Friday, December 31, 2010

Handmade Novelties

As promised here are the gifts I lovingly crafted for my friends and family this Christmas.

Up first: A selection of felt coin purses. These have an opening in the center suitable for sliding a debit card or ID card into and two side pockets with snap closures for carrying money or other trinkets. The purses are two-toned and embellished with either beads or a felted flower.

Up next: A larger, squared felt wallet with a side pocket and a center pocket with a loop closure (loops around the bow). On the opposite side of the side pocket is a decorative large felt flower.

Then: A lavender-scented paperweight. On the top half sits a large felt flower. The bottom half is stitched with an "x" design. Edged with brightly colored embroidery floss and filled with dried rice and dried lavender, this paperweight can also be used as a sachet or a pin-cushion.

Finally in the felt department: A pair of pens adorned with felt flowers. Made to match the squared wallet and the paperweight.

In the illustration arena, I created some name designs for the younger gift recipients to hang on their bedroom walls. These went to my cousins' children, Aria, Vivian and Cassidy, and to the daughter of someone who is family by choice. His daughter's name is Ariana. Of course, since the children are still too young to appreciate the coolness of such gifts, I also got them something else that could be played with rather than just looked at.

Anyone interested in purchasing something similar to any of the things mentioned in this post may certainly do so. Please contact me directly for price quotes.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cool Color Aliens Grade 2

While I was in for an art teacher at another school, she had a lesson planned for teaching warm and cool colors. The students had already done the warm color component which used shapes to create an abstract design that was painted with warm color tempera paints.

When I was there, they were on the cool color component which still used simple shapes, but used them to make a silly alien in space. Purples, greens and blues were used for this painting project.

Here is the painting that I made with the students that day:

The Gingerbread Man Grade 1

I was also in as a substitute for a first grade classroom teacher who was having a gingerbread-themed day. She knew that I was an art teacher and asked that I come up with a simple little project to go along with the classic Gingerbread Man story.

Using limited classroom supplies like construction paper, special edger scissors, buttons and crayons, I came up with this little lesson.

I began by setting the background scene. Students were given 9x12" light blue paper and shown how to draw the house (no tracers). The house details were added and crayons were used to add color. White copier paper, pre-cut into fourths, was distributed and students tore the paper to make snow for the ground and sky. Glue sticks were used to adhere the torn paper to the larger paper.

The gingerbread men were already printed onto brown construction paper so the students just had to cut them out. Then I handed out all of the pre-cut smaller pieces of paper and taught them how to get two of the same shape eyes by folding the paper, etc. They edger scissors were rotated around the room so everyone got the opportunity to use the different designs. The gingerbread men were glued onto the papers with the houses. Each student could then pick two buttons, which I hot-glued onto their otherwise finished projects.

Here is my example:

Winter Cityscapes Kindergarten

When teaching this lesson, I like to begin by reading a book that has lots of pictures of city buildings. Then, students are asked to name things that make a city, like Boston, different than a suburb or the country. They usually get tall buildings and skyscrapers right at the beginning, but soon add other things like cars, streets, lights, city animals and birds, etc.

I then distribute a large sheet of white paper (12 x 18") and several rectangular tracers to be used to "build" skyscrapers. Students get to work tracing and drawing their city scenes. Then we used crayons to add color and silver peel-and-stick paper to create windows. The same project could be done using collage techniques with construction paper instead of drawing and coloring.

The drawings are cut-out and glued onto dark blue paper (also 12 x 18"). Then the fun part begins. Students come up in pairs to a paint splatter area (a large box big enough to hold the paper). Toothbrushes are used to splatter white tempera snow over the entire paper (especially the sky). This is a messy project and students will get lots of paint on their hands as they learn how to hold the toothbrush in one hand and fleck the paint by running a finger from the other hand over the bristles. They may also end up with some paint on their faces and hair if they are not carefully watched.

Color Block Quilts Grade 4

This lesson is one that I developed by borrowing ideas from lots of different sources. It is a great lesson because it teaches students about color-mixing (especially mixing neutrals), allows them to work both individually and within a group, introduces some stitching techniques, employs watercolor-resist and deals with complex cutting. This lesson can also be broken apart and used as just an exercise.

To begin students are given a 6" square of watercolor paper and a 1" measuring tool to make the grid lines in white crayon. The white crayon is difficult to see on the white paper, but it does have a different texture so it is possible. Another color could be substituted, but I like the way the white looks in the finished product.

Before distributing the paint, brown and black are removed so that the students have to mix their own chromatic neutrals. Each square in the grid must be a different mixed color -- no straight from the pan colors are allowed. Each student has a personal goal of achieving 36 different mixed colors. Within the table groups (4 students each), the team goal is the most mixed colors in comparison to the other table groups. Each member of the winning team is promised a small prize. The color-mixing takes up an entire class time and then the teacher counts all the colors. The teacher is the final judge on how many colors were achieved.

At the next class, a small hole punch is used to make holes around the border of the color-mixed blocks. Then thin yarn and plastic needles are used to stitch around the edges. Finally snowflakes are cut out by folding copier paper squares and cutting out the shapes. Once students have achieved a successful paper snowflake, that snowflake is used as the tracer for making the felt one that will be used in the finished project. Felt snowflakes are coated in Elmer's glue and glittered before they are mounted over the painted squares.

My vision for the finished display would be to arrange all the blocks together to form a large quilt.

Big Project For Grade 5 Part Two

When the groups finished I introduced a drawing lesson to accompany the painting one.

The drawings were of figures playing in the snow or skating. I had a handout available that broke down figure measurements and I had a few wooden mannequins available as visual aides. Students also acted as visual aides as they stood in front of the class to demonstrate how many heads a person was, etc. The figures were then colored with markers and cut out to be used as part of the school's display board.

Here are some of the drawings:

And here they are as part of the display:

Big Project For Grade 5 Part One

The fifth graders worked on a collaborative project for over four weeks. This project was not my own idea, but it is awesome nonetheless.
To begin six students (one from each table group) were selected by lottery to be the designated tracees. We used an overhead projector to create a life-size silhouette of each student that I traced. Then the outlines were filled in with facial features, clothing details and lots of patterns. The students' drawn figures were supposed to look like they were having a snow-ball fight so when they posed to be traced they tried to keep this in mind. Once all the details were satisfactorily drawn, the groups got to work painting with tempera paints, especially bright fluorescent colors! The finished paintings were cut out by me to be mounted on the schools walls and turned into life-size cardboard cut-out by using refrigerator boxes. The painting part of the project took about three weeks on its own.

Color-mixed Animals Grade 1

This lesson has appeared in my blog in the past because I have done this project successfully with other first grade classes under the title "Color-mixed Cats", but this time I allowed students to make cats, bears or mice. The technique remains the same. The students use tempera paint in primary colors to mix their own secondary colors. The animals are made using basic shapes, like circles, triangles, etc. and the fur is fuzzed by using cotton-balls on the paint while it is still wet. For this lesson to be successful it should be worked step-by-step as a group, mixing one color at a time and working the image out in parts beginning with the head and paw shapes (large and small circles). The paint is handed out on paper plate palettes (shared between two students) and then the black is handed out afterward with smaller brushes for adding details like whiskers.

Painting is done the first week and the following week the students add background ABC patterns with markers. The goals of this lesson are to introduce mixing secondary colors, reinforce proper brush and paint handling and review patterns.

Kaleidoscope Snowflakes Grade 3

I love round and circular shapes and like to incorporate them into my lessons, so when one of the third grade classes finished the nutcracker project a week ahead of schedule, I came up with this idea using snowflake and circle tracers.

The students began by tracing a larger circle on a piece of pre-cut 5x5" paper. Next they used a smaller circle tracer to create overlapping circles within the larger circle working around the edge. Then they traced a snowflake over that circle so that it only went outside the edges very little. This created a broken up snowflake design that they could then add more individual details to by drawing some open spaces within the snowflake, keeping the design as symmetrical as possible.

Using only two colors of Sharpie (blue, purple or silver were available), students traced all their pencil lines, reserving one color for the snowflake shape and one for all the other lines.

Now, the challenging part of the lesson could begin. To add color, students used twistable colored pencils by Crayola, but any medium could be used. The same color could not touch itself anywhere on the snowflake and students were encouraged to maintain the symmetry of the design by working from the center outward and planning which areas would be colored which colors by placing small marks in each segment. In the examples of finished and unfinished designs, this technique is noticeable.

What I like about this lesson is that students really had to think ahead when making their color choices and they could increase the complexity of their work just by making more overlapping circle shapes in the beginning.

Here are the student examples:

The Mitten Grade 2

The last lesson I worked on with the second grade was based on the book The Mitten by Jan Brett. In the story lots of different animals seek warmth in a lost mitten.

The students used photocopies of the animals in the book to help inspire their own colored-pencil drawings of animal heads. These would then be glued to a piece of construction paper with a fleece mitten to look like the animals were nesting in the mitten. Fiber fill would be used yet again to make snow and snowflakes (either pre-bought or cut out) would be added. I didn't get to see the students' projects finished, but here is the example that I made:

This is a difficult drawing assignment for second-graders, though. If I were to do this lesson in my own class, I would probably go with third graders instead.

Watercolor Resist Snowball Mittens Kindergarten

I wanted to teach the kindergarten students what watercolor could do when applied over crayons (wax-resist), so I came up with this project. I used a tracer for the mitten and worked on two pieces of oak-tag, reminding students that the thumbs had to point outward, not in the same direction. Then an ABC pattern was added using fluorescent crayons that would really pop when the paint was applied. Watercolors were applied over the crayon patterns and some overlay patterns could also be used (like stripes or checks). I took out the black and brown paint from the trays before distributing them so that the students would only use the primary or secondary colors. When the mittens were dry they were cut out. I punched holes in the ends of them and attached the pre-made yarn tassels (this is the most time-consuming part for the teacher). The two mittens were glued to a folded piece of cardboard so they would be more three-dimensional when mounted to a wall. Then snowballs made of fiber fill were hot-glued into the centers.

Here is my example and some student examples, followed by the display at the school: