Monday, August 31, 2009

Stabile Staples

I have been using my summer time to scan the internet and look up art projects in books so we can have fresh projects for this next year. I have been inspired by many sites that give detailed instructions on how to complete projects at home. I have decided to do the same. Hopefully by doing this I won't be giving you a reason not to come to art class.
Today we studied Alexander Calder. You can learn more about him in the artist of the week section. He was the inventor of the mobile. He also created sculptures he called stabiles. The first moved, the latter didn't.
So the project went like this...

Styrofoam block
stem wire or pipe cleaners
needle nose pliers
paper or foam shapes.


Check out pictures of Calder's work. Give these parameters...
You may use two pieces of wire.
You may use no more than 3 different colors of paper or foam.
You can use no more than 2 different types of shapes, but you can repeat them in both a positive and negative way(ie: circle and heart, can be repeated with a circle cut out of a heart of vice-versa)

Have children plan their sculpture by drawing it out first. They can even practice with string. Once the wire is bent, it is really hard to get straight again, so string is a good way to practice how to get the feel of bending the wire.

Good elements to stress here are contour lines and how the wire is very much a line, but instead of drawing with the line we have to shape it.

Have the children anchor their sculpture in the styrofoam base. They must work out engineering and balance so that their sculptures do not tip over to one side or the other.

The younger kids had a great time with this project. They seemed to flow with the freedom and fun in this assignment. The older kids got a little frustrated with it. I think they thought it looked easier than it really was.
When it is deemed finished, you can paint the Styrofoam base or cover it with paper or cloth to match the colors used in the sculpture. Below are two samples that I completed.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Gallery- Blog Carnival of Art Projects for Kids

It's coming!

Be sure to get your posts in by August 27th at 5pm Pacific Time!

Click on the image above to enter your article at the Blog Carnival Submission Form.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Follow the Yellow Brick Road- More Oz projects!

Today I only bring you a glimpse of what I've been up to as of late. I have not had time to put together tutorials on these, but I wanted to share these wonderful projects anyway.

First we have Dorothy and the Tornado inspired by Oodles of Art Falling Back in Space lesson.
This project shown is my sample. I tried to encourage the kids to update Dorothy- if nothing else just so the character wearing a dress and the angle didn't create an "I see London" issue, and so we could use the opportunity to bring in thematic elements from the book and movie. Notice the rainbow and blue bird themes as well as the green sickly sky in the background.

Next up is our current project- The Not-so-Scary- Scarecrow. This is actually a mixed media, 2 piece of cardstock project. We did the background in pencil and sharpie and then colored in with crayon using heavy pressure to blend the colors. I encouraged the kids to use at least three different colors in each area- three greens in the cornstalks, three red/orange tones in the pumpkins, three blues/purples in the sky, etc. The scarecrow was done on a second piece of cardstock in pencil and sharpie then painted in with watercolor. I showed the kids the wash technique of laying down water in each area first to keep the colors light and only in the wet area.
Once it was done we cut out the scarecrow, attached it to the background with rolled tape to get a more offset 3-D look and them added in highlights and shadow details with more crayon and/or oil pastel.

The last one is not really an Oz project, but I suppose I could call them Cyclone Coasters!
They are based on this fun project at Art Projects for Kids. I just about used a whole magazine for this one. The only difference in my sample is that I did not complete the last step of pushing the coils into a bowl-shape, but just left them flat and painted them with white acrylic craft paint.
I have been meaning to add some more color or design or even make some coasters, but it hasn't happened quite yet.

That's all for now!

Except for this heads up...
Tune in next week for the announcement of a brand new blog carnival and a contest to kick it off!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Carnivals are in Town!

There is a double treat today. Both the Hands-on-Homeschool Carnival and Homeschool Showcase are up! Make a little extra coffee or tea and enjoy all the scrumptious ideas to inspire you for a brand-new school year!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dog Gone It Toto!

The afterschool program where I teach has been working on a Reader's Theater all about the Wizard of Oz. I thought this could be a great launching pad for art projects that integrate with the curriculum a bit. The above is our version of Toto. This particular project has several artistic influences, including Origami, Ed Emberly, and Eric Carle.
I started out by making some beautiful painted paper in the style of Eric Carle, though you could use origami paper or just plain construction paper as well. The important thing is to have at least three different colors and or textures. There is a great painted paper tutorial over at
Teach Kids Art.

Start with three circles the same size and a square.
Keep the first circle whole. Cut the second in half, and the third into eighths as shown.

Then follow the directions as shown below for placement.

Here is an origami version.

Student Examples...

New Releases From Sylvan Dell Publishing


JULY 29, 2009


Sylvan Dell’s innovative eBook format promises to improve reading speeds, comprehension, and language learning skills

MT PLEASANT, SC - Sylvan Dell Publishing goes LIVE this week with its next generation eBook, proving the company represents “so much more than a picture book;” it represents a full-fledged campaign for literacy in America.

From Sylvan Dell publisher and co-founder Lee German: “These are the most technologically advanced eBooks in the world today, featuring Auto-Flip, Auto-Read, and Selectable Language. There is nothing even close to this on the market. Amazon/Kindle and Barnes & Noble eBooks are not even in the same category. I encourage parents and teachers to take a test-drive and see for themselves. Let the children play with these for a few weeks, and you’ll be amazed at their excitement and improved reading performance. For children wanting to learn a foreign language or ESOL families learning English, these are phenomenal tools.”

Below is a link to a 90-day trial of all 45 Sylvan Dell eBooks:
Code expiration date: 10/31/2009

For guided directions:

“Whether in Auto-Flip or Manual Mode, switch back and forth between English and Spanish text and audio (more language choices on the way) and remain on the same page,” said German. “With the addition of Auto-Flip and Auto-Read features, our Sylvan Dell eBooks are powerful literacy and language learning tools to complement our mission of teaching ‘Science and Math Through Literature.’”

Sylvan Dell is no newcomer to literacy education and no stranger to technological advances. Since the company’s founding in 2004, co-founders Lee and Donna German have been ahead of the picture book publishing curve. Last year, Sylvan Dell awarded free eBook site licenses to over 2600 elementary and Title I/III schools nationwide through their School Resource Grant Program.

What’s next? According to German, “We want moms, dads, and grandparents to be able to record a reading of our books and add that audio to the language selection list. This is especially important for military families with a parent overseas. We are also developing an iPhone, iPod, and iPod touch application so that our eBooks will be available on handhelds and an online data capture system to allow teachers to track student reading and quiz performance.”

Sylvan Dell eBooks are available on the company website,, as are an array of free educational resources, which include Teaching Activities and Interactive Math and Reading Comprehension Quizzes. For more information about the eBooks, visit For more about the eBook Resource Grants:

# # #

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Parrot Paradise

Yo y Mis Pericos by Frida Kahlo
Yo y Mis Pericos

I am taking a quick break on American Art History to look at our neighbors to the south. Frida tends to be one of those artists that you really like or really don't like. Personally I go back and forth depending on the piece, but my respect for her talent and triumph over adversity never wavers. In her honor, I present this lesson based on one of the subjects she often added to her paintings.
Next up we will take a look at Frida's husband- Diego Rivera.

I start by giving student a large paper- 18"X 24" and having them fold it in half lengthwise(like a hot dog) and then width wise creating 4 "boxes".

The body of the bird will rest in the upper two boxes and the very long tail feathers will be in the two lower boxes.

Make the eye just to the right of the center fold. After the drawing is complete, outline in black permanent marker.

The sample above was created with watercolor pencil and a q-tip dipped in water.