Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Scrambled Eggs Super A La Peter T. Hooper Pizza (with apologies to Dr. Seuss).

I grew up watching Julia Child on television.  I would see her stirring up her wonderful concoctions (always with a pat of butter), hear her comforting chortle, laugh at her self-deprecating humor and funny remarks directed at Jacques Pépin, follow her confident motions in the kitchen, and often be lulled into a daydream of what I would do in my own kitchen one day.  My parents weren't huge believers in television (or cable, or the internet, or cell phones, or credit cards...don't even get me started on my grandmother who wraps her wallet in aluminum foil), so when the television was turned on, the shows we watched consisted of Julia Child's cooking shows, Rick Steves, or old school Batman (you know what I'm talking about, the real Batman with flashes of "POW!" "ZING!" and "Holy Venezuela, Batman!").

Last week after a massive harvest of peppers, swiss chard, arugula, and tomatoes from my garden, I decided to channel my inner cook.  Now, I am no Julia Child, and this is definitely NOT a cooking blog, but I thought I'd share an awesome and super simple recipe using Trader Joe's Whole Wheat Pizza Dough.  This stuff is awesome.  It makes putting together a pizza easy and makes me feel like I am still eating relatively healthy (though the cheese I add on probably triply negates the healthiness).

Art Lesson: Scrambled Eggs Super a La Peter T. Hooper Pizza

Objective: To create a homemade pizza using fresh ingredients and channel my inner Julia

Supplies: pizza dough, cornmeal, flour, garden greens such as chard and arugula, peppers, tomatoes, salsa, eggs, garlic, olive oil, cookie sheets, and courage

I wish I could say the cheese and eggs I use are from my garden/farm.  But alas, no.  One day folks,  one day.

1) Pre-heat the oven to 350.  Sprinkle cornmeal onto the cookie sheets (which prevents the dough from sticking), and stretch out dough on top of flour.

2)  Then brush dough with melted garlic cubes and a little olive oil and pre-bake for 5 minutes.

3) While the dough was baking, I worked on blanching the garden greens (super easy--just throw the greens into a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes, pull them out, and then place them into a bowl of icy water to cool down).

4) I also chopped up the tomatoes and peppers and scrambled about 8-10 eggs.

5) When the pizza had pre-baked, I layered on the following in order: organic salsa (go Costco, go!), tomatoes, blanched greens, peppers, scrambled eggs, and cheese).

6) Now, the bag of dough says to bake it for 10-12 minutes at 350, but I believe I baked my pizza for at least another 15 minutes, on top of the 5 minutes of pre-baking.  Keep an eye on it, or as my cooking-challenged brother says, "Cook it 'til it's done, and then for 5 minutes more."  No, don't really do that or you may get CHARRED pizza (instead of chard pizza, get it, get it?).

7) And in the spirit of Julia, "This is Miss French Fry, Bon Appetit!"

         Yes, this is what happens when you try to stage a pretty photo of pizza in my kitchen. 
 You leave it alone and HOLY BILL OF RIGHTS, BATMAN!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dia de los Muertos.

Been to World Market lately?  Or how 'bout Pinterest?  Dia de los Muertos and skeleton images are everywhere.  I love Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead as we call it here in the states. This traditional Mexican holiday is a celebration taking place October 31, November 1, and November 2.  The holiday focuses on families gathering together to remember loved ones who have passed away.  Celebrations involve music, costumes, ofrendas or private altars, calaveras de azucar (sugar skulls), marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed as gifts left on graves.  I think the holiday is such a neat idea and a wonderful way to remember those who have passed away.

I have a large population of students in my building who are enrolled in the district's dual language program.  Many of the students have familial connections to Mexico and still celebrate Dia de los Muertos here.  When I started my Art position a few years ago, I was so excited to learn more about this celebration as there are many inspiring art connections.

Here a few examples of projects and the texts I have used:

1) Marigolds of Dia de los Muertos with 2nd Grade

I read aloud Maria Molina and the Days of the Dead by Kathleen Krull.  Students and I analyzed each illustration of this wonderful text looking at the symbols of Dia de los Muertos.  I also brought in some marigolds in a pot and added a spotlight next to it, so that we could study the lights and darks created by the light.  Here are some of the 2nd graders' marvelous marigolds.  I LOVED this project and so did the kids.  But, be prepared for a whole lot of chalk EVERYWHERE.  Seriously, I was finding chalk remnants around my room for weeks afterwards.

In case you were wondering, YES, this is what a tired art teacher looks like at the day's end.
Lucky for you, I made a pit stop at the bathroom to remove the purple paint from my face pre-picture.  Don't ask.

 2) Calaveras de azúcar with 4th Grade

My 4th graders created these from clay.  We used acrylics and modge podge instead of glaze so that students could paint in details successfully.  Final gemstones were added for a bedazzled effect.

3) Calacas with 3rd Grade

Calacas are the skeleton images seen frequently during Dia de los Muertos, often on the skeleton puppets sold at the local markets.  We read Clatter Bash: A Day of the Dead Celebration.  Students practiced drawing a skeleton step by step while following a guided drawing of mine on the Promethean Board.  This lesson is a great tie-in with the PE teachers who do a unit on bones in our body at this time too!  After lots of practice, the next class students painted their skeleton pieces step by step using only black paint.  At our third art session, students cut out each piece, hole punched the pieces, and assembled them using brass fasteners.  I've done this project a few years in a row and always love how much personality each skellie has.


4) La Calavera Catrina with 5th Grade

The text used for this lesson is Day of the Dead by Linda Lowery.  This text is more of a factual description of the Mexican celebration.  For this particular project, we also studied the history behind "La Calavera Catrina," a skeletal woman made popular by the artist Jose Guadalupe Posada.  I put together a flipchart showing images of Catrina in works such as those by Diego Rivera.

This is just a portion of the mural Diego Rivera painted, which measures about 15 meters long.

The 5th graders used all recycled objects to create their own Calavera Catrina Dolls.

Dancing Catrina Dolls

Feliz día de los muertos to all and to all a good night!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Positive vs. Negative Space.

I am always on the hunt for fun and new inspirational images and I stumbled across this awesome poster on by the artist Joel Henriques, a young father who is part inventor, part artist, and unafraid of color.

Henriques' work is a great example of line design and positive and negative space, something I cover with my 3rd graders.  So, here's how I started the lesson...

I pulled up the image on my Promethean Board (I know, how lucky am I to have an interactive board!), and asked one of my classes for feedback.  We've been practicing using ART SMART vocabulary during class, so I got a lot of thoughtful responses about the colors, lines, texture, etc.  

Then, I asked, "Look at the way Mr. Henriques uses the space in his picture.  Does anyone want to make an art guess as to where the positive and negative space is in Henriques' image?"  And then this happened...

3rd grade boy's hand shot up into the air (and keep in mind this is a kid who usually peaces out during a majority of art instruction)...

"I think that negative space is when someone is not listening and making bad choices like being in someone's personal space, like talking in their face.  Positive space is pretty much the opposite of that."

Not sure that's what Joel Henriques intended with his bicycle image, but man, what a great conversation starter.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Miss French Fry's Art Room.

Welcome to my Art Room version 2013!  I like to switch up my room a little bit every year because A) the kids notice and always like ooh-ing and aah-ing over the changes, and B) I get a little bored and need a decorative outlet, and my own home can only tolerate so much.

My theme this year was somewhat "crayon-y," "crayon-ish,"...hmmm, "crayon-esque?"

My art room is a former gym locker room so it is very twisty and turn-y in the entranceway, so bear with me.  We've been doing quite a few Dia de los Muertos projects, so there are some fun 3rd grade skellies on display in the Art Room entrance too.

Below is my "What are we doing today board?"  Before EVERY class I would have students asking me, "what are doing in art today?," and while I love their excitement, I found myself continually repeating, "wait until the whole class is in the room," or "I will tell everyone when the class is here," or on my tired art teacher days, "HOLD YOUR HORSES."  So, here is my solution.  It's a large, old bulletin board I picked up at Goodwill, covered with white dry erase material, dolled up with some borders, and VOILA:

The reading rug where I will often gather students to read a story and introduce our next lesson before transitioning to the art tables.  Behind the book shelf is my art trading card board, which students may use if they finish a project and have extra time.

I worked as a Special Education Teacher for a few years before transitioning into Art Education, so I have some tools I use for behavior management in my room, such as the Choice Chair, which is for kiddos who sometimes just need a break.  Each class also has an Arty Party pocket, where they must work together as a class to demonstrate safety, respect, learning, and problem-solving, and in turn, earn a "crayon."  When classes earn 9 crayons, they have an Arty Party (which might mean a special project, a dance party, or more).
Here are some more snapshots of my room, including one of my favorite teaching tools: my "What you need" magnets.  The magnets are color photos I took of supplies around my room, laminated, and then added some sticky magnet backs.  These magnets are super helpful for students with special needs who benefit from visual supports for following directions.

The art tables color coded with baskets showing students' jobs

What You Need magnets
The Got Time? Make Art station
Art Room Jobs

Inspired by

            Got the idea for the Cool Art fridge from  I adore her!
                                            And of course, no art room is complete without a shelf of crazy art teacher props.

In future postings, I am hoping to write a little more about classroom behavior management, as well as, some tips I picked up during my Special Education days, so stay tuned.  Until next time, Get Smart and Make Art!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Little Things in Teaching.

When my art students finish up a project they have a few choices:

1) use the free draw shelf where I have a plethora of drawing books and materials
2) make an art trading card
3) play in the sink with soap bubbles....uhhh, wait, not a choice. Now tell that to my students.

Recently, we had a load of supplies donated to the school and my art room.  I set up a thank you card station and this one was one of my favorites.

"Dear People,

Thank you for the lovely art stuff you gave to us for Art.  I bet Miss D is going to use them very soon.  Thank you very much.  May God bless you."

Love it.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Perks of Being a Fabric Flower.

Here's a sneak peek into what Miss French Fry did this week in her limited free time...

LOTS of veggie harvesting from my backyard garden.  I have had a bounty of peppers this week and it has been fabulous.  Peppers from the garden taste so different than the ones at the store.  I whipped up a breakfast pizza (recipe forthcoming), kind of making it up as I went, and let me tell you, the fresh peppers and chard from the garden nailed it!

Annnnd, I worked on a nifty fabric flower necklace for the birthday of a dear art colleague of mine.  We are anthropologie fans, but, our teacher pocketbooks keep our anthro spending in check.  Probably a good thing in all honesty.  So, I put together a necklace for her inspired by Anthropologie's fabric flower necklace (which retails for around $60).

I used fabric scraps, my trusty glue gun, a few burned fingers, and ribbon, and TA DA...

And of course, in true Anthro-inspired fashion, the final wrapping job just had to complete the look.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

First Post Ever.

So, I'm going to try this blogging thing.  I am a not-so-secret blog stalker and decided why the heck not, so here we go...POST ONE.

Why the name Miss French Fry, you say?  Well, I want to maintain some semblance of privacy (trust me, I don't have much as I live and teach 5 minutes from home), but the blog name stems from a conversation that went like this...

A few years ago, when my name was Miss F----...

Squeaky-voiced Kindergartener: "Miss French Fry, Miss French Fry?"
Me: "It's Miss F----, yes honey?"
SVK: "Umm, sorry I forgot..."

10 seconds later...
A different SVK: "Miss Frankenstein?"

So, now, I've got a new spankin' name of Don--- and I thought the name confusion was behind me, until last week with a different school and different Kindergartener...

SVK:  "Hey, Mrs. Donut?"
Me: Sigh.

I sure hope my fake names don't reflect my eating habits.