Space Themed Family Halloween Costume

Being Art

Now that we are a family of four, coming up with a family Halloween costume is a little but more challenging as well as incorporating what my toddler also would be happy to dress-up as. I was inspired by the costume of Suzy Spin, a woman I saw who had a maternity costume of the solar system and based my costume off of hers.

Instead of having the sun be on the belly, I thought it would be fun to have the baby be the sun. For ease of walking around with the three month old, I decided to start by sewing a sun made out of felt onto a black carrier.

Then I began painting the planets. I used various sized styrofoam balls bought from a craft store. The planets were not to scale but I did try and make Jupiter the biggest and Pluto the smallest. For Saturn, I cut a circle from a cereal box, used tooth pick and tape to secure it and then papier-mache it.

I hot glued fishing line to the top of each planet before sewing them into the sleeve of my black dress. Having the dress on and someone helping you to sew or vice versa is really helpful so you can space out the planets evenly. Our wonderful nanny who joined the fun was a shooting star in which I simply sewed a yellow felt star to a black T-shirt and then added a bit of tulle at the bottom to stream down.

My husband’s flight suit was thrifted from a local shop and we added flags to represent our family – Hong Kong, United States & Great Britain. My husband also painted the NASA logo onto a blue felt circle but I am sure you could easily source a patch online. My son’s flight suit was ordered off Amazon which I justified because he will wear it year round.

My costume was fairly easy to wear but my arms did get a little tired. Another variation could be the planets sewn on or stuck to the dress that way they could be scene without having to lift your arms.

Our daughter did a great job and slept most of the evening because she was so comfortable in the carrier. I definitely recommend incorporating the carrier or stroller into your family costume if your little one can’t walk yet.

For our first Halloween costume as a family of four, I think we knocked it out of the park or rather out of this galaxy! Already plotting and planning next year’s costume and thinking of ways to top it! Happy Halloween 2021 from this side of planet earth!

Book-A-Week Costume – Triangle, Circle, Square

Being Art

Whether it’s for a Book-A-Ween parade or Book Week, here is an easy, versatile and fun DIY costume idea inspired by the books Triangle, Circle & Square by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen.

For the past couple of years, I have organised a group costume for the Specialist Team. The ideas and details outlined below can be used for an individual person or a group of any size. Further more, there are several variations based on the amount of time you want to commit to the costume.

  1. Add flare to a mask. The pandemic has provided us with an accessory we can’t live without…literally. For our costume, we utilised this already uniformed accessory and glued cut-out felt shapes of Jon Klassen’s Triangle, Circle and Square and hot glued them to a white masks.

2. Create a headband. Our lovely librarian helped make these fun headbands using Canva. Simple to make and easy to wear, headbands for the win!

3. Make a bigger statement by wearing a headpiece! Using foam board, a headband, hot glue and some paint, you can create large headpieces of the iconic shapes. When making the headpiece it’s important to cut the legs of the shapes to allow your head to fit between. Although a bit heavier and a little trickier to wear, these larger than life shapes are worth the effort!

4. United through simplicity. When coordinating costumes for an entire group, it helps to have everyone wear the same color or style of dress. In this instance, everyone wore black which made it really easy. Little investment but high impact.

4. Use the book as a prop! Thanks again to our lovely librarian, we had several copies of the books that we can use as props. It helps for the students to see the book alongside the costume to help give it context.

Easy to make and fun to wear, this costume connected to a popular series of books is sure to be recognised by kids and approved by teachers!

Pre-K Line, Shape & Color Paintings

Teaching Art

I was first introduced to this winner of a lesson by Claire Kirk who was my teaching partner from 2017 -2018 school year. I have facilitated this lesson in my Kindergarten classes ever since. Not only introducing the Elements of Art LINE, SHAPE & COLOR to our youngest artists but it also is obtainable to any ability level and serves as a helpful diagnosis tool to understand students spacial awareness, fine motor control and experience with different art tools. Not to mention they look fabulous once complete and even better as a whole group display.

I begin this lesson by gauging an understanding of students knowledge base of LINE by listing the different LINES they know together. Students are then introduced to Larry the Line (idea curtesy of Cassie Stephens) who shows us how to use our body to create LINE.

We then transition to the tables where students draw different kinds of LINES across their paper using a black marker. This is guided as to help students create enough LINES, have a variety of different ones and to make it all the way to the edge of the paper.

For the lesson lesson, I introduce SHAPE. Students begin to understand that a SHAPE in a line that connects at the ends. After practicing finding shapes within our LINE drawings, students use yellow liquid watercolor to paint 6 shapes that they find yellow. Once they have completed the 6 shapes, I provide them with blue liquid water color for them to make their own green. Students then paint 5 shapes green. I remind students to have yellow and the green shapes live far away from one another and for them not to touch.

I repeat the same instruction above and focus more on discussing COLOR and mixing our own using blue and magenta to make violet and yellow and magenta to make orange. Regardless of the carefulness of the color mixing, painting of the shapes, spreading out the color or painting ability, every students artwork turns out colorful, dynamic, and cheerful. SUCH A WINNER!

5 Top Tips for Thriving in Quarantine with Kids

Making Art

Are you planning to quarantine with small children? Nervous that one of you might not make it out alive? Well, then this blog post is for you! Here are some tips, tricks and ideas from my 21 day hotel quarantine with a toddler that will not only help you survive, but THRIVE!

Pipe-cleaners came in very handy for dramatic play and role playing. I had them in a few activity bags as well as in the Survival Kit.
  1. 1. Stick to a Schedule
  2. Young children thrive within set boundaries and routine. Whether you are quarantining with another adult or doing it solo, take time to write down a daily schedule and try to stick to it. It will not only help your little ones find comfort in knowing what comes next but it will help keep you sane by having to only focus on the next thing scheduled rather than thinking about the entire day ahead. Meals, naps, bedtime, high energy activities, quiet time etc. should all have a set time slot which will help keep make everyone feel more settled.
Here is the schedule that my husband and I used when we had our 21 day hotel stint. My husband had to work and be on calls at certain times of the day and we arranged the schedule as to accommodate that.

2. Schedule Screen Time

Screen time should also be scheduled. From my experience, if I use the iPad or TV shows willy-nilly, transitions become more challenging, tempers flare and tantrums increase. It may feel good at the time to give in and let your kiddo watch a show or two but you will pay for it. Make screen time an event, have a start time and an end time and switch up what is being consumed. One day have a movie, the next games on the iPad and another can be shows.

3. Prepare a Survival Kit

If you are quarantining in a hotel, make sure to prepare a Survival Kit. Just like you would not go out into the wilderness unprepared, the same goes for hotel quarantine! Tools, art supplies and basic stationary items are a must to ensure you have everything you need to stay alive! Items such as scissors, glue & stick glue, markers, crayons, a stapler, string, an exacto knife or box cutter, masking tape, clear tape, sticky tack, pipe cleaners, play-dough, modelling clay, paint brush and a watercolor set are a must!

Simple art supplies such as oil pastels and watercolor are great for multiple ages and easy to clean-up.
Modelling clay is a must as it is not crumbly like play dough and can attach to toys and figurines for imaginative play.
Use the modelling clay to add wings, equipment and appendages to your little ones favorite toys!

4. Pre-Plan & Prepare Activities

THIS SAVED ME! Before my trip and inevitable quarantine, I planned 21 different themes to help anchor each day’s activities. I then printed off coloring sheets, gathered stickers, toys from home, toys, treats and other items that would help support the theme. Because creativity happens within boundaries, having a theme helps you come-up with ideas in the moment, coordinate movies, shows, games and books that go along with the theme and imaginative play ideas. You’ll be amazed at what you come up with when you have a theme to base your ideas off of and I guarantee you will enjoy it as much as your little one will.

Each bag included items found in my house or classroom and all the coloring sheets were found free on the internet.
I also included some new toys and treats that went with the theme to keep things exciting and made sure to space out the bags with new toys.
Here is an example of a pre-planned activity in the ‘Fairy Tale’ activity bag. I prepared a cardboard sword cut-out and some tin foil to make some equipment for our little knight.

The above list includes the themes I came up with based on the interests of my child as well as the toys and books I knew I had access to. The themes could obviously vary based on the age and interests of your child.

5. Make Something from Nothing

Creativity is not only making something out of nothing but also making something despite everything! Boxes, containers, scrap paper, cushions and blankets all can become something new and different keeping you and your kids entertained. Then using the theme and the items from your Survival Kit can aid you in making magic by creating something from nothing. So save those empty containers and cardboard boxes as you can use them for hours of fun that encourage creativity, teamwork and problem solving.

I turned this box and cardboard scraps into a Paw Patrol Command Center and gas station using my exacto knife from my Survival Kit.
We created a fire truck on ‘Fire Rescue Day’ using all things we had available in our hotel room and Survival Kit.

A few other items that we enjoyed and used often were Coloring My Bath Tablets, Melissa & Doug Stick-able Sticker Book, National Geographic Readers books and a foldable step stool for water play in the sink as we did not have one in our hotel.

Remember if you are calm, collected and settled, then so will your kids. Try your best to look for the positives in the situation – no commitments, simple living and uninterrupted together time. Before you know it, it will be over and when life is crazy and chaotic you will reminisce about having nothing to do by play with your kids in a hotel room.

Compositional Landscape Using Image Transfers

Teaching Art

Image transfer is a fun way to teach students a useful and versatile skill all the while helping young artists learn how to create an effective composition. In Grade 2, we assess the standard related to creating composition and image transfer allows students to showcase that they can create composition without needing to be strong drawers.

For Grade 2’s compositional landscapes, students began by using various watercolour techniques to create landscapes with a foreground, middle ground and background and producing an interesting texture background to overlay images on top of.

Students used bubble wrap for the mountains and cellophane for the water and we kept the plastic on top while it dried overnight.

The bubble wrap and cellophane was left on overnight and once it was dry, it could be removed leaving only the texture behind.

After a discussion about what makes a ‘good composition’ students began placing images within their landscape. As they were doing so, I walked around asking questions and making notes to see if student could apply the following learning targets independently.

– Show distance by the specific placement of different sized items

– Create balance with the composition by spreading images out

– Place 3 – 6 images mindfully within the composition

Using a brush, students applied a layer of matte medium on to their landscape where they were going to place their images. These images were printed from an ink jet printer and then pre-cut by myself and my teaching partner to remove most of the white paper around the images.

Students placed the images upside down so the ink from the images came in contact with the matte medium. Using brayers, students flattened their images and made sure there were no air bubbles or creases. Then, the works were left to dry overnight.

For the next lesson, students used a soft sponge to wet each images and then gently rub the paper pulp away from the images using their finger tips. This is a slow process and took the entire 40 minute lesson. Students continue to reset images to soften the paper pulp and reveal the image. The ink from the printer adheres to the matte medium transferring the image.

For the final lesson, students removed more of the pulp as once the works are dry, the images still look cloudy and need more paper pulp removed. Lastly, students added a small amount of baby oil which absorbs into the remaining paper pulp to help with the clarity and contrast of the images.

Kindergarten Cityscape Collages

Teaching Art

For the last few years, I have partnered with Kindergarten’s Hong Kong unit and collaborated with classroom teachers to help students create a city skyline painting. The artwork then becomes a capstone of their learning from the unit and their year in Kinder. This year we tried something new and created a collage instead of a painting.

Students started the unit as employees of the Painted Paper Factory. Because the collage needed lots of brightly colored paper to use for the buildings and the blue backgrounds, each class spent an entire lesson painting as many pieces of paper as they could. Working in assembly-line fashion, 10 Kindergarten classes produced enough blue background papers for all 200 students and enough papered colored paper to use for the buildings.

Prior to painting, my partner and I mixed our own acrylic colors to ensure that they matched the Posca paint markers that we would use later and that the color combinations worked well together.

We then cut the colored papers into various sized rectangles and had students begin gluing them to their blue background. The Kindergarteners found it difficult to place the buildings with the understanding that more will be layered on top so this step was heavily guided.

Students then added the second layer of buildings overlapping the first and then finally filling any small gaps or spaces with small squares at the bottom.

Once all their buildings were glued using a glue stick, students added a layer of latex glue on top to help seal everything down as well as create a smooth finish to easily draw on top of with the paint markers. The latex glue also gives a lovely glossy shine finish to the surface.

The students then looked at different images of Hong Kong buildings and practiced drawing different windows, doors and details to prepare to add these items to their collage.

Students were then given Posca Paint Markers to begin adding windows to each building. Once every building had a different style window, students added more LINES, SHAPES & COLORS to the building to build pattern.

Lastly, students added different rooftops, chimneys, and observatories on top of their buildings and then finished the nights’s sky with a moon and stars.

The classroom teachers then scanned all of the artwork and had them printed on to canvas. Our hope is that having them on canvas will encourage the parents to hang them in their home.

Grade 1 Pop Art Flower Prints

Teaching Art

I love printmaking! I firmly believe that all Lower Primary students should experience some form of printmaking so they understand that artists use different tools and materials to create. I also find that for so students that have trouble manipulating drawing and painting tools, excel in printmaking as it pulls upon gross motor skills as well.

Here is one of my favorite printmaking projects to do with my 1st Graders. It ties in observational drawing, Pop Art and printmaking vocabulary. It also yields stunning final works that every student can be proud of.

After an introduction to Pop Art and using the video from the Tate Modern Kids Collection, students looked at the life and artwork of Andy Warhol. The three big ideas I wanted students to take away are regarding Pop Art and the work of Andy Warhol were:

  1. Pop Art is BOLD and BRIGHT and COLORFUL
  2. It’s ART FOR ALL

Students then began drawing flowers based off of pictures of flowers. This allowed me to review observational drawing techniques. Once finished in pencil students traces over their lines with black permanent markers.

For the second lesson, I helped students tape their flower drawings to a foam print plate the same size. Then, using a blunt pencil, students traces over their marker lines to transfer their drawing to the print plate. Many of them needed to go back over their lines to make the deeper but the key is to not push so hard that the marks go through the foam.

Students traces the shape of their flower onto another foam print plate so they would have one print plate with details and being just the shape of the flower. Then lastly students cut both of their flowers out and wrote their name and class number on the back using black marker.

Lesson three, students began printmaking. They can begin printing on colored paper or you can add a lesson and have students paint a background using acrylic paint. That it what we did for ours. The on top of the colored background, students print square using pre-cut square print plates to create a checker board patter.

For the nest lesson student print just the flower shape print plate using gold or silver printing ink and for the last printmaking lesson students use black ink to print their detailed flower print plate to print on top of each gold or silver flower shape. The purpose of the gold and silver is to create more contrast and add another layer of texture.

As a way to reflect on the printmaking process as well as assess students on their understanding of the Pop Art style, for the final lesson of the unit students completed a worksheet. Below are a few examples from the students.

Grade 2 Sharpie & Watercolor Self-Portraits

Teaching Art

Let’s face it! Drawing faces is hard for artists of any age. Therefore when I teach Portraiture to Lower Primary students, I always show them different techniques, trips and tools to make the process easier. In this Portraiture Unit I shows Grade 2 students how to use a simple transfer technique to trace a photo of themselves to as a starting port fro their Watercolor Portrait.

After taking a photo of each student’s face and printing them, student began by tracing the major shapes and lines of their face. Practicing careful mark-making, fine motor control and patience, student moved on the the next step once their entire picture was outlined with black permanent marker.

Students then used a large soft graphite pencil to draw over their markers on the backside of the their picture. Note that students do not need to cover the entire back with pencil but rather just the marker lines as the pencil is needed to help transfer to their paper below for the next step.

Have students tape their picture to a piece of paper which will become their fine work. The paper should be heavy enough to handle watercolor paint so use something heavier than copier paper. Have students at this time write their name on the back as well. Then students will retrace their black markers lines on their face using a normal pencil. The pencil will push the graphite on the back of the picture creating a copy of their lines on the blank paper.

Remind students to check often that their pencil lines are transferring or that they can at least see the marks made to be able to trace over with marker. Once the entire picture is copied onto the paper below, students can remove their picture and begin going over their pencils line with permanent marker.

Students then will begin adding watercolour to their portrait. I had student begin with values and shadows in the face with one color. They could also practice first on their picture if they wanted. After they added color to face, they added color to their hair, eyebrows, eyes, lips and neck. Lastly they painted simple patterns in their clothing and background. Only a minimal amount of the white of the paper was left to ensure students have large areas of color to build pattern on top.

Once they were dry, students began building pattern on top of the watercolor using Posco paint markers. From outlining large shapes, to creating pattern within them, students demonstrated their ability to use LINE, SHAPE, COLOR & SHAPE to build patterns and make mindful choices about color.

Students reflected on their Self-Portrait by creating a poem. This also served as an assessment to one of the standards of the unit which was to have students show how they were connecting to their artwork.

The Watercolor Self-Portraits below are from one class. This can give you a good indication of how this unit is obtainable for all ability levels. Although there are obvious differences between fine motor control and application of Elements of Art and mediums used, this project is obtainable for all students and each and every student with the class felt that they were successful in creating a Self-Portrait.

Stained Glass Rose Window Mandalas

Teaching Art

Grade 2 have been creating Mandalas for the last few years as a capstone of their journey in Lower Primary. This year, I wanted to do something slightly different. Using stained glass windows as inspiration, this unit not only focused on learning how to build Pattern using Line, Shape and Color but also allowed student to participate in a deeper discussion on why art is made.

Enduring Understanding: Art can be made to worship and give thanks to God.

After looking at the stained glass windows in the church we have on campus, students looked at the stained glass windows of many different churches and cathedral from around the world. Students then began gluing tissue paper to create a background for their Mandala. Using latex glue to seal the tissue paper done, the glossy finish was smooth to design on but also reflected the light like glass.

Once dry, students learned the step-by-step process of creating a an 8 point Mandala. I pre-drew a circle and guidelines on each canvas with white Posca marker to help students create symmetrical designs.

Students used black Posca marker to create their designs and then added white Posca marker to create Contrast.

Using black matte acrylic paint, students used a small round brush to outline the edge of their design before using a large flat brush to paint the edges and sides. The matte paint against the glossy finish of the Mandala helps to make it look like a brightly colored stained glass window design.

For an early finisher activity, student could work together to create a digital Mandala on an iPad. Using the website,, students used the Elements and similar techniques to create a Mandala in completely different medium.

Symmetrical Beetles

Teaching Art

I was introduced to this lesson by Claire Kirk & Katie Flowers. Both amazing artists and art educators I have had the honor of knowing and working with over the years. From observational drawing and simple printmaking to integration of mathematics and science, this lesson has it all! I have facilitated the lesson both with kindergarten and with second grade. Below outlines in how the lesson is taught and facilitated with the two different age groups.

I started by finding images of different beetles on the internet and used they as reference. My partner and I then traced the halves of six different simplified beetles on A3 paper. Then we photo copied them on to thicker weight drawing paper and folded them in half to create the line of symmetry.

*For second grade, we provided a print out of half of a beetle and drew the other side by observation. The challenge was to try and match their drawing to the images.

In class, we discussed with students that artists and scientists need to look at the world around them closely. We began looking at beetles both as artists and scientists and shared observations on what we see when we look at these shiny insects.

Based on our observations, we introduced the line of symmetry and how it can help us when we are drawing beetles and bugs. We then demonstrated how to use the fold of the paper as the line of symmetry. Using black India ink and small paint brushes, watched as we painted over the lines of the beetle, folded it over and then rubbed. The paint printed to the other side to begin to create the other half of the beetle.

Student repeated this process. Kindergarteners did have to be reminded to not paint on the other side, and that they were only to trace the lines provided, work in small sessions and rub firmed to ensure their lines printed.

Once dry, students added glittery liquid watercolour inside the shapes that were created by the printing process. Students also were encouraged to add lines and shapes to create symmetrical designs as you would see on the shells of real beetles.

This same process in creating the beetles could be used for other insects, plants, and animal prints. This lesson is very obtainable for primary school students and can be adapted in many different ways to align with standards and benchmarks as well as integration goals.