Monthly Archives: June 2015

Art – Aboriginal Paintings


For this project, I printed out some silhouettes of animals found in Australia.  The 5th/6th graders did these projects on a paper bag.  Once the students picked out their animal, they drew it onto the paper bag sheet, remembering to fill the page as best they could, and used a Sharpie to outline it, and then drew lines to make sections to fill up the rest of the space.  They had fun crumpling the sheet up into a tight ball, and trying to smooth it out.  This gave it an aged, bark-like appearance.  Tearing the edges gave it an aged look, too.

Next, they used earth-toned chalk pastels to fill in the sections and the animal.  Once that was completed, they dipped the end of their paintbrushes into acrylic paints and made dots in circles and lines to represent Aboriginal dot painting.

I really liked how these turned out, and I think all the students enjoyed the process.

Art – A Lesson in Abstract


Abstract, for me, is the hardest style.  My brain NEEDS to make sense of what it’s looking at, so you can imagine how difficult it was/is to teach to others!  That’s why I was super-thrilled to find a website with an awesome tutorial on a guided project.  I just needed that little (HUGE) push to tackle it, and they came out great!

A word to those of you trying it:  make sure you buy a package of disposable brushes for the liquid masking.  You may even need to replace a brush midway, if you have a slower, more thoughtful student.  I had the students draw what they were going to do on a scratch paper first.  This eliminated a lot of the thought-process when it was time to use the liquid masking.

Also, this project made me realize that I need a lot more watercolor pencils.  I thought they could share, and they DID, but oftentimes they had to wait a little, and some students felt the need to Bogart them.

A good rule of thumb when teaching this is to remember that it’s really only the artist who knows for sure which end is up on an abstract, so have your students keep turning it, so it doesn’t weigh heavily on one side.  To be honest, I don’t even know if the following photos are upright.  Only the artists do…

Art – Henna Hands


I can’t remember where I got the inspiration for this, but as soon as I find it, I’ll update the post.

This was done by my Wednesday class, and basically, the kids made a frame, and then they traced their hands.  They outlined the frame and their hand in Sharpie, and then zentangled the edges, as well as created a henna design for the center.  I gave them reference sheets for the zentangling.  Once that was done, they used oil pastels to create a radiating effect from the hands.  They turned out pretty cool!

Art – Laurel Burch Cats


I found this fun Laurel Burch game on Teachers Pay Teachers.  It was a perfect way to get 5th/6th graders to branch out of their comfort zones.  They chose from two different cat shapes to draw, of which I guided them through.  All but one chose the sitting version.  Once everyone had their cat shape, they started rolling the dice, and the cat fun began!  They drew all the lines in oil pastel, and then added watercolor in many colors to fill it in.  They were beautifully done!

To help with the understanding of who Laurel Burch was, I gave a brief history of her, and had print-outs of her designs.  The kids were really drawn to her style.

Art – My Family


We have some really big families in our co-op, and I thought it would be fun if the 5th/6th grade kids got a chance to show them off, in the form of nesting dolls.  We used things like buckets, potato salad lids and whipped cream lids for the moms and dads, and then we kept using smaller and smaller lids for the siblings in birth order.  A good rule of thumb is whatever template was used for the previous head would be used for the next body.  Some students had so many family members that we had to get as small as a water bottle cap!

When they aren’t colored, it would have been confusing to remember which size goes with which sibling, because when we made the doll outlines, the kids pretty much stuffed everyone on to three or four papers, in whatever way they’d fit.  I had the students not only label the shapes on the outside (dad, mom, Jerry, Sally) of each doll, but also put a number on them, starting with dad (1), and going until they ran out of siblings.

Next, they colored everyone in, making sure to give them distinguishing parts so that even other people would recognize them.  One dad has tattoos all over his arms.  Another dad has a very bushy moustache.  Annnnd, one mom keeps her cell phone in her bra, so it sticks out.  We all got a great chuckle out of that one – including the mom!

The only rule was that they had to stay within the boundaries of the initial shape.  For instance, if a sibling had super curly, fluffy hair, that had to be portrayed WITHIN the doll-shape.

You can imagine that some students were finished earlier than others because of the size of their families.  For this reason, we left it as a fill-in project for the remainder of the year.  When everyone was done (right before the art show, I might add), they cut out their families, put them in numerical order, put a brad in the bottom, fanned them out, and glued them to the background.

Art – Collage Deer


This was a pretty intense project, and I reserve those for my Wednesday class (5th-HS), specifically because it’s a 2-hour time frame.  We’re able to accomplish SO MUCH!  It’s equivalent to having 3 art classes, because there’s no clean-up or stopping between hours.  I just LOVE it.

They started off learning how to draw a deer.  Some chose to make the head a little different than my example.  The students also added a bit of foliage that would later be covered up, but it gave them a point of reference.

Once they had the deer where they wanted, they tore scrapbook paper to fit and rubbed brown chalk pastel on the edges of the paper. Then, they moved on to the blue background, making sure to rub blue chalk on the edges of the paper.  When that was finished, they added the foliage (branches and berries, with charcoal and red chalk).  Finally, they used a Sharpie for the eye and nose, and chalk pastels for the ears.  Adding the chalk around the edges of the paper removed that stark white edging and made it a lot smoother.