Category Archives: Art

Incidental Comics

I bow down to people who can illustrate their thoughts in creative ways – such as Gavin Than of Zen Pencils and Grant Snider of Incidental Comics.

Many of Grant’s comics would be great to use for inspiration in the classroom – and you can purchase the posters here.  For example, this one is a fabulous one for emphasizing the growth mindset:

image by: Grant Snider of Incidental Comics
image by: Grant Snider of Incidental Comics.  Purchase the poster here.

This one is just plain fun. I would love to give it to my students to use as a template for a comic about an artist they’ve studied – “My Neighbor Da Vinci” for example!  I wonder what Da Vinci would sell at his yard sale?

by Grant Snider on Incidental Comics
by Grant Snider on Incidental Comics. Purchase the poster here

And this one is a great lesson for making sense of art:

by Grant Snider of Incidental Comics
by Grant Snider of Incidental Comics. Purchase the poster here

There are tons more that I love! Be sure to check out the Incidental Comics site for even more inspiration!

You Can Have Your Legos – and Eat Them, Too!

What can’t be done with Legos? I wish I had recognized the potential of this versatile toy when I was a kid!  Legos appear quite a bit on this blog because I am regularly astonished by how creative people can be with them, and certainly not because they pay me any money – which they absolutely don’t.  For today’s Phun Phriday post, I offer you links that show Legos making music, Legos keeping track of appointments, and Legos that will make your mouth water!

See the first ever Lego band play a Depeche Mode song here!
See the first ever Lego band play a Depeche Mode song in this post from The Creators Project!
Not only is this calendar made of Legos, but it digitally syncs!  Find out more in this article by Core77!
Not only is this calendar made of Legos, but it digitally syncs! Find out more in this article by Core77!
Nothing would actually be built with these in my house because we would be too busy eating them!  Find out more at Neatorama!
Nothing would actually be built with these in my house because we would be too busy eating them! Find out more at Neatorama!

International Dot Day 2014

Yesterday’s post was about making mistakes.  A lot of our students are afraid to try anything because they think they will do it “wrong.” But there are lots of activities that don’t have a right or wrong way to do them.  Sometimes creativity and having fun are important parts of learning, too.

If you are looking for an easy, engaging way to get this message across to your students, try participating in International Dot Day on September 15th, 2014.  Read the fabulous book, The Dot, by Peter Reynolds.  Try one of the fun suggested classroom activities in the Educator’s Handbook.  Connect with someone using Skype in the Classroom. Or try the augmented reality app, ColAR, with the free Dot Day sheet.  Check out this Pinterest board or this one.  And don’t forget to check out the Celebri-dots here!

image from: http://www.coloruswell.com/?p=217
image from: http://www.coloruswell.com/?p=217

It’s What You Make of It

Since many people are returning to school during the next couple of weeks, I thought I would re-visit and share some of last year’s more successful projects in case you want to try one.  Monday’s post was on the surprise “You Matter” videos that I asked parents to make for their children last year. On Tuesday, I wrote about the Global Cardboard Challenge.

Almost exactly a year ago, I predicted the trends in education for the 2013-2014 school year.  I was re-reading that post today, and laughed at my addition of maker studios almost as an afterthought at the end of my post.  Anyone who has been reading education blogs and magazines will know that maker studios are becoming a huge trend, and that they are not limited to schools.

The-Maker-Movement

The truth is that many people are recognizing that there is a hunger in our youth to create and that the process of making is a deeper learning experience than regurgitating facts from a lecture.

There is not one right way to bring a maker studio into your school. Many schools are integrating them into their libraries or obsolete computer labs.  Some are incorporating the design process into their entire curriculum.  But, just like the Global Cardboard Challenge, you can still make a huge difference by starting small.

Last year, I realized that an empty classroom next door could be transformed into a maker studio.  I applied for a grant from our school’s PTA.  My GT classes named the room B.O.S.S. HQ (Building of Super Stuff Headquarters) and it basically became a testing ground for all of the new materials we purchased.  You may not have the luxury of an empty room, but a station in your classroom would work just as well.

Some of the items we purchased for our space were:

We also had a green screen that had been given to the school.

I didn’t know how to use any of the above until my students helped me figure them out.  Last year was really just time for us all to explore.

This year, I am starting an after-school Maker Club to involve more students than the ones in GT.  One thing I learned from last year is that I need to narrow my focus.  So, the Maker Club will have 4 main themes this year: Cardboard Challenge, Video Creation, Programming, and Electric Circuits.

In addition, the GT students who were exposed to materials last year will be challenged to find ways to incorporate them in our Cardboard Challenge and other projects throughout this year.

Eventually, I want B.O.S.S. HQ to be accessed by all students in the school, but I’m still working out the kinks on that.

My advice to a teacher just beginning would be the following:

  • Read Invent to Learn by Gary Stager and Sylvia Libow Martinez
  • Try the Global Cardboard Challenge
  • Add a station to your classroom that involves creating.  Little Bits are great, and the company offers educator discounts. Chibitronics and MaKey MaKey are also relatively inexpensive ways to start.
  • Make the mantra, “Think, Make, Improve” (from Invent to Learn) part of your classroom theme.
  • Celebrate the “growth mindset” so that students understand they will learn even when things don’t go as planned.  Rosie Revere, Engineer is a great book to reinforce this.
  • When you are ready to “go bigger”, enlist the help of the community.  You can find experts who can teach your students different skills, people who are willing to donate supplies (Donors Choose is great for this), and you might want to visit maker spaces and maker faires in your area for ideas on the type of inventory and organization you need.

If you search for “maker” on my blog, you will find many other posts I’ve done regarding this topic.  You can also visit my Pinterest board of Maker Resources here.  Two of my favorite online resources are Make magazine and Design Squad.  The online Maker Camp from Google and Make also has lots of ideas.

Global Cardboard Challenge 2014

Since many people are returning to school during the next couple of weeks, I thought I would re-visit and share some of last year’s more successful projects in case you want to try one.  Yesterday’s post was on the surprise “You Matter” videos that I asked parents to make for their children last year.

Since most standardized tests used to measure “success” in schools today do not assess creativity, this skill tends to be less emphasized than ones that easily translate into multiple choice questions. However, I haven’t met one person who thinks that creativity is frivolous and many articles I’ve read, such as this one, from various news sources seem to indicate that it is a valuable attribute in the 21st century job market.

That being said, it’s sometimes difficult to fit creative activities into the school day.  The Global Cardboard Challenge is the perfect opportunity to revive the imaginations of your students.  First, show them the fabulous Caine’s Arcade videos.  Then, get your students to brainstorm and sketch their own ideas.  Next, give them time and resources to build.  Then, let them critique and improve.  And, finally have them share their creations.

Cardboard Theater (with a scrolling moving picture) created by one of my 3rd graders
Cardboard Theater (with a scrolling moving picture) created by one of my 3rd graders

There is not one right way to do this.  It can be during school, after school, on a weekend.  You can do it big and invite the community, or you can do it small and just involve your class or grade level.  The official date for the 2014 challenge is October 11th, but you can do it any day you want.

Last year, I just had my GT students participate.  I gave them an hour or two each week for about 4 weeks to work on their projects.  (If you want to see students completely engaged with absolutely no interest in even talking you, I promise this is the activity to try!)  Then they designed their own tickets and invited classmates to see their projects during recess.  This year, we’re going bigger.  I will still have my GT students make projects, but I will also have an after school Maker Club.  The GT students will be researching charities and choosing one.  The school will vote on the best projects, and we are teaming up with Main Event to host a “Pop-Up Arcade” of the student projects in their party rooms, charging $1 for the community to play the games.  All money raised will go to the charity my students select.

For more ideas on how to host your own event, you can check out the Organizer Playbook here.  More information is located here.  But remember, you can “think outside the box” and make the event fit what suits you and your students.

Crystal Fireworks

For today’s Phun Phriday post, I am sharing a great creation by teamLab.  I saw an article about this on The Creators Project, and it really makes me want to go to Japan to participate in this interactive installation in Toyama.  With a touch of your finger on your smart phone, you can ignite simulated fireworks!  Head over to this site to see some amazing video and pics.

image of Crystal Fireworks by teamLab
image of Crystal Fireworks by teamLab

DANGERDUST

A lot of visitors to this blog seem to gravitate toward the posts that I’ve done about inspirational videos and quotes.  Earlier this week, I wrote about a great book that I purchased with hand-lettered quotes, Whatever You Are, Be a Good One.  If you are fond of illustrated quotes, you might want to take a look at the work of DANGERDUST on Etsy.  

Jessica Hische quote by DANGERDUST, available on Etsy
Jessica Hische quote by DANGERDUST, available on Etsy

Each of the prints that are sold by this anonymous duo are described as being “part of a weekly series originally drawn on a 4’x6′ chalkboard that was displayed at the Columbus College of Art & Design. Every week we would stealthily sneak into the school and vandalize the chalkboard with motivational quotes.”

I wish someone would vandalize my classroom this way!  The quotes are motivational and the lettering and other details are amazing.  Forget Successories.  These are the kinds of posters that would spark my creativity!

Steve Jobs chalkboard quote by DANGERDUST, available on Etsy
Steve Jobs chalkboard quote by DANGERDUST, available on Etsy