Friday, December 20, 2013

Tis' the season....for cheer, family and relaxation

Happy Holidays!

Check back soon for more lesson plans, reviews and inspirations!
In the mean time, follow my art class on Instagram.  Quick snap shots of our daily activities.
xoxo, SMocK you.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Stuffed Turkeys....

Finding inspiration in a brown paper bag 
(and a little bit from Google)

 One of my challenges throughout the week is coming up with multifaceted projects that stimulate the senses of our special needs students.  I have to admit, I am not a crafty person and often search for inspiration on-line.  I, also, had a lot of brown paper bags and thought to myself, "what can we do with one of these".  So, with a little help and a Google search, I found stuffed turkeys!
I adapted the process for my students and used an assortment of materials.
The results were adorable.
The googly eyes make all the difference.

Happy Thanksgiving!
xoxo, SMocK you.

Friday, November 22, 2013

School Inspiration...

mixed media trees
special needs students celebrate the season

The students painted a warm color background, 
used an air pump to create "blown ink trees", 
glued real leaves and, for a little sparkle, 
sprinkled some glitter....
xoxo, SMocK you.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

School Inspiration....

Family Trees...
works in progress

These are quick snapshots of second graders working independently on their "family trees".  The art room is flipped upside down and students are covered with paint and chalks from head to toe, and I just give them what they need:)  

xoxo, SMocK you.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Mr. Kelly".....1st grade

We are off on a great art adventure in 1st grade.  Following the story of Anna's Art Adventure, the first graders are on the edge of their stools with anticipation, awaiting to see if Anna ever finds the toilet....
because, when you gotta go.....

The first artist we came across creates very simplified paintings, with some very familiar colors and shapes.
Ellsworth Kelly
Minimalist artist, Ellsworth Kelly, became a great jumping off point for the students to learn the primary colors, simple shapes and size variations.

This was a two part project, starting with a basic red, yellow, blue composition painting.  Along with learning our primary colors, I introduced my students to basic painting skills: holding a brush, dipping it into the paint, creating brush strokes (not "coloring"), and slow and steady.  Keeping in mind these little guys and gals are just that, little guys and gals, simplifying the steps is essential.

Red, Yellow, Blue II

I created a game out of this part of the project.  I gave the students small rectangular red, yellow and blue poster board, they moved them around on their paper, deciding which colors go where.
It was fun for them and giving them choices encouraged them to take ownership of their work.

Their mini-Kelly color compositions were simply wonderful.  Most importantly, the students followed a sequence of steps, encouraging their growth as independent learners.

What more can a teacher ask for?

Ellsworth Kelly
Ellsworth Kelly

Part two of the Mr. Kelly exploration was his wonderful drawings of leaves and flowers.  These simple, yet elegant and...perfect, drawings became the start of observational skills.  Using their "Adventure" books, my students practiced drawing the outline of simplified leaves from a worksheet.  (I know, I know a worksheet but the goal here was for students to try to replicate what they saw and for their first time, their eyes needed a little training).

We wanted our leaves to look enormous within the small square and did so by "filling up" most of the space.  The students followed the simple "To Do" list on the board:
1.  Draw leaves with pencil
2.  Trace with black crayon
3.  Use the primary colors to fill in the leaves

When talking about this stage in the project, we looked at some of Mr. Kelly's paintings and drawings that demonstrated organic, enormous "leaves".

The students' goal was to reference their favorite leaf and transfer their image to a larger piece of paper, using the same sequence as they used in their adventure books.  The added component was painting their larger leaves, instead of using markers.  I purposefully chose a square sheet of paper to guide their "copying" skills and help them understand how to "make something look enormous".

Our focus remained on the primary colors, but that idea was just something in the back of their minds, at this point.  They were so independent at this stage.  

The last stage was putting it all together.
Each student needed to prepare their final paintings for display by matting their work onto black construction paper.  My students do this all on their own.  Yes, some are a little crooked, some can't find the middle of anything but it's their work....and they are very proud of it.

This was the first graders' initial attempt at contemporary art....not so bad.

xoxo, SMocK you.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Deconstructing Descending Duchamp...5th grade

A Modern Sense of Motion

Towards the end of last year, I was given a wonderful opportunity to work on a new lesson with my 5th grade students Scholastic Art Magazine.  Among a few options, I chose to focus my lesson on the Armory Show of 1913 and its influence on the 
American perspective of modern art.  How exciting!  
The lesson focused on the featured artist, who shocked the nation with his innovative and striking representation of a nude descending a staircase...Marcel Duchamp.

The goal of the lesson was for my students to gain a greater understanding of the various transformations art and art making throughout the art history timeline, that influences and challenges our perspectives on art and beauty.

For this to happen, I first created a platform for discovery and discussion.  I couldn't, simply, throw Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase, No2, on the board and say "This is what Duchamp did, let's do the same".  
That was not the goal.

The goal was for my students to gain a new perspective on looking, thinking and making art, and that requires some new information.  And, I had to answer my own question, "How do I encourage my students to see in a different way?"  
My answer was based on my response to why the Duchamp's painting and the Armory Show of 1913 was so shocking.  What happened?  
Something "new" happened.  The Armory Show challenged the American viewers' perspective and questioned their  ideas.  And, that was shocking.
To really have my students understand this transformation, we looked at what American artists and viewers were accustomed to and what was presented to them in 1913, ending with Duchamp's painting.

Hands-On Link
While working through our own descending portraits, we focused our efforts on capturing motion through the use of overlapping, repetition and value.  The combination of these elements helped my students achieve a sense of motion in their mixed-media art work. 

Click on the "Hand-On Link" link for the complete lesson!

It was an awesome lesson that really engaged my students.
To be honest, the overlapping lines drove them a little crazy but the end results were really wonderful.

Check out
for additional tips, lessons and teacher resources!

xoxo, SMocK you.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

School Inspiration....

Modern art through the eyes of a 5th grader.

Pablo Picasso, 1939, Untitled

"I like this one better because, you makes you think...because like this can be an orange bowl, or an orange, or a mango.  When you look at just makes you know."--- Jose, 5th grade

I do know.
Welcome to modern art.

xoxo, SMocK you.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Connecting the Dots with Yianna and Helios....3rd grade

a magical adventure of  art, history and just a bit of mystery
My third grade students started their global adventure with an entrance stamp in Mexico!  Equipped with "passports", "travel journals" and curiosity, these great students joined their two friends, Yianna and Helios, on an adventure through ancient lands, rich culture and amazing art.
Our pen-pal friends, Yianna and Helios, magically helped us begin our first continental adventure in North America and the warm and colorful country of Mexico.
Along with its rich history, Mexico provided my students a broader lens towards investigating the world and finding those wonderful little things that make people different....and the same.
We started with a brief email from Yianna and Helios (  They even sent us a package! 
 Then we started with the "mystery" power point presentation.  
Mexico: Celebration of Dia de los Muertos

Our passports became passage into Mexico but, also, our note taking booklets.  Before starting any hands-on projects, we study, research, investigate, observe, question, compare, contrast and wonder about this wonderful new land we are discovering.  Referencing the power point presentation, we divide our focus into two categories: HISTORY and ART.  Our goal is to see the connections of both categories to appreciate and understand the nuances of different cultures and traditions.  At the beginning of the year, I write all the notes on the board, as we discuss what is important to remember in each slide.  As the year progresses, the students pick up the sequence and begin to use their own knowledge and take their own notes. 
 I LOVE SEQUENCES!  The students become so much more independent and critical thinkers.  AWESOME. truly. awesome.
The timing of this lesson played an important factor for the hands-on project.  As October progressed, the focus was to learn about, understand and appreciate other celebration that hold a deeper meaning within a culture. 
 I used "Dia de los Muertos".  Aside from making calaveras, which we did, we really focused on the purpose for this Mexican holiday and its significance for the people celebrating the day.

We made our own "sugar skulls" out of clay.  We sketched ideas and painted with very small brushes. We even ate some pan dulce.   But most importantly, we thought about someone we love....we care about....we miss. 

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xoxo, SMocK you.