Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fantastic Mr. Foxes!

Yowza!  It has been quite a long time since I last posted. So very sorry about my absence these past few months folks, but I have been trying to crank out a Master's degree before having my own little French Fry any day now.  It has been quite the whirlwind, but onto the foxy fun!

I wanted to share one of my favorite projects my art kiddos have created in the past few weeks.  As a fan of all things foxes, Roald Dahl, and Wes Anderson, I have been on a major fox kick this year.  Is anyone else a HUGE fan of Fantastic Mr. Fox?  The book and movie get me every time!

My second graders created some fantastic fox collages after reading Nonny Hogrogian's One Fine Day. 

We even spent some time making literacy connections, as I had the students work with a buddy after reading the story and write out a one sentence moral of the story.  I got winning answers like:

- Be kind to others.
- Treat others the way you want to be treated.
- (And my fave) Be nice to foxes...and other animals!

My students drew their foxes in pencil first on colored construction paper.  Then, each table was given a palette of primary colors and a tint of white to paint in their foxes like a puzzle.  I encouraged students to add lines and designs onto their foxes as a final painting touch.

Next class, students outlined each little piece with a black oil pastel, cut and glued their foxes onto black construction paper.

I've been on a major painted paper kick this year and hoarded a crazy amount of paper scraps which have come in handy during many a project.  I decided to have my students create their own frames from painted paper before finishing their masterpieces.

I've got a soft spot for this five legged little foxy friend!

Hopefully I'll be able to get a few more posts going before the arrival of little French Fry.  But until next time, keep being foxy!

Monday, October 13, 2014

DIY Mod Mobile and Table.

Is that a watermelon under your dress or are you just happy to see me?

Well arties, it's true. It isn't a watermelon under my dress, but it is a growing Little French Fry, due December 25.

One of my 2nd grade classes has started to come up with names for Little French Fry and every week before I gather them on the rug, they can't WAIT to share their baby names.  For example:

Student 1: How about Princess?
Student 2: No no, Princess Sparkles!
Student 3: How about Ruley, Mrs. Donelan?
Miss FF: Ummm, Ruley? Why?
Student 3: Ruley, like RULES. Because you like RULES so much Mrs. Donelan!

Ya got me kid.  Ya really got me.

I've been having lots o' fun decorating the nursery for Little French Fry and finding thrifted stuff to decorate it up.  A few weeks back I picked up a table from Goodwill for $2.50 that definitely had a modern vibe about it.  The crazy thing seems to be made of broom handles for legs.  The top was really chewed up and water stained though.

But, it was nothing a little sanding and a can of glossy spray paint couldn't fix!  Perfect for a mod side table.

And as for the mobile.  I've made mobiles for my gal pals in the past (see here and here) and really wanted to make one for our dear little French Fry.  I had my eye on a few through Etsy, but when one of them didn't pan out, I gathered my energy and got to work!

I bought a bunch of bright colored cardstock from Michaels and used my die cutter at school to whip out a bunch of different sized circles.

Then, while multitasking and catching up on some Homeland, I got to work threading the circles together to get a random assortment of sizes and colors.

And below is the final product in baby French Fry's room.  The hubs tied on a fishing swivel so it could spin around (like a record baby, right round, round round).  It is truly mobile-y; the slightest breeze gets this baby moving! 

More photos of baby French Fry's room to come.  And I'm sure, more awesome 2nd grade names for baby French Fry to come as well...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Warm and Cool Colors with Kinders.

In my most recent post on Warm Trees, Cool Breeze with my Kinders, I told you I'd be sharing the quick little learning game I used with my little artists.

I've really been trying to incorporate quick assessments more and more often this year and this game was definitely one of those.  Can you say cornerstone assessments, oooo ooooooo!

I flipped over our "I Can" board and turned it into the COOL and WARM board.

After reviewing our cool and warm colors using my giant color dots, I pinned them to the board and told the young artists that we were going to be doing a quick game of "Smartest Artist."

I borrowed flashcards from the Kinder classroom teacher and would reach into the pack, pull out a card, and ask, "Smartest Artist?"

Then, I called on and "interviewed" the Smartest Artist (or in this case, a student with their biscuits on the floor and super silent hands) so they could share their answer.

The correct answer cards were then placed into our baggies.

Everyone was SO excited to participate and this game was a great way to reinforce how to participate in classroom lessons appropriately (raised hands, safe seats, etc.).  And who doesn't love talking into a LIGHT UP echo microphone?!

It took us no more than 5-7 minutes to play this little game and the kids LOVED it!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Warm Trees, Cool Breeze.

Here's today's favorite Kindergarten quote of the week.  To introduce it, I have little Andy Warhol banana signs near my sinks reminding students to count aloud and prevent little sink and soap hogs...

Kinder girl 1:  Juliette, did you forget to count your bananas?!

Kinder girl 2: No, I was counting quiet bananas in my head!

And now in a not so smooth transition, we're moving from bananas to leaves!  We read Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert to introduce this lesson.  

This story is AWESOME.  The illustrations feature hidden creatures, use warm colors (one of the objectives of our lesson), and each page features a different sort of cut line at the top of the page.  The story is seriously an art grand slam!

We started out by making painted papers, half warm and half a cool green.  Some students even used the bottom of their brushes to make little white dots for leaves.

I love making painted papers, but man oh man, that mess every time is rough!

This lesson ended up being a 3 day-er, because next class we started to work on tearing out our green hills, cutting out our warm trees, and then gluing everything down.  So, I demo-ed and then we practiced using our scissors safely as this was the first time cutting for many many kiddos.

The next class also happened to be the day that our new district superintendent popped into the Art Room to check out what exactly happens in my room.  Before he came in and witnessed the madness, I  pulled him aside, and said something along the lines of...

"Look, I just want to prepare you for what you are about to see.  You are visiting on the very first day of Kindergarten cutting.  So be prepared."

And as we know, there is no way to adequately prepare someone for Kindergarten cutting madness, so some tears were witnessed, (no digits were severed), a massive mess was made, but all in all, the class went well (and the superintendent left my room paint and glue-free....can't say the same about my clothing that day).

We also wrapped up with a really fun way to reinforce warm and cool colors too.  I'll show you that another post.

And on the last day, we finished up!  Adding trunks, branches, and a final frame to finish up these fantastic little fall scenes.

They've definitely got a sweet little Scandinavian vibe to them.  Or a little Orla Kiely-esque inspo perhaps?

Happy October everyone!

Monday, September 29, 2014

I'm so organized-y...

After a fun weekend of wedding celebrations for some friends, Iggy Azalea's "I'm So Fancy" refrain is constantly on repeat in my head. So, to keep it PG, my art teacher refrain sounds something like this:

I'm so organized-y
You already know
I'm in the Art Room
From morn to Four-Double-O
I'm so organized-y
Haven't you been told?
Remember my name
Miss French Fry, yo.

My latest AHA, why-the-heck-haven't-I-been-doing-this-all-along moment happened early this year.  I made color-coded table folders for each of my classes to collect dry work and pieces at the end of an art lesson.  And let me tell you, thus far, we have had zero escaped missing pieces for projects.  A total record!

Plus, having these handy folders ready to hand out at the beginning of a class period seriously cuts down on the class time that's wasted having students pass out pieces.  I love a good AHA! moment.

I'm keeping it short and sweet today, but I'll be back very very soon with some fun new projects, don't you worry, you Iggy Azalea fans!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Art Room and GASP...the Common Core.

I know, I know. I did it. I said those two dirty words. COMMON CORE.

But whether we want to believe it or not, it's here and we need to make sure we are workin' it!

Now, I don't know how your districts work, but mine is a little more fluid when it comes to curriculum planning.  Each art teacher is expected to adhere to the District's PowerStandards (which were written by art teachers four or so years ago and getting updated this year).  Our PowerStandards were aligned with the previous Illinois standards for Visual Arts, which is why we are working to give our PowerStandards a major facelift this year, a la Joan Rivers, may that hilarious woman rest in peace.

But basically, as long as we address our PowerStandards we have the freedom to design our own curriculum, which I personally LOVE.  After all, when we have the massive district art show at the year's end who wants to look at 100 of the same projects again and again?

When I attended and presented at the NAEA convention in San Diego this past Spring, I attended a lot of workshops and lectures about the Common Core.  I learned a lot, sweated it out a bit Richard Simmons style, and then felt relieved after hearing tons of great ideas on how to incorporate those two dirty words.

Below are some glimpses into how I've started to incorporate the principles of the National Core Arts Standards in my room this year.

I've blogged about my "What Are We Doing Today?" board before, but I'm revisiting it because it's become a great tool to get kids thinking about what's on the Art agenda before entering the Art Room.

When students enter and join me on the Reading Rug, I often share a story or share an inspiring artifact to introduce the story.  Having a routine is a nice way to start the teaching period with any of my grades.  I added my "I can" board to our rug routine this year to help clearly identify the lesson's objectives too.

After our rug routine, we transition either to the Teacher Table or to student art tables for the next steps.  I always have the WIPs (Works in Progress) on display, so the kids know what they will be working on.

Now, here's the big question: how does one design lessons to ensure that students are demonstrating GROWTH MINDSET, CRITICAL THINKING, CREATIVE THINKING, and COMMUNICATION all wrapped up with ENDURING UNDERSTANDINGS as they CREATE, PRODUCE, RESPOND, and CONNECT their way to a final piece of art?

Is your head spinning, because mine sure is!  Well, here's the answer...I have no magic art potion and definitely no sage advice, but here's my two cents on the matter.  It is SO easy to connect our effectively designed art lessons to the Common Core.  Cross curricular connections come so easy to the arts and I want to make sure my students are comfortable using the skills and vocabulary necessary to be a 21st century artist, so I try to constantly work the vocab into our lessons.  The Smartest Artist game I briefly mentioned here has become a fantastic way to assess my students' vocabulary understanding.  Plus, it's quick and who doesn't love using a light up microphone?!

Oh yeah, and those cornerstone assessments Jay McTighe talks about?  Well, we don't even realize we're cornerstone assessing our students sometimes, but quick things like a peer or self evaluation at the end of a lesson involves students in the assessment process.  Or even a small group or large group critique of artists' works give us the ability to quickly assess our students.  I like having my "Art Smart" vocab plastered around my room because it helps jumpstart students' ideas in a positive direction during our times o' critique.

Here's what we need to remind ourselves: we work hard to design an art curriculum every year that addresses different media categories, student abilities, art elements and principles, and aligns with our district and now Common Core standards.  Our assessments don't always have to be lengthy, but they should be authentic, ranging from critiques to portfolios to checklist/rating forms to journals.

Okay, for now, Miss French Fry out, but I'll be back soon with some glimpses into new projects on the horizon!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Primary Polka Dots.

I am BACK and getting down and dirty in the Art Room with this year's batch of kiddos.

We're kicking off this year with The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds since September 15th is Dot Day!  I've been reading his book aloud to all of my K-5 classes as a first day intro, but did something truly dotty with my Kinder kiddos.

Now this year I wasn't feeling as gutsy, so I didn't dive into paint the very first day BUT, we did dive into some gluing.

Each student was given a pre-cut black dot and many strips of red, yellow, and blue paper.

During my demo, I talked about glue etiquette (Just a Dot, Not a Lot) and demonstrated how to twist and turn and weave our strips through each other.  A great way to introduce lines too!

This lesson ended up being a really great way to assess students' abilities to follow directions, look at their fine motor skills when handling the glue and their strips, and check out students' overall motivation and patience.  After all, this was all done during our very FIRST Art day together!

At the end of the project, each student had the opportunity to present their project to their classmates (a good first day critique practice) and share what it reminded them of.  A lot of students said that their dot reminded them of a rollercoaster or a carnival ride, but I had one friend who stood up and said this:

Kinder:  Welllll, my dot reminds me of Miley Cyrus.
Miss French Fry:  And why is that?
Kinder: Because it looks CRAZY!

Well, welcome to the Art Room my Kinder friend, the land of the crazies...