Showing posts with label first day of school. Show all posts
Showing posts with label first day of school. Show all posts

Sunday, August 20, 2017

In the Art Room: A Color Family Display

So there are some things I decided shortly before school started. Let's start with the first: I had too much purposeless decor in my art room. I'm an over-decorator. Just take a peak into my sewing room or my crafting space (yes, these are two separate rooms and yes, I'm spoiled rotten) and you'll know I ain't lyin'. When it comes to my art room, I tend to overdo it there as well. I have a bad habit of getting sucked into the vortex that is the Target Dollar Spot and purchasing every cute thing under the sun. When I bring these colorful happies to my art room, I don't think: Is this going to benefit the art makin' of my students? Is this going to educate and not just decorate? Oh no. Instead I'm all: WHERE'S AN EMPTY SPACE, I MUST FILL IT MEOW. 

I realized the error of my ways over the summer when I came in to grab some things and I took a good look around. All I saw was clutter. Cute, colorful clutter. And in a fit of coffee-fueled redecorating rage, I tore down posters of unicorns, giant maps (why three? WHY?) and reference images that I never, er, referenced. I crumbled it all up into a big heaping wad and stepped back. Immediately I was horrified. What had I done?! My room looked so bare! And that's when I came to my second conclusion:

Eh, you'll figure out what you need as you go. Your room DOES NOT have to look PERFECT on the very first day...week...shoot, man, even month! of school.
Since then, I've slowly started rethinking my decor and redecorating my art room. I made the following decisions: what I use to decorate must also educate; if I can't find what I'm looking for, I'll make it; more 3-D and less 2-D when it comes to visuals. Basically, I want my art room to be a space that really inspires my kids without cluttering their creativity. 
So, what have I created so far? Why, I'm so happy you asked. Here you go:

* My ART room rules that are (hopefully) life rules and inspired by growth mindsets.

* The large color wheel I created from painted oars found at the craft store.

* And this here Color Family set of crayons!

I was inspired by art teacher Katie Lynn. She shared this image of a color family on the Elementary Art Teachers page on Facebook. 
I thought her idea was GENIUS...and decided to create a set of my own. Her drawings are so stinkin' cute, they are inspired by the book The Day the Crayons Quit, a kid fave. Big shout out to Katie Lynn for the inspo!
Since I had these "crayon boxes" left over from an art display, I decided to borrow her idea and create this 3-D color family. My kiddos did this very project a couple of years ago and it was a HUGE hit. I'm thinking I need to bring this project back this year...but I'll definitely be going about it a different (and much easier!) way. I'll share that below. In the meantime, here's a video I created back then for this project. 
So what did I do differently this time around? I skipped the papier mache and used plaster strips instead. But let's start at the start, shall we?
 My good buddy the custodian started collecting the paper towel tubes at my school. I like these better than you standard paper towel tube as they are much sturdier. Added bonus: upcycling! (can we please just go back to calling it REcycling? I dunno why, new words for old things always drives me bonkers).
My very artsy mom-in-law was visiting this weekend and I knew she'd be up for the crafting challenge. I cut rectangles of used tagboard (lookie, more recycling!) while she cut the strips of plaster. We found the plaster strips at our local craft store. After I rolled the tag board into a cone shape, I added a bit of tape, fitted the cone over the tube, cut tabs for easy folding and added a few more bits of tape just to hold. 
While I did that, Diana took to plastering. I loved this so much more than papier mache because it dries faster, harder and isn't a snotty, slimy mess. 
 With her help, creating these 12 crayons went by in a blink!
We did find that one roll of plaster just didn't cut it. We ended up using two. We didn't cover the tube completely as the paint would take care of hiding the fact that we didn't. Also, when I hang these at school, I plan to display them hanging up with the crayons in the box...so no one will see the bottom. Altho, now that I say that, it might be fun to make them removable to make them interactive. I'll have to think on that idea.
 I burned a little too much of the midnight oil (2am, ahem) getting them painted and STILL didn't quite get them complete. Diana helped me finish painting the "paper" and the crayon part.
 I used a flat paint brush and watered down black paint for the stripes.
 Done, son! 
 You better believe I contemplated making ANOTHER color wheel with these guys. But I forced myself to stick with my plan. 
 Initially, these boxes were created for the kids' display a couple years ago. I'm so glad I hung on to them. They were created from cereal boxes. 
I just cut off the top, cut a curve, gessoed them a few times before adding the paint. 
 Since they needed "labels", I just painted a black oval and used white for the color fam names. 
 I'm excited to hang these in my art room next week! I'll use Command Velcro strips and they should do the trick. These guys are pretty light weight. The strips have done a bang up job holding up my painted oars!
 I know my older kids are going to be so stoked when I tell them that they'll be creating their own versions of these as well. I foresee a TON of giant plaster art supplies in their future (eep!).
Take that, Target Dollar Spot. Get thee behind me, Satan, er, Target!
I'm so happy I decided to wait and only decorate when I feel it will educate...and it is necessary. More to come. Just know: your art room, if you are lucky enough to have one, doesn't have to be perfect on the first day of school. Go with what is pleasing and needed by your kiddos. You know best! 
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

In the Art Room: Art Room Etiquette


As y'all know, during those first days of art, it's mission impossible to cram in all of the rules, routines, procedures (and more) that we need to cover...while making sure that the kids have fun and create! With 30 minute art classes, the struggle is super real. I hate to bog down each day with too many do's and don'ts without any actual doin'. So I try to build on each day. On our first day of art, I shared with my students this routines video I created with just some of my fabulous and fun coworkers (thank you, ladies!):
But my routines video just didn't cover it all. I mean, we now know how to walk to my art room, enter, take a seat, go "shopping" for supplies, clean up and line up...and that's a lot. However, after showing the video and diving in to my first projects this week, I started taking notes of some behaviors I noticed that I was not too keen on. Here's what I wrote:

* Raising hands. Okay, we all know (kids included) that our students are to raise their hands to talk. But there seems to be some missing information here. First of all, HOW do you raise your hand? Do you wave it all around like you are swatting an onslaught of flies? Um, preferably not. Second, just cuz your hand is up, that don't mean you get to talk, friend. These are things that I took note of this week...and decided to work on improving.

* Interrupting. Ugh, a pet peeve. We lose so much time with this one! So I decided to address that in my video as well. 

* Staying in your seat. I want the kids to talk to me...I want to talk to them! But, as you know, once one kid is up THEY ARE ALL UP and in yo' face. Some of my classes have close to 40 kiddos. We cannot have that many people up and roaming the room. 

* Silent Signal. There are just some times when I need the kids' ears. And there are other times when I need their hands empty and their undivided attention. I decided to address that as well. 

With my notes, I rounded up whoever was available for 10 minutes this morning and filmed what I've dubbed Art Room Etiquette. This 3 minute video will give me a way to quickly address issues. Here it is:

After I play this video next week, I will readdress my rules. Now, like I shared before, I consider my "rules" to be more life rules...not necessarily what I'd otherwise label routines or procedures (or, in this case, Art Room Etiquette). I'll also share this etiquette video which will be followed up by our chat about consequences. More on that next week!

I'll def keep y'all posted...in the meantime, I'd love to hear from you! What do you do at the start of each school year? Are there undesirable behaviors that you are already noticing? I normally just get irritated at these little things...which eventually become big things in my art room. This year, I'm keeping a list of anything I see that I want to encourage and anything I want to change. My goal is to be proactive while having fun. Here's hoping these short videos do the trick!
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Friday, August 11, 2017

In the Art Room: First Day of School

I've been at my current school for nearly 15 years. It has been a long-standing, before-my-time tradition that on the very first day of school, all the special area teachers pool their classes and cover the school handbook. Meeting in the gym, we'd cover everything from who works in the office, what our behavioral incentive program is, our dress code, cafeteria procedures, arrival and dismissal procedures and more. As you can imagine, it was a pretty long and dry hour for our kiddos on the very first day of school. 

This year, we decided to create a video. Our hope was to film something that was fun and engaging for the kids while packing in all the important information that they need for a successful school year. I thought I'd share our video with you...not for you to share in your school but to give you an idea. A video like this insures that each and every child receives the same information. We also plan to post this on our school website so that as a community, we are on the same page. Here's our video (be sure and watch to the dress code part, it's my fave):
Because we have a brand new and exciting playground, we decided to create a video about that as well. It's tough for our P.E. teachers to share with the kids the do's and don't's while they are either talking about it inside...or standing in front of it (imagine that distraction!). So we recruited some teacher friends and went out early one morning, before the heat set in, and did some trouble shooting. What will the kids be tempted to do? Go down the slide backwards? Stand on the merry-go-round? Walk in front of a swing set? With that in mind, we covered all the rules and it was a lot of fun. Here's our video:
We used both of these videos on the very first days of school and the kids loved them. They laughed, they saw their teachers cut up (which was always a fave when I was a kid) and they learned and remembered! It was awesome! We did spend a good couple of days working on these...but now we have them in our Back to School library and can just show it again next year. How awesome is that? 

Love to hear if you do something similar on your first days of school!
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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

DIY: Back to Art Teacherin' Dress

Hey there, friends! After a week hiatus, I'll be back with you on Wednesday, August 9th at 8pm CST on Facebook LIVE! We'll be talking about all things Back to School: Rules, Routines and Life After Summer Vacation (sigh). I'll also be hosting a giveaway and sharing some fun news. So be sure and drop by right here (liking/following the page will insure that I pop up in your feed). 

For the last couple of years, I've been making Back to Art Teacherin' Dresses. I thought it was something I'd just recently started doing...but it turns out that this is an ongoing thang. At a school PD today a buddy asked, "How many dresses do you think you have, Stephens?" I didn't have an answer. I'd prob be embarrassed to admit just how many stinkin' dresses I have. I started purchasing vintage dresses many moons ago at thrift and resale shops. When I learned how to sew about 5 years ago, I just added more dresses to the collection...without doing any weeding. I just can't bare to part with a good ole fit and flair number, y'all. 
My very first Back to Art Teacherin' dress was this number. I rarely wear it now as, in my increasingly tacky eyes, it's a bit boring. From there, I've been hooked on creating a dress that helps me get pumped and excited about the new school year. I can't go out and buy back to school clothes as my overflowing closet is evidence that this gal don't need no more garb. However, I can shop for some super cute fabric and make a dress of my own, right? 
Feast your eyes on this mega-goodness. I'm gonna be honest, I'm starting to become a little bit disenchanted with the usual fabric options. Most fabric patterns are cute...but small. Since sewing with the big and bold patterns from IKEA, I've been on the hunt for more Large Marge prints. So I hopped over to Spoonflower and used the search bar to look for a pencil print. And that's when I found this mega-goodness
 Here's a short clip of me twirling in slow mo and fast mo (is that a thing? Who is this Moe and why is he so fast and slow?!). When wearing a circle skirt, it is the law that one must twirl no fewer than 29 times, hourly. Look, I don't write the rules, I just follow 'em. 
Having a deadline, like Meet the Teacher Night, gave me the inspiration to burn the midnight oil (and the early morning, em, oil? Grease? What do they burn in the early morning? Whatever it is, it stinks) and finish this bad boy. Let's face it, that print makes the dress. I LOVE the retro look of it!
It's the best twirling dress this side of the Mississippi. 
Some of my other Back to Art Teacherin' dresses include this number created from fabric found in JoAnn's discount area. I loved it for it's marker-scribble feel. This dress made me happy with the print but I feel like I'm about to fly away with those sleeve things. I don't wear this one very often as I don't find the bodice as flattering as I would have liked. But this van Gogh-inspired dress has all of my fave features: a fitted bodice, a giant waist band and BOWZ. Cuz I like big bows and I cannot lie. 
Everyone has their own way about getting excited about their "jobs" (can we really call art teacherin' a "job"?! I mean, it's like the best thing ever AND they pay us!). My way is sewing up a fun dress. Your way might be decorating your art room, painting your nails in a rainbow pattern, creating a sign for your art room. Whatever it is, dive in! Do it! It will make you happy and, as we all know, Happy Art Teacher, Happy Life...or something like that.
In short, you do you...and bring that what you be doin' to your art room. I promise you that it will not only inspire your young artists but those around you as well. 

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

In the Art Room: Art Room Rules

Yesterday, some pretty big and exciting news was released: I'll be teaming up with The Art of Education in the creation of Everyday Art Room, a podcast dedicated to all things elementary art teacherin'! I sat down with Tim Bogatz, the co-'caster of Art Ed Radio to share the fun news. You can listen to our chat here and catch my very first podcast next Thursday. I'm super excited! I do hope you'll take a listen. 

In one of the first podcasts, I'll be chatting about how I start my school year, which, as you can imagine, is with rules. My rules have changed...drastically...over the years as I learn and change as I go/grow. Recently, with the reading of The Growth Mindset Coach (you should totally join our book club if you haven't already. Like/follow here to stay tuned), I've been thinking of my art room rules as being more like life rules. Rules to follow to become a happy, compassionate and fulfilled person. With that in mind, I created these three art room rules life goals. I thought I'd share them with you in the form of a free downloadable PDF if you are interested. 





But before we get to that, when I shared these paintings on my Instagram, I got a lotta questions about how I hang things on those unstickable concrete walls. My go-to is usually hot glue but that does have a weight limit. It can also damage walls and artwork. My latest love are these Command Velcro Strips. Y'all. These bad boys can hold up to 16lbs and can be removed without damage. If you are hanging something heavier or from an actual hanger, you might wanna check out Hardwall Hangers by OOX. These hammer easily into concrete walls but are difficult to remove and leave behind some holes. Of course, if you are just hanging posters, Blue Dap (aka sticky tack) works great as well. All of these can be found at your local hardware store. 
Here is the download for the letter A

When writing rules, keep the following in mind:

* Keep Your List of Rules Short. The list of rules should be so short that you can easily memorize them. Any more beyond five rules and you might be confusing your rules with your routines/procedures. 

* Know the Difference Between Rules and Routines. Rules are the broad brush strokes. Routines are the finer details. I have 8 routines in my art room. I'll be covering those in my very first podcast that will launch here next Thursday. Confusion between the two can lead to confusion in the art room.

* Keep in Mind the Take Away. When your students reflect on creating, what do you want them to think? Feel? Be inspired by? Your rules should help you create that environment where they feel safe, inspired, confident, successful and encouraging to others.

With those thoughts in my head, I decided to create three rules, based on the word ART. You are more than welcome to use these in your art room. I've created downloadable PDFs of each letter and rule. Here is the download for the painted letter A.  

If you'd rather paint your own version of your rules, go for it! I had a great time coming up with these and bringing them to life in a colorful and exciting way. I scored the canvas panels, which I used for the letters, at Michael's in a package of either three or four. The long canvases were sold in packs of two. 

I picked up my favorite colors in acrylic paint. I laid out the canvases and quickly painted them. I tried not to overthink it...keeping in mind that one can always just paint over it! 
Once dry, I added some dry brushing of paint where I wanted the letter and rules to go. From there, I added the text, details and designs. The beauty of acrylic paint is that fast dry time! I did manage to mess up my spacing of letters so there was some serious repainting...but it was not a big deal.

Growing up in the 80's, where there was a strong resurgence of 1950's style and fashion, I've got a love for all things kitsch, colorful and tacky. This explains my color palette and design aesthetic clearly, doesn't it?!

Let's be honest: with rules like these, some explaining, modeling and role playing will need to be done. When teaching rules, always expect that your sweet kiddos know nothing. After all, what seems like common sense to you, an adult who has been on this Earth years beyond that wee person you are teaching, is news to the petite peeps. Think of everything as new, exciting and noteworthy...it will make teaching what we might deem "the mundane", the magnificent. 
Not even gonna lie, strong Pee Wee's Playhouse and Bebo influence here! 

Tell me if you do this: when thinking of lessons, plans, arrangements, whatever in your teaching environment, do you put yourself in your student's shoes? I do this...all the time. I often think of what excited me as a kid: seeing my third grade teacher in a silly costume; that teepee my second grade teacher had in her classroom; the parachute we played with in P.E. It's with that in mind that I craft my own teaching environment. I know I'm not alone in this...maybe it's for selfish reasons...but I use what excited me as a student now as a teacher. 

And it usually works! I used to think that the notion of bringing what I loved as a kid to my art room was successful because that joy I experienced was universal. I loved XYZ as a kid, therefore all kids love XYZ! Now I know...it was my passion about XYZ that inspired my students. Staying passionate, whether that be by taping into those childhood loves and/or brining what you love to your art room, is what keeps us excited and excitable as an art teacher.
But that just might be the back-to-school jitters talkin'. Let's talk about how you can print and hang these bad boys in your art room! Simply print out the letters and rules as is or blow them up! I did this with some items I purchased on TpT. I just made them as large as I could and then, once printed, taped them together puzzle style and ran them thru the laminator. You can't tell the difference!
Feel free to print and hang where ever you wanna share the love of art. Remember to tune in next Thursday for my first ever podcast, eep! So excited!
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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Art Teacherin' Book Club: Growth Mindset Coach, 1

Howdy, bookworms! I hope everyone's summer has been a relaxing and rejuvenating one so far. It's in this chilled-out state that I thought it might be fun (heavy on the "might") to begin chatting about the upcoming new school year and how we might improve on our art teacherin' awesomeness. One book that I think will really help us and our students is The Growth Mindset Coach by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley. 
As some of you know, I do a Facebook LIVE chat right here every Wednesday night at 8pm CST. I did take the month of June "off" as I was traveling and teaching quite a bit. I've so missed chatting with my Wednesday night art teacherin' crew so I'm excited to "see" y'all this evening. In previous chats, we've needle felted, worked in clay, brainstormed, shared nearly every idea under the art teacherin' sun. You can find all of our past chats archived here. When I threw the idea of a book club out there, many enthusiastically agreed. I chose this book because it's one I started midway through the school year and really enjoyed...but one I also felt like I needed to discuss with other art teachers. How can I make this work in my art room? What have other art teachers done? How can we empower our students together?
Tonight I thought we could tackle just a few of those thoughts. This book club is not limited to just art teachers. You don't have to have read the book to join. Feel free to join the fun, no pressure. We'll be happy that you joined, regardless! 

Also, if you join the fun tonight, I've got TWO BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS about this book to share!
I have read the Intro as well as chapters on August and September. I'm excited to discuss the difference the following:

* Fixed vs. Growth Mindset: Where do you fall?
* Growth Mindset in the Art Room: What does this look like?
* Practice and Persistence is a Path to Achievement: We got this!
* Introducing Growth Mindset on the First Days of Art

See y'all tonight!
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