Friday, December 17, 2010

Gingerbread Houses

It's gingerbread time!  At this time each year, fifth graders at Currier Memorial build gingerbread houses, and each year they get better.  The little houses are constructed with graham crackers, which are attached with a dab of frosting to an empty milk carton.  The milk cartons are not absolutely essential to this project, but provide a kind of insurance against an unexpected collapse in the decorating stage.  Here are a couple examples of the sweet work happening on Monday.  Families donated the sweets for the houses.  The class collected, rinsed, and dried the milk cartons, and Mr. L cut cardboard bases.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Strathmore Online Workshops

If you've wanted to start a visual journal, but need a jump start; here's a tip. Strathmore Artist Papers is offering a series of free on-line workshops that explores visual journaling techniques through videos and free downloadable instructions.
I'm in the process of putting together a new unit on bookmaking and am very interested in ways to get kids invested in keeping sketchbooks and art journals. I've been collecting resources for a while now and those "free downloadable instructions" sound perfect for the classroom. The first workshop begins on January first and they continue through the spring.
You can register here:
Happy journaling.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Macaroni Patterns

It's December so it's time to haul out the big bin of macaroni and string up something nice to wear.  Little kids (and big kids, too) love making these macaroni necklaces and the results can be surprisingly beautiful.  We're getting low on pasta this year, so our choices weren't as spectacular as in years past.  That means it's time to hit the sales and stock up on shapes.  We make these necklaces in December, because the pasta takes reds, greens, and oranges better than other colors and the classroom teachers think they look so festive.  
To dye the pasta you will need pasta, rubbing alcohol, and dye (food coloring works, and so would a squirt of liquid water color).  You'll also want the large, one gallon zip lock bags, and a tray or plastic sheeting for drying the pasta.
When everything is ready pour a tablespoon or two of alcohol  into the bag, squirt in your color, and pour in the pasta.  Squish and squeeze to move the color around.  When everything looks well-colored pour the contents onto a thick layer of newspaper, or onto plastic sheeting to dry.  (Best to do your pasta dyeing in a well ventilated area or outside because the alcohol stinks).  But, it lasts forever so while you're at it, make a lot!!  To store, I wrap mine up in newspaper and tape shut and I keep the individual packets in a medium sized plastic bin. 
The first time I tried stringing these with kindergartners was a disaster.  The macaronis started rolling off the table and onto the floor.  The kids got really frustrated and started getting up for help.  They crunched macaroni with each step and made a huge and embarrassing mess.  I made a mental note to never to do this again.   Then I discovered this...
Pleat a  piece of copy paper to make a bead holder.  Kids build their pattern in the tray.  When they have created a successful pattern the receive their string.  The string has a piece of tape on one end to facilitate stringing and a bead tied to the other end to keep everything on.  I ask kids to use at least three small shapes in between each large shape to make the macaroni last longer, but am not a real stickler about this as I'm mostly interested in knowing they can make and continue a pattern. 
This photo shows kinders hard at work making macaroni pattern necklaces.  Nothing spilled, no one got frustrated, and everyone is sporting a new accessory this week.

This little guy lost his pattern after the first round, but look at his persistence!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Kindergarten Trees and Stars

Not only did kindergartners get to put their newly learned star making skills to the test on this lovely large scale work featuring stars, snow, and pines; they also learned how to fold and cut papers to make  symmetrical shapes.  They designed their tree using that fabulous zig zag line that we practiced earlier in the year, touching the fold only at the start and finish of their line.  After the trees were cut in the cutting station, the stems were glued on at the gluing station, and kids circulated into the painting station for a little sponge painting action.
Painting, as opposed to drawing a star was a new challenge for Kinder artists and the sky is lit up with a lopsided charm.  After attaching their trees, kids dotted on snow with the back end of a pencil.  Well done Kindergarten!