mythology to create their own invented god or goddess.  As a refresher, I made a powerpoint based on the information I found on www.mythweb.com that was my intro to the lesson.

The Olympians

After discussing the power point and allowing students to add to the information I present their own retained information, I introduced the worksheet.  It’s pretty self-explanatory:

(I apologize for these worksheet files not being more printer and edit-friendly, but wordpress would not let me upload my original publisher files.)

Students will then create their invented god or goddess as a clay sculpture.  You will need:

1 box of clay per class

Enough empty yarn cones for each student (a class set is sufficient)

Popsicle sticks, stylus tools, and other clay tools

Whatever sort of placemat you use under your clay for each student (I use the discarded ends from the laminator)

Slab templates for each student (class set)

I cut a slab off the block of clay about 1/2″ thick for each student, then instruct them to use the heel of their palm to flatten it into the appropriate shape for the template.  (I do not have a slab roller, which would make this step unnecessary.)  Students then use the popsicle stick to cut out the shape of the template from their clay, then wrapping the cut slab around the yarn cone, scoring, and welding to make a clay cone over the yarn cone armature.  (I had issues with my cones getting stuck inside the clay sculptures, which I got around by wrapping each cone in one of those fairly useless brown paper towels, taping it so it stayed on the cone.  When you go to remove the cone at the end of class, the paper towel might come off inside the sculpture, but at lease the cone is easily removed!) 

Students then use the scraps from their slab to create a golf ball-sized head, which they score and weld to the top of the clay cone.  This becomes the head and body for their god or goddess.  (Since it is shaped like a cone, the character must be wearing a toga, robe, or cape.  I plan to experiment with slicing down the center to make legs, but we’ll see.)  I allow students to use clay texture mats at this point to give the clothing a design that goes along with their character.  After that, students score and weld arms, hair, accessories, etc and sculpt faces and other traits onto the sculpture.  The entire process will probably take 2-3 classes, so at the end of class I draped each sculpture with a wet paper towel, put them on my clay cart, and put a trash bag over the entire class’ sculptures. 

My students are still at the mid-way point on their clay projects, but here is the sample or prototype that Joanna made:


Joanna’s sculpture depicts her invented goddess of art: she carries a roll of parchment, has a blank face to allude to the blank canvas that the artist faces, and has an eye on the top of her head to symbolize visual art.  She required her students to similarly create 3 attributes on their sculpture that described the characteristics of their invented god or goddess.

My new Ravelry friend KnittyPitty is hosting a fundraiser and raffle for the American Animal Rescue Society.  The knitting-related raffle prizes are pretty awesome, and it’s for a good cause!  Find out more and donate here:


Today I was looking for some Chinese (or Japanese) brush painting resources to include step-by-step diagrams, since I will be teaching brush painting to my 5th graders tomorrow, I’m not excellent at it, and I can’t find my class set of worksheets and other resources.  I came upon this site, www.chinese-tools.com, which has a great section on brush painting animals.  The way the section is worded, it sounds like there are other categories available (for plants, more challenging subject matter, etc) but I have not been able to find it.  Anyway, here’s the direct link:   http://www.chinese-tools.com/learn/painting

On the site, there are 19 animal clickable links, with an 8-step process for creating the final product pictured.  Below is the process for painting a chick, as well as variations on the same animal.

One other exciting aspect of the site is the ability to convert your name into Chinese characters.  If you visit this link http://www.chinese-tools.com/names you can type in your name and click search, choose the closest one from the list, then it shoes you how your name would be written in Chinese.  Check mine out below:

(And, of course, there is plenty of advertising at the bottom of every page you visit.)  I have printed out all of the animal painting instructions, and will be making copies of them for my students to reference while they choose their subject matter for their paintings.  I’ll be putting them in plastic page protectors though, so students don’t ruin my copies immediately.

Today I added pictures to accompany the Animal Silhouettes sub lesson and added a new one, called Silly Sentences.  I also posted a lesson I created that I based on traditional Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Signs to have the students create a Personal Identity Radial Design.  You’ll find a power point of the hex sign examples, the files for the front and back of the brainstorming worksheet I created for the lesson, as well as a few examples of completed student artwork.

Autism art class lessons

Today I went to a lesson trading session another art teacher hosted at her school where 5 of us brought various art lessons/ teacher samples we’d created for our autism and self-contained special education classes. I took pictures of the teacher samples from the other 4 teachers (though I didn’t think to take pictures of my own!) so I’ll post them on a new Special Ed. Lessons page.

Today I took photos of some of the best examples from the sub lessons I posted last week, and posted them on the respective lesson pages.  I also added a photo to the woven drawing lesson, but will have more for that one soon.  I don’t feel like the Crazy Hair Day lesson was as successful as it could have been, so I’ll be trying it again soon!

I also took a picture of a platter I started today during the Teacher Workday.  Those rubber leaf casts are harder to use than I’d expected… good thing I tried them out before I let my kids get their hands on them!  I ended up redrawing all the veins in the leaves with a needle tool so they were more visible.

Leaf Platter

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