Friday, November 8, 2019

Quiet Critters SWAG for the 2019 MAEA State Conference

I am so excited for this weekend! It promises to be jampacked with plenty of art teacher experiences because I am attending the MAEA state conference. Not only am I attending but I have had the honor of serving on the planning committee for this wonderful event and I am presenting "Beyond the Kiln: 3D Experiences in the Art Studio" -- a combination discussion and hands on experience about materials and projects that can be explored other than ceramic clay.

The MAEA conference committee decided to do something special and new this year by including handmade items instead of just buying pens, etc., to put in the attendees SWAG bags. My contribution is inspired by an art educator known by many, the insurmountable Cassie Stephens. It was through her that I first heard of the idea of "quiet critters" as a classroom management tool for elementary classrooms. These critters are super cute and meant to encourage a quieter learning environment. To learn more about that please visit Cassie's blog post about it (Cassie Stephens Quiet Critters).

I made mine a little differently than Cassie's in that I made my own poms from yarn. This is easy enough to do with a handy pom pom maker. I have a two pack set of those that make two different size poms. I used the smaller one (which says approximately 2 1/2", but I think the poms come out much bigger than that. Here is a link to that set by Clover on Amazon: Clover Pom Maker.

The other materials are yarn, stiff felt (brand name "Friendly Felt"), chenille stems, wiggle eyes (25mm eyes from Amazon), and hot glue for assemblage. Other than the eyes I bought everything else at JoAnn's Fabrics. Here is a photo of the specific materials I used in case you want to make your own with the same fluffy yarn.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Grade 1: Masks of the World

Students start back at my school this week (teachers started back last week). This year I am really excited to collaborate with the dance teacher to integrate my world masks lesson with her dance classes. These connections are so important for student engagement and learning! Find the newly posted mask lesson here:

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Parrot Painting For Kids!

Teacher Tuesday: Summer has really been zooming by and I've been so busy with summer camp that I just have not had time to write any lessons, but I did make a parrot painting video tutorial to use with my campers (ages 6 to 12ish). They loved it! I hope you do, too.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

5 Reasons Why Teaching Summer Camp Rocks

Like many art teachers, and teachers in general, I have had to work a few side gigs especially during the summers. For several of those summers I have worked for at least a few weeks, sometimes more, at camps offering art-specific enrichments.

There are a few things that I have learned over the years about working for summer camps, recreation departments, the YMCA, museums, etc. One of the biggest things I learned is that just because I have agreed to teach something it doesn't mean I actually will get the chance to do that or be paid. That's because my teaching and being paid is dependent on something I typically have little control over -- enrollment. If there are not enough students/campers/people signed up for something it just won't run. Its hard to know if something will run or won't or if the organization you've partnered with will be proactive about promoting the program. There are a few things that help enrollment, factors like timing, demographics, historical interest and personal reputation. The only thing you may be able to contribute to is personal reputation. If you have taught camps, workshops or classes in the past you could build a following of students who will sign up for anything you offer.

While there is uncertainty and little control about how likely you'll be teaching a camp program, they are usually more reliable than other side teaching gigs. And depending on your situation (such as if the camp is linked to your current school), they can be a great option.

Here are my top five reasons why I think summer camp rocks and why I have taught and continue to teach at summer camps.

You Gain Experience
Camps are especially great when you are just starting out as a new teacher or before you have your own classroom. Even though students who choose art options at camp typically love art and want to be there so you have fewer behavioral concerns, teaching at camp can still be a great way to discover your personal teaching style, which age students you prefer to teach, and how you respond to students who need your help.

Networking Opportunities
You meet new people when you teach at different venues. Sometimes those connections pan out and turn into full-time teaching positions, private lessons, or other side hustles.

Supplemental Income
Depending on if you run the camp yourself out of your own space or work for an organization you can earn some significant supplemental money over the summer, even if you just teach camp for a few weeks. In my area (Massachusetts) most camp art teachers can earn about $700 a week for just mornings, more if you work a full day or run the camp yourself.

Its More Relaxed
Its summer and kids are there because they want to have fun! There are no grades and really no strict requirements on what or how you teach art at a summer camp as long as it fits the description so students and teachers can breathe a sigh of relief and just have a good time experimenting with art materials and ideas.

Testing Out Projects
Many of the art projects that are now in my regular teaching repertoire started out at summer camp because there was less pressure and smaller groups so I could try out an idea without worrying too much that the students would become frustrated or that it just wouldn't work. Trying something out on a smaller scale helped me decide if it could be taught to a larger group and how much time or what materials it would need to be successful. In fact, keep an eye out this summer for featured lessons that all had their start in a summer camp or workshop setting.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Grade 5 - Woven Fish Lesson and VIdeo Link

Teacher Tuesday: This week's lesson goes back to my time as a student teacher when I was taught to weave by my amazing supervising teacher who has given her kind permission to me to reproduce her lesson. This woven fish lesson (with my own little twist) can be found here:
Accompanying this lesson is my third ever video tutorial, currently available on YouTube:

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Free Needle Felting Resource with Tips and Tricks

This week I want to share a handy dandy updated and revised Needle Felting (eek!) handout that I put together originally a few years ago when teaching this technique to other art teachers. I currently have an adult class running with the recreation department, so this new version was for those folks. PS. This is a rare FREEBIE on my TeachersPayTeachers Store.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Grade 1 - Color Family City Books

Teacher Tuesdays: This week's lesson is inspired by my love of making accordion books with my students... and also, by cities. Students learn about warm and cool colors while creating line drawings of city scenes which get turned into accordion books. Find the complete lesson here:

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Grade 2 - Romero Britto Inspired Rainforest Animals

Teacher Tuesdays: This week's lesson is filled with bright colors and energetic patterns. It is inspired by the art of Brazilian-born artist Romero Britto and features drawings of rainforest animals from Brazil. Find the complete lesson here:

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Grade 1 and Grade 3 Spring Painting Lessons

This week's post features two similar lessons, one for first grade and one for third grade -- both are all about spring and blossoming trees and both use paint and unconventional painting tools. Find the lessons here: and here:

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Grade 5 - Conceptual Art with 3D Letters

Teacher Tuesdays: This week's lesson came about because making 3D letters was a popular sculpture project a while back. I liked the project, but thought it needed more depth so I related the letters to Conceptual Art and Installation Art by having students work in groups, each individual making at least one letter, to create a short statement that related to a topic relevant to them. This idea is very much related to the Truisms by Conceptual Artist Jenny Holzer. Find the lesson, which included resource links, suggested images, and alternative approaches, here:
A single letter made with carboard, tape, plaster strips and paint - part of a larger installation.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Grade 4 - Hopper Inspired Lighthouses

This week's lesson featuring the work of Edward Hopper began many years ago before I even had my own classroom. It became part of my fourth grade unit of study of American artists because of Hopper's connection to New England, especially Gloucester, Cape Cod, and Maine. The complete lesson can be found here: