I love celebrating International Dot Day as it promotes a great message and an opportunity for students to create a display to kick-off the school year. However, after celebrating for many years, I am trying to now come up with different ideas for the lesson and creative new ways to tie in other learning. Here is my 2020 International Dot Day lesson and display linking the message of starting with dot and also overcoming mistakes and oops inspired by the book of Barney Saltzberg.
After reading The Dot by Peter Reynolds, all grades were given a piece of paper with dye cut and hole punched circles. Shocked by this, I recommend that we throw them all away because we couldn’t use paper with holes in it. Student vehemently protested and played right into my hands. We thought of Vashiti and how she started with dot just like us but out dots here holes like in the book Beautiful Oops
Using LINES, SHAPES & COLORS, students add designs and images based around their holy spots. Students then added liquid watercolor on top. This was the first lesson students had back in the art room so it was a good way to manage safe and distanced use of materials and simple clean-up while getting to duse materials they likely had not used in a while. This lesson was facilitated in 30 minutes for Reception 1 (Pre-K) to Grade 2.
Once every class was finished, my partner and I backed an entire wall with black paper before stapling 700 + individual artworks to the wall creating a huge holy spotty dotty wall.
I know many of you out there, like me, have done the typical Dot Day lesson and display of a swirly gold frame of painted paper plates with a cut-out of Vashti painting them along the wall. So file this one away for future Dot Days as it promotes the same message but also helps students look at negative space as a means to generate ideas as well as promoting using an oops, like a hole in your paper, as an opportunity to create!
When I heard that our school would have families pick-up a bag of supplies from the classroom teachers to start our online learning for the 2020-2021 school year, I knew I had to seize the opportunity and get art supplies into those bags.
After 17 weeks of asynchronous online learning in the spring and basing lessons off of what I assumed students had at home, I moved heaven and earth to get art supplies to families to support them as well as help me structure my lessons and instructions. So within 72 hours, I sourced, ordered, packed, and helped distribute over 700 art supply packs to almost all of our students. Here are my tops tips for creating art supply packs for your students.
Synchronous vs. Asynchronous
It is helpful to know whether you are facilitating synchronous or asynchronous or both before you start planning what supplies you want students to have at home. With asynchronous, students can work at their own pace, can pause a video, or seek help from an adult if needed. With synchronous, it is the opposite. Synchronous teaching lends itself well to two-dimensional artmaking. Supplies such as watercolor paint, colored pencils, drawing pencils, and markers are supplies that can give students a range of mediums to explore but also help you easily facilitated synchronously.
For asynchronous lessons, the materials provided can be examples of what they will need more of like cardboard and found objects and providing them with glue, tape, paint can allow for choice within the lesson. I created art packs, knowing I would be teaching asynchronously. Therefore students received a random assortment of supplies knowing that I could make videos to help them navigate the assigned project.
Use What You Have
From budgets to clearing out cupboards, using what you have in the art room is a good start to help you plan your art packets for kids. Also, many of us order materials ahead and things you planned to have used in the spring or fall could come in handy to use and distribute to students. Using what you have also referred to using the lesson you have and adapting them to online learning. The more you can use, repurpose, and reappropriated the easier it is for you and helps to uphold your curriculum standards and your thoughtful planning.
Use Food Containers
If you are using what you have, food containers are handy to repackage materials to send to students. From small cups to plastic bags, contact your local food vendors and/or check larger wholesalers of goods such as Gordon Food Service or Cosco to find what you need. I used soy sauce containers to put small amounts of tempera paint inside to help teach color theory lessons. Then whatever students have left over they can use for their own artmaking.
Include a Note
Make sure to put some sort of note inside or outside of the art supply bag to provide information. Whether, the notes says to wait to open the art pack, or informing students to return the supplies to school once allowed back on campus, it is time well spent to make it very clear what students and parents need to know about the supplies before they open them. I used large labels and put one on each bag to ensure the message was read and received.
Include a Sketchbook
Sketchbooks are a great tool to have for students to collate their artwork when they are creating at home and also to help you later for assessment or reporting. It also ensures that students have a quality paper to create on as many use copier paper which does not suit certain mediums very well. The expectations of the sketchbook can also serve an entire lesson. From showing students how to use and care for their sketchbook, to decorating it to make it their own, use this as a teaching moment; for students to understand how to use a sketchbook or visual journal like an artist.
Despite teaching different grade levels, I feel as these top tips can help any art teacher start to wrap their head around preparing supplies packs for students. I will warn you, it is a lot of work, but that time and effort is well spent as it will not only help you with planning but help your students continue to learn and grow through artmaking.
Many of us are returning to school or facilitated a hybrid model for the beginning of the school year. Having taught ART-from-a-CART for a few weeks prior to summer vacation amidst the pandemic, I wanted to share some input on wearing and teaching with our new necessary accessory – THE MASK!
Although we would rather not wear one, we now know that it is imperative in helping quell the spread of the virus and in keeping ourselves and others safe. The 5 Top Tips for Teaching in a Mask refers to non-disposable masks and is aimed to help teachers who are returning to their campuses to plan and prepare for this new must-have school supply.
1.FUNCTION OR FASHION
Art teachers like to ‘BE ART’ and often are walking canvases. Although there are a lot of fun, colorful and stylish masks out there now, make sure to invest in a mask that is functional first! Whether it is antimicrobial material and breathable fabric and/or having a pocket to put in disposable filters, don’t simply buy a mask because it’s cute, do your homework, and make sure it will protect you, first and foremost. Also, I am all for decorating your mask but add-ons can compromise the integrity of the mask and render in less effective in protecting you which is the mask’s primary purpose.
2. COMFORT IS KEY
I would highly recommend that you try wearing the mask you intent to wear while you teach BEFORE you use it in the classroom. I learned this the hard way and I quickly found that the mask I was wearing was uncomfortable, slid down my nose when I was talking, and was extremely hot. Because I didn’t test it ahead of time, I had no other choice but to continue to wear it throughout my lesson. Wearing a mask at the store or at the salon is very different than wearing one when you are teaching. You are talking a lot more meaning it needs to function differently and has different requirements – breathable, well-fitting, and comfortable.
3. DIFFERENT CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
From not knowing who is talking while you’re teaching because their mouth is covered to not being able to give your full ‘teacher look’, you may have to reconsider some of your classroom management strategies to ensure you have successful lessons. I remind students in each class that they must raise their hand when they have something to share as we want all voices to be heard and know whose voice we are listening to. Eye contact is even more important than ever before to reinforce positive behaviors and address unexpected ones. Be conscious of small adjustments you need to make as some of the same tricks don’t work as well when our facial expressions can’t be seen and our voices are muffled. Also, beware of student that may have earring impairments and make sure to make modifications to instruction and provide the support needed.
4. USE IT AS A TEACHING TOOL
Just to reiterate Top Tip #1, make sure your mask is safe first but once you have found a brand or supplier with quality masks, think about how you might use it as a teaching tool! From bedazzling your own to supporting local artists and companies, your necessary accessory is a talking piece and can be a way to connect with your students and your lessons. After creating a distance learning lesson on the local Hong Kong artist, Cath Love, she connected with me on social media which lead me to buy one of her hand-painted masks. Students were so excited to see the mask and immediately made the connections that it was in the artist’s style.
5. BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL
Students will follow your lead regarding your attitude towards having to wear it and the actual use and care of the mask itself. Try your best to be positive about wearing it and model appropriate care of the mask when removing it to eat and/or for certain activities. Whether it is a plastic ziplock bag to keep it in or giving positive reinforcement when the entire class keep them on for the whole lesson, it is important that we model and teach how to think about, wear and care for our masks. This mighty mask will help us fight the virus, keep our community safe, and protect each other.
Although we would rather not have these barriers between us and our students and many of us would not choose to even be back on campus, we must face the fact that masks work and it is our first defense to protecting ourselves from the virus while still getting to be with students. So put your game face on which means covering it up!
Learning that you will be teaching ART-from-a-CART is overwhelming. From rethinking your materials, processes, procedures to adhering to new hygiene and social distancing standards, it’s a lot to let sink in. I finished my 2019-2020 school year teaching ART-from-a-CART for three weeks and was able to facilitate push-in art lessons for my 1st & 2nd Grade students. Here are the 5 art lessons that can get you started and give you some footing before branching out to more logistically changing materials and processes but that are also relevant, fun, and creative!
My cart is from IKEA and normally use it as ART CARTS next to each table pod.
Inspiration: This is a very topical lesson that can spur great discussion and is very obtainable to all students. I got the idea from a distress doodling session I attended where we simply painted different shapes with watercolor and then added designs and patterns on top with pens. Because we were in the first few weeks of COVID closures, my shapes and patterns produce a germy inspired work of art. I adapted the idea into a lesson for 1st & 2nd graders.
Introduction: I started by asking students what they knew about germs – they knew a lot and had a lot to say. Then I steered the conversation by introducing two main types of germs, viruses, and bacteria. I explain that many are harmful, like the virus COVID-19, which is why we need to wear masks, wash our hands, and socially distance but some germs, are good germs and that we actually need them to stay healthy. I then showed some images of good bacteria that can live in our stomach and help us break down our food. I also reviewed organic shapes and how to use shapes and colors to build a pattern.
Process: Students then began painting organic shapes across two pages in their sketchbook using their own set of watercolor paints, water cup, and brush. Once they were finished, they returned their paint palette and paintbrush to a tray and emptied their cup of water in a bucket before using their own set of provided oil pastels. Because the oil pastels can draw on slightly damp paper, the students could start straight away adding lines shapes and colors to their organic shapes.
Clean-Up & Sanitization: Students returned the oil pastels to a tray and closed their sketchbooks. If their paper was too wet, I simply had them blot the surface with a paper towel before closing and storing their sketchbook. To sanitize, I brought the materials back to the art room and laid out the closed paint palettes and open pastel in their sleeve and sprayed everything down with 70% rubbing alcohol allowing them to dry before the next lesson. For the paintbrushes, I simply washed them in soap and water as usual.
Murakami Super Flat Flowers
Inspiration: If you are worried about set-up and clean-up when you are starting out, this lesson is a great way to ease into your routines as well as having some of the artwork lend itself to a collaborative display. I facilitated this lesson with 1st & 2nd Graders but it could be easily modified for younger or older.
Introduction: Muramki’s super flat flowers are iconic therefore I started the lesson simply asking students if they have seen the super flat flower before. I then asked what Elements of Art they saw as well as how it made them feel. After talking about the life and art of Tashaki Murakami, I demonstrated how to recreate his style of eyes and mouths on the board.
Process: Students received a worksheet that has four flower templates on it as well as an example sheet with different eyes and mouth styles. Students were asked to create one flower trying to recreate and practice Murakami’s style of features and solid colors and then the other three flowers they could make their own features and designs. Students received their own set of 16 colors Crayola markers. I stored them in a plastic container to make it easy to clean, transport, and dole out. Students then kept two flowers for themselves and I took two to use for a collaborative display.
Clean-Up & Sanitization: Students simply put the markers back in the plastic tray and I then loaded them up on a larger tray which stacked on my cart shelf. To sanitize, I simply sprayed the markers down in their containers with 70% rubbing alcohol in between classes and let them dry.
Inspiration: Once we found out we were going to be pushing into classes, the music teachers and I discussed some ways to integrate our lesson to make them more enriching. We came up with an idea to have the music teachers start with a music mapping lesson where students listen to music and use lines to show the beat, rhythm, and pace of the music. The music teachers had students create the line maps in their art sketchbooks so in the following art lesson we could add other Elements of Art to their work.
Introduction: The class began by having them explain what they did in their music lesson. I then briefly talked about Wassily Kandinsky and how his artwork was heavily influenced by music and how we are going to add more Elements of Art to their line map to create art inspired by music. For materials, I showed how they can use dried-up water-soluble markers to create a watercolor quality to their artwork. This is a great way to use up old markers before switching out to new ones.
Process: Students each received a plastic container with about 5 different dead markers and a small cup of water to dip them in. Students listened to different styles of music while they added shapes, colors, value, texture, and more lines to their work.
Clean-Up & Sanitization: Students simply put the markers back in the plastic tray and I then loaded them up on a larger tray which stacked on my cart shelf. To sanitize, I simply sprayed the markers down in their containers with 70% rubbing alcohol in between classes and let them dry. I did switch out the markers that were completely dead, recycled them, and then added more markers to the containers to top them up.
Mona Lisa Make Over
Inspiration: This lesson was originally supposed to be a substitute plan but I have never actually had to use it so I thought it would be fun to try it out with students. This can be a simple make-and-take lesson or can be glued into students’ sketchbooks – either way, it is a really fun lesson where students get to really show their sense of style and personality.
Introduction: Mona Lisa is a bit of a mascot in the art room. From the Mona Lisa Quiet Poster, Mona Lisa Bell, and my everyday Mona Lisa apron accessory, she is EVERYWHERE! So, I thought it could be fun to give her a makeover! I gave a quick mini-lesson on the proportion and talked to students about using their magic finger to plan before their place their lines and then let them begin.
Process: Because I was facilitating this lesson on the last day of school, I gave students the printed Mona Lisa image on a piece of copier paper. Then students used a thick black permanent marker to draw before using the dead water-soluble markers to add some color. The watercolor markers are great because they cover the surface area faster than coloring with regular markers and is less set-up and clean-up as painting.
Clean-Up & Sanitization: I followed the same clean-up and sanitation procedure as the Line Mapping lesson but instead of putting sketchbooks away, students simply took their Mona Lisa painting with them to take home.
Inspiration: The Elements of Art are the cornerstones of my Lower Primary Art program so for my 2nd Graders’ final lesson so I decided that they had to create an abstract painting using only Lines, Shapes, Color & Space to be able to graduate to 2nd Grade, Visual Art. The kids were very excited about this important challenge and I was also able to see and reminisce of each student’s unique way of making marks.
Introduction: After explaining the requirements for graduation, the students and I had a discussion about Abstract Art and what it means. I then showed a few examples of Abstract Art before I demonstrated how they will use two pages next to each in their sketchbooks to create their Abstract work.
Process: Students began by drawing different kinds of lines that walked across their pages crisscrossing and filling the space. Once finished, they returned their oil pastels and retrieved their own set of watercolors, water cup, and a paintbrush to begin adding color. Students could paint the entire surface, work within the shapes, and create patterns to create their work.
Clean-Up & Sanitization: Students returned the paint palettes and brushes to a tray and dumped their water in a bucket. To sanitize, I followed a similar procedure as previously outlined in the above lessons.
So, you have to teach ART-from-a-CART next school year, eh? Due to new social distancing guidelines and/or budget cuts, many of us are heading back to a very different art teaching experience in the fall. My school was able to bring students back to campus 3 weeks before the end of this school year having all specialist push-in to the classrooms…literally. *Here are some of my top tips if you are staring the school year on a cart.
*Note that these tips relate more to teachers that have an art room or space to house most of their materials and the cart simply brings what they need for each lesson to each classroom. It is also good to note, that I was only teaching two grade levels from a cart for the last 3 weeks and both my cart and some of the procedures would not necessarily work long term but hopefully this will give you a little insight into how you may be able to teach ART-from-a-CART until social distance guidelines loosen or funding returns (I say a little pray from you).
Every classroom set-up is different and this can affect the way in which we set-up and clean-up our art lesson. Also, due to new social distancing measures it may be that groups of students are spread across to classrooms which was the case for me. To help you plan and prepare for the environment you are walking into, visit each classroom, snap a photo, take a few notes and create a document that you can reference later so you get your plans ready.
Implement the same management systems from the art room into the classroom. Although they may feel like they have home turf advantage, you need to make it clear that your rules, routines, and procedures are what they following when they have art with you. Whether it is a point system, Art Room Mantra or simply raising their hand instead of calling out, make it clear that it’s your lesson and they need to play by your rules.
I found it helpful to have the classroom teacher help to settle the students and acknowledge that it is time for our lesson. Just because you walk in the door does not mean the lesson begins as both you and the students need a moment to set-up and settle down. In my experience, asking each classroom teacher to help you with this makes a big difference.
You have to be extra organised when you are bringing all of your materials with you and remembering to take them all way when you leave. A top tip is to help you with this is to put away your examples, clean-up your demo areas and get yourself organised before students begin their clean-up. Once you have sorted yourself out, you can focus on the other aspects of the lesson without leaving half your cart behind.
Similar to the teacher transition, it is important to allow 1 to 2 minutes after clean-up to review key terms, a moment to review and reflect or even an informal group assessment before you wheel yourself away. Like the beginning of the lesson, this helps the classroom teacher transition in as well. Leaving while the classroom is still cleaning-up doesn’t allow for closure to the class so plan a couple minutes to again settle students and partner with the classroom teacher to ensure their next transition goes smoothly as well.
Art Cart Management
When it comes to your cart, everyone will have a different system but one organisation item that helped me is large trays. With the ability to stack and layer, using trays to put materials on allows for more room on your cart and easy distribution and collection.
Bring your own magnets with you as not all classrooms have them. They are really handy for displaying examples on the board as long as you have them.
Use the sides
If your cart it metal you can also use the sides for transitions of workshops and materials but also for display purposes. Most times classroom boars will have writing on them so in lieu of putting things up on the board, you can display them on the side of your cart.
Student Help with tidy
Plan your clean-up procedures around what students can help you do. It is handy to demonstrate how students can put materials away on the cart so you don’t have to. Rather it is putting their materials back on trays or putting things back directly on the cart, setting these expectations can help save you time and energy in your lesson.
Pacing is really important for any lesson but even more so when you are in someone else’s space. Some teacher’s will be okay with having you run over a few minutes and other’s will not so to help you stay on schedule, set alarms on your phone to keep you on track. I have the Tidy-up Tinkle alarm as well as an alarm that plays music when I should be leaving which I find really helpful to ensure I finish on time.
Let’s face it! Having an art room is the ideal scenario and we would all prefer to have an art room but whether your situation is permeant or short term, I hope these ten tips are helpful as we are all in this together – the more we can share and stay positive the better out lessons will be for our students. Stay safe out there, and watch your toes!
After 16 weeks of Home Learning, we were finally able to welcome students back on campus before the end of the school year. Although the school day looks and feels very different, everyone is grateful to be reunited, try out a new way of facilitating learning while practicing social distancing and having closure to the 2019-2020 school year. Every school, state, and country is different in regards to what is best for schools and their student population but this post is about my experience and some things that helped me return to campus.
Art teachers are flexible and this will fair you well when managing what to expect as you return as schedules, guidelines, and expectations which will likely change before, during, and after you transition back to campus. At my school, art and music now ‘push-in’ to classes to reduce the number of transitions for students. Art-on-a-cart is better than no art at all. I teach 40-minute lessons and teach twenty students at a time spread between two classrooms with an adjoining door. Expect your schedule, routines, and lessons to look and feel very different, but by managing those expectations you will be better prepared to be flexible for your students and their learning.
Your First Lesson Back
For your first lesson back, you may feel that you need to bring out all the materials that students may not have had access to, but don’t be a hero. Choose a lesson that is going to help ease you and students back into things. From sanitising materials to feeling comfortable with new schedules and routines, choose a lesson that has minimal preparation and clean-up. For my first lesson, I introduced the artist, Takashi Murakami. My goal was to teach students how to recreate his iconic super flat flowers, have them learn about popular visual culture all the while allowing students to chat with others while they created, colored, and practiced motor control and grip – something that many of them regressed on during their weeks away.
Keeping Things Clean
Students brought and used their own pencils, pens, scissors, and a glue stick. Choosing materials that are easy to clean is important for your first few lessons. My routine is to have students use hand sanitizer before they begin the art lesson and then after they are finished with the materials they used during the lesson, I bring the materials back to the art room where I spray them with 70% rubbing alcohol. Pens, markers, spray bottles, paintbrushes are all easy to clean in this manner and help ensure the materials are safe to use for the next lesson.
Use the face mask you have to wear as an opportunity to be art. We now have a new accessory to help show our style, mood, and/or share a message. Whether it is writing, ‘ART MATTERS’ on your mask to theming it to your lesson, inspire and excite your students by modelling a way to be creative through what is now a necessary personal item.
Make it Fun
This seems obvious but it is important to keep at the forefront of your mind when planning your first lesson with students. Everyone will feel a little tense which is to be expected so try and loosen the tension by bringing some fun into the mix. After students completed their Murakami super flat flowers we played Bingo. If students had four out of four of the combination I called out they yelled, ‘SUPER-FLAT!’ and received a Flower Power sticker. It may seem small but playing Bingo in a room full of friends and peers is a fun way to break the cycle of four months of independent home learning.
I am not going to lie, I miss the students in my art room, the freedom to use any and all materials without restrictions and getting to play another soundtrack during art class other than the now squeak of my art cart wheels but it is better than not having the students on campus. Whether it is from a potted plant at home or a flower sprouting from a crack in the sidewalk, our students will continue grow as long as we maintain a positive growth mindset and embody FLOWER POWER ourselves!
Below are the shared resources for the lesson – feel free to use and share!
Tune in every Friday at 9:00am to watch Ms. Kit’s Art Room, a TV-show-like video lesson that is a about art! From doodling and drawing to movin’ and groovin’, each 20 minute episode highlights a different Element of Art introduced and taught by a zany cast of characters from the Upper and Lower Primary. Watch with your family and then complete the art activities together after – fun for the whole family!
Also, please share your artwork wit Ms. London and in the Online Gallery. Simply click the button below which will take you to a Google Drive folder where you can upload a photo of an artwork. We want to see what you’re making and how you are being creative at home!
Tune in Friday, June 5th at 9:00am to watch Ms. Kit’s Art Room Episode 8: FINALE, a TV-show-like video lesson that is all about art! From doodling and drawing to movin’ and groovin’, each 20 minute episode highlights a different Element of Art introduced and taught by a zany cast of characters from the Upper and Lower Primary. This week’s episode is the FINALE where we will look back at some highlights from each of the episodes. If you haven’t watched the other episodes, DO! Watch with your family and then complete the art activities together after – fun for the whole family!
CALLING ALL LOWER PRIMARY STUDENTS & THEIR FAMILIES! Despite being a part awe still wanted to make a collaborative art piece together! Our gaol is to have lots of families make DIY Fabric Twine to contribute to a large wall hanging for the Lower Primary Campus.
Below are step-by-step written instructions in how to create the fabric twine which will be sewn together to create round circle-like rugs.
If you need a little extra explaining, we also have a Little Lesson to show you how!
Once you have made a bundle of twine to donate, please use a mailer envelop and send it to the following address:
Tune in every Friday at 9:00am to watch Ms. Kit’s Art Room, a TV-show-like video lesson that is a about art! From doodling and drawing to movin’ and groovin’, each 20 minute episode highlights a different Element of Art introduced and taught by a zany cast of character from the Upper and Lower Primary. Watch with your family and then complete the art activities together after – fun for the whole family!
Well done completing the first 6 weeks of Home Learning and for creating some amazing art! If you have not already, please share your artwork wit Ms. London and in the Online Gallery. Simply click the button below which will take you to a Google Drive folder where you can upload a photo of an artwork.
As artists, we know that you are coloring, drawing and making and backing lots of scrumptious art on your own, so for the next weeks ahead Ms. London and I will provide home learning content on art history and art appreciation. From listening to songs about artists to learning about different street art around the city, each video will have an online quiz you can take for fun to see what you have learned! If you’re really keen, you can listen and take the quizzes of all four videos!