Friday, January 31, 2014

All That Jazz.

Let's learn a bit about Romare Bearden, the man and his music, shall we?

If I ever have a biography written about me, I only hope that it features a picture of me cradling my giant dog.  Best bio photo ever.

Bearden's life and art are marked by outstanding talent, which included scholarly and intellectual interests, such as art, history, literature, and culture.  He was a jazz afficionado, an author, a talented musician, a songwriter, and arts activist.

Bearden grew up in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance and his experiences growing up are reflected in his works.

He had an impressive life, graduating from NYU and then working as a politcial cartoonist for African-American newspapers.

Romare Bearden served in World War II and after returning home, his work began to gain more abstract qualities, which led to his experimentation in collage.

Bearden's life was full of amazing experiences and he is an artist who truly took the good and bad of everyday life into his works.

After digging into Romare Bearden's life, we continued some further discussion...

The Fourth Graders were simultaneously learning about jazz in their music class, so they were experts regarding the instrumental components of jazz.

We also read this fantastic book about Billie Holiday titled Mister and Lady Day.  This book offers a kid-friendly retelling of Billie Holiday's singing career.  Plus, the illustrations feature some BEAUTIFUL collage work, which tied into our project perfectly.

To create the right jazz cafe mood, I dimmed the lights in the room and flipped on Pandora's jazz station to inspire us.

Next, the Fourth Grade jazz afficionados selected either cool or warm colors to create a painted paper background.  Texture was added with painted bubble wrap.

I have hoarded cardboard all year long for this project, so we put it to good use (I needed that stuff outta here)!

Students drew and cut out the bodies for their musicians inspired by Bearden's style.

Any extra details were added with construction paper scraps, oil pastels, or black paint in eye droppers.

Our final pieces were cut out in an oval to give the illusion of a spotlight.

Is it just me or does the jazzy lady above totally look like Janice from the Muppets?

This one is super cool, as the little artist created a pop-out piano, complete with a sheet music score.

Hope you enjoyed these jazz-tastic pieces.  Stay tuned (get it, jazz pun, eh?) for some cool stuff coming soon!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Miss French Fry's Favorite Things.

It is now Chi-Beria Part 2 here in the Midwest and the cold has officially gotten to me.  Now that Miss Carrie Underwood has partially marred the Sound of Music, I thought I'd give my own version a shot.  Yes, add me to the list of  "mean people who need Jesus," but I just couldn't handle Underwood as Maria.  Julie Andrews will forever be the ONLY Maria in my book.  Now, how do you solve a problem in the Art Room?

Miss French Fry's Favorite Things 
(sung to the tune of My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music)

Sharpies that come in all shapes and sizes

Booger-Free Pencils, 'cuz germs I despises

Hand Sweepers from Target tied up with strings

These are a few of Miss French Fry's favorite things.

Dirty Brush Bear and color-coded water pots

Elmer Glue Pump to help with the glue dots


Scotch Tape Dispenser, pure joy to me brings

These are a few of Miss French Fry's favorite things.

Table baskets and water pots with bright matching hues

Booty kickin' stapler 'n remover, no more staples in my shoes

Art carts roll smoothly like birds gliding on wings


These are a few of Miss French Fry's favorite things.

When the kids are super cray-cray, 
From this Arctic chill.
 I simply remember my favorite things
Don't forget your Emergen-C pill!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Got Time? Make Art!

What do you do with your kiddos when they finish up a project?  Having a stock of free draw paper and How-To books available for fast finishers was my go-to, until I started to realize that the kids could use a change of scenery (and so could I).

Now don't get me wrong, I've still got a sweet stash of Ed Emberley Drawing Books in my Got Time? Make Art! Station, but I added a few other options to mix it up a bit.

Students have a few choices.  They can:

A) Make an Art Trading Card
B) Use a Drawing Book
C) Use the OOPS! bin
D) Play Art War

Art War is my homemade version of Pictionary.  The Art War bin is stocked with miniature whiteboards, Expo markers, a timer, and a baggie full of artsy nouns and verbs.  The kids LOVE this game and do a great job working together when playing Art War.  One child is always nominated as the time keeper/judge and in charge of awarding points to the students.

The OOPS bin is stocked full of scraps with leftover doodles that the students can turn into something "new."

And lastly, the ATC station.  I pre-cut the art trading cards to 2.5 x 3.5 inches, which is standard baseball card size.  Students have an art trading card checklist they must complete before turning their finished cards into the "Done" pocket.  Each card must use 3 different art tools and have the student's name and grade on the back.

So if you've got some time on your hands, make art, arties!

Monday, January 20, 2014

It's Easy Being Green.

Hi Ho!  Kermit the Frog here, and turns out, it's easy being green.

I've been on a breakfast smoothie kick for quite some time.  These smoothies are a great way to make sure we get a good heap of veggies daily.

When I'm whipping up these smoothies, I try and bust out a whole bunch of them at once.  If I'm gonna get the kitchen dirty, I might as well make it worth my while.

I purchased a few dozen Wide-Mouth Ball mason jars in both the pint and quart sizes from Fresh Preserving thanks to some sweet online coupons.  I also picked up some Ball Wide-Mouth Freezer Lids  at good ol' Amazon.

These jars are fantastic for freezing make ahead smoothies, soups, stews, veggie sides, just about anything.

I whipped up these 2 bad boys in my recent batch:

Pineapple Chard Smoothie

Raspberry Cinnamon Green Smoothie

I like to throw in some flaxseed and chia seeds for some extra nutritious flava'.  The best part about smoothie-making is that it's REALLLLY hard to mess them up.  Plus, it's a great way to use up some of the extra chard and collared greens from this summer's garden harvest.

Do your green thang, folks!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Crock Around the Block Tonight.

This ain't no cookin' blog, and I am definitely no Marth (Martha Stewart, that is).  But lately, due to late nights in the art room prepping student works for a few shows (this time of year is rough stuff for art teachers in my district), I have been rocking the crock.

This baby is the paint to my brush, the soup can to my Andy Warhol, the mustache to my Dali.

We purchased this 7 quart slow cooker from good ol' Costco.  The best part about this particular model is that once your meal finishes cooking, it automatically switches to "Keep Warm," so if I start the meal in the AM and don't get home in time to stop the cooking, the meal will not keep on cooking and burn, but instead stay warm, toasty, and ready to eat!

I spent 2 hours last weekend busting out some make ahead crock pot meals.  I made 5 large gallon bag meals and immediately froze them.  The meals are large enough so that the hubs and I get dinner and lunch out of them (sometimes even an additional meal).  I pull them out and defrost them the night before, then throw them in the slow cooker in the AM, and VOILA! Dinner is served.

Here are the meals I put together:

Chicken Teriyaki

Pepperoncini Chicken

Red Pepper Chicken

Chicken Curry

Mushroom Chicken with Rice

I like to write the cook time and any reminders about side dishes directly on the bag.  For example, if some of our frozen garden green beans would be a good addition to the meal, I make note of it, so brain-fried Miss French Fry remembers to cook those up too.

I stuck with the chicken family this go 'round and used a variety of organic chicken thighs, drumsticks, and breasts.  Next time, I'm going to dive into some other meats.  Thus far, I've tried the chicken teriyaki and the mushroom chicken, and they are GOOOOOD.

Crock 'n roll, folks.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Rizzi for Realz.

'Scuse the lame-o blog title, but that's all I got folks.  Super pumped about my next artist, as my good friend (and colleague) and I will be discussing this artist's work in March at the National Art Education Convention.  Super stoked about this trip to Cali!

James Rizzi was an American pop artist who was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.  I fell in love with his work when I traveled to Germany a few years back and saw his Braunschweig Happy Haus.

This dude was THE original hipster.  He dug art, women, and cigarettes (I didn't share those last two facts with my students).

His work is often compared to a cross between Hanna Barbera cartoons and Picasso.  My students were intrigued by the personality of his buildings and his poppy colors.  Rizzi's work is so kid-friendly, the art kiddos couldn't get enough.  This awesome artist drove a personalized VW bug.  Plus, Rizzi's personal style is outstanding.   I mean, for reals dude.  His Converse match his shirt, and that fedora is killin' me Smalls!

  • scissors
  • glue
  • pencils
  • tempera paint (cool colors for sky and black)
  • splatter box to create "lightning" in the sky effects
  • brushes -- thick (background) and thin (outlining the buildings)
  • acrylic-painted laminating scrap papers (leftovers from a previous project I'll blog about later)
  • encyclopedia pages

Students are to create a Rizzi-inspired skyline using overlapping and incorporating the elements of foreground, background, and mid-ground by using recycled materials to effectively utilize the positive and negative space.

Beautiful little bluebird just chillin'

This student tried to glue on her buildings while the background was still wet.  This "oops" resulted in a cool textured effect on the buildings.

I love how eerie this one is with the figureheads leering out of the windows.

The Rizzi skylines were on display with some 3rd grade Matisse collages for the 3rd/4th grade Fine Arts Jazz Night.  It sure was JAZZY!


For the love of Rizzi, have fun young artists!