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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

New Books

While on vacation, I read the book Columbine, which is about the school shooting in Colorado. I'm interested in psychology, schools and kids. A depressing and heart wrenching read, but a thoroughly comprehensive look at the psychology of the kids, how the school and community responded and how the survivors dealt with the tragedy. It makes you think about how you would respond in a similar situation. The book was written by Dave Cullen who has extensively reported and studied the kids' lives through hundreds of hours of interviews, eyewitness accounts, diaries, school assignments, videos, the "basement tapes", and police accounts. The book talks about the myths and the stories that have surrounded the tragedy (the "trench coat mafia", the myth that the kids were continually bullied before the shooting, the Cassie Bernall story, etc). One of the most fascinating and intense seminars I went to at the National Art Education Conference (many years ago.. I think it was the one in Chicago) was a seminar given by the art teacher and some students who went to Columbine. They showed artwork that had been made in response and talked about their experiences with healing the community.  After that gripping and haunting read, I purchased a few easy to read art books to look at this summer.

When I got home, I bought two books that I had been wanting to read.  I got a gift certificate from a student for Barnes and Noble.  How fun!   I bought "I love Kawaii" and "Collage Workbook"


From the first book, I learned that "kawaii" basically is a Japanese word for anything cute!  It refers to commercial artwork (stickers, clothing, toys, games) and even some contemporary art (Takashi Murakami, Pip & Pop and Yoshitomo Nara).  Hello Kitty is probably the most famous "kawaii" art.  And I do LOVE Hello Kitty!!  

The Collage Workbook is one of the most interesting collage how-to books I have seen lately.  I LOVE this artist's style and I'm especially excited to see that he lives in Madison, WI (where I live).  Maybe someday I can meet him or invite him to our classroom.  He is known for his "collage-a-day" series, in which he... wait for it... creates a collage each day.  He posts these collages on his blog:  and each are for sale (hint hint, Andrew) via his blog.  He includes 50 activities to spark your imagination and prompt you to make a collage.  After looking at his book I just want to immediately grab a scissors and glue.  His artwork reminds me of Robert Rauschenberg or Hannah Hoch...

Are you interested in doing some of your own collage work this summer? Summer is a perfect time for us teachers to play around with art of our own. I have been going through my huge stash of collage supplies and have put together some supply kits to sell on Etsy. I realized I have WAY too much stuff and I could put together 100 kits and still have barely made a dent in my stash. (School is no different... we have several boxes of collage papers and magazines.) Would you like any of these kits for yourself? Check out my shop and for being a reader of my blog, I am offering a 15% off of everything coupon code: Just type in SummerFun when you check out for 15% off.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Re-Art Swap

Once a year, a local art store hosts a Re-Art Swap where anyone can drop off old art materials and then pick up things they want.  All for free!  Today, I volunteered for a few hours at the swap and had a blast.  It was like Christmas for an art teacher!

Here is a big box of stuff that I donated.  It felt so good to clean out my art supplies.  Little did I know that I would come back with as much stuff as I gave away!  Although most of what I picked up are things that I am going to bring to the school I teach at, so at least it won't be stuff in my house.

Here is the front of the Absolutely Art store.

People looking through piles and piles of fabric scraps and other goodies.  The place was open all day and lots of people came and went, dropping off old supplies and picking up new ones.  It truly was "one man's trash is another man's treasure."  The area was bigger than my camera captured and there was another aisle not picture and more around the corner.

More boxes of stuff.

Here are some of the things I picked up for my classroom.  

These are very delicate, thin pieces of wood cut into a variety of shapes. 
This will be fun to use in collages for the kids.

8"x10" pieces of foam board

lots of glass pieces for mosaics

crayons, souffle cup lids, unopened glass paints, flowery stuff

Stack of perfectly good cardstock.

Glue, origami paper, labels, a large piece of glass for glass fusing, mosaic tiles, star stickers

Collage goodies!

I love these Easter Seals stamps.. they are from the 70's and 80's

Labels, scrapbook paper, random ephemera... notice the Disney stickers (perfect for the Disneyworld scrapbook I am going to put together this summer)

a book, crochet hooks, stickers, greeting cards, Pitt artist pens and Faber Castell markers
At the end of the day there were boxes and boxes and boxes of unclaimed stuff, so I don't feel bad taking as much as I did.  There were plenty of items for everyone!

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Oh, how much fun was Disneyworld!  We had a blast.  We drove to Florida from Madison, WI which took us 2 1/2 days of driving.  Then we went to the different Disney parks for 6 days.  My daughter Daria had a blast with all the rides and meeting all of the characters.  I have tons of pictures from our trip and will show you a few of them here and there.  The heat was shocking to my system!  Holy cow were there crowds!

Meeting Winnie the Pooh!  Daria on the left is mine and John on the right is my nephew.  We went with my husband's whole family.  What a great trip!
The castle.  We got let in early to the park on the day we had breakfast reservations.  That was the most relaxing and awesome part of the trip... just walking around taking photos with NO CROWDS!

Riding the horses, one of Daria's favorite rides.

So I have tons more pictures of course which I will sprinkle throughout my summer posts to remind myself of our awesome vacation.  We practically never take vacations.. the last "real" vacation we had was to London for our honeymoon 6 years ago.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Organizing all those handouts!

How do you organize your handouts for school?  When I started teaching I thought it would be best to organize by unit or by grade level or in binders... I tried all sorts of things.  But it was always hard to remember where I filed things.  I asked for advice from my friends and someone just suggested, ALPHABETICAL!  DUH!  So, no more separating handouts out by grade level, but everything is in a gigantic cabinet organized alphabetically... all of the handouts for grades k-6.  I've been doing this for several years now and it works perfectly for me.  So easy, so simple and now I can find things quickly.  I also ALWAYS collect the handouts back and then re-use them every year.  The only time I give them to the kids to keep is if they ask me for them (which doesn't happen often).  The ones that are really good or have the potential to get dirty, I will laminate. 

Also, did you know I was gone to Disneyworld for the past week and a half?  Nope, probably not because I scheduled posts for when I was gone.  I will post pictures from our AWESOME trip later. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tessellations-- 3rd Grade

We are out of school now for the summer, but I have some projects that I have not blogged about yet to share with you.  I will update the blog throughout the summer with artsy thoughts, my summer activities, a couple art workshop updates and book reviews.

The third graders made tessellations in art class!  How fun.  This is a great project to tie in with geometry and other math concepts.

I knew there had to be some easy-to-follow tessellation directions on the internet to save some time explaining how we did these.  I found a good site with the same technique we used:

These all turned out very beautiful.  Some of the students struggled with the project, but they understood the general concept and created a lovely design.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Robots and Chicks

I just wanted to show you one more very cool picture.. it was another parody of American Gothic.  This student was absent and had to catch up on this project. 

Here are the baby chicks our school hatched, which are now growing into chickens!  They grow so fast!

I realized that I did not show you the pictures of the chicks when they were first hatched:

Saturday, June 9, 2012


front cover
back cover  (everything is actually straight on the cover, it's just the angle I took the picture at)

One of my jobs at school is the yearbook adviser.  This is a huge job and takes up a lot of my time during the school year!  I am very proud of how the yearbook came out, but unfortunately I can't show you the inside pages because they are photos of kids (of course.)  The yearbook staff is made up of students mostly in grades 7 and 8 and some years we have 6th graders too.  There are about 15 kids each year on the staff.  We make the pages using Photoshop and InDesign and get it printed at a local printer.  It has been cheaper than going through a yearbook company and they can print the yearbook in a little over a week.  I used to do the yearbook at another school and we would go through Jostens.  Jostens was very helpful and great quality, but we had to have all the pages turned in by March (I think that was our deadline).  This way, we can work right up until mid May and still have the yearbook printed. 
stacks of yearbooks.

"soar" is written in the clouds

Friday, June 1, 2012

Clay Flowers in Pots- 2nd Grade

This is a picture-heavy post!!

The 2nd graders reminded me that we had not done any clay this year yet! How could that be? So I decided to try this project that I come up with based on a clay flower in a pot that my sister-in-law has. I'm not sure where she got the flower but I think it was picked up at an art fair or something... We used regular firing clay, acrylic paints, beads, and a flower pot to construct our creation. Other things we used were wooden skewers, paint markers, styrofoam and fake grass.

1.  Make beads with clay:  roll out slabs and cut out your shapes.  Poke a skewer through them to ensure they will fit on the stick.  Fire and paint with acrylics.  Next year, I am ordering a bead hanger for glazing, so they can be glazed beads.  

Make a flower:  roll out a slab and cut out the large flower.  We did use cookie cutters for the flower shapes, but of course you can cut them out yourself.
We were pressed for time, so we wanted to work quickly.
The flower needs to have a coil "handle" on the back so that the skewer can slip though it.

2.  Cut a styrofoam ball small enough to fit in the bottom of a flower pot.

3.  Place the styrofoam in the flower pot.

4.  Press a skewer into the styrofoam.  Put fake grass in the pot to cover the styrofoam.

5.  Paint the pot.  You can do this at any step in the process.

6.  Place the beads and the flower on the skewer.  You can use a combination of the clay beads and pony beads or other commercial beads.

6.  After you place the clay flower on, poke another fake flower into the pot for extra decoration.

Fake flower on top!

We decorated the beads with paint markers!


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