Wednesday, September 1, 2010


So here we are in September. The kids are beginning to hit their stride for the year, and I'm finally breathing after the rush to get things rolling. Our district has a new initiative to "teach with urgency" and pretty's stressing me out. I was already teaching with urgency but now I've stepped up my game and it barely leaves time for potty breaks. I've re-done my entire curriculum and here are some examples (made by me) of projects the kids are working on now.

Above:5th Grade's Op-Art Inspired Intensity and Value study using complimentary colors. Colored pencil, sharpie. Stippling added as a challenge for the students who want to do something extra.

Last year's 5th grade probably would not have enjoyed this style of drawing, because they were the type who hated to use rulers. This year's group typically are more detail-oriented, and get a kick out of drawing precisely.

Above: 2nd Grade's Keith Haring Inspired drawing, using lines to create pattern. I'd never introduced Haring as an inspiration artist with elementary students, but I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me before. They LOVE him! They are interested in his whole life, and I try to be honest with them without giving too much detail. The 2nd graders are just adoring this cartoon style.

Above: 4th Grade's Contour Line Monotype, Inspired by Egon Schiele. Detail added with sharpie and colored pencils. These kids are using regular watercolor markers to draw on large mirror tiles I bought at Lowe's. (The portrait mirrors from the catalog were WAY too pricey) Then, after wetting a piece of drawing paper slightly, they press the paper onto the mirror and pull off a print of the image. Some of them come out as good likenesses, and some are still what I call "schema" or cartoony simplified versions of faces that look nothing like the kid. We are trying to focus on proportion, since in 2nd grade this group did a self portrait drawing with correct spacing of facial features, and they are familiar with correct proportions. Egon Scheile as an inspiration was sort of added on, as I had to tie this in with Europe. But the kids seemed to enjoy seeing his works (the few that weren't nudes) and it got them thinking about how expressive a line can be. We're also using his style of only painting in a few places on the figure to create emphasis.

My budget was cut this year, but not as significantly as I expected, so I think I will be ok on most supplies. Some fundraisers may be needed later in the year though. I wonder if any other teachers out there have a preferece for colored pencils in elementary. I've ordered the Crayola Twistables, because sharpening is such a stinkin' pain, and I've only got one good electric sharpener. The hand held sharpeners do OK, but the kids prefer the electric I suppose. I haven't gotten that Twisable set yet, but I hope it's worth the price tag. I also am using Mr. Sketch scented markers exclusively now. The thin-tipped scented "Stix" are great as well. And you know what? I thought the scents would be a huge distraction, but it actually makes the kids WANT to draw more. And I am definitely ok with that. :)

I'll post more examples of projects and maybe some student work as they come along!


  1. What a great lesson! I did not have the watercolor markers so I used washable markers and it turned out great. Thank you!

  2. Watercolor markers are any markers which are water-based. So, not permanent markers or dry-erase. But good ol' Crayolas.

  3. What a wonderful idea! Can't wait to try it with my students next week. Just a quick question- how did you wet down your paper? I've tried spraying it, but the image still comes out too drippy.

    I'm a first-year teacher, trying to find as many great online resources as possible, and stumbling on this lesson was definitely a life saver for a project I was looking to spice up. Thank you!

  4. I have each table get a wet paper towel and keep it neatly folded. They just wipe over the paper to make sure it is "a little shiny" all over and that seems to be enough moisture. The weight of the drawing paper can have a lot to do with this too. I've heard of teachers pre-wetting the paper and keeping it in ziploc baggies, alternating wet and dry sheets. I've heard of teachers doing this and FREEZING the baggies overnight, then thawing them. Haha, that sounded like too much prep for me, but whatever works!

  5. Be real careful with those crayon twistables, they roll. When they hit the floor, the crayon breaks inside and just slides out. Really cuts down on the longevity of the crayon. They also don't sell refill colors when this happens.

  6. the plastic bodies are not recyclable either, I don't think