Monday, December 30, 2013

Scandinavian Christmas.

Does anyone else find this marketing at a recent store hilarious/inappropriate?  I couldn't contain myself when I saw this sign and was guffawing in the store's back corner.

Seriously?  So, apparently all teachers deserve lingerie, eh?  If I get lingerie from one of my students next year, I am blaming TJ Maxx.  Someone had a sense of humor (or indulged in too much Christmas glogg) when they put together this display.

Well, in light of a smooth segue, on to the family Christmas 2013!

Tablecloth: Estate Sale score

Runner: Ikea (a few years ago)
Metal tray: Thrifted
Candles: hand me downs from grandparents

My recent Goodwill picnic basket find.

No real tree for Miss FF this year, but I worked with what I got. 

Green River Crate: Local Flea Market
Tree Skirt: Made by Mother in Law
Danish Flags: Bought in Denmark

Angel Chimes: from my great grandmother

Wood Bowl, Made in Denmark: Goodwill

No Christmas is complete without oranges.  Growing up, we always celebrated St. Nicholas Day and would put out our shoes on the eve of Dec. 5th.  We would awake the next morning to a shoe filled with oranges, pencils, and some chocolate.

White Milk Glass Vases: Goodwill

Boot Tray: Estate Sale
Leopard Coat: Forever 21
Flower Pin: Made by Miss French Fry
Scarf: Vintage Brooks Brothers

No Scandinavian Christmas is complete without a whole bunch of fish, of course!  The hubs smoked my Georgian summer catch of a monstrous rainbow trout for our delicious meal.



God Ferie and Godt Nytar to one and all!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Happy Flappin' Holidays.

Flamingos are an obsession of mine.  I suffer from a mild case of hoarding (apparently it's genetic and only worsens with age), and one of my large collections is all things flamingo.

As much as I wish my front yard looked like this, my neighbors (and husband) would definitely not be fans.

I have collected flamingo paraphernalia since I was a wee one, as I always felt some camaraderie with these funky outliers of the bird world and their scrawny legs.

Every holiday season, I always enjoy making my own cards.  It's a nice therapeutic break from the normal stresses of the holiday season.  This year's card was a wood carved print on some fun retro-inspired scrapbook paper.  Here's a peek into this year's card:

On most of the interiors, I hand wrote the message "Happy Flappin' Christmas."  To keep other cards a little more G-Rated (Grandma-rated), the interior featured "Dreaming of a PINK Christmas."

Also, in case you're looking for a belated Christmas gift for me, I'll take one of these please.

Hope you had one flockin' good holiday, ya'll!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Part 2: Art Supports.

It's Friday, it's Friday, gotta get down on Friday.  Everybody's lookin' forward to the weekend, weekend...

Thank you Rebecca Black for that lovely introduction.

Let's do this!  Here's Part 2 of my earlier post on supports in the Art Room.

My school has a large population of students with special needs, as we are home to the district's self-contained classrooms.  We also have a large population of military children in our school from the local military base.   These children have lived in so many places, seen so much in their short little lives, and gone through so much familial stress, yet, they are absolutely inspiring young people.

In many cases, we have had military children with significant needs (behaviorally, emotionally, and/or academically) enroll and appear suddenly in our classrooms, and it takes weeks (if ever) for any IEP information to appear.  There have been many interesting Art Room adventures in some of these scenarios.  I have had Kindergarteners who are "runners" in my room (and trust me, a 5 year old is FAST, especially in an Art Room with 4 different exits), older elementary students with significant physical outbursts, and much more.  I worked as a Special Education Teacher and had my own self-contained classroom a few years back, so it's been a blast collaborating and commiserating with our current Sped teachers regarding students' behavior plans and needs.

Below are a few snapshots of the Behavioral Command Center in my room featuring the card change visual, timer, and behavior pocket.  Our school is a PBIS school and additionally uses a card change system to encourage good choices.  Every student starts on a green card at the day's beginning.  If students are choosing to channel their inner gremlins, I've got a few ways to address their choices.

Students will receive 2 warnings before a card change.  If I am in the middle of instruction or a demonstration and don't want to stop my train of thought, I will pass a student a "Stop Sign" as a warning.  Here's an example I found online for a stop sign warning.  I used a different stop sign template, but I can't find the link, darn it!  If the behavior persists after an additional warning, either verbal or visual, our naughty little friend will receive a card change.

To easily communicate with classroom teachers, or if the student is transitioning to PE or Music after Art, I always fill out one of the card change slips below to inform the teacher of the student's card change.  If you're like me, there's a good chance you'll have a whirlwind afternoon and forget to touch base with the classroom teacher, so the card change slip is a good way to ensure you stay responsible!  

I'll usually do the hand-off and give the card change slip to either a) the student (but always touch base with the teacher to make sure the student was honest) or b) the classroom teacher and or/Specials teacher the student is transitioning to.

I hope you had a happy and healthy holiday and that you're lookin' forward to the NEW YEAR. Partyin', partyin', YEAH.  Partyin', partyin', YEAH. 

My apologies, can't get darn Rebecca Black and her synthesized voice out of my head.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Part 1: Art Supports.

Hi ho, Miss French Fry here.  In an earlier post here, I mentioned that I would like to delve a little more into some of the behavior management and supports I use in my Art Room.  So, here goes.

Before working as an Art Teacher, I spent four years working as a Special Education Teacher, specializing in students with emotional and behavioral disabilities.  These poor kids have gone through so much in their little lives and come to school with some serious baggage.  In my current position, my school has a large population of students with special needs, and my background in Sped. has certainly been beneficial.  Here's why I love teaching Art: ALL of my students "get" it.  Art provides my students with special needs an opportunity to shine, work on their fine motor and gross motor skills, and  develop their self-efficacy.  The Art Room is THE place where individuality and uniqueness are welcomed.

Let's get down to the visuals!

I am a big fan of homemade posters and my room is chock full of them, all of which have a purpose.  For example, children coming to Art feeling anxious and wondering what's on the agenda for the Art day, can check the  "What Are We Doing Today?" board before getting down to business.

The magnets below are laminated magnetic photos I created and use on my whiteboard with every lesson, so that students can check on supplies needed for projects.  My students are very diligent about checking the magnets and if I ever forget to update them, they are quick to remind me!

I use the Yacker Tracker below (occasionally) to monitor voice volume for the classes that contain some Chatty Kathys or Chatty Charlies.  I try not to overuse it, and regularly use music to maintain appropriate voice volume in the Art Room.  I am a big fan of Pandora's John Williams station (go Star Wars, go)!

Below are my sink signs I created with the help of miniature versions of Andy Warhol's banana print.


Drying rack reminder...

No matter what age the student is, I ALWAYS have at least 2-3 kids ask me where their wet paintings should go when they finish.  Really kid? You think I want your wet painting?  I am trying to problem-solve a solution and will be sharing it soon.

And, to those of you that are teachers, Happy Well-Deserved Winter Break! To those of you that aren't teachers, sorry you don't get 2 weeks off.  Just one more reason teaching truly rocks.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Every Hedgehog Has Its Thorns.

The fox has many tricks.  The hedgehog has but one.  But that is the best of all.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Remember how I said foxes are the new owl of the fashion world?  Well, now I'm going to have to eat crow, because hedeghogs are fast approaching!

I keep seeing these little guys pop up at my local Anthro, and while 50 bucks seems like a lot for something to wipe dog poop off my boots, hedgies are pretty darn cute.  I can't get enough of them, and I sure do have fond memories of long car rides playing a handheld game with this speedy little hedgehog...

To introduce my 1st graders to this lesson, we read Jan Brett's Hedgie's Surprise.  I have adored Brett's books since childhood, as her Scandinavian illustrations are always reminiscent of my own Danish heritage.

This book is a fantastic read aloud due to the illustrations full of exciting details and little side vignettes, plus, my 1st grade artists loved making predictions as to how Hedgie was going to save the day for dear Henny.

Our 1st grade hedgehogs were constructed using the pinch pot method to create a turtle shell effect.  Students then pulled out the snout and added the eyes and prickles using a toothpick and a fork.  The final touch was the cute little round nose.


Annnnnnd After:

One little ombre fellow

Love this little chocolate chip hedgie!

Eeeeek! In my completely biased opinion, I think they are so darn cute.  I want to take them all home and put them around my tulip garden (once we kick this darn winter outta here).

Stick around (get it?) as there will be more fun projects coming soon!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Goodwill Towards Men (and Art Teachers).

I am a thrift store junkie.  Amanda Byne's got plastic surgery and I've got Goodwill.  My family doesn't understand my pure absolute bliss while digging through overly Febreeze-d clothing and hunting for knick knacks that probably came from a deceased old lady's mantle, but I cannot get enough.  At least part of my daily wardrobe is a thrifted item, which as an art teacher makes sense, because you just never know when a student will drop an ENTIRE container of glaze in your lap (did I mention the container was open too?).  Here are my finds from this weekend:

Clothing: One old man sweater complete with elbow patches and a gorgeous linen French Connection dress
Books: The Cooking of Scandinavia and Pippi in the South Seas by Astrid Lindgren
Accessories: Brand new canvas backpack from Target (Christmas present baby!)
Schtuff: Vintage picnic basket to store my sewing supplies, two teacup sets, and of course, a mason jar

The teacups are going to be used as Christmas gifts for some colleagues at school, so stay tuned!

Oh and I'll leave you with this tidbit from today:

Kindergartener: Miss French Fry, why are your legs yellow?
MFF: Well, I was really hungry this morning, so I ate A LOT of mustard for breakfast.

Let's see if that earns me any phone calls tomorrow or forever deters children from enjoying bratwurst's favorite condiment.  Until next time, eat your mustard Arties!

Friday, December 13, 2013

What the Skunk?!

My darling dog has been sprayed by a skunk not once, not twice, but THREE times this year.  

Who me?

She is the world's friendliest dog and I'm pretty convinced that she thinks our neighborhood skunk is my parents' cat, Abraham Lincoln, as he has similar markings.  Nevertheless, my dear canine managed to ignore all skunky warnings and was sprayed directly in her mouth.  Poor Mugs and poor Miss French Fry.  You know that old wives' tale about a tomato bath getting rid of skunk odor?  Well, it's a bunch of bull-oney.  It has been at least a month and about 30 baths later and I still smell the occasional wafts of skunk emanating from her little poochy self.

I digress.  I wanted to turn this stanky experience into something much more positive, so I did some research and found out some cool facts about skunks.  For example, skunks are nocturnal and eat just about anything (which explains why ours lurks in our backyard near the compost pile), annnnd, a group of skunks is called a surfeit.  Here's how the class discussion went:

MFF:  What other animals are nocturnal besides skunks?
Kid 1: Bats!
Kid 2: Cats!
Kid 3: Owls!

This is why I teach, right?

To channel Flower the skunk from Disney's Bambi, the students' final pieces were set atop small collaged flowers.  Remember Flower?  

Yeesh, I still can't watch that movie without falling apart into a pile of tears.

These ceramic skunks were made by my 2nd grade artists.  The googly eyes were a funny last minute touch!

This one is super textured with a fork as the student wanted it to look like a "tough skunk."

Smell ya later Arties!