Category Archives: Art

Kindergarten Class

For Phun Phriday this week I want to share with you an artist who is, quite simply, incredible. I love the work she does on both of her blogs – Nicole Smeltzer and The Middlest Sister. She meticulously cuts paper to make amazing scenes and tell stories.

One of her latest projects is to make a book for her daughter’s kindergarten teacher.  The picture below is the “setting.”

Setting: Kindergarten Class, by Nicole Smeltzer
Setting: Kindergarten Class, by Nicole Smeltzer

When I saw the above picture, I couldn’t wait to see how it would look once she added the students. It already looks perfect. Can’t you just smell the crayons and Elmer’s Glue?

However, she blew me away when she posted the completed image. I won’t give it away – you will have to visit her blog to see for yourself. And this is only the first page!  What an incredible gift this will be for her daughter’s teacher.

If you need to brighten your day, I strongly urge you to check out the amazing art of Nicole Smeltzer on both of her blogs.  You will simultaneously laugh at her family and marvel at her talent.

Painting with Sphero

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled on a #makered Twitter chat and somehow the conversation turned to using the Sphero robots to paint.  I was hoping to do this with my 4th graders because we are studying mathematical art and I thought it would be a good way to tie it in with the programming they have learned – but I had no idea how to go about it.

My colleagues on Twitter immediately offered fabulous suggestions: use tempera paint, try it with the “nubby” to give it texture, and buy a cheap plastic swimming pool to contain the mess.  One teacher offered to try it the next day with her students and, as promised, sent me pictures of the results.  Claire (@pritchclaire) also gave me the suggestion to stay away from red paint as it kind of stains the Sphero.

pritchclaire
image courtesy of @pritchclaire

After receiving all of this great advice, I introduced the topic to my 4th graders.  Then we set about coming up with a plan.  First, they learned how to program the Sphero to make polygons using the Macrolab app.  (We used the free 2D Geometry lesson from Sphero offered on this page.)  There is an app that allows you to drive the Sphero free-hand, but it’s difficult to make exact shapes that way.  Macrolab gave us the tools to be more precise.

The students needed a good 90 minutes to practice making different polygons.  The next step was to sketch a design. I absolutely loved listening to the conversations about the math involved as they tried to figure out the angle degrees for each command.  Despite their experience with the complexities of Sphero programming, the students started out with grand, complicated sketches.  After doing dry runs, however, they realized they needed to scale things down a bit.  Sketching and practicing took about another 90 minutes.

After many practices, each group came to our improvised drawing board.  Although I loved the plastic pool idea, I realized that the bottom wouldn’t be flat enough to keep the Sphero in control.  I brought a piece of drywall to school that had been sitting in our garage.  We used some extra cardboard to add some sides to it.

With disposable gloves on, the students manually rolled the Sphero around in a puddle of paint, then set it up on the “canvas” and started their program.  I should mention here that I was describing my day to my husband and he said, “You should have just put the paint in a plastic baggie and rolled the Sphero in that.”  Hopefully I will remember that idea next year…

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Preparing a nubby-covered Sphero for making art

As you can see, the results of using a programmed Sphero were a bit different than the above photo.  Personally, either method looks fabulous to me.  The students agreed.  As soon as they were done, one of them immediately said, “We should find out if we can hang these in the front foyer!”

Can you identify when they used the nubby for their lines?

You can see some video of our “technique” below.

After the experience we got into some good discussions about what art is and why the Sphero might not have always acted according to their expectations.  Although this probably isn’t a lesson that could happen in the regular classroom due to time and equipment constraints, I think it worked well for my little group of 6 students!

brunchcity

For today’s Phun Phriday post, I encourage you to look at the series of art by Andrea G. Portoles and Bea Crespo called, “brunchcity.”  These enchanting food and drink sculptures caught my eye this week, probably because I  just read Iggy Peck, Architect to my 2nd graders and the main character makes the St. Louis Arch using pancakes and coconut pie.

I usually strive to keep my Phun Phriday posts free and clear of lesson plan suggestions, but wouldn’t it be fun to see the “brunchcity” ideas your students might come up with for your specific geographic location?

By the way, if you should happen to show these pics to students, I would steer clear of the Dublin example, even though most elementary school students probably can’t identify Guinness unless it’s a book about world records :)

Beijing by Andrea Portoles and Bea Crespo
Beijing by Andrea Portoles and Bea Crespo
New York by Andrea Portoles and Bea Crespo
New York by Andrea Portoles and Bea Crespo

Dynamite Valentine’s Day Diversions

UPDATE 2/11/15 – I just added a couple of other Valentine resources here!  

Don’t groan.  I know it seems far away, but when you only see each grade level once a week (like me) holidays tend to sneak up on you!

Okay, so the status of Valentine’s Day as an actual holiday is debatable.  But I’m pretty sure if you teach in a U.S. classroom it’s pretty unavoidable.

First of all, I have a few old posts that have lots of activities for the time leading up to Valentine’s Day.  Even if you are a loyal reader, you probably haven’t used them all.

I’m always looking for new ideas, though.  I ran across a couple from fellow bloggers that were posted last year around this time.

Christy at Creative Classroom Tools has these great forced association activities called, “A Very Venn Valentine’s.”  I’m totally using these (free download on TPT!) this year!

Minds in Bloom offers some fun “Would You Rather” questions of the non-mathematical variety.

And finally, how about geeking up your day?  Check out these awesome paper circuit cards made by 7th graders! (You can find Chibitronics LED circuit stickers online, or you can use surface-mount LED’s.  Copper tape and coin cell batteries will help you make the circuits.)

Paper Circuit Card
image from: The Wanton Feminist Blog

 

 

What Do You Do With an Idea?

The easy answer to the question is to cook it.

But I should probably back up a bit.

All of the elementary GT teachers in our district received a book before the holidays called, What Do You Do With an Idea?  It’s a beautifully illustrated book that figuratively represents a boy’s idea as he conceives it, nearly abandons it, and then nurtures it until it “spreads its wings.”

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For some reason, I thought this would be a good book to share with my 1st grade GT students.  That was my brilliant idea – and I didn’t ponder it long enough to realize that it was a bad one.

“Have you ever had an idea that you wanted to share, but were afraid other people would make fun of you?” I asked as an introduction to the book.

“Yes!” a 1st grader emphatically confirmed.

“Oh, what was your idea?”

“I wanted to go to my friend’s house,” she said.

So that led to a discussion about what I meant by the word, “idea.”

We finally got to the book.  And, as I started reading it I quickly became uncomfortably aware that I hadn’t looked at the story with 1st grader eyes the first few times I read it.

“Why do you think the illustrator used an egg as the boy’s idea?” I asked.

“I know!  Because he was hungry.”

“It’s not really an egg.  It’s a chicken.  It has feet,” another student pointed out.

Things further deteriorated when I got to the part about the boy “feeding” his idea.  I had apparently chosen the precise time of day to share this story when the distance between breakfast and lunch seemed far too wide to my “starving students.”  Between food and the ambiguity of a walking egg, the conversation wandered quite far from what I had imagined when I put this book in my lesson plans 3 weeks ago.

At home that afternoon, I thought about what had happened to my idea – the great one that I had of sharing this book with my 1st graders, engaging them in a deep, philosophical discussion (as described here), and then asking them to generate a piece of artwork with their own ideas (like these awesome examples).

I forgot to boil my egg.  That was the problem.  I just plucked a raw egg out of the carton and spun it like a top on the table – and it went wildly out of control.

What do you do with an idea?

Boil it in water for 10 minutes.

If it cracks, then you’ll know that it certainly wouldn’t have survived the heat of a room full of 1st graders.

But Does It Taste Good?

It’s my first Phun Phriday post of 2015, and I must apologize to any of you who made a New Year’s resolution that has anything to do with dieting ;)

One of the many delectable creations posted on the anne2matthew Instagram site
One of the many delectable creations posted on the anne2matthew Instagram site

I can’t attest to the yumminess of her creations, but Anne Widya’s masterpieces are definitely a work of art.  One look at her Instagram feed, and you will most likely marvel at her creativity and ask yourself two questions: “Where does she get all of these ideas?” and “Where does she find the time to do this?”

If you feel inspired to attempt one of two of these gourmet treats, you can visit Anne’s blog for recipes and instructions.

Or, you can just do what I did – show them to your daughter and say, “Don’t you wish your mom could do that with Hamburger Helper?”

Creative Ways to Survive the Weeks Before Winter Break

Full disclosure: this first week of December is going to be my busiest week this year. Therefore, I decided to cheat a bit for a few days and recycle some posts from last year.  I’ve done a bit of editing to make sure they remain current but otherwise they are the same.  Hopefully you still find them useful!

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Screen Shot from Kelly Wine’s Rube Goldberg-esque Holiday Machine Video

Let’s face it.  This month is hard.  No one – including you – is feeling very focused on academics right now.  To save everyone’s sanity, and to put smiles on all of the faces in the room, try some of these creative ideas:

Here are a couple I have mentioned before, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat.