Friday, November 30, 2012

Artsonia Artist of the Week- Please Vote!

One of my students is a finalist in Artsonia's Artist of the Week contest. If you have a minute, I would greatly appreciate your help in voting for her artwork! The student is "Meadow70" in the 4th-6th grade age group. I didn't get this posted on Wednesday like I planned, but you can still vote today and tomorrow. The winner from each age group receives a gift certificate for Art supplies as well as the winner's school! You can vote here: Thank you!
This project combines suminagashi (paper marbling) and sumi-e from our East Asian studies this semester.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

4th Grade Asian Dragons

I saw an Asian style dragon on Pinterest a while back that was made with a coil. That seemed simple enough, so it was one of the first ideas I collected for our East Asian study this fall. The coil dragon I saw came from A Faithful Attempt. To begin the project, I showed an East Asian dragons PowerPoint to my students. I'd be happy to share this resource later if anyone is interested*. It's not the prettiest PowerPoint ever, but I did put a lot of work into finding specifics on dragons from China, Japan, and Korea so could go beyond "uh, they have dragons in Asia." We spent a couple minutes talking about the differences between Western and Asian dragons- there are quite a few! Did you know that Asian dragons didn't usually have wings? They could use magic to fly without them. Also, the bodies are more serpentine and Asian dragons spent more time being benevolent than, oh, burning down castles and the like. 
*Here's the PowerPoint!

*I had a couple students ask me "Are dragons real? You're talking about them like they're real!" I just told them that some people think they were, some people think they were imagined after discovering dinosaur fossils or something like that. But, they are part of the culture and the legends, so it's easier to talk about them as if they are real.

Also, did you know you can tell if a dragon is from China, Japan, or Korea by counting the toes/claws? Each culture claims that dragons started in their country and has a reason for the different number of claws. Chinese dragons have 5, Korean have 4, and Japanese have 3. In China they said that dragons lost toes as they traveled east, in Japan they say that dragons grew toes as they traveled west, and in Korea they either lost a toe from traveling east or grew a toe from traveling west. You may notice that our dragons don't have feet (and therefore look more like Nessie, our underwater ally, than an Asian dragon). This was due to time constraints. By the time most of the students got their coil dragons secure enough to stand, they maybe had time to add scales, but most did not have time to add feet.

For the studio portion, the students rolled their clay into a coil, shaped it in a way that it supported itself and stood up, then added details- all in about 20 minutes! I only see my intermediate kids for 40 minutes every other week so they have to complete their handbuilding in one class period. In the second class period, the students used acrylic paint to add color and detail to their dragons. My intermediate school was randomly selected by an area Walmart for their teacher appreciation program and EVERY teacher in my building received a $50 gift card for classroom use! How awesome is that? I used a good chunk of my money to buy acrylic paint, even some metallic paint which was a BIG hit.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Kindergarten Cherry Tree Paintings

For Cultural Heritage Week, my Kinders learned about the meaning of cherry trees/blossoms in Chinese and Japanese cultures. We also used aesthetic scanning to discuss Women and Blossoming Trees by X Torii Kiyonaga, 1786. from the Art Institute of Chicago's website. We see the women having a little get together under the cherry trees. The students were also challenged to look for shapes and patterns. (When I was trying to come up with something from Art History that depicted cherry blossoms, I found this resource from the KU Center for East Asian Studies- if you are in the area, they have also have awesome "trunks" you can check out with objects from China, Japan, and Korea.)
X Torii Kiyonaga Japanese, 1752-1815 Women and Blossoming Trees (Naka no machi no sakura), c. 1786
Source: via Katie on Pinterest
After the first day discussion, the students used lines of dark brown paint to form a cherry branch on light blue construction paper.
In the second class period, each table got a tray of magenta and white paint so the students could create different tints while painting the blossoms on their cherry trees. I thought about having the students add a self portrait "under" their trees but they actually filled the space for once so there wasn't room! 


Friday, November 23, 2012

3rd Grade Darumas

Every Art class, K-12, in my district had at least one lesson focused on East Asian cultures to prepare for Cultural Heritage Week this year. We had learned about Darumas- Japanese dolls- but I hadn't thought about how I might use it until I saw this post from Phyl at There's a Dragon in my Art Room! Her 6th grade students used plastic Easter eggs as the base for a papier mache Daruma doll, then painted. I figured I'd give it a shot with 3rd grade- they'd never used papier mache before and we don't do a ton of 3D projects due to a LARGE enrollment and limited storage. 6th graders would be able to handle this a lot better! I bought the largest Easter eggs I could find in quantity after Easter last year and even then, I think the small size was a little tricky for them. I also goofed and forgot to take newspaper to school so we had to use phonebook pages, which don't go on quite as smoothly for some reason. Despite this being a challenging project, it was good for the students to get more 3D experience in a new medium while learning a little about another culture.

To prepare the eggs, we (my student teacher and I) rolled pieces of masking tape to hold the eggs upright. We opened the eggs and poured some plaster in the bottom. The plaster worked well overall, but some students got a little carried away and shook so much that the plaster came loose! :)
You may have noticed that the Darumas only have a pupil in one eye. The owner draws or paints in one pupil as they set a goal or make a wish and don't add the other pupil until they have achieved their goal or their wish came true!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

3rd Grade Oaxacan Inspired Drawings

This lesson was one of my student teacher's greatest hits. The students learned about Oaxacan wood carvings then made drawings inspired by the artwork. The students had to think about composition, colors, and how to fill their animals in with patterns. You can see some amazing wood carvings HERE and read more about Oaxacan artwork HERE.
This project also made me think of a piece of advice I wish I had thought to mention earlier: Don't give too many examples! When asking the students to think about an animal to use, she threw out several random animals in each class. The problem is that a big chunk of students in each class latched on to one of her examples. We had classes with LOTS of jellyfish and snakes. That's something I'm filing away for if I ever have another student teacher!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

1st Grade Book Covers (I'm still here!)

I am way behind this year. Behind on Artsonia (like I just finished posting some of our first projects, yikes!), and way behind on blogging. Instead of giving you a bunch of excuses, I'll just share a picture of a one day project I did with 1st grade a couple of weeks ago. We talked about how artists can be involved with books- the illustrations on the inside and the design of the covers. The students pretended that they had written a book and designed the cover. If they finished with that, I gave them more freedom on the inside. Some made more illustrations and some wrote the story!
One class had been given more than their fair share of second chances to correct their volume level in the week before so they "earned" no talking during this class period. That's probably why I thought this little girl was thinking of me when she designed the cover for her new book "The very mean Art teacher." I gave her a skeptical look and she said "What? It's not you!" Then she made sure her drawing had a blonde Art teacher just to convince me. :)
I wish I would have had more time to ask about her drawing!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Call for Kansas Art Ed Bloggers

Did you know that Kansas Art Education Association has a new blog? We're trying it out in place of the old newsletter format. Check it out here: and if you have any professional articles you'd like to submit, for now you can email them to me ( or Tranda Ihrig ( On the KAEA blog, we want to feature a list of Kansas Art Education bloggers (who are hopefully KAEA members!) I have a small list, but I'm sure there are more KS bloggers out there that I either don't know about, or don't know the location of!
Here's my list so far:


Friday, November 2, 2012

Torn Paper Snow People

Last year I saw a post on Art Makes Kids Smart about using "GOOSe paper"- Good On One Side in Art projects. I thought this was brilliant and a way to make reusing fun so students don't feel like they are using trash. I used the idea with 1st grade students to make torn paper snow people. I'm pretty sure this was a two class period project. The students used 9x6 inch colored construction paper for the background, tore GOOSe paper for the snowy ground, then used more GOOSe paper for the body of the snowperson and construction paper scraps for the accessories. We finished it off with crayon details. Glue sticks worked great and I really liked the personality in the students' work. 
I must have let the students use scissors to create the accessories but there was a no scissor rule for the first day with the snow.