Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snowman Winter Landscape

The following lesson is a compilation lesson of two or three lessons I found at Art Projects for Kids. It is a good way to explore several key art concepts including: foreground, middle ground, and background, objects that are farther away appearing smaller and darker, shadow, tinting and shading, color value, and drawing offset poses.

You will need:
paper(white or colored)
black sharpie marker
crayons or chalk pastels.

When adding color to the picture, have the kids keep in mind:

1. Shadows on snow tend to look blue
2. Objects appear darker or more faded the farther away they are.
3. Decide if the light source is coming from the right or left and add shading to the opposite side. Round the shading on the snowman.
4. Use more than one color green for the trees and make the trees farther away a darker green with less detail in the leaves.

This is a fun project to do on darker colored paper so that you can add the white, but it is fun to start with white paper too. Try it both ways and compare the differences! If kids are using darker colored paper the they should color heavier with white crayon or pastel for the snow closest to them and for the snowman. Using a lighter values of white in the middle and background will give the picture more depth.
The sample at the top of this post was done on white paper and colored with crayon. The following example was done on blue construction paper and colored with chalk pastel.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Nutcracker- A Unit Study

These samples above were done by students in third through fifth grade

Soapbox time again.
The Nutcracker offers an amazing array of subjects to explore in a unit study.
Just a few...

Language Arts

The Nutcracker and the King of Mice

Fine Arts/Music/ Theater/ PE

Pas De Deux

Social Studies

Christmas celebrations around the world
Germany, Russia, France
(Clara is German. The original story comes from Russia. Alexandre Dumas revamped the story to the one we are familiar with in the ballet.)
The history of Christmas symbols(IE;the tree)


Different types of snow
rats and mice- how are they different, how are the same?


Telling time
Calendar(when is Christmas?)
Counting- characters, mice, rats, soldiers, fairies, dances, songs, etc.

Here are some other useful links as well...
Powerpoint Nutcracker Themes

The Nutcracker Story
Holiday Traditions- The Nutcracker Story Lapbook

Free Nutcracker Unit Study
Nutcracker Art Lesson

The Nutcracker- Drawing Lesson


What you will need:
black sharpie marker
metallic marker
Christmas wrapping paper.

1. Start by folding your paper in half lengthwise. Then fold it into thirds, like you would fold a letter. You should end up with six boxes.

2. Draw (in pencil) a rainbow in the middle of the top two boxes. Leave room at the top of the page for the decoration on top of the hat. The ends of the rainbow should stop at the fold of the first third of the paper.

3. Draw a horizontal line to close up the rainbow shape. The two more horizontal line in the rainbow. One close to the bottom creating a thin shape and the second farther away creating a wider shape. In the top part of the hat, draw a decoration.It could be a poinsettia like mine, a snowflake, a Christmas tree, star, or whatever you want.

4. Draw a rectangle on the bottom of the hat just inside the second third of the paper.
Add a small circle in the middle of the box for the nose. On either side of the nose add a half circle and then draw a circle inside of those.

5. For the mustache, draw a sideways "s" just under the nose on each side. Close these shapes up with a happy face curve.

6. Draw a smaller rectangle under the nose that is halfway inside the face and halfway outside the face. Draw vertical lines to make the teeth.

7. Draw a long "V' shape from the teeth to make the beard.

8. From the corners of the face draw lines that slant in toward the center of the paper and then draw horizontal line to close up this shape.

9. On the bottom of this shape draw a large "W" to make the jacket bottom.

10. For the arms make a waterfall curve coming out from the left side of the head where the hat and the face meet. The waterfall should end just before the fold that separates the second and the final third of the paper. At the end of the waterfall, draw an oval, then draw a slanted line back up to meet the bottom of the face. Repeat on the right side.

11. Draw a horizontal line on each side of the arms at the bottom of the face. This will become the hair.

12. Draw in the jacket and buttons. Draw a rectangle behind the beard for the shirt.
The button can be made with a series of backwards "5" on the left and regular fives on the right.

13. Add texture to the hair and beard with wavy lines and add edging to bottom of the jacket.Outline pencil lines with black sharpie marker. Then color with whatever medium you like most. We used maker, crayon and a bit of metallic marker in class today. If you have room on your paper you can add in the legs of the nutcracker.
Add in background of your choice or cut him out and glue him to brightly colored wrapping paper.

Stay tuned later for a unit study based on this art project and for student samples.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I am a great planner. I have great ideas. I can come up with a curriculum that will knock your socks off. Does this mean it ever gets taught? Not necessarily. Should I feel guilty about that? Maybe, maybe not. I found this great article on expectations, perhaps you should read it too.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Tiger's Tale- Of Unit Studies

Upon my soapbox I have boldly proclaimed before that you really can teach all your other subjects through art. Today I add more supporting evidence to my claims. I really love unit studies, and in all honesty with just a little creative brainstorming you can put together a unit study based on anything your child has a fancy for, or you do for that matter. A unit study may be a wonderful way to share something that interests or fascinates you with your children. Today, we begin with the tiger.

Tiger Unit Study

Younger Kids- Leo The Late Bloomer: I love this story! My kids all had mild delays that caused some concern for us. Though we did not just take a "wait and see" approach, ultimately they blossomed and continue to do so.

Older Kids- The Jungle Book- by Rudyard Kipling- Need I say more?

Spelling and Vocabulary- I use the rules found in weekly graded spelling books and pull out words from the books based on those rules. (Words ending in "er' for example.)

Social Studies, Geography and History
What a rich topic this is! Dig in!

Domestic and Wild Cats
Endangered Animals
Ecology and Habitat Preservation
Why do tigers have stripes and why are they all different?
Adaptations of Siberian Tigers

Count the tigers stripes.
Count a group of tigers' stripes. (Sets and Multiplication)
How many tigers are left?
How many different types of tigers are there? In captivity? In the wild?


Though this is a stretch, I couldn't help it. Study golf and learn about Tiger Woods!

As you can see the associations are endless and limited only by you and your children's imagination and curiosity.

Below are some some products you may find useful. I found them in about five minutes, so I know a good google search or visit to your local library will probably yield vastly more treasures than I could dare to post in a single blog entry!

You can also check out his great plan for a free tiger lapbook

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Artist of the Week- Ito Jakuchu

Ito Jakuchu
(1716- 1800)

Ito was the son of a Japanese grocer. He taught himself to draw and paint by imitating the work of Japanese master artists. Eventually he had enough of copying the work of others and dedicated himself to drawing and painting the things he saw. The different types of animals he saw in his garden were his favorite subjects. He never married and died at the age of 85. Though his work was never appreciated during his lifetime, 200 years after his death his work was featured at the Kyoto National Museum in Japan.

To see examples of his work, please visit these links..

Garden of Praise

Kyoto National Museum

Check back tomorrow for an art lesson on how to draw this tiger. Ito liked to paint tigers too. This is my version.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Art Show Update

Well that month sure went by fast! It is already time to take down the exhibit at the Old Town Coffee Company. We were able to raise $140.00 to benefit the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission.

If you missed out on the show, don't worry, you'll still have an opportunity to help.
Some of the pieces that were not sold will still be available through my website.