Archives for category: fun

IMG_2090Now that the 4th of July holiday is behind us, it feels like summer is really in full swing. If you’re a teacher, and I suspect many of you reading this are, how are your plans going so far? Did you tell yourself that this would be the summer break for some professional development, but you still haven’t done anything about it yet?

Have I got some great news for you!

My distance learning, professional development art classes are affordable, convenient and self-paced. And you can register any time — like right now! Here! — and work like crazy to finish within the 3 week minimum, or take up to one full, leisurely year to complete your work. Visit my page on Fresno Pacific University’s site to read all about the art classes I offer, and to see what your fellow teachers have had to say about them — and me!

Drawing Magic

Bulletin Boards and Room Environments

The Magic of Paper

Building Self Esteem Through Elementary Art

Ideas To Draw From

No art experience is necessary — or required — for any of my classes, so picture yourself having fun, making art in your pjs or your swimsuit, all while earning some professional development credits from the comfort of your own home. (Sounds good, doesn’t it?!) Since every experience in every class I teach is immediately ready for use in your classroom, you’ll also be armed with some outstanding lessons to share with your students come fall.

If all that isn’t enticing enough, right now, each course of mine that you register for will earn you SIX entries into an “Art Kit” giveaway I’m running this year. This kit is valued at more than $100, plus includes a lesson plan that uses all of the supplies in your kit. You can read all about it here.

I hope to see you in class soon!

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IMG_1963In less than one month — on July 1st, 2013 — I will draw a name from this box to find out who gets the first of four fabulous art kits that I’m giving away over the course of a year. Is your name already in here? Will YOU be the lucky winner? Click here to read more about this terrific giveaway valued at more than $100, and learn how easy it is to be entered to win.

Hint: Registering for one of my Professional Development art courses offered through Fresno Pacific University will get your name entered into this drawing 6 times! Summer is a great time to earn some affordable PD credits from the comfort of your own home. Learn more here.

IMG_1816In northern California where I live, May has arrived with an explosion of flowers. If this is true where you are too, why not take your students outside to enjoy some of nature’s splendor? Help your children really slow down and see the spectacular colors, the interesting textures, and the wide variety of shapes that spring flowers have to offer.

IMG_1819After some careful observation, consider giving them about 15 minutes or so to carefully draw what they see. Have them focus in on one small area. If your students already have sketchbooks, that’s great! If not, a sheet of plain while copy paper held on top of a book for support will work just fine. Don’t make it complicated… just don’t miss this opportunity to teach your students the simple joy of slowing down and really seeing the beauty of the world around them.

IMG_1820If winter-like weather is still in full swing where you live, bring a small potted flower or two into your classroom for your children to observe and draw. This small bit of color and cheer will help you all be patient as you look forward to warmer weather that should certainly arrive soon.

IMG_1809With graduation season upon us, and another school year drawing to a close, this is a great time to help students think about where they’ve been, where they are, and where they’re headed. The “My Life” pop-up book is a small, three-section book that invites students to think about significant events/people/places from their past and present, and to imagine their future. Breaking the book down into these three main time-frames will enable your students to more easily focus on significant details without being overwhelmed.

Here’s what you’ll need: Sheets of 9×12 inch construction paper in a variety of colors, construction paper scraps, scissors, tape, staples, glue, and markers. You might also want to include other materials such as brads, cotton, yarn, buttons, ribbon, string, fabric scraps, hole punches, and construction paper sheets larger than 9×12.

Each child will ultimately need 6 sheets of construction paper — 1 sheet for each of the three pop-up sections, and 1 “backing sheet” for each section. Because this book will consist of 3 separate sections, students may begin on any section they choose — past, present, or future. After all sections are complete, the book may be assembled in the correct order.

Begin by demonstrating how to make a simple pop-up tab. Fold one sheet of 9×12 inch construction paper in half, and make two parallel cuts along the folded edge for each pop-up tab you want to have, like this:

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After cutting, open your paper, and push the tabs you just cut to the “inside” of your folded paper. Close the folded paper with your tabs inside. When you open the folded paper back up, your tabs should stand up like this:

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Elements that will pop-up when the book is opened will be attached to the front of these “tabs”. Encourage your students to get fully involved in the surface decoration of each section of their book using construction paper scraps and any other materials that you have provided. For example, if their own birth is the significant event from their past that they want to represent, perhaps they will have a small crib as one pop-up element, with another being a large cut-out of the numbers for the year they were born. The “background” of the scene could be decorated like a wall in the baby’s room, and the “foreground” area decorated like the “floor” of that room. In other words, encourage the creation of entire settings or scenes to fully represent their significant event/place/person, etc.

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Depending on the age and ability levels of your students, a bit of writing for each section can be included to add depth and description to what they’ve created visually.

After a section is complete, a second sheet of construction paper should be folded in half and attached to the back of the section sheet like this:

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Once all three sections — and their backing sheets — are finished, the sections can be connected together using staples, double-sided tape, or glue. (Hint: you’ll need to be very patient if you use glue!) If you desire, you can have the students decorate the “cover” sheet of their book. For a more finished look, you can wrap a larger sheet of construction paper around the outside of all three sections of the book, and after attaching it, trim off any excess. (A 9×12 sheet won’t be large enough once you’ve connected all three sections of the book together.) This then can be decorated as the cover.

Not only will you learn a great deal about your students during this process, but they will love sharing the highlights of their lives with you and with their friends.

Interested in more fun art ideas like this one? Check out the affordable, self-paced, and convenient professional development art classes I teach through Fresno Pacific University here!

IMG_1778It’s never too early to encourage students to begin thinking about careers that interest them. This simple, yet powerful art experience called “Career Cubes” is a fun way to do just that, while incorporating critical thinking, writing and even a little research if you desire.

You will need the following materials: Light-weight cardboard — used file folders work great here, masking tape, construction paper scraps, scissors, glue, color pencils, crayons, and markers. Additionally, things like yarn or string, staplers, brads, and discard magazines could also be included.

Each child will need 6 light-weight cardboard squares. They can be any size, but I’ve found 4 inches by 4 inches to be a nice, workable surface. Depending on the age and ability level of your students, measuring and cutting out their 6 squares can be great math practice. You could also provide a template for tracing, or you could provide the squares to them already cut out. (The more carefully the squares are measured and cut, the better the resulting cube will fit together.)

The reason 6 individual squares are used, rather than a “cube pattern”, is that the separate squares provide a more challenging set of 6 individual compositions, and a more interesting approach to cube construction.

I would suggest deciding ahead of time what your expectations are for each side of the career cubes. (Your specific requirements for your students will vary greatly based upon the age and ability levels of your students, but even for the very young, I would be sure you have some sort of guidelines established for them.) For example, if your students are older, you might require the following: One side devoted to “naming” the career, three sides will be visual representations of that career, one side will be a written statement about why the student has chosen that career — or is interested in that career — and one side devoted to some basic research on the career such as schooling required, etc., for a total of six sides.

Before handing out the first square, encourage discussion and brainstorming about what types of careers your students are interested in. Talk with them about how different careers could be visually represented… for example, what sort of symbols might one make if they wanted to become an architect? A nurse? Make a list if you like of the many possibilities your students come up with. After you feel your students have been sufficiently motivated, concentrating on only one square at a time, have your students begin the process of surface decoration. Depending on your available art supplies, the squares could be decorated with a variety of materials, or you might limit them to just using cut and/or torn construction paper. The choice is yours. If you decide to require a written component, you might like students to write in their own best handwriting, or perhaps you’d like them to write and compose something on the computer that they can attach to one square. Depending on your schedule, you might have students work on this in one, uninterrupted block of time, or perhaps you might break the process into smaller, shorter work sessions. (Squares, along with bits and pieces, can be easily stored in ziplock bags while in progress.) Lots of options here to make this work for your students, your curricular objectives, and your time frame.

When all 6 sides of a student’s career cube are complete, the cube can be constructed. First, lay out four sides. Be sure to leave a small amount of space between squares to serve as a “hinge”, and tape with masking tape like this:

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IMG_1780Then attach the remaining two sides to the four you just taped like this:

IMG_1782Now bring all sides together to form a cube and tape securely.

IMG_1785Masking tape used neatly on the “outside” of the cube is fine and can become part of the surface decoration. Once complete, each student will have created a unique, concrete representation of his or her desired career choice. Career cubes are fun displayed individually on student desks, stacked up as a group, or can even be hung from the ceiling if you are clever. Your students will love not only making them, but looking at them as well!

IMG_1763I’m so excited to introduce something brand new on my blog! I’m calling them “Art Kits”, and it’s super easy to be entered into a drawing to win one.

Each Art Kit is valued at over $100.00, and includes everything you see in the photo above, as well as an easy to follow, step-by-step lesson plan and 50 sheets of white drawing paper — And it can be YOURS for FREE!

I’ll be giving away a kit exactly like the one you see pictured above, every three months for the next year — that’s four kits in all! This is called Art Kit #1: Observational Drawing: Sea Shells. In addition to all of the fun stuff you see in the photo, you’ll also get a step-by-step lesson plan that you can use in your classroom immediately. (No art experience on your part is required or necessary.)

Students of all ages will love looking through their magnifying glasses to see a detailed view of any one of the interesting shells included. The lesson plan will walk you through an easy to present lesson that will encourage your students to carefully observe a shell and then create an original drawing of what they see. Soft lead pencils and special erasers will help them get their drawings “just right”. They will be thrilled to then add color with chalk using the ordinary blending tools of cotton balls and Q-tips! In addition to the excitement of creating art, you’ll see lots of valuable curriculum connection possibilities for your students in science, math, and language arts.

Here’s how to win!

1) Register for one or more of the affordable, convenient, self-paced Professional Development Art Classes that I teach through Fresno Pacific University here. Each registration will earn you 6 Entries into the Art Kit drawing.

2) Refer a colleague who registers for one or more of my courses and you’ll earn another 6 Entries into the Art Kit drawing. (I must be notified via email of the name of the person who made the referral in order for them to be given their 6 entries for that referral.)

3) Comments on my blog or Facebook page will each earn 1 entry into the Art Kit drawing. (Only one comment per person, per day will count towards entry into the drawing.)

Registrations, referrals, and comments will earn entry into the Art Kit drawings based on the following time table:

April-May-June: Winner’s name drawn on July 1, 2013

July-August-September: Winner’s name drawn on October 1, 2013

October-Nov-Dec: Winner’s name drawn on January 1, 2014

January-February-March: Winner’s name drawn on April 1, 2014

As you can see above, I’m breaking the year into quarters with April-May-June being the first block of time for the first Art Kit drawing. So for example, all course registrations received, colleagues referred & registered, and comments made from April 1, 2013 until June 30, 2013 will be included, and I will draw the winning name on July 1, 2013. Then the process begins again for July-August-September and so on, until the fourth and final Art Kit winner is drawn on April 1, 2014.

So what are you waiting for? Head on over to Fresno Pacific University and register for one of my art classes! Then get a friend or colleague to do the same! While you’re on a roll, comment on any of my blog posts or head on over to my Facebook page and get typing! You can’t win one of these great kits if you don’t enter… so get going and get excited!

(If you’d like to purchase Art Kit #1: Observational Drawing: Sea Shells, please contact me via email for information at JGomasFaison@gmail.com)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALooking for a unique and creative way to celebrate Earth Day with your students this year? Allow me to suggest Earth Day hats! (Pictured above is a basic, undecorated scored paper hat shown from the side/back.)

The idea here is to have each student in your class create a hat, and then decorate it using Earth Day as the theme. While the basic hat shapes will be the same, each child’s surface decoration will be distinct and unique, making each hat a personal statement about how that child feels about protecting and celebrating the earth.

You will need one sheet of 18X24 inch construction paper for each child in your class — color choice is up to you. You will also need a stapler, any type of glue, scissors, and lots and lots of discard materials for the students to choose from. This could be anything from a scrap paper box, to things like, ribbon, buttons, cotton balls, tooth picks, fabric, feathers, tissue paper, brads, yarn, pipe cleaners, glitter, etc. This art experience is the perfect time to use up a variety of random things you have on hand, and to recycle old things into something fresh, fun, and new!

To make a basic hat, just make one simple scored line in a half circle shape on the long side of a sheet of 18X24 inch construction paper. (See diagram below.) If you’ve never scored paper before, you will simply drag the pointy end of a pair of scissors — or even the tip of a paper clip that’s been bent open will do — gently across the paper. This “scored” line that you’ve just created will allow you to then fold the paper along this curved line. (Scoring as a technique is amazing! Once you start exploring it, you’ll be hooked!) Attach points A and B together with a staple, and you’re done. Super simple! (In the photo at the top of this post, you can see this stapled connection point at the back of the hat.) If you’re working with very young students, it might be a good idea to have the hats made ahead of time for them so that they are all ready to be decorated. Scoring takes a little bit of practice so as not to cut through the paper while you’re doing it, but after a few tries, you will learn what amount of pressure is just right.

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If Earth Day is going to be your theme for hat decoration, it might be a good idea to spend some time talking with your students about all of the different ways they could decorate their hats to show how they feel about protecting and celebrating the earth. They could cut out letters to include words on their hats, they could cut out, or tear out, and create symbols to place on their hats (think earth, sun, clouds, water, plants), they could add fun, three dimensional things to their hats such as paper streamers, ribbons, and more. (I would strongly suggest that you not use drawing materials such as markers, crayons, or pencils for hat decoration, as drawings tend to lack the excitement and involvement that other types of surface decoration provide.) Perhaps this brainstorming could be captured as a list that the students could refer back to while they work?

By this time, your students will be highly motivated to get started creating their hat masterpieces, so there is little left to do beyond getting their hats and materials distributed to them. They will have a blast making something that is such a personal statement, and the fact that they will be able to wear them when they’re complete just sweetens the deal. (I’m envisioning a photo op in here somewhere!) Have fun with this, and I’d love to hear how it goes if you decide to try it! (Pictured below is a basic, undecorated scored paper hat from the front.)

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhether art is one of many subjects that you teach in your classroom, or you teach in a dedicated art room, organization of your art supplies is a must. And what better time to get organized than spring?!

As one who has taught in both a multiple subject classroom, and in a high school art room, keeping my art supplies organized has made every lesson I’ve taught easier. Whether I’m pulling supplies out in preparation for a lesson, or taking a quick inventory to see what I need to replenish, keeping things in order has really paid off. My sister — a professional organizer! — likes to encourage her clients to think of their spaces as big containers, and then to think of breaking down the things stored within those spaces into smaller containers. This has helped me tremendously over the years both at home and at school.

So let’s get down to business shall we? If your art supply organization is long overdue, I suggest you begin by pulling all of your art supplies out onto tables where you can see them. Gather like items together, such as all of your paint brushes, color pencils, crayons, and glue bottles. (As you do this, be sure to get rid of anything that is no longer usable.)

Once like supplies have been grouped together, I would suggest that you begin thinking about storage containers if you aren’t already using them. These don’t have to be anything fancy or new, just some sturdy containers that will hold your supplies. I also strongly encourage you to think about choosing containers that will serve “double duty” for you. For example, I use little stacking plastic drawers, 4 drawers to a “unit”. These can sit out or be placed in a cupboard, but the main thing is, they not only store things like crayons, color pencils, chalk and glue sticks, but they can also be carried to work tables and desks for the students to work out of. When the work session is over, the supplies go back in the drawers, and the drawers go back into the little “unit” that holds them. As simple as that. Again, nothing fancy or expensive, but highly functional. When smaller art supplies have been “containerized”, you can begin placing things back into cupboards and cabinets in any way that makes sense for you. The beauty of this time that you’ve invested is that now when you need glue, you know right where ALL of your glue is. Crayons? Just pull out some containers and you’re ready to go!

Here are a few other quick and easy storage tips that might work for you. Three coffee cans hold my paint brushes — handles down, brush tips up — roughly separated into small, medium and large sizes. I’ve also found that storing construction paper on edge vertically, makes it easy to pull out what I need, and put back what I don’t, without unstacking everything. (They look like very colorful little book spines.) If you place them in order (ROYGBIV: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) they look beautiful too! This type of construction paper “filing” also makes it easy to see when you are running low on a particular color. Having some sort of scrap paper box is also important for gathering up any usable bits of paper that are too big to be thrown away.

Scissors can present their own unique storage problems. When I taught first grade, our scissors were all kept one of the storage drawers mentioned above. Students knew where they were and took responsibility for getting them out and putting them away when they were finished with them. High school is a different situation. I needed them to be accessible to students, but I also needed to be able to account for every pair at the end of each class period. The solution was to hang the scissors up on nails. The students could easily get a pair if they needed one, and at the end of each class, I could glance at those nails from anywhere in the room and see if all of the scissors had been returned to their place. (The class was NOT excused to leave until all scissors were accounted for and my students knew it.) Very effective.

I’m a big fan of encouraging students’ independence, and the more organizational systems you establish and teach to your students, the more independent they can be. When materials need to be put away, everyone knows where things are supposed to go, and so everyone can help pitch in to get things picked up. For this reason, I would also suggest that you gather some all-purpose containers that can be used for different things during projects, but not necessarily be used for long term storage. For example, I would suggest 3 or 4 round, metal cake pans, and maybe a few rectangular pans as well. These are great when you need to set out things like cotton balls, beads, buttons, and brads for the students to use. During an art experience, my students are able to help themselves to whatever they need, and return items they don’t need for others to use. When the project is over, I then return those items to their long term storage, and the pans are ready to go for the next art experience. A few scotch tape dispensers, a stapler, and masking tape rolls tied to something are also a good idea. (Tying the masking tape rolls to something simply means they’re always where they’re supposed to be.) I also like to keep two stacked paper trays out and accessible for the students — one filled with blank, white copy paper, and another filled with newsprint paper. This is great for a variety of things including quick sketches and notes.

Finally, I’ve listed a few items that I’ve found to be invaluable over the years and that I always keep on hand for art experiences. Small paper cups can be purchased in bulk at restaurant supply stores and can be “pulled open” so that they almost lay flat and can be used as mini paint pallets, as well as a place to hold a small amount of glue. When left in cup form, they are great for holding small items such as beads and brads while students are working. Paper plates, plastic tubs for water, disposable gloves, baby wipes, paper towels, and old men’s shirts (to cover up when things get messy). If you do anything like papier mache, having a “dedicated” small plastic bucket (like one that might hold ice cream), a plastic ladle, and plastic plates are a great idea. The bucket can be used to mix your papier mache, and you can ladle it out onto plastic plates for students as they need it. Plates can then be thrown away at the end of the art experience.

Once you’ve invested a little time and energy getting your art supplies in order, you’ll discover how much easier and more fun it is to plan and then implement exciting, successful art lessons for your students. You may just find yourself connecting art to lots of lessons, because your spring cleaning and organizing has made it so much more convenient! If you have any tips you’d like to share, I’d love it if you’d join the conversation and leave a comment on this post.

IMG_1659What better way to show we love the earth, than by creating some gorgeous Valentine’s Day inspired art work that encourages recycling as well?! Enter “Giant Stuffed Paper Hearts”.

The materials for this spectacular art experience are outrageously simple. You will need butcher paper, “stuffing”, a stapler, any sort of decorative materials, glue, and string or fishing line. (If you have access to butcher paper in “Valentine” colors like pink, red, and purple, that’s great. If not, white and even black will work just as well.)

The idea here is that you are going to have your students cut giant — and I do mean giant — hearts out of butcher paper, decorate them, stuff them, and then hang them from the ceiling. (If your school won’t allow you to hang anything, these could just as easily be stapled to a wall where they will still look puffy and three dimensional.)

While you could use anything for the stuffing of the heart, this experience presents a perfect opportunity to talk about things like recycling, and campus beautification. If you are so inclined, you and your students might walk around the school yard collecting trash and bits of paper. (Gloves might be a good idea here.) Or maybe you could use paper from your own classroom that would normally be thrown in the trash? Newspapers collected from home work well here too. The point is, this art experience is tangible evidence that trash can be transformed again into something else — in this case, into something beautiful.

When cutting out their paper hearts, each child will need two hearts exactly alike, so you can show them how putting two pieces of paper together and cutting them out at the same time will accomplish this. (An alternative to this would be to have them cut out one giant heart, then trace that on to their second piece of butcher paper and then cut that one out.) Depending on how involved you want them to get, and on how you plan to display them, you can instruct your students to decorate only one side of one of their hearts, or one side of each of their hearts. I would really let them go wild here with lots and lots of different decorative materials. Things like paint, construction paper, tissue paper, crepe paper, glitter, lace, ribbons, yarn, buttons, cotton, etc. would all be super fun for the kids to work with. (Because the hearts are large, I would probably not put out any drawing tools for this one, as any drawing the children might do would tend to be small, and the surface decoration for these should really be bold and large.)

Once all surface decorations are finished and have been allowed to dry, place the two hearts together and begin stapling around the edge to connect them. (Staple at least one inch or so in from the edge.) Remember that if you had students decorate two sides, make sure each of those decorated sides face out, and that the plain sides are on the “inside”. After you’ve stapled about half way around the hearts, you may begin stuffing the heart with very loosely crumpled paper or trash. You want to keep these hearts very light, so there’s no need to stuff them full of tightly wadded paper. Use just enough lightly crumpled paper to “fill out” the heart and give it a puffy shape. Finish stapling the remainder of the edge to close the heart, and you’re done. The resulting hearts should be very light, so it will be easy to hang them from your ceiling if you choose to do so. Don’t worry about hanging them at the same height, because hanging them at different heights adds to the fun. You will be amazed at the magnificent display these create and your students will love them!

Share the love! If you decide to do this art experience with your students, I’d love to see the results. Email photos to me at JGomasFaison@gmail.com and with your permission I might even share some of your photos on this blog. Happy heart-making!

IMG_1649With February right around the corner, here is a simple and fun art lesson that will teach your students some important lessons about giving, and about the value of working together, all while challenging them to be creative.

The basic materials required for the Bouquet of Hearts lesson are things I’m sure you have on hand already such as, construction paper, glue, tape, staples, and scissors. For extra embellishments, check around for any fun and unusual materials you might have for the kids to work with like, glitter, ribbon, yarn, buttons, rhinestones, cotton, lace, brads, and so on. You’ll also want something to use as “stems” — like small wooden skewers that can be found in most grocery stores.

Begin by talking to your students about flowers and bouquets. Talk with them about Valentine’s Day as being a day traditionally reserved as a day to proclaim love for others, and tell them you have an idea for how they can participate in this. Tell your students that they will make their own “flowers” out of hearts using all of the fun materials you have provided for them, and that you will be gathering these special paper “flowers” that they make into bouquets that can then be given away. At this point it would be a good idea to have decided how you’re going to distribute their bouquets… will they be going to someone at your school such as your principal, or maybe to a local senior citizen’s center or hospital? In my experience, the students love knowing who the recipient(s) will be. I’ve also found that it’s important to ask them before they even begin, if they are ok with the idea of making their art specifically to give it away. They always are.  🙂

So using heart shapes as the basis for their “flower”, allow students the freedom to explore both cutting and tearing construction paper. They might want to use layers of heart shapes to create their flowers, as well as combine several different colors of paper. Once the foundation of the heart “flower” has been established, encourage your students to utilize the variety of decorative materials you have made available for their use. Once their “flowers” are complete, and have been allowed to dry if necessary, attach their “flower” to a stick or “stem”. You may also want to have them use crepe paper to wrap the stick and perhaps even make construction paper leaves.

When all of the “flowers” have been completed, stand them in a container such as a vase or flower pot. If desired, you could place a small ball of clay in the bottom of the container first to help the “flowers” stand. Lead your students to see that while each of their “flowers” are fantastic on their own, when grouped together, they become magnificent! Each individual “flower” makes an important contribution to the whole bouquet.

At this point, the bouquets are ready to be presented to the lucky recipients. For a meaningful language arts connection, students could be asked to write a brief note to the recipient(s) of their work. I did a project very similar to this one with my continuation high school art classes, and I’m telling you they worked harder and with more focus on this experience — that they knew was going to a local residential facility for senior citizens — than on anything we did before or after it. They encouraged each other to keep working so that every person at that facility would get something from them. It was touching and inspiring.