Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thank you Art Rocks! Readers

THANK YOU! to all of my regular blog readers and to the visitor's of Elementary Art Rocks!
This blog has been such a blessing. My second website, this blog initially served as a way to not only communicate with parents at the schools where I was teaching but as a way to document my days as an elementary art teacher. Making the shift from a high school to middle school and then to an elementary art teacher was a great experience as I realized how much I loved teaching at every single level.

I am thankful for all of your comments and support over the past several years.
Here are some cool facts about this blog!

As of today, we are at 349,832 page views!
10,000 visitor's just last month!
Almost 300 posts!

And what's interesting for me is what the most popular posts have been. These posts, when I see them on Google searches or Pinterest, my heart always skips a beat. I am thankful that these posts have been helpful to other art teachers over the past several years.


Written in 2011: SNEAK PEEK at ART ROOM MURAL

Written in 2013: GRADE 1 MONET BRIDGES

Written in 2011: MONSTER MAMA (Art and Literature)

Not a top post but....
Year 2012: BIRCH TREES
This is a lesson that I saw online and was inspired to modify and use in 2012. I've seen this project soooo many times now but the results are consistently great and an example of how some lessons are oldies but goodies.

 T H A N K    Y O U   to everyone for visiting and I hope the next few years supply you with new ideas and inspiration to try something new or reinvent something old.

Happy Thinksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Each day as I enter school, I feel excited and appreciative for another day of doing what I love. There is always something new happening or a new way of looking at things in front of me.
One thing that happened recently was an old thing seen through new lenses. 
We were using glitter in second grade to create jewels for our Tree of Life inspired paintings. The kids had drawn their shapes and were filling them in carefully and so happily using glue. Their little fingers were being careful to pinch glitter and sprinkle the colors of their choosing in the areas that they wanted to make the most unique and beautiful jewels for their trees. 

Something seemingly so simple had their attention and interest for an hour- and they could have gone longer. 
We chatted about birthstones and they were intrigued by the concept of a precious stone to represent their birth month. 
As an adult, it's a great reminder to appreciate the view of this world through a child's eyes. There is so much that can be taken for granted... Like the excitement for glitter and birthstones. 

In the same class period, when it was time to begin cleaning up, using our mini brooms was the best option for cleaning the glitter.

Every art teacher knows the allure of a few token clean up tools... Mini brooms are high on the list. 

It wasn't the mini brooms that stopped me for a moment but the care and ownership that my boys put into the clean-up. Oh, and these kids were sweeping every single piece of glitter on the tables and floors AND having meaningful conversations about the best procedures for sweeping. How could I forget how much the kids loved the mini brooms??! Well, we don't need them often, that's why. Easy to forget.
As I stood there watching them, I thought of new ways to inspire clean-up for my Friday Art Enrichment class that has 11 boys and 6 girls. By the time we roll around to clean-up, their minds have moved to "what's next".... meaning, "what am I doing once I go home".
With my Thursday group where I have 20 girls, clean-up has barely any challenges at all.
So, with the inspiration of my 2nd grade boys and the mini brooms as inspiration, I decided to think much simpler and created individual tasks for them to complete in order to leave for the day. Individual jobs is the key. Table jobs at the end of the day are worthless. 
I appreciate the moments in which I learn from students how to be a better teacher and the opportunity to thank my students for inspiring me on so many levels. In this case, my students reminded me of something that I forgot and the reminder allowed for a new and better clean-up structure for an after-school class.

Just some random thoughts for this beautiful day...

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Grades 3, 4 & 5: Op Art

We enjoyed exploring Op Art as our first project this school year in these three classic projects. We viewed the work of Victor Vasserly (the 'Father' of the Op Art movement) and the mesmerizing designs by Bridget Riley. 

The kids were really into it and we could have viewed images on the Epson for much longer. 
Speaking of the Epson. This past summer, the art room changed drastically. The wall space that housed the SmartBoard that I have been fortunate to have for all these years was finally replaced, at my request a couple years ago, with an Epson projector and new dry erase board. The span of white board space now spans over 15 feet. The once cumbersome SmartBoard and wasteful wall space that it took up is now a clean and fantastic wall of instructional space that we use every single class period of every single day. We have always utilized the carpet space and SmartBoard but not to this degree. It's fantastic. Everything looks brighter.

Back to the Op Art. So we are viewing these incredible illusions and the kids could feel immediately what I was saying about Op artists trying to irritate their viewers eyes. Some of the illusions of the high contrast designs gave us headaches! In all of them we saw lines and patterns used to show movement and dimension. 

On the left of the white board I keep samples related to grade 3,4,5 projects and to the right are grades k,1,2. Closer to the door I have another board that has all of our current projects hanging along with objectives(not viewable in this picture taken in Sept, will post in the future). The kids see what Op art projects are planned for the other grades and ask if they can try the other illusions. 
So basically, 4th and 5th graders chose between the converging cones and the checkered spheres and grade 3 did hands and a few requested to try out the spheres. 

I am really proud of the results. The hands ended up being the most difficult of all. Each project required the use of a ruler, patterns, precision and planning. The STEM classes enjoyed these projects for their mathematical connections. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

It's Voting Time!

Over 30 entries this year for our annual yearbook cover contest! 
The 5th graders who chose to participate made quite a display with their colorful designs. 
Voting will be done with homeroom teachers and concludes on Monday.
 Mr. Turnbull will announce the winner next week. Here are the majority of entries:

Art Enrichment: Visit to the Princeton Art Museum

Last week on Tuesday, we visited the Princeton University Art Museum. It was a fantastic and fun trip for the forty of us! We had nice, small group tours with the knowledgeable docents when we arrived. We viewed the American art collection and saw European art by Monet and VanGogh. In my group, our docent Martine Elefson, was so warm and kind. She asked really great questions about art production and inspiration. Here we are looking at Monet's "Japanese Bridge/Water Lily Pond". I was thrilled to see this painting and many students could identify it from our 1st grade Monet projects!

Andy Warhol was the first American painter who we viewed work from. My group was interested to hear about how Warhol had so many people creating his artwork for him. Everyone had seen Marilyn's famous face before.

The brushstroke on Monet's poplars required further inspection. I enjoyed inspecting the gorgeous frames that were around all of the paintings.

Here's our lovely docent Martine showing the 5th graders the Japanese Bridge painted during different seasons. Monet painted over 20!

One of my favorite parts of the trip was stopping by the Fountain of Freedom before heading off to House of Cupcakes for a treat. Look at these kids-aren't they great? I'm trying not to think about how much I'll miss them next year since it's only October... But I will!! It's a cycle I am learning to deal with teaching on the elementary level. Teach them, love them, cry when they go. This is my 6th year on the elementary level so hopefully I'm getting better? Hardly.

And one last picture from the morning tour looking at American sculpture.

The Princeton University Art Museum is a gem. If you're local to Princeton and have time to stop by, it's really a great place to visit. 

Thank you to all of the chaperones who made this trip possible- you're incredible!!

Friday, October 9, 2015

A Palette of Pixels: The Evolving Art of Video Games

An exhibition exploring video games as a medium of artistic expression and communication over more than three decades. Featured games include The Banner Saga, The Dream Machine, FLOMM!,
Flower, God of War, Journey, Katamari Damacy, Metamorphabet, NaissanceE, Okami, Passage, Spate, and more.


Exhibition Opening Reception

Free and open to the public


Friday, October 30, 12:30 p.m., Mayo Concert Hall, Music Building


Friday, October 30, 8 p.m. Kendall Main Stage Theater

Art Gallery Information

Hours: TuesdayWednesday, and Thursday 12–7 p.m. and Sunday 1–3 p.m.
The College of New Jersey
AIMM Building

 image: Jenova Chen, thatgamecompany, Journey, 2012

Saturday, October 3, 2015

An Awesome Share!

At the end of Art Enrichment on Thursday, we got a special treat. Leah's mom had a special tube under her arm with canvas prints of Perry Milou's.
With the sun setting in the background and my class huddled around to see the art, it felt like a more perfect day than it already was. 

The Art Enrichment classes began drawing and painting their landscapes. There were moments in both classes where my students were so intensely focused that you could hear a pin drop. I left for the weekend feeling energized and excited for next week. I literally can't wait to get back to these landscapes. I understand how the kids feel. To be separated from a project for an entire week feels criminal.

With the weather being what it is today (damp and windy), I am taking the time to do barely anything whatsoever beyond celebrating the end of hectic September. 
We have developed our rhythm in my classes and it feels great to be easing into our second and third projects.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Random Mumble: Great way to start the week!

What a perfect way to begin the week. Balancing on my door handle this morning was a note with my "name" on it. Immediately curious, I hurried in to see what it could be. 

Inside of the envelope was this note:

So I carefully cut the taped seams with thoughts of what could be inside... A special piece of string or paper found over the weekend, a drawing made on a wrapper?!
Inside was a little origami fortune teller made from a post-it note!

I carefully unfolded it and held it in my hand cherishing it like the little jewel that it is. Oh! I have the most thoughtful students!

The 4th graders made fortune tellers during Spanish class with Señora Morrison. I'm thinking the origami skills are attributed to Señora's lesson. I am just happy at the thoughtful Monday gesture. 

Random Mumble: The Little Things in Life

We got a delivery to the art room this week. Mrs. Nami in the Main Office brought down a plastic box with "Joslyn Johnson Bear Tavern" written across the lid.
I opened it up in front of my class and showed them what was inside. It was filled with a couple of things but the huge excitement was for the fake fruit that filled the majority of the container and the cool note laying on top.

I can't even tell you how excited we were to receive the fake fruit from Mrs. Cariola, Art Teacher extraordinaire from the middle school. I pretended to eat some of the apples and squeeze some lemon and lime juice on the kids before we moved back to our lesson.
I am so appreciative for this batch of fruit to complement a lackluster existing supply. Sometimes it's the little things in life that make all the difference. We will be able to make better physical connections to our still life paintings with these fabulous props.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Kindergarten: Exploring Mondrian

This year, I am welcoming kindergarteners to the art room on a regular basis! It's an exciting change and we have a busy and productive year ahead of us. We just completed our first abstract composition! We discussed the colors, lines and shapes that we saw in Dutch Painter, Piet Mondrian's paintings. Focusing on his Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Gray, and Blue (1921) we made some great observations. 
They worked on cutting shapes from construction paper, gluing shapes and then adding black lines to their compositions in a creative way. Lots and lots to do with my two groups of 23! We began to re-create the definitive abstract compositions for which Mondrian is best known in our own way. Mondrian limited his palette to white, black, gray, and the three primary colors, with the composition constructed from thick, black horizontal and vertical lines that delineated the outlines of the various rectangles of color or reserve.

I was able to observe what skills my newest students possess and get a preliminary feeling for who they are as young artists. Stay tuned for more K artwork!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Pop Art, Pope Francis and Perry Milou

One of my 5th graders shared with me that her cousin was commissioned to create a painting of Pope Francis. Of course I asked if it was her famous, Philadelphia based cousin, Perry Milou who she has mentioned to me over the years.

How exciting! She brought in a print (below of Pope Francis with the art museum in the background) the next day and I felt so happy to see his amazing work and it's connection to this historical first visit of Pope Francis to The United States. Regardless of religious affiliation, this visit has been impactful in numerous ways to those of us living in this area. See the beautiful cathedrals on television and seeing fine art connections has been fabulous.

A Pop artist, Milou has depicted countless famous faces with his rich palette. His "Faces" collection of Pope Francis can be viewed on his website. There is a nice video towards the top of his site that talks about how this collection was a perfect match as he realizes so many personal connections to the Pope and his visit to Philly.

I am truly thankful to my student for keeping me up to date on some amazing local art that is being created and influencing the world. Milou's paintings are quite special. 

All images are from

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Yearbook Cover Contest!

Fifth graders, It's your time to design a cover for our yearbook cover contest!!
I know you're so excited.
Check your email for information. Below are a few photos from past yearbook covers to use as a reference. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Fantastic Tots on Tour!

Today's Tots on Tour class goes down as one of my very favorites. And let me tell you, I needed it to be! I've been so happy to be back to school and seeing my elementary students but like the majority of teachers, I've been exhausted!!! 

September presents so many tasks to organize and new systems to learn. 
As I drove up 295 this morning it was beyond foggy. As I entered Hamilton, the sun took over and the rest of the day was  energy packed, creative and fun.
Today's focus was Monet and water lilies. After reading a great book "Where's the Frog" and taking a nice walk over to the Japanese Bridge, we created clay water lily pads and flowers. I created this lesson so simply and am excited to modify it for different ages. 

There's something about those first clay projects that melts my heart. Each year when I blog about pinch pots with first graders, it's the same thing. Being able to facilitate art experiences for young people that are meaningful and rewarding is what I love. Today was such a great day because the excitement and energy and precious moments that my two Tots groups expressed reminded me of everything important as an Arts Educator.