Category Archives: Kindergarten

Odds and Endings

I have been too busy to post faithfully each art project, so I thought I would do a wrap-up with a few from several projects. Kindergarten was introduced to impressionism through Monet, and used oil pastel and water color to create their own simplistic Monet bridge.

First and second grades designed their own birds. Like they did with fish in kindergarten, we discussed the parts of birds and the different shapes they come in. Some students spent a lot of time detailing their bird. Others had time to incorporate backgrounds. And a few even had time to glue in tail feathers. The whole project had to be completed in a single, 40-minute session.

This second grade student has truly grasped the concept of filling the space.

First grade is still working on that concept.

first grade

second grade

A second grader who had artist’s block at first, but whose finished bird is just lovely and unique. I hope she painted in a background at home.

It seems that’s all I have pictures of. It’s been a fun year, and I learned a lot. I hope the kids did, too!


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Filed under Art, First/Second Grade, Kindergarten, Teaching

Japanese Teacups and Teabowls

After viewing a Japanese tea ceremony, Kindergarten made tea bowls formed on their knees, and first and second grades made cups from pinch pots. These were glazed using earth tones.

a second grader


a first grader


a first grader's cup

and a kindergarten bowl.

Notice from this kinder's bowl that they spattered a little blue or white glaze inside their bowls.



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Filed under Art, First/Second Grade, Kindergarten, Teaching

Ushering in Spring

My homeschool students have done their spring-themed projects, kicking off their spring session. My older students had a rare experience with acyrlic painting, and a first experience on canvas paper. We observed sheep and lambs together, then worked through a loosely guided drawing, in a neutral paint color with our brushes, of a lamb. Although the lamb’s head and the background were painted traditionally, the wooly body was acrylic with medium added, painted with plastic spoons. We definitely created some fluffy lambs!

Third grade homeschool student.

Another third grader.

A second grade homeschooler.

Kinders painted a garden of spring flowers, in a lesson introduced by Deep Space Sparkle here, although we didn’t take time to spatter. We dripped puddles of watercolor, then turned our papers up over newspaper and let the drips paint stems. We then read the book Ish, by Peter Reynolds. Afterwards, we returned to our flowers to add details with chalk pastels. I think they were very flowerish!


Filed under Art, First/Second Grade, Kindergarten, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

Mister Seahorse, Kindergarten-style

School kinders recently finished a collage project based on the Eric Carle book Mister Seahorse

We painted warm, textured papers for our future seahorses, and cool, wavy watercolor papers for our sea background. Then we walked through a guided observation of real seahorses in photos, noting the curvy lines and the spiral in the tail, similar to our cobras. I took liberties and loosely tied our seahorse to Mexico. All that coastline, you know. Then I turned them loose to draw, on the back of their warm painted papers, their first SOLO drawing from observation! A few were afraid to try, but as they watched me encourage and praise the braver students who applied curved lines to paper and tried to create the contours of a seahorse, my timid artists jumped in after them. We cut out and glued our seahorses to the watercolor sea, with the exception of one fellow who got the papers mixed. Either way, the results were striking, I think. A few Mister Seahorses:





A mister seahorse with a baby.


a big-nosed mister seahorse


the warm-water that smile!

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Filed under Art, Kindergarten, Teaching

Finding Brain-space

I haven’t written a blog post in three weeks. It’s not because I am no longer teaching art. It’s not because I’m not living a life I feel like commenting on. I’m just crazy busy. I stayed on at the department store I wrapped for during the holidays, selling women’s clothing. All told, it’s as if I’m working full-time now, plus doing the Mom and Wife thing, plus serving in my church. And oddly enough, I find that I need empty space in my schedule for writing. I’m calling it “Brain-space.” It’s that quiet time that is left AFTER you have used up the planning time and the to-do list and the needed conversations, when your brain can be quiet for a bit and dream up new things. Apparently my own art uses that same “Brain-space” as well.

But, here I have a strangely sleepless night, having tossed and turned a couple of hours, and I’ve finally reached my Brain-space. So I thought I would use this time to show you a little of our Mexican wrap-up. My focus on Mexican art was its folk-art, and especially its bright colors and patterns. Third through sixth grades tackled form in the medium of paper mache, inspired by Oaxican alebrijas. Paper mache is NOT something I am skilled at, and apparently even less at teaching it. However, it was an introduction to something new, and the students who were willing to be patient and careful were quite successful, I think.

A 4th grader's alligator.

A 5th grader's cameleon.

6th grade butterfly

Kindergarten practiced a guided observation of a Mexican toucan, followed by a guided drawing. These were fun!

a homeschool kinder toucan with a grape

another homeschool kinder

I’ll add a school kinder toucan as soon as I find where I put those photos!

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Filed under Art, Fifth/Sixth Grade, Kindergarten, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

Introducing India…slowly, one feather at a time

So far in our world “travels,” I have had no trouble at all giving a taste of a region and its people, and connecting them to the sort of art they create. After all, it only has to be at a very superficial level even a 6-year-old can begin to relate to. With India, not so much. I really wrestled with the contrasts of this region. And where will we take our inspiration, since the vast majority of India’s art is inspired by Hinduism, not God’s creation? They sure picked an extraordinary national bird, though! So our younger artists started with the peacock. In fact, Kinders started just with a peacock FEATHER. We practiced our guided observation, and how to translate what we see to our own papers, and these luminescent feathers are the result.

First and second grades are working on whole peacocks and learning a lot about tints and how dark colors affect other colors. Some are almost finished, but will miss next week’s class due to Thanksgiving, so it will be a bit before I can get their peacocks up. Kindergarten has started on spiral pattern snakes, but this year we will add a hood to make them cobras, like the ones in our Rikki Tikki Tavi story. I actually just retold very very briefly the Kipling story accompanied by some of the beautiful illustrations of Jerry Pinkney. The kids cheered when the mongoose saved the family!

Third through sixth grades are doing a glue resist batik with acrylic paints. Their subject was an Indian animal of their choosing, but for most of third and fourth, that was the peacock. Designs were drawn in Sharpie on wax paper, and set under our fabric, then traced on fabric with Elmers blue gel glue. Monday we begin adding color!

Little by little we are making inroads into exotic India.

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Filed under Art, First/Second Grade, Kindergarten, Teaching

Kindergarten Fall Favorites

There are a few tried and true lessons that kinders can be counted on to really enjoy and feel successful with, and as much as I love to try new art projects, I can’t deny these fledgling artists the opportunity to crow with the sense of accomplishment. In the fall particularly, they love to tell parents “I did that!” when they draw their pumpkins after the annual pumpkin patch field trip, and when they paint their sunflowers.

I love how quickly these little ones catch on to the concept of contour lines, but this year’s kinder class was especially sharp. After I followed a glue bottle’s contour on the white board with marker and showed the result, before I even called up a student to be my next contour model, one of them cried out, “We have a contour line!” They were excited to try to transfer their perception of my pumpkin’s contour to their papers in oil pastel. This was also their first formal oil pastel project, and they were so excited to see how the colors layered and blended. This year’s class at Faith may be a rambunctious little group, but they are also excited to learn and quick to apply what they do learn. Some first pumpkins:

Homeschoolers get to draw pumpkins, too. Note that our pumpkins are still growing out of the ground, like the ones they visit on their field trip.

We also paint sunflowers. We observe real sunflowers, too, and start their centers with oil pastel. In the past, we have painted our petals, double dipping to mix our paint on the paper. This year I wanted to try something new, and tested it on my class of 5 homeschoolers first. (Poor guinea pigs.) This time I introduced spatter painting and we spattered yellow and black over our center dots. Then we glued torn tissue paper (using liquid starch) petals around our center dot, and then painted our black outline. The kids seemed to have a lot of fun, and I think their sunflowers turned out quite dramatic, but it was a MESS. The capital M kind. I’ve done all these things before, but never all on one project. I had a wonderful time and would repeat it again with any group of a half dozen or less kinders, but I do NOT plan to take it to school! Those kinders will joyfully paint their sunflowers.

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Filed under Art, Kindergarten, Teaching

A Riot of Color

This past week or two all my classes have been doing projects to help them experience and develop their color mixing. Our artroom has exploded with bright colors, from our African works to now. Kindergarten made ginormous color mixed caterpillars. First/second grades are behind, but are about to start a color wheel hot air balloon. Third/Fourth mixed oil pastel umbrellas (that one worked better with the homeschool class, I think), and fifth/sixth did the abstract study. This is my board with some samples (I could really use a bigger bulletin board).

color board

an explosion of color!


Every once in a while a sudent project surprises me: I, rather than the students, get really engaged in it. I mean, I usually enjoy the student projects. Gee, if I don’t have fun, how can I expect the kids to? But occasionally, one draws me in even more than the kids. The fifth/sixth grade abstract tertiary color study has been one of those.

My fifth/sixth grade showed a good understanding of mixing tertiary colors; I was pleased with that. They had trouble with the conceptual part of assembling a balanced, cohesive composition. Not bad, though. I, however, have felt strangely compelled by mine. I sat it up on the mantle and ponder it, often. I wonder if I should extend the colors to the edges of the paper. Would it look better if it were black beyond the edges, like the grid lines? This was strangely fun. I would enjoy doing it over several different ways. I’d enjoy doing it again, on a canvas, with acrylic. I don’t think this artwork is done with me yet!

abstract tertiary color model

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Filed under Art, Fifth/Sixth Grade, Kindergarten, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

The Victorious Struggle for Adorable Turtles

Today was the younger hall at school. I had a plan. I realize it was an ambitious plan. But honestly? My ambitions are often achieved in this school. Today, though, was more about exercising my priorities, which are not always art.

This is a post mostly about my Kinder class. Sure, first and second were uncharacteristically whiny, but these days happen; no true drama. But the Kinders were jumping beans today. I could blame it on weather, Wednesday, being indoors too much today, first day of fall around the corner, anticipating their first watercolor use, or shorter days. But WHY doesn’t matter. What matters is that a dozen small persons couldn’t even pay enough attention to repeat after me. They couldn’t keep their hands off their tools, or each other, or other students’ artwork. They had no idea what the directions were, or that I was giving them.

This was clearly NOT a learning environment!

I only get a half hour with these little guys, but I just hung a pin in the plans and called them all to the center with my stern teacher voice (a rarely used option), and we had a come-to-Jesus meeting. Inattentive students who can’t follow directions do NOT get to watercolor!

Once they were focused, we returned to the tables to finish patterns on our African tortoises, and guide the two who had missed last week through a tortoise. Gathering their paints to head to the gym to watercolor them nearly got the privilege lost, but they got a grip on themselves. Goodness! I really wanted them to learn HOW to use their watercolor with me before their classroom teacher had to use them, so I asked her for an extra 15 minutes, since so much time had been lost to practicing our self-control. She considered our time well-spent, and fully supported it!

Things went so much better once they got to dive into their much-anticipated paints. And I love the results!! Thanks to Deep Space Sparkle for the original lessons.

watercolor pattern turtle

another turtley example

How cute is that? More turtle-love can be found in their Artsonia soon!

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Filed under Art, Kindergarten, Teaching

Flexible Lessons

I had the joy and privilege of creating art with my homeschool class today. I have nine students grades K through 3, and they really are a joy to teach. Sometimes they get the benefit of my experience with lessons with my school students, and sometimes it’s the other way around. Sometimes, with the homeschoolers, I may even still be working out the kinks in a new lesson. I know I can do that with them. Today was one of those days.

The younger students are doing a variation on the Faith Lutheran kinders’ colorwheel caterpillar, a project I KNOW I saw somewhere on a blog, but for my life cannot find it now. (Anyone care to help me so I can credit it?) We painted 4×4 squares with large dots, inspired by The Dot last week, mixing primaries for secondary colors. We double-dipped our brushes, so they would have to remember that red and yellow make orange every time they reloaded.

But my older students practiced mixing secondary colors with a project idea I just came up with this week. It sounded like fun to me, so I ran with it, even though it was only half-developed in my head. I knew I wanted to draw umbrellas. We would draw primary umbrellas in a row, and then under them mix oil pastels for secondary-colored umbrellas, located according to their parent colors, like so:

the mistakes from which I learned

I kept looking at them, thinking something wasn’t right. Then I realized I had made the umbrellas like tulips, all messed up on the scallops. They should be curved up, and they are pointed. Obviously, I taught them differently than my model showed. I also really didn’t like how dark the red and blue made the purple, so I decided to walk the kids through my evaluation and point them to light blue and red instead. See the heart in the corner where I tested the new color combo? It was only this morning that I worked through what shapes to direct to make people for the umbrellas, but it was a great place to introduce neutrals. The background was their idea, during the lesson! And then we added rain as a watercolor wash, as prayerful hope to end the drought.

One student’s proof that I did fix some things!

I had fun walking through this little lesson (review for most) in color mixing. Teaching really benefits from being able to adjust on the fly. I would love to hear other examples of tweaking lessons in the last minute!

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Filed under Art, First/Second Grade, Kindergarten, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade