Posted by: keepingthemistakes | January 23, 2014

January 2014!

My January focus is on Diversity.  Celebrating our differences.  Getting along.  Our community has an annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration on the holiday, and I try to display my student’s diversity art there.  It’s always a struggle to get artwork done in time.  I only see kids once a week, which generally gives me two class periods before the program/exhibit.  Unless they’re sick, or there’s an all school assembly during their art time.  Or a fire drill.  Anyway, here are a couple of pictures of the art we displayed.  I only did art for display with three grades, but all of them did work focusing on diversity.


They mixed their skin tone for the self portraits and then collaged the details.  This was 4th grade.



The MLK portrait was made several years ago by 4th graders.  It’s like a puzzle, they each painted a piece with three skin tones, not knowing what it was, and then we put it all together.  The rainbow/doves on the right side were made by 3rd grade and have some of Martin’s Big words on them (Peace, Love, Together, Dream, etc).  We watched the movie “Martin’s Big Words”.  There’s also a book.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThese are “My Dream” folders made by 2nd grade.  They have their handprints on the outside in two skin colors, and then inside they wrote or drew about their dream for a better world.  The one that made my heart melt was the one that says “My dream is for everyone to  be a foster family.  So no one will be left out.”  Wow.

Kindergarten and 1st grade read/watched the movie “Elmer” and drew and painted patterned elephants.

Older grades did projects more focused on cooperation, and they are still working on those.  I did a really cool poetry/rap project with middle school.  I’ll write a whole post on that!!

Next up, Kansas Day sunflowers and SNOWmen!!!  I’m hoping that by drawing/painting/sculpting snow we can bring on a snow day or two.  What do you think?


Posted by: keepingthemistakes | January 4, 2014

I know I’ve been gone a long time, but guess what?

I got a new camera!!!  So maybe, just maybe, there will be more posts here for the spring semester (with pictures!!!).  Since there was one post all fall, we can only hope.

In the meantime, we tie-dyed 300ish t-shirts.  That was a big deal, and I hope to have pictures soon, taken with my new camera.  We didn’t make our polymer Christmas ornaments.  I just didn’t have it in me to tackle another big project like that right after the tie-dye shirts.  Next year.

4th grade did an AWESOME Christmas project — with coffee filters, metallic Sharpies, and Prang water-based markers.  I took pictures of every one, because they were so beautiful.  Then guess what happened.  I took them on my phone, and for the second time in recent history, I inadvertently deleted every. picture. on. my. phone.  Every one.  I don’t know how I did it exactly, but I did it twice.  No more phone pictures. I do have my OWN coffee filter art to show you, so I can do a tutorial, but I don’t have any of my students work, and they were so much more beautiful than mine.  <sigh>  Maybe I’ll ask them to bring them back so I can photograph them . . .   

All of this to say, I’ll be back!  Soon.

Happy New Year! (it’s snowing!!!)

Posted by: keepingthemistakes | August 27, 2013

Cooperative Learning is the BOMB

Ok, I’ll be the first to admit that maybe we’re still in the beginning of school honeymoon period.  But, my classes have been going amazingly well, and I attirbute it to the cooperative learning seating and teams.  I feel like the way they are sitting is familiar to them — it’s like how they sit in their classroom — and they are used to talking quietly to their group, and not yelling across the room at their friends.  I’ve incorporated both team and class building activities, and I feel like they’ve gone really well.

I’m also pretty pumped about my grading rubric, and my plan for students to turn work in for grading.  I haven’t done that before.  My plan is to use these drawers for each grade to turn in their finished work (I will just go through kindergarten folders or grade during class for them).

130826_0001They will fill out the rubric with how they think they did on the project, then I will fill it out as well, and give them comments and a final grade.  I don’t plan on grading EVERY single project, but I will grade at least one project for each of the standards I’m grading on, and I will use the craftsmanship and behavior parts of the rubric to give them their craftsmanship and participation grades.  I feel like grading is an area where I really needed to improve, and I feel like plans are in place to make that happen, and that makes me happy!!

To the left of the drawers is this poster.


The idea came from Pinterest.  A serendipitous happening is that the arrow on the “complete” line points at the drawers.  I didn’t even plan that, but it’s perfect!!!

I’ll share the rubric next time.  I also found it on Pinterest and tweaked it a bit.

Hope all is going well for all of you as your school year begins!

Posted by: keepingthemistakes | August 23, 2013

And so it begins . . .


Welcome to art class! This door decoration is something I made during my very first work day on my very first year as an art teacher. I had a big list of things to do, but no idea where to start. So I made this!

Here we go!!  I have big plans for my art classes this year.  130821_0008


I love my new rainbow pocket chart. “What are we doing today” is the most common phrase heard when my students enter the classroom. I’m hoping having it written up here will help answer that (at least for 1st grade and up).

Cooperative learning is one of the key ideas in my teaching.  I’m exited about it, and have already used class and team  building activities with all of my classes on the first day.  130821_0006

My other big plan is to streamline my grading system.  I’m kind of pumped about that, too, and will unveil (haha, like it’s a new car) my grading rubric to my students next week.  I think it will make things easier on all of us, and besides including my students in the grading process, it will hopefully help everyone understand my grading system better.  Including me.




This is my new game to encourage positive behaviors.  They can earn three spaces a day (4, with the art star), and earn one “Art Party” each 9 weeks.  They automatically get their three spaces if we don’t have school on their art day.  I got this idea from The Little Art Teacher blog via Pinteres (I love Pinterest!).




Cooperative learning “teams” at each table, instead of just a seating chart.  I’m confident this will help build classroom cohesiveness and accountability!  I had good results on my first day of classes!

Have a great school year everyone!  Here is an The Art of Education post that I found helpful this morning.  Good things to remember!

Posted by: keepingthemistakes | August 13, 2013


I know I’m spoiled.  But I just want summer to last a little bit longer.  I’ve worked in enough other fields besides education, and I know what it’s like not to have summer break, spring break, winter break.  But still, human nature makes us always want just a little bit more, doesn’t it?  Mine does, anyway.

In just a few, short days, I start back for professional and work days, and in a little over a week, classes start.  I’m excited about it, but I also look at my summer list and see nothing so few things crossed off.  I’m such a procrastinator.

Anyway, I’m working hard to get the following together before classes start next Thursday:

  • Cooperative learning structures in my classroom.  I had a 2-day training this summer, and am really excited about what using those cooperative learning strategies will mean in my art rooms!  I plan to have students seated in cooperative learning teams, which I haven’t done before, and incorporate team and class building structures into classes regularly.  I’m especially excited for how this will manifest itself during times of student sharing about their art and learning about critiquing!
  • Curriculum maps!  I’m working hard to have my lessons for the year mapped out.  I know there will be some detours, but it will do my naturally disorganized, procrastinating self good to have more of a plan for the whole year.  I’ve tried doing it every year, with more success each year, but am feeling like this year is the best mapped out so far!
  • Assessment tools.  I grade a lot of different things for each grade level at my main school.  I haven’t felt like I’ve done the best job of it, but this summer, I’ve done some research and planning, and am going to grab that bull by the horns.  I plan to include students in the assessment, and be more on top of it throughout the year.

Those are the main things on my  mind.  Of course, there are about 10 other things on my list, decorating my room being another big one. I love pinterest — such great ideas for posters, etc. to encourage creativity!!

I”ll plan to post pictures as mine comes together.  I went last night to measure tables and the room and it seemed so . . . empty.  Can’t wait to work on that blank canvas!!!

What are your big plans for your classroom?

Posted by: keepingthemistakes | July 29, 2013

Art Camp II and Mimicking the Masters

I took lots of photos last week.  The last two classes for the summer were good ones!  I enjoyed them both immensely and hope/think the kids enjoyed them too!

In Mimicking the Masters, we started with get-to-know-you activities and made a sketch book.  We used the sketch book daily to write information about each artist that we learned about.  It was a young class, so I just had them write the artist’s name and birth-death dates.  Below is a slide show of the art we did.  Artists we covered were Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, Henry Moore, Faith Ringgold, and Claude Monet. Can you guess which ones are for which artist?  I owe a debt of gratitude to online lesson plans that have been shared by other art teachers.  If you are a teacher, you know that you tweak them a bit, and make them your own, but they are a great starting point.  I hope other teachers get inspiration from my ideas as well!  This site is especially helpful.  I may have posted it before, I know I’ve pinned it on pinterest.  Great ideas!

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In art camp, we covered a variety of art mediums, from clay to painting to printmaking.  We used the cornstarch-salt clay again, and it was not as successful this time, lots of breakage.  It takes longer to dry than two days.  If we’d have done it on Monday I think we’d have had better luck on painting day. Live and learn!!  I didn’t get any photos of the printmaking.  We did foam prints and gelatin printing.  We cut out things to print rather than using leaves.  It was fun, and I will try it again (maybe at school).  Below are a variety of photos from our week at Art Camp II.

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Posted by: keepingthemistakes | July 22, 2013

Learning a Language

Have you heard of Educents?  It’s an online education sales community that offers regular discounts on educational supplies, books, games and software (probably more).  I had the opportunity to preview a Language Program called “Games for Language”.  It’s an online program that uses a game format to teach you 36 lessons in the language you choose.  It teaches almost 700 practical words, and includes both listening and speaking in it’s teaching methods.

I chose Spanish I, because my main school has a large Spanish speaking population.  I really liked it! The activities were fun and easy to follow, and while they were game-like, I didn’t find them to be too childish.  I think kids would enjoy it too!

Not only do they offer Spanish, but also German, Italian and French.  And, right now they are 43% off at Educents!!  They also offer lots of other cool, discounted educational products!    It’s great for teacher, parents, grandparents, etc.  You should check it out!

Posted by: keepingthemistakes | July 21, 2013

Art Camp I – Post II

I start Art Camp II tomorrow, so don’t want to confuse you myself.

So, my last post ended with the “in-progress” paper mache sculptures.  On Wednesday, we painted our sculptures (or kept working on them, in some cases) and also painted canvas tote bags.  Again, I let them be pretty self-directed, just giving some guidelines and then letting them do t heir thing.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of the completely finished products in the younger class, so some of these are only partially finished!


This is a finished caterpillar (in the back) and a sculpture I”ll talk about later (in the front).


Finished cheetah turned leopard.


Partially finished beast of some sort.  It was SO CUTE when it was all done!


Ball in progress.  Also really cute when done.


Free form sculptures!



I think these were mostly pencil shapes.  I had made a pencil and they followed suit.  They turned out really cute when they were done.




This is jewelry.


Bug in front and . . . no, it’s not a skunk, it’s sunglasses — she attached wire ear pieces, and painted eyes on the white part.  They turned out pretty cute, as well.  And so creative!


Tote bag art, very meticulously made by a 5 year old!


Keepin’ it real — just because I ask them not to make big blobs of paint, doesn’t mean they listen!




Next, we decorated portfolios, mono-printing on mirrors, cut paper collages, paper plate weaving, and pastels (both oil and chalk).  I didn’t take pictures of most of those things, but here are a few pastels from the older class.


130717_0027 130717_0028

Finally, on the last day, I made salt & cornstarch dough, the recipe is here. And we did free sculpting with it.   I also let the older kids do some polymer clay.  The last day is pretty chaotic, gathering up all their work from the week (I have them leave everything there until Friday, so they have it all together to show their families).  Again, I forgot photos on the last day with the littles, so these are the bigger kid’s sculptures.




Cell phone (on the left) and not sure what on the right 🙂


How cute is this kitty on it’s bed?





Butterfly polymer clay.


Polymer clay dog.

Now, onward and upward.  Art Camp II and Mimicking the Masters starts tomorrow.  I also started thinking and planning for school last night.  And away we goooooooooooooooo . . .




Posted by: keepingthemistakes | July 20, 2013

Art Camp

Remember back in May, when I last posted? School was almost over, and summer stretched ahead . . . well, now it’s the middle of July and summer is rapidly <gasp>  drawing to a close. I have had all these big, wonderful plans for the summer. Mapping out my school year, making an awesome art journal/plan book for the year, and now I have FOUR WEEKS until I go back to school. One of them will be spent teaching more rec. art classes, two of them will be spent (at least partially) traveling to the southwest. That leaves me with one week, guys. Of course, I have time each day to do some of the planning, but what about Words with Friends?? If I plan for school, when will I play (and Draw Something 2?).

I made a “to-do” list this morning. It includes the above in addition to the house cleaning that I planned to work on all summer.

Anyway, I digress. This post was to show you about Art Camp, which happened this past week. Earlier in the summer I had two drawing classes, but I forgot to take any photos. I teach summer classes at our local rec. center. Some summers I plan 6 or so weeks of classes. This summer I only planned three weeks, with four classes a day. Every week I have had to cancel 2 classes, due to lack of enrollment. This has actually been ok with me, as it then ends up not taking up my whole day. Next year I’ll probably just plan 2 classes a day.

Ok, for Art Camp, I had classes for two age levels. The first was ages 5-8, the second ages 9-12. The younger class had 10 kiddos, and most of them were 5-6 years old.  The older class had 6 girls, and they were grades 3-8.

On the first day of classes, we always spend some time playing “get to know you” games or making a glyph to tell about ourselves, and making (or decorating, for the younger class) a sketch book. The sketch book then serves to fill the “I’m done” time throughout the week. I learned quickly when I started teaching these classes, that there is always at least one student who is done waaaaaaaaaaaay before anyone else. Also, usually a student who is never done. Early on, I struggled with what to do with those fast artists. A sketch book is a great answer to that issue. I don’t feel like my job is to fill every moment of their time with something new to work on. I plan projects that go with the theme, teach them something new, and fill the time for most kids. Anyway, we make our sketch books using this method, which I learned from a friend and colleague. It’s a fun way to teach them to make a book that stays together with out staples or glue, and it fulfills a need!

Also the first day, we did watercolor resist painting. For the youngers, we used crayon resist, and for the olders, we used rubber cement as friskit. Friskit is so expensive!! Rubber cement is very stinky, and takes some effort to rub off, but it works and is way cheaper!!!


This kiddo was pretty amazing, skillwise.  And sweet too 🙂


This is made by one of my school students.  Fun to have them in summer classes too!


This picture has my feet in it 🙂 (I love rainbows!)


This was the oldest girl in the class.  Quiet and focused.

130717_0012This was one of the youngest.  I love the energy and colors in this!

Day two, we began paper mache.  I LOVE plaster tape.  It doesn’t get quite the same smooth finish as flour paste paper mache, but it is much less messy.  I love it. You can smooth it out if you take your time, which doesn’t seem to happen very often, but we had fun with it, and they came up with some pretty creative sculptures.  I was pretty free with this week — kind of saying “here are the supplies, make something”, which is good, but maybe a little too unstructured for younger kids.  Last year, we all made maracas.  That maybe was TOO structured.  A happy medium will be my goal next time.  But, that being said, they came up with some pretty fun things!


She was very focused on this, and spent a lot of time developing her armature.


She took a day longer than most of the others, but it was well worth her time!


This is a turtle.  I’m really sad that I forgot to take a picture when it was painted, because it turned out really cute.


A box, that started out as a treasure chest, and a caterpillar!

Ok, this is getting long, so I’ll continue it later, and show the end of the week projects.  Suffice it to say, it was a fun week!  Next week is Art Camp II (ages 9-12) and Mimicking the Masters (ages 5-8).  Looking forward to those, too!


Posted by: keepingthemistakes | May 14, 2013

More clay (less agony, more thrill)

This week has been more positive in the clay production.  My third bisque firing was once again successful — no broken pieces!!


Today 2nd graders painted their mammals.  I guess I’m kind of a purist when it comes to clay work — deep down I just think ceramic pieces should be glazed.  But look at how cute these turned out when they painted them!!!  Pretty awesome.


ImageThis is a moose, and I think it is so cool.  Sorry it’s so blurry, but you get the idea. 

ImageRemember the caracal??  Still cute (those are claw marks from a bear, in case you were wondering).



Also, today, 4th graders added color to their greenware coasters.  Last year I successfully fired these once, bisque and glaze all-in-one.  I’m hoping for success with that again this year!  Once they have painted their stamped radial designs, I will put clear glaze on top of them and fire them.  Image

3rd grade will be painting their bowls with the same glazes, but their bowls have been bisque fired (photo above).  I will also put a coat of clear glaze on top of their colorful glazes before firing (in my free time).


ImageI just liked how this looked sitting on the floor after a full day of glazing and painting!  


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