Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Broken Projector. Op Art!

So I'm spoiled.  I have a lovely projector in my classroom, a document camera, AND a Promethean board.  So whining about how my projector is on the fritz right now is not really very productive.  I must say though, that in the absence of the projector I've encorporated several new projects I wouldn't have done if I'd been able to move forward with my curriculum the way I'd planned.  Right now, 5th grade is working on Op Art.  I tried this with the same group of kids when they were in 3rd grade and they did fairly well with that version of the project, which was basically an ink blot, with "echo" lines around it, or if you speak Zentangle, we'll call them "auras."

Here's the version from two years ago.  I included Color Field Painting in the inspiration.  Basically we used a blob of watercolor, and a straw to blow the blob into drippy shapes.

I needed a lesson that would review a lot of key terms and concepts, and introduce a new one, which didn't require a lot of demo and slides on my part.  And I noticed as the next class came in, I didn't feel like demonstrating the exact same style of Op art.  So I mixed it up with three different projects, all having simliar objectives: to demonstrate Value, Movement/Rhythm, Pattern, and (illusion of) Form.

Here are the three different examples I ended up with.  So far the kiddos are into it, since it takes far less brain power than the previous block printing project.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

DIY Wet Wipes

Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say.  I use baby wipes for cleaning tables, hands, faces, floor, whatever.  We go through a lot of them in the art room, but I try to use them sparingly.  The "Dirtiest Baby Wipe" contest works well for conserving wipes. 

On the kids' supply list that they get from their regular teachers is a pack of baby wipes that is supposed to come to me for use during the year.  I think I only put it on one grade level's list, because I don't have the storage for that many (over 800) packs of wipes each year.  But I ran out.  I have run out a couple times since August, actually.  But I usually send out an email and ask for anyone's leftovers, and they turn up randomly at my door the next day.  This time, no.  This time I was plumb out of wipes, AND also plumb out of paper towels in the little holders by the sinks.  The maintenance staff is supposed to refill those as I understand, but it doesn't always happen.  In my room that is a BAAAAD thing. 

So I searched Pinterest and found that you can use decent paper towels (the soft, durable kind) to make your own wet wipes.  It worked great!  I should give most of the credit to my fabulous colleague, whom I will refer to here as "Ms. Squash."  She's the one who figured out how to cut and store the wipes in a coffee can.  Here's what to do:

I dug into my emergency reserve of paper towel rolls, and pulled the cardboard tube out of the center.  Then we used my paper cutter to cut the entire roll in half.  This actually didn't work too well, but since I didn't have a serrated knife at school, it was the best I could do.  If you do this for yourself, at least try a box cutter or an X-acto or somethin'. 

Then I took an empty coffee container with a lid and in the bottom, made a slurry of water, liquid soap, and good old Germ-X.  I then put the halved paper towel roll (without the cardboard tube) into the coffee container, closed the lid, and turned it over.  The liquid soaked the paper towels, and when I opened the container, I was able to pull individual wipes out from the center of the roll just like the Clorox kind.  I tried it once with cheaper paper towels, and they kinda fell apart when they got wet.  I've been told that Viva is the best brand for doing this.  But we used Brawny Basic and they work just fine. 

Lastly, I used my grown up scissors to poke a hole in the lid of the coffee container, and cut out an X for the wipes to slide through.

Omigosh you guys, the paper towel roll cut in half is EXACTLY the right size for a regular coffee container.  The ladies in the teacher work room send me those coffee things all the time, and I use them for various things, but this is now my favorite use.

You could experiment with the amount of water to add to the can, but I found I needed a very small amount to make them damp, not wet.  :)

YAY!  This way I could even customize my liquid mix to include some lovely lavender castille soap, or a little bit of lysol or whatever.  Oh the JOY!