Monday, December 9, 2013

Oh hey!

In case anyone still reads this thing... whoa, I've been gone for far too long! My bad. Here's what's up in my cold little iced-over piece of Pennsylvania!

Can I use the excuse, "it's a crazy time of year" when I say that every other week? I didn't think so. Still, it's crazy! My kiddos kick off the year with their Square 1 Art projects, as I like to have my products done and delivered in time for Christmas... which means our Square 1, while almost finished, is still going on. We've been very busy! It's not easy coordinating a successful fundraiser for 700 children!

On top of that, our annual elementary musical, normally a Spring event, was moved to the Fall this year. That meant that I had to select my Art Enrichment (fifth grade art club) students as soon as the year began, as I needed them to help me paint musical scenery. We spent weeks designing, drawing, painting, and setting up the stage. Thankfully, as of a week ago, the musical is over and my head can stop spinning!

Let's not forget all of the regular duties, schedule switch-ups, and, oh yes, actual teaching that is required each and every day. That in itself is a whirlwind!

And on top of it all, I was sick for about 9 weeks. It felt as if I had a hangover for 2 months, people. But it's going to be worth it, because in May, there will be a BABY! My husband and I are expecting our first little one at the end of the school year, which is even more exciting than summer vacation itself (until now, I didn't think anything was more exciting than summer vacation).

Gosh I look good pregnant...

Now that I'm into my second trimester, I'm back to feeling almost like myself. Hopefully that will translate to lots of long overdue posts!

Meanwhile, it seems that this art baby business is contagious (congrats! and more congrats!), so friends, you be careful out there! ;-)

Friday, October 4, 2013


TGIF! Good grief, this week. I am far too exhausted and swamped to share some long soliloquy today, but I had to share my rendition of the "Art Is/Isn't..." bulletin board. I've seen many of these (my original pin-spiration led me to Mrs. Knight's Smartest Artists) and I think they're all great. Mine is nothing special...

... but I sure loved some of the responses! Among my favorites? Art isn't football.

Well said, little friend.

Happy weekend!

Monday, September 23, 2013

James Rizzi Birds

This beautiful lesson comes from Patty at Deep Space Sparkle. Before stumbling upon it via Pinterest, I'd never heard of James Rizzi, but having taught this lesson, I'm eager to learn more about his bright, bold work. The kids loved looking at it, too!

I've never been one for much directed drawing. But as I learned in one of the AOE classes I took over the summer, DDs can be a great way to boost kids' confidence in their abilities. And who doesn't want that?

After drawing with a pencil, kiddos outlined their birds--or as we called them, pudgy budgies!--with black oil pastel, then painted with liquid watercolor. To prep the kids, we discussed the warm and cool color families; I made a simple worksheet to enforce the content, as well as have kids pre-select their color scheme. Warm colored birds got cool colored backgrounds and vice versa.


The kids ate this up! And since we did our initial DD, older students have reported that their second grade siblings cannot stop drawing birds on their own!

Thank you, Patty! This one's a keeper!

Handprint Fish

I've done this project with my first graders for a few years now, but I'm particularly pleased with this year's results. I changed things up a bit in an effort to enforce the learning aspect, though getting more consistently great-looking final pieces was a happy side effect!

On the first day of art class, after the 'welcome to art' blah-blah, we painted our backgrounds. Yes, I painted with first graders on the first day of art class. This group of first graders did not have kindergarten art, meaning this was our first time together EVER. Call me silly or call me brave, but please don't call me 'cause I hate talking on the phone.

Using blue square paper as the canvas, kiddos used multiple values of blue, as well as white, to blend their colors directly on their paper. Ooo-ing and ahhh-ing ensued! Not having to wash the brushes in between colors made this part quick and easy and was a good introduction for my amateur painters.

On the second day of class, we discussed background, middle ground, and foreground. Since the backgrounds had been completed previously, the students proceeded to adding a middle ground--seaweed, sand, and bubbles--while I called kids a few at a time to make an orange handprint on a separate sheet of blue paper.

Once the handprints were dry, I proceeded to add orange fish lips and a white spot for the eye. Then I cut out each fish. All 100+ of them. Thank goodness for a good pair of scissors and Netflix!

Since these kiddos never had kindergarten art, proper glue bottle usage was pretty foreign to most of them, so we spent a decent chunk of time covering that before using "dots, not lots" to glue the fish, creating the foreground.

A little black paint on a Q-tip made a sweet little fishie pupil, and the kiddos were all set! Square 1 Art, here we come!

Time go get back to my Netflix. This time, I'll be gluing all of those sweet underwater scenes onto the Square 1 Art paper. Le sigh.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Get out your popcorn, it's time for a preview

I'll warn you right now: this post contains a Downton Abbey spoiler. That makes sense on an art ed blog, right? Okay then.

We have close to three cycles under our belts, but only my youngest students have completed their initial projects. (I see my classes just once every 6 days, for 45 minutes apiece.) I'm hoping to get a few of those project posts completed in the coming days, but if you're like me, you love a good preview (or a preview that's way too fast and leaves you hanging and questioning WHY MATTHEW HAD TO DIE!?). So here are some candids from the first few days of art class, showing what the little artists are working on for their Square 1 Art projects!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

This is the tale of two summers. Because my summer really felt that way, with three intense graduate courses on one hand, and three fabulous vacations on the other!

First, there was Nantucket...

It was cold.

The greatest family photo in history? Yes.
In Pennsylvania, teachers must complete 24 graduate-level courses within 6 years of active service. For me, that deadline was up at the end of this summer. But I completed all of my credits before we were married nearly 2 years ago, so I was in the clear... or so I thought. In May, I received word from the Department of Ed that instead of 24 credits, my records revealed just 16. Um, what? To summarize, the university through which I completed my 24 credits--paying per credit for 24, showing up on all grade records as 24--has this 'slash it by 2/3' policy, which they assured me is common practice at ivy league universities. So instead of 24 credits, I had 16. AWESOME. After an afternoon spent remaining calm crying in my administrators' offices (all of whom were just as baffled as I), I was instructed that I had the summer to successfully complete 8 additional credits. So that's what I did.

During the July 4th holiday, needing a respite from reading and writing about educational theory, my husband and I traveled to Niagara Falls, New York, where my best friend's family lives. We had a great time touring the falls and picnicking. And writing discussion board posts.

My final class, an iPad training course, was over mid-July. We decided to celebrate by taking yet another trip! Because we teachers couldn't get the time off to take a real one when we married in December 2011, we designated this adventure as our belated honeymoon. So off we went...

EUROPE! For 16 days! Holy canoli. Obviously, I can't summarize 16 days (or 10 ports, 7 countries, and 2 continents) in a single post. If I get my act together, I'll do a port-by-port synopsis in the coming weeks. Granted, that's already been done (and been done so beautifully!), but really, can you get enough Europe? I think not.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The past few weeks have been... memorable.

My rooms were not ready until early August, during which time I was out of the country (you can bet your bottom there will be more on that later!). When I returned to school, I was surprised to learn that because of the district's new central supply system, I had to check in my own supplies. That endeavor ate up the time I had planned on using to get my rooms ready. But with the incredible help of one of my BFFs (my mama!), we got 'er done!

Holy boxes, Batman!
Excellent pack job, supply company. Very efficient.
Then it was a whirlwind three days of in-service, some serious certification-related drama (more on that later, too), a weekend that went by in the blink of an eye, and back to school with my 600 stinkers. Good heavens, I love them. Also, I'm tired.

Now I am recovering relaxing at my in-laws', kayaking and sleeping and drafting lesson plans in my head. And admiring my back to school nails.

I hope you had a wonderful and restful summer! And if you're back at school, then welcome and good luck. If you're still on vacation, enjoy it while you can, friends! Happy Labor Day!

Captain Rudy America says, "Happy Labor Day!"