"Mama" by my daughter age 3

Monday, April 21, 2014

Art Careers! Taxidermy

One of the standards from the 5th grade art curriculum is learning about art careers. I had an artist in resident earlier this year, but never in my career did I think that I would have a taxidermist in my classroom, let alone have a mounted deer temporarily housed in my art room.

At my school we have been lucky enough to have a wonderful long term sub custodian, Jesse Lewis, while our regular custodian has been out most of the year for a shoulder surgery/recovery. Jesse is a custodian by day, and artist/taxidermist by night (and weekends, seriously I don't when he sleeps).
He owns his taxidermy shop called High, Wet and Wild LLC in downtown Green Bay, WI.

After getting to know Jesse and talking about his business I learned a whole lot about taxidermy that I didn't know before. I had no idea all the sculpting and painting that goes into it. After Jesse saw that I had an artist come in for my classes in February, he expressed interest about some day being able to teach what he knows in a classroom. So I thought, hey, why not give it a try now! 5th graders need to learn about different art careers. That's how this all began!

So last Wednesday I get to school and walk into my classroom and find it transformed. There were mounted animals, fish forms, bear skulls, teeth, and hides all over my room. Jesse outdid himself in presentation alone! When he was teaching the 5th grade classes he did a great job on talking about the ethics of hunting, because not everyone is into hunting. He also talked about his struggle with academics when he was in school. He was in special education up until high school- and art class was what got him through school. He loved art- painting, drawing, it's what made him want to go to school.

He talked to the students about all the different parts of his business- the art side and the business side. He did an airbrush painting demonstration of a fish and even let the kids do some of the detail work. What I really loved about his talk was how he covered the business end of being an artist. He incorporated math into his talk, telling the students how he uses math to calculate his costs of running his shop and negotiating his prices. And also how you need to have communication/ people skills when dealing with customers.

It was a great experience, and am so thankful that Jesse took time out of his busy day to talk with my 5th graders.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Artist In Resident Kirsten Christianson

My school was lucky enough to have paper making artist Kirsten Christianson working with all the art classes for one week in February.
Kirsten is based out of Sturgeon Bay, WI and creates artwork using handmade paper. The theme for our art project was "snow falling on branches". The kids loved it and was amazing to hear the discussions with Kirsten about her career as an artist!

Robert Indiana


2nd graders learned about the artist Robert Indiana through a Power Point Presentation.
Robert Indiana’s artwork is inspired by poetry, road signs, letters, and numbers.
Students learned how to draw block letters. Students reviewed how to make a pattern. Students also learned how to create contrast in their black and white patterns. Students used only black marker to make patterns inside the block letters, and colored markers to decorate with colors and patterns around the letters.

Keith Haring Foil Figures

Students learned about Pop/ Graffiti artist Keith Haring. Here is a great video to show your students all of his different art work.


Learning targets for this project were: I can create a 3d figure from foil. I can create a neat pattern (on scratch paper).


Hundertwasser (1928 – 2000) is considered to be one of the most important artists to have emerged from Europe since the end of World War II. As a painter and an architect, Hundertwasser rejected the “straight line” in any of his projects.  The “spiral” dominates the flow of his paintings. 
Students created a brightly colored patterned background using oil pastel. Next they created Hundertwasser’s beloved SPIRAL using glue and yarn. They did a great job. The learning targets for this project were:
I can create/color a pattern neatly.
I can glue with control.
They turned out great!

Monster Drawings

1st and 5th graders both read the story I Need My Monster.  We discussed what makes a monster scary. We looked at lots of examples from the story at all the details that make up a good monster.
1st graders drew a monster from their imagination. They then traced it in Sharpie and neatly colored it in with crayon and colored pencil. Their learning target for their drawing was I CAN DRAW A MONSTER THAT FILLS MY PAPER and I CAN COLOR NEATLY AND WITH CONTROL.
5th graders then each got a 1st grade monster and had to re-draw it with 5th grade drawing expectations: drawing large, turning lines into shapes, coloring in the same direction, adding more details.
This was a really fun project! The 5th graders loved re-drawing the monsters! It was great to see how far drawing skills progress in just 5 short years. Great job 1st and 5th graders!

Anansi The Spider

2nd graders watched a short video about African culture and what it is like for a child to grow up in Africa. They learned about some of the everyday routines of African children, like going to school, helping with animals and crops, getting water for their families, and of course playing. They are in many ways very similar to the lifestyle that they lead.
We then read the African folk tale Anansi the Spider.  This story has been passed down for generations by the Ashanti people, who live in Ghana, Africa.
2nd graders first drew the spider web using a hexagon tracer for the center of the web, and a ruler for all the connecting lines. They then added patterns inside the web. Next they made Anansi using construction paper and cutting various shapes to make the spider form. They did a great job!
Learning Targets for this project were:

I can use a ruler to draw a straight line.

I can cut shapes from construction paper.

I can have glue control.

Kente Cloth

First graders watched a short video about African culture and what it is like for a child to grow up in Africa. They learned about some of the everyday routines of African children, like going to school, helping with animals and crops, getting water for their families, and of course playing. They are in many ways very similar to the lifestyle that they lead.
First graders learned about Kente cloth. Kente cloth has its origin with the Ashanti Kingdom, and was adopted by people in the Ivory Coast and many other West African counties. It is royal and sacred cloth worn only in times of extreme importance and was the cloth of kings. Over time, the use of kente became more widespread. However, its importance has remained and it is held in high esteem with African people.
The students looked at several examples of kente cloth. The students observed that they are brightly colored, have patterns using lines and shapes, and are beautiful.
First graders created their Kente cloth design using construction paper. Their learning targets were:
I can cut a straight smooth shape with no jagged edges.

I can glue my paper shapes with control by using the correct amount of glue.

Circle Weavings