Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Celtic Knot Unit

Today I was again shocked at how well my kiddos were concentrating as we drew Celtic Knots.  This must be one of those magic left brain drawings that lights up the whole kid's mind.  :)  Here are the steps for drawing another Celtic Knot unit.  Yes.  MY FOURTH GRADERS CAN DO THIS!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

NEWS FLASH! Acrylic Paint +Crayola Glue = Block Printing Ink

I have been frustrated with the cost of block printing ink, and the way that it seems to get wasted whenever I use it with my students.  So I tried making my own.  I was shocked that it actually worked.  :)

Using CRAYOLA school glue (not the runny Elmer's kind) and regular old cheap-y acrylic paint, I mixed an almost 1:1 ratio.  I put a little bit more paint than glue.  Then I used the roller to mix it all.  I suppose you could do this ahead of time and keep it in air-tight jars.  maybe the glue would settle to the bottom of the jar though.  I don't know.  Anyhow, the thickness of the glue made the paint less runny, and it also added a bit of tackyness to the ink, so that it had that orange peel texture as I rolled it on the plate.  Only problem I noticed was that it dries faster than block printing ink.  Maybe that's not a problem to you, but I'm very fastidious about my prints, and I clean as I go, so I work slowly. 

Anyhow, it worked!  I thought this was worth sharing with all 88 of you ;)

Celtic Knots and Radial Balance

I wanted to spice up my Celtic Knot project that I've done several years in a row, because so far it just hasn't met my expectations.  Previously, I'd had the kiddos use their initials to make illuminated letters with Celtic imagery (which I'd photocopied from my Dover books and passed out in resource folders).  Most students just didn't really puzzle out how to draw the overlapping knots.  So I thought I'd make it easier by having them draw the knots with a Zentangle pattern.  Here are the steps for the pattern:

Original link here:  Tangle Patterns

So I showed them that step-by-step on the Elmo.  I expected a train wreck.  I told them this was an experiment, and I was going to see how they did before we even worried about turning this into a project or anything.  I expected tears, and crumpled papers flying across the room, hitting me in the head.  But, y'all....They did it!  They got the pattern in one or two tries.  Even the more challenged kids picked it up and were very satisfied to see that it worked for them!

Then I started showing them my work in progress.  I told them I was going to have them draw 1/4 of a Celtic knot, and "cheat" to make the pattern transfer onto the other parts of the paper.  I haven't tried this with the kiddos yet, so I'll keep you updated on how that goes.  This would work even better if you are willing to let the kiddos use charcoal pencils to outline their knots as they are transferring.

But here's what I did for my example:

 Fold the square paper in fourths and draw design in one corner.  Trace over it hard with an ebony pencil or other soft lead pencil.

 Fold and press with your hands, or a wooden spoon to transfer the pencil lines onto the second quarter of the paper.

 Open and you should see a very faint reverse image of the knot you drew.  Trace over it dark with the soft pencil. 

 Fold and transder the first half onto the second half.  (Good way to review factions, too!)

 Trace over the pencil lines darker. 

Connect the lines where they may be slightly mismatched, and begin coloring however you wish.

I think I'll make another fancier one as I go along, but I think the above example works well as an illustration.  Our state's standardized test has evidently got symmetry on it, and the kids aren't scoring so well with that.  In that case, I can actually help!  I've been stressing symmetry with all the grade levels this year.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Finished Thiebaud Cupcakes

These turned out really cute!
The finished project

Shaving cream "paint" still wet

I ended up just mixing the "frosting" paint in a ziploc bag, about 2 bottles of Elmer's glue to half a can of shaving cream.  I cut the corner of the baggie off and squeezed the frosting on the cupcakes myself.  The Kindergarteners were not able to use the small squeeze bottles efficiently, and ended up with not enough frosting, or way too much.  Thus, I let them add more details, like the crinkles on the cupcake wrappers and the sprinkles and cherry. 

The frosting paint took TWO FULL DAYS to dry.  Beware of taking them off the drying rack and storing them when the frosting is dry-ish, even dry to the touch, it can still squish out from underneath and get them hopelessly stuck together.

UPDATE:  I've since made this project even better by mixing in one more element:  JELLO.  See my blog on Chocolate Paint.  After I tried it that way, I noticed the paint drying very hard, but it still had texture.  I wanted the texture to be fluffy though!  So I mixed about a half a box of JELLO pudding powder into a half a gallon ziploc baggie with a fourth a can of shaving cream and a half a bottle of glue.  I made two batches; one chocolate and one vanilla.  Below are the results of this experiment:

See how fluffy they are!  They have to be staggered on the drying rack, because they even rise a little bit as they dry.  Some students decided to make ice cream cones instead of cupcakes.  I like that idea, too. 

The finished product!  If you look closely you can see a little indentation on the left side where the drying rack smushed the icing a bit as it dried.
So far I like the Jello/Shaving cream/glue paint the best.  But for different applications, I can see how the other types could be very useful too!