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
  3. It’s MASS PRODUCED

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, mandalagaba.com, 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.

Stained Glass Rose Windows with Kindergarten

Teaching Art

Exploring Art Through Time, Place & Culture is a unit I facilitate every year with Kindergartens. This year I wanted to use stained glass windows as the catalyst to talk about different reasons people make art.

With my school having a Chapel on campus and values rooted in the Christian faith, rich discussions were had how art can be made to worship and give thanks to God. After looking at stained glass windows from churches and cathedrals around the world, students focused on creating round rose windows.

Weaving in radial symmetry, students began their windows by folding a black doilies and cutting out shapes along the edges. After opening it up, students used latex glue and stuck their window frames down on clear plastic sheets.

Once dry, students began layering colored primary colors of acetate. This also allowed students to review color mixing which was from another unit taught earlier in the year.

To display all 200 rose windows, we used double sided tape at the top and bottom and stuck them to large windows in the stairwells. We secured them all with clear packaging tape along the seams to avoid them falling down from the changing temperatures of the glass.

The awe from the students and staff when they first walked up the stairs, was truly magical. The colorful light streaming through radial designs cut by our kiddos reflected another reason why people make art; to bring hope, through light and color. In the beautiful words of Amanda Gorman, ‘For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.’

Henri Matisse Inspired Stained Glass Windows

Teaching Art

From his perseverance and overcoming physical obstacles to his range as an artist and innovative spirit, student also, I love teaching young artists about the life and art of Henri Matisse.

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This year I wanted to draw upon the stained glass windows he designed for the Chapelle du Rosaire in Vence, France. After sharing the life story and artwork of Matisse with students, we focused on why Matisse created the windows and how art can be a way to give thanks.



Students learned the difference between organic and geometric shapes and like Matisse, draw with scissors cutting shapes from colored paper. Once student has an envelope full of shapes, they were give an A3 piece of black paper that had been cut along all three sides except the top. Inpsired by the different frames and arches of various stained glass windows from churches and cathedral from around the world, students drew and cut the top of their frame making it their own.



Between a A3 lamination sheets, students placed their frame, arranged their shapes inside and lightly glues them down before closing the lamination sheets. Then, students used the glass machine a.k.a the lamination machine to turn their window into stained glass. For the last step, students used a permanent markers to trace each shape and draw straight lines connecting all the shapes together and to the frame.

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My teaching partner and I put a each of double sided tape on the top and bottom of each artwork and displayed in the large windows of the school stairwell. Each individual artwork showcase students choice, cutting and fine motor skills an their knowledge of the artist studied. All together, the 200 stained glass window frames came together to created a powerful and spectacular display.

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5 Top Tips to Putting Together Art Supply Packs

Teaching Art

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

5 Top Tips to Teaching in a Mask

Teaching Art

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!