As this year comes to an end, I wish you lots of laughter, love and blessings in the new year!
Thank you for supporting my lil blog and TpT store!
It's been a great year!
You know me- I'm not one to pass up a good party ya'll.
So let's rewind, shall we?
Here's my top 13 memories of no particular order.
Ringing in 2013 in Puerto Rico with my hubby and fam!
Our trip to Colorado & Wyoming- so gorge ya'll!
Buying our first home is a top memory, for sure!
The jury is still out on the renovation part of it all...ha.
Starting a new and crazy job adventure in the art room!
Completing my first 5K {ColorMeRad}
Celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary!
Seeing my little brother & step-sister win the marching band state championship- so proud!
Completing my 2nd 5K {Neon Run}
Having my maid of honor and 2012 Olympic Gold medalist present at my school's PD.
Saying goodbye to 2 pant sizes!
Going home for Thanksgiving!
There's not much that compares with my grandma's cookin'.
 Enjoying weekend adventures with my hubby!
Decorating {and re-decorating} our first home for Christmas!
What a year...I can't wait to see what's next.
Cheers to 2014!
May the new year bring you and yours health and blessings in abundance!
I promised I would return with our 3rd and 4th grade coral reefs!
I first saw this idea over at K-6 Art and!
There's something about the ocean that simply seems to captivate children.
This was such a fun project- for all of us!
We spent a whole class just looking at different pictures and talking about the creatures that live in and around reefs. This was a perfect opportunity to discuss and clarify misconceptions about the ocean floor! So many kids wanted to add whales and dolphins to their projects so I'd highly recommend you discuss what does and doesn't actually live in or on a reef.
Here's a few inspirational pictures I took during my last visit to the aquarium.
This helped the kids visualize and focus their ideas.
We talked a lot about form, space and balance before getting our hands dirty.
The kids had a blast experimenting with different ways to create their coral pieces.
Here's how we did it.
We began by breaking the sphere into two fairly equal pieces.
With one half, they made basic pinch pots- turned them upside down and stuffed them with newspaper for support.
The other half was used to create decorative pieces such as tube coral, sea enemies, star fish and barnacles.
If the attached pieces were small, the kids just used white vinegar and that held up well. 
However, if your kid's pieces are large then I'd recommend scoring and using slip to attach.
 I fired the clay on a slow setting after 3 days of dry time.
It took us 4 classes: 1 to discuss, introduce and research coral reefs, 2 days to create the piece and 1 final day to paint & seal with ModPodge.
The final products are beautiful and the kids are so proud!
I'll definitely be keeping this project on my lesson plans for next year!
Hey ya'll- long time no see, right?
I've been knee deep in clay.
I got this crazy idea to start clay projects with every class and grade level following our Thanksgiving break.
Like I said... it was a crazy idea.
But, I'm still alive for now and here to share a few tips and tricks that have made my life a bit easier the past couple weeks.
So many teachers dread clay projects in the art room- and for good reason. It's messy, it's time consuming and every last kid wants one-on-one help. Don't even get me started on glazing and firing.
Oiy- and names! You can never read the names. 
Let's just say it's a big undertaking ya'll.
I use Amaco Low-Fire Earthenware for my 3rd-5th graders but for my little guys I use Amaco air-dry clay. This way I only have to fire half the school, plus, for me it's about the product for my older kids and the process for my little ones.
Today I'll share my secrets to working with air-dry.
If you don't have a kiln- this is a great product!!
First off- let me tell ya about the best darn invention since sliced bread.
It's the multi-slab cutter.
So many teachers spend countless hours prepping clay slabs- cutting, layering, resealing.  
No more my friends!
If you don't own a multi-slab cutter- you need one!
With one slice, the entire bag of clay is cut into perfect quarter inch slabs.
It's genius I tell ya!
Just make sure you clean it well- it's known to rust!
This year, I decided to have a "clay party" afterschool and my sweet teacher friends helped me roll and bag up all my clay.
 I prepped 20 spheres into gallon bags so it was ready to go for each class.
That was a big time saver!
I gave each student one ball of clay and they got to work building their snowman.
We used carving tools to add eyes, buttons and mouth details.
Just like earthenware- we used slip to adhere the nose and scarf.
Most of the kids made holes on the sides to put sticks for arms later.
Here's a tip for slip- add a little vinegar with the water mixture!
It breaks down the clay faster and seems to hold stronger with air-dry clay.
The snowmen took a couple days to dry and then we used liquid tempura to paint. As a finishing touch, the snowmen were dipped into glossy ModPodge to add a touch of sheen.
This is a great substitute for clear glaze!
You can hardly tell the difference!
I'll be back soon to share how our ceramic coral reefs turned out for my 3rd and 4th graders!
Stay tuned.
I'll leave you with my latest clay creation!
Each Christmas the hubs and I add an ornament to our tree that represents that year.
Here's this year's.
I'm excited to get some color on it!
Have a fab week friends!
I've been waiting super patiently to do a project with black paint and this was my chance!

Black glue
Black Crayon or Marker
Paint (warm & cool colors)

After drawing out a basic sketch of a landscape to include a foreground, middle ground and background image with a black crayon or permanent marker, my 3rd, 4th and 5th graders were ready to paint.
Side note: I do not recommend using a pencil for the sketch- it only encourages erasers and perfectionists and nobody's got time for that!
To start, I only gave the kids red and yellow paint.
They mixed directly on their papers to create different hues of warm colors.
For the cool colors, I gave them blue, green and purple.
Since we were short on time, I needed to speed up the process.
You could just give your classes primary colors and let them mix everything.
My kids just get lost in the beauty of color mixing and would spend the whole class on the same part of their painting if I let them- so I narrowed the mixing fun it to just the warm colors this time.
Once they completed their paintings, they were set to dry until the next class.
Then came the part I was waiting for!
I've seen it all over Pinterest and couldn't wait to give it a shot.
Here's how I did it.
They simply traced over their original sketch with the black glue.
It really gave the painting a finished look.
Disclaimer: Large paintings (12x18) will come with a few complaints of cramping hands....
I told them they're building hand muscles just in time for state writing tests.
If you don't have state essays, you may want to use smaller paper. ;)
These make me smile!
The kids LOVED how the glue dried to a shiny rubber like texture.
So darn cool!

If you follow me on Instagram then you know I've been battling a cold all week.
No fun for sure.
So instead of making sub plans- which are way too much work when your head is congested- I did what all good teachers do...I hit the internet in search of an easy back up plan.
My kids LOVE, LOVE, LOVE directed drawings!
Do yours?
There seems to be great debate among art teachers over this concept.
But I gotta tell ya'll- it leaves my kiddos with a sense of success and accomplishment when they have a drawing of a scarecrow that looks like a scarecrow instead of a heap of hay.
And when you've got tissues in one hand a pounding headache- finding the perfect fall themed directed drawing tutorial on Youtube is priceless. is packed full of these fab videos and step by step tutorials!
You should check it out!
It saved this teacher's cracking voice for sure.
My 1st and 2nd graders drew the cutest scarecrows and cornucopias just in time for Thanksgiving!
My first graders used crayons instead of paint- I just didn't have the energy for mess with the babies.
They didn't seem to mind- crayons are fun too!
These drawings were quick, easy, and the kids really loved 'em.
I was just happy to survive the week ;)
Now I'm back to the couch with my tissues in hand- wishing that Starbucks could deliver.

Happy Saturday sweet friends!
As soon as I found out that I was going to be teaching art this year, I began getting excited for this project.
It's one I remember doing in my elementary school art room many years ago!
It's a favorite of mine and my third graders did not disappoint!
You could use a variety of mediums for this project- this year, we used liquid tempura and oil pastel but I think next year, I'll use painted paper to switch things up and see how that goes!
So many possibilities and so little time!
But I digress.
We started off this project, like I do with the majority of my classes- front loading information and pulling out schema to get the kids in the "art state of mind". We used BrainPop Jr. to watch a short video about Vincent Van Gogh and impressionism painting. We also had a wonderful discussion about how colors can emulate feelings and emotions for both the artist and the viewer.
We did a quick directed drawing with a light colored crayon.
I like to use crayon because it encourages small hands to draw big plus any mistakes can be easily painted over.
Students used liquid tempura to paint in short strokes and they really enjoyed color mixing directly on their paper.
The problem with fun painting projects is that kids end up more engaged in mixing colors than completing the actual painting. Some of the kids had a ball just painting their vase one color and then completely painting over it another color. The artist in my gets so excited to see the kids experimenting with color- but the control freak in me panics because we're on my self-inflicted pacing guide folks and there's no time to waste- chop, chop kids.

Then I count to ten, take a deep breathe and remind myself that our kids haven't had art class in many years- playing with paint is part of the discovery process.

Then I repeat: count to ten, deep breathe....

You get the picture.
Once their completed paintings were dry (4 classes later) - students used brown or black oil pastel to outline and add definition to their vase and flower petals. This small touch really added definition!

I think they turned out really great for our first Van Gogh adventure!
PTL it's Friday ya'll!  
Even though Halloween is over, doesn't mean that you can't continue to celebrate fall in your art classes!
This week my kinder and first grade groups created the cutest little pumpkins ya'll!
If you're looking for a quick, fun and easy science integration activity- then you may want to consider adding this one to your list of fall projects.
We watched a quick Youtube video about the life cycle of a pumpkin and then I read them this Common Core text exemplar to get their minds packed full of non-fiction goodness!
Product Image

We started our project with a directed drawing of a very basic pumpkin. I don't always recommend directed drawings for your youngest kiddos- but this one was simple enough that I knew it would be achievable for even the littlest of hands.

We used 9x12 manila construction paper. I don't usually use this type of paper for paintings because it's so thin- but because I have a TON of it stock piled and the paper color matched the seasonal theme, I decided to roll with it.

They drew out their pumpkin with crayon. 
Crayon seems to force children to draw large and I wanted them to fill their whole paper. 
Big is beautiful- that's my motto.

I put only orange paint out first- little people need one step at a time.
Call me crazy but I let them finger paint their pumpkins. 
You could use a paintbrush as well- but I find that little hands move slower with a paintbrush so we opted for gooey fingers. 

When the kids came back for their next class, we used small paint brushes to trace their crayon lines with brown tempura paint. We used green finger paint for the grass. After lots of discussion about ordinal words and where grass grows, I still ended up with a few kinder babies painting grass above the pumpkin...I'm still learning to let go and let art be art.

I think they turned out absolutely precious!
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