World Travelers

This was simply a fun coloring sheet I gave out at the end of class, to my “Art Around the World” students. I just love how each one looks so different.

China Blue

We went to China as our final destination in our last week of “Art Around the World.” We read Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China, by Ed Young, and then looked at a slide-show of traditional Chinese China pottery, that I had put together in my iPhoto accompanied by some traditional Chinese music. Then it was time to paint out bowls. We also looked at images of Koi fish and Chinese dragons to get inspired.

Then I explained to all of my little explorers that it was time to board a boat and sail back to the United States of America.

Indian Green

This week in “Art Around the World”, we went to India. But because it was St. Patrick’s day I made sure to include the color green since we had already been to Ireland this semester. Each table had only yellow and blue in separate cups.


More trains this week as Art Around the World landed in Russia. Once I had everyone’s attention we thought about our castles from last week and looked at the type of castles they had in Russia. Then we looked at the Russian flag and thought of other flags that had the same colors. “The Britain Flag!” is what one of my male students yelled immediately. I was little disappointed with how long it took for someone to point out that the American flag was red white and blue…

The pictures of trains are what google images claimed to be Russian trains.

This is an abstract approach. Here two trains are whizzing past each other:

Obviously I LOVE this one.

Viva España!

“Hey we finally made it to Spain!” is what one little little girl in my Art Around the World class screamed when she snuck a peak into my big purple messenger bag and saw Ferdinand the Bull, by Robert Lawson. This caused other students to yell and jump up and down and act rambunctious. I realized that I had very effectively built up excitement, in this class. They were soooo pumped to learn about Spain! Spain has castles, and pigs that eat acorns, and they make beautiful pitchers out of clay. Of course then I had to spend 5 minutes calming everyone down and getting them seated before I read Ferdinand.

After our story myself and my 5th grade assistant for the day gave a demonstration. We were all going to make polka-dot pinch pots with handles just like the images I showed on my laptop. I had put together an iPhoto slide show accompanied by Spanish Flamenco music. After Ferdinand we watched it. And after the demonstration we began.

After we finished our pots we took a quick moment to draw them. Lea age 6, told me that she drew her pot how she wished it looked, and not how it really looked in real life. I really enjoyed that she was creating a design for a pot through experimentation, accepting her limits, and still finding a way to express herself. She couldn’t actually make her ideal pot so she drew it instead. I love it.

After that, we took a second look at the castle in Ferdinand and we imagined what our castle would look like if we could build our own.

I do not know why we had so many purple castles… I love how girls at this age use one another’s shapes and patterns and designs. If they see one girl’s pink flower drawn with loops then they will want to make their own pink flower with loops. Women my age still do this, we still see other women doing something wonderful and then try it out for ourselves. We just use clothes instead of purple castles.

Egyptian Prints

We went to Egypt this week in my Art Around the World class at P.S. 154. The class began with a rowdy group of children, a missing parent volunteer and one boy kicking another one. Sometimes you just have days like this. While I did have a parent volunteer last week I should have suspected it was too good to be true. She didn’t show up this week, and I’m sure she had some other motherly obligation so I can’t complain. Her help last week during the French magic garden making was invaluable.

I decided that kicking and crying and fidgeting meant we had to start out with the activity I had plaaned for close. Dancing! I put on some Egyptian belly dancing music and we all danced around, waved our arms back and fourth, then squatted and eventually sat down cris-cross apple sauce ready to hear our story of the day.

After our story we talked about using symbols to replace word, like the Egyptians did with hieroglyphics. My example was to express how I love spring, so I made 3 exclamation marks and a sail boat: I Love Spring! Everyone used corrugated cardboard and bristol to make their own hieroglyphics.

Then using red, white and blue tempera paint and spongy brayers we printed.

And this next picture is so hilarious, because I want to protect the privacy of my students, but the little stars that they are, my artists insisted on a group photo.

Irish Fairies, Elves and Goblins

We read a traditional folk tale about a small elf and a lonely boy getting his wish to have a friend. It was one of the short stories in the Golden Books Treasury of Elves and Fairies, by Jane Werner. It was a very old copy that I had found while digging around in my Grandmothers basement. I think it might have been my mothers. I absolutely love collecting childrens books, and to add a few Vintage ones to my collection is absolutely cool.

So after attempting to go to Spain last week and being ransacked by Pirates we attempted to hop on a plane, but due to unexpected turbulance we had to make an emergency landing in Ireland. We landed in a small town out in the Irish country side, filled with fairies, elves and golbins! (I am now on a mission to see how many countries I can put between us and the order of air dry clay I am still waiting for i.e. Spain) So once we read our story it was time to become the magical creature of our choice. I wasn’t surprised that the boys became goblins and every girl wanted to make wings. This week we focused on using a stencil and cutting out our traced shapes along the line. I eventually put our crayons then watercolor, because I had plans for us to use it again the following week.

What was most important was getting our shapes well traced and cutting along the lines we had drawn. There were wings and masks with pointy ears that students could choose from to trace.

Almost Perfect

This is an example of why it is important to spend time teaching 5 and 6 year olds how to clean up.

When I said, “put the scraps on this chair” I didn’t realize how may scraps we actually had… Oops. At least they were following my directions, and it is OK for teachers to make a small mistake every once in a while. After a super messy day I was really impressed at how well my second class of Art Around the World, cleaned up the whole classroom.

See here you can see that after a super messy day with watercolor painting, oil pastels and lots of cutting meaning lots of paper scraps, we still did an almost perfect job cleaning up. OK no one tucked in their chair, but the floors and tables have been cleared and cleaned and all the art work has left with its proper owner. All-in-all I would declare this an almost perfect day.

Pirates and the Caribbean

So last week I had told students that we were going to Spain, and making pottery. Turns out I didn’t actually have any clay and wasn’t going to get to place the order for a while. “They’ll KILL me!” I thought. (I am not actually scared of children and I do not cater to the whims of my students, I am just being dramatic here for effect.) So in order to save myself from the angry mob of 20 something students in my two Art Around the World classes, I decided to tell them all that we were boarding a cruise ship to Spain. A ridiculous idea because that would take forever, but it bought me a way out of the Spain promise. The students came in put their coats away and sat on the carpet as per usual. “Close your eyes,” I said, “and imagine you are sipping a smoothie and taking in the sun. Lean your head back and imagine you can feel the sun on your face… WHAM! BAM!” I made a few other dramatic noises and then explained that pirates were attacking our ship.

I have to admit this got everyone a little loud, but I wasn’t surprised and I was mostly flattered that I was successful in getting them involved. We also had three 5th graders as volunteers this week, because after weeks of badgering the school for an assistant I had finally gotten my wish, along with a second class because apparently, as they explained it, the class had been so popular that there was a long waiting list. Would I mind teaching a second class, for twice the price? Would I ever! So, as a result I had three volunteers, which solved my problem of not having time to set up, and a second class.

As I quieted the class down I informed them that unfortunately the pirates had stolen all of our food and we were going to have to dock the ship, but what they hadn’t managed to steal was our treasure. The 5th graders were actually expert swordsmen and they had fought off the pirates. I had the three 5th graders stand up at this point and introduce themselves to the class. We read a story about a girl who lived on an island and could hear the ocean in her sea shell and then it was time to make art.

Because the Pirates hadn’t stolen our treasure we still had it, but we knew they would return soon to try again. It was best if we all made out own treasure chests and buried them ASAP! Each student got one treasure box (cardboard jewelry boxes I had taken from the recycling at an old job) and six pieces of treasure (assorted junk including old fabric and beads from my apartment). The 5th graders were absolutely wonderful in helping my little kindergarten/first grade artists find six pieces each of “treasure,” and what would normally be seen as junk became very special stuff. On the table I had old broken popsicle sticks, among other things, and one 5th grader declared them to be “pieces of a sunken ship”. This made them very popular items, as you can imagine.

After we made out treasure chests it was time to bury them. So we did. We “buried” them in our backpacks. It was important that we were able to get back and find them again once it was safe. So obviously we wrapped up the class by making treasure maps.

Studio/Classroom Space

Studio space can be something that either limits or enhances my lessons. Take, for example, the studio space that I have for my ceramics class. There is a double sink big enough for 4 students at a time, several huge table, 15 pottery wheels, and a slab roller for rolling slabs. This enables me to teach both slab building and throwing pottery. It allows me to let the students all clean up their own mess, without me having to do it afterwards.

However, a bad studio space or classroom can be extremely limiting. My classroom at P.S. 154 is small and it is also a fully functional kindergarten classroom that is occupied up until exactly 5 minutes before I get there. This is the least ideal situation I have ever had to work in and it presents many problems. Of the many, I don’t have time to set up. Additionally I have to stay afterward and re-stack chairs, move back the tables I’ve moved and sweep. Earlier I talked about the importance of having students clean up their own mess. In my Art Around the World class at P.S. 154 I do have students clean up their materials at the end of the lesson, but I never have them re-organize the room. It is not that I don’t want to make them it is that I already have them involved in setting up the room when they arrive that if I were to also have them re-set everything it would eat up all of our work time. So I stay after and that is that. It is what the space calls for. One positive thing I have discovered is that collabrative drawing are an excellent way to keep my students busy while I set out their materials.

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