Friday, October 24, 2014

Leaf Man Nature Collages

The beautiful fall colors are fading away up here in New Hampshire (since we've had days of rain and wind), but I wanted to share one of my favorite art projects to do with kids of all ages: "Leaf People (or Leaf Critters)" made with elements from a nature walk and inspired by Lois Ehlert's book, "Leaf Man."

My teacher followers might say, "YAWN. Seen it before." And you are right, but kiddos from Pre-K to 4th like doing this project and every time they do it, their pieces get more and more sophisticated. Also, their observations of the natural elements develop the older they get. What a great link to literature and science!

Here's the "Leaf Man"Book.
Another book by Ehlert that is also perfect
for this time of year is "Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf" as well...

My after-school kiddos were stuck inside due to rain, so I was responsible for gathering materials for this project. Ideally, I like to take students outside to gather/discuss leaves and seeds. Either way, it pays to have some teacher-supplied elements so that everyone isn't using the same shape leaf in their pieces. I collected about 15 different types of leaves, some twigs, acorns, and maple tree "helicopter" seeds, but I bet you could find even more than that given a little time. Collect the leaves right before you plan to use them since you want them to be pliable and not crispy.

Here's the abbreviated timeline for the project:

  1. Read the book "Leaf Man." How did the Illustrator, Ms. Ehlert, use natural materials such as leaves to make animals, insects, and people?
  2. Talk about background. Notice the backgrounds in the book--how are they made? Are they all the same?
  3. Show the students how to tear a piece of scrapbook paper in half in an interesting way. Now we have two pieces of paper. They can be layered this way (demonstrate) to create different types of backgrounds: a lake with mountains in the back, etc. Trade one of your pieces with someone in the classroom and practice making different backgrounds until you get one that you like.
  4. Glue down the background pieces onto a third piece of scrapbook paper using a glue stick.
  5. Create a leaf person, a leaf critter or both on your background. Don't glue the nature pieces down right away--try out different leaves and seeds. When you are happy, then glue it down using goopy glue (Elmer's glue). I had eyeball stickers on hand for them to add as well--the kids like that! But you could use googly eyes, draw the eyes using a Sharpie, or only use natural elements like Ehlert does.
  6. Let dry and enjoy!!
Here are some examples from class:

Did you know: The leaves used on the illustrations of "Leaf Man" were collected all over the U.S. by Ehlert and friends and color photocopied to retain their beautiful colors until she could create the illustrations for the book. What a great way to preserve the leaves--I wouldn't have thought of that!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Using Thinglink to Think about Social Studies and Art...

Here's another image I made using (I'm a little obsessed with it!). I thought I'd make an example to show how it could be used for a flipped classroom situation or as a hook to get students thinking and writing about Social Studies

You could create a clickable image and keep it private on Thinglink--that means that only people who have the link can see it. You could have your students log in, check out the image (watch videos, visit websites you link to the image, etc.) and then leave comments below the image. What a great way to get them interested in a subject and breathe life into a stuffy textbook.


Look at this image. BEFORE you click on the links, think about what you see. What is going on here? What are these people doing? How do they feel?

Now, click on the image and explore the links to find more information...

After exploring, write a comment below this blogpost about what YOU think this image is about (at least two sentences). Be prepared to discuss...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Integrating the Arts and Technology Palette: Just the Beginning!

Yesterday, I gave a talk to the Integrated Arts students at Plymouth State University about using technology in their fabulous Integrated Arts lessons. What a great bunch of students--so creative and smart! It was so fun sharing with them.

I focused on mobile apps and websites they could use to search for lesson, plan lessons, but also have students use to learn, document and create. Below, is the image from my talk. It makes more sense when I'm explaining it (I think), but it has some wonderful resources I believe you will love to explore.

The image was made by me in Illustrator (you may recognize the creative brain from my "21st Century Skills" art poster seen elsewhere in my blog). Once the image and subjects were on the image, I imported it into and added the clickable buttons. What I like about creating images like this is that all of the resources I needed for my talk are right here. I just opened up the image during the presentation and used it. I had also sent the link to all of the students prior to the talk and they had the images on their computers as well so they could follow along with me. This was great since it took seconds for them to get to websites and videos I wanted them to explore. And they can keep this image for future reference!

So check it out and see if there's something here that gets you thinking about a new way YOU could use technology in your lessons...let me know what you think up--I love to hear. Also, if you already use technology in your classroom (art classroom or not) let me know what you do and I can share it with the students.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Creativity Isn't Dead!

Thank you so much to all of the parents who came out the week before school to attend my workshop on creativity--Reimagining Creativity: Building Creative Confidence in Your Kids!

First off, all of these people are incredibly brave! I described what we would be doing in the emails I sent out, but I was deliberately vague--I didn't want to spoil the fun we'd be having or have people feel it was going to go a particular way since I wanted to leave a bit of wiggle room so that I could adapt the workshop to what the attendees needed.

All of the attendees knew me and knew I am an art teacher, so there was some intimidation that they'd be making art in front of me and others (whom they did not know). They were afraid they'd be judged! How scary is that!? But they showed up anyway!

We did create some art, but that is because sharing art is how I express myself creatively. The main goal was to get the grownups thinking about how THEY are creative (everyone is, you know!) and how THEY could apply that creativity in their lives and in their homes, jobs, etc.

It was a success, and I can't wait to hear how these parents use the insight they gained in their lives with their kiddos.

Here's what some attendees said:

"What a wonderful evening!  Thank you!  I know you think I came for you… & I did… but I came to learn too, because I know you have so much to offer.  As you know, I don't consider myself 'artsy,' but from you I learned that is not the same as 'creative.'  Thank you."--P.D., Merrimack, NH

"Tonight was so great! Thank you for putting this together!"--J.M., Pepperell, MA.

"Excellent job tonight! It was so much fun! I am so glad I know you. Thank you so much."--S.H., Amherst, NH
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