Archives for the month of: December, 2012

IMG_1468Here’s a lesson idea that will create a fun, fresh, whimsical look for  your classroom or school this January. Consider the exciting possibility of having your students make REALLY BIG snow people and/or animals! There are lots of options for this lesson, from having your students make life-size snow people that they decorate to look like themselves, to having them create large snow people that they decorate to represent characters from literature or historical figures, or perhaps instead they make snow animals that represent real animals you might be studying in your classroom. You decide how “connected” to your curriculum you want this to be. No matter which way you go, you’re sure to get a wonderful cast of winter characters!

Materials are simple: white butcher paper, construction paper in a variety of colors, paper scraps, fabric and other miscellaneous materials you might have on hand such as cotton, glitter, twigs, wrapping paper, glue, tape, and scissors.

You will have pre-determined the “theme” of the snow people/animals for your class, so talk to your students about what they will be doing. (Obviously, everyone should be working on the same theme, i.e. all will be making themselves, or all will be making a favorite character from literature, etc.)

Talk with them about why tearing out the circles for their snow people (or animals) is a better approach than cutting out the circles. (Tearing produces a more “snow-like” texture.) Have them tear large ball-like shapes out of white butcher paper. To help ensure that all finished snow people are about the same size, it might be a good idea to have large, pre-cut squares to give to the children — each child getting a large, medium, and a small square. If they carefully tear so that they “touch” each side (or edge) of their square, their finished snow people (or animals) should end up being similarly sized. (They don’t have to be identical to each other, just similar. You don’t want one 6 inch tall snow person, and one that is 3 feet tall.) It would be a great idea to have several extra large, medium, and small squares cut out, just in case someone needs to start again. (Someone probably will… and that’s ok.)

Let me stop here and say that for some of you it might be tempting to make one of these yourself and then show it as a sample to your students. There is no need for you to do that. I would suggest instead, demonstrate what careful paper tearing looks like by beginning to tear a large circle out of one of the pre-cut squares like you will be asking them to do. Show them how to “touch” each side (or edge) of their square, using their whole paper. This is all they need to see — they DO NOT need to see a finished snow person or animal in order to make one themselves.

Once the basic snow people or animals have been established, have them cut or tear all of the features they want to use such as eyes, nose, mouth, glasses, braces, mustaches, etc. that will enhance the snow person’s identity. These should be glued to the snow person’s head. After the three graduated body parts have been glued or taped together, your students might want to add special decorations like a hat or scarf. Depending on the “theme” you’ve chosen, consider if any other “accessories” or items need to be created and added to further determine the snow person’s identity. Any “extra” materials you’ve gathered for the children to use will come in handy here, such as fabric, glitter, cotton, twigs, etc.

These large creations would look fantastic in your classroom, but don’t let a lack of display space stop you. Because they are so large, they make a wonderful display along a hallway, in the office, library, or cafeteria. If you’ve chosen a theme that connects with an area of your curriculum, perhaps a bit of writing by each student could be included about the character, historical figure or animal represented.

I’d love to see your display if you have your students make these. Please email photos to with “Big Snow People” in the subject line. Enjoy!

IMG_1446Just in time for the new year, here’s a lesson idea that’s sure to delight you and your students! Called “Winter Village”, this lesson will create a wonderful group display while it reinforces the concept of geometric shapes.

The materials required are simple: construction paper in a variety of colors (whole sheets and scraps both work well), any drawing tools you have on hand (crayons, markers, color pencils), tape and/or glue sticks, and scissors.

Talk with your students about geometric shapes and tell them that they are each going to “build” their own home, cabin, or castle using just these shapes. Their buildings may be realistic or imaginary, but they must use geometric shapes to construct them. Consider having your students tape or glue their shapes down onto a background sheet of construction paper, which will enable their creations to “grow” with as many shapes as they want to use.

Together you can brainstorm a list of architectural details that make a building distinct, like windows, doors, shingles, addresses, steps, and shutters, as well as all of the different materials buildings can be made of such as bricks, cement, wood, metal, etc. Encourage your students to add these kinds of “textures” and details to their own dwellings using cut or torn paper, or any of the drawing tools you have supplied. For some extra fun, have each child place one of their school photos in one of the windows of their building!

An exciting way to display these once they are finished, is to cut away any background paper that is still showing, and then place all of their little houses on a “winter scene/landscape” bulletin board, thus creating a little winter village made up of all of your students’ buildings. They may want to add a few trees, street signs, and lamp posts around town to complete their village scene. A little torn paper “snow” on the roof tops would look fantastic too.

If you decide to create a winter village with your students, I’d love to see it! Please email photos to: and please put “Winter Village” in the subject line.

Like the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”. In so many ways, this wonderful season is especially beautiful, and I encourage you to take a few moments when you can, just to notice it. Really look around you right now. This time of year is heavy on the sparkle and glitter, the warm glow of candles, the riot of color, pattern, and texture. Savor it. Let your eyes just drink it all in. And while you’re at it, why not help your children and students notice this bounty of beauty as well? Amid all the hustle and bustle, show the children in your life how easy — and rewarding — it can be to just stop for a moment, take notice, and enjoy.

In the classroom, this type of “visual study” could be the jumping off point for some very meaningful writing, whether it be reflecting on past holidays, thinking about wishes for the future, or writing about what’s going on right now. Maybe it could be a piece of descriptive writing, filled with as many adjectives and details as possible. Observing something thoughtfully, and then drawing it as carefully and as accurately as possible, is also another worthwhile experience. (This is especially good for quieting down energized little ones while helping improve their focus too.)

Teachers: don’t forget that winter is the perfect time to sign up for professional development courses! The art classes I teach are affordable and convenient — and you have up to one year to finish your course work! Picture yourself… hot cocoa in hand, with warm slippers on your feet, earning 3 units of graduate credit in the cozy comfort of your own home… Click here to find out more.  🙂