HKIS Home Learning Portal: Weeks 1 – 6

Teaching Art

Ms. London, and I have created content to use at home with our Lower Primary Learners (HI HKIS DRAGONS!) This post will provide Home Learning Activities for students ages 4 to 5 (Reception 1), 5 to 6 (Reception 2), 6 to 7 (Grade 1) and 7 to 8 (Grade 2). The content below provides one art activity per week per grade level/age group. More Little Art Lessons for at-home use are also available on my Youtube Channel for additional art activities and experiences. Note that these videos and activities can also be used by anyone so feel free to share with other parents, families and other little artists!

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Hi Artists! Ms. London and I miss you!

Ms. London and I would love to see artwork that artists are creating at home! Whether it is a photo you snapped during the process or a photo of your final finished artwork, SHARE IT WITH US! Simply click the button below which will take you to a Google Drive Folder where you can upload photos of artwork. Please label the file with your little artists’ first and last name and put it in the correct grade level to help us sty organised. Looking forward to seeing your amazing artwork, artists!

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Grade 2: Self Portraits – Lesson 1: The Selfie

This lesson is to introduce the art vocabulary term, Self-Portrait, in a fun and relatable way for our Grade 2 learners.

Grade 2: Portraiture – Lesson 2: Self-Portrait Drawing

In Lesson 2, students will create a Self-Portrait drawing of their likeness! Using some step-by-step resources and drawing guides, students can draw a cartoon-like emoji of them themselves! Don’t stop at one, draw two or three and experiment with different hair styles, expressions and accessories!

Simple Self-Portrait Drawing Guide

Expressions & Emotions Drawing Reference

Grade 2: Portraiture – Lesson 3: Color

In Lesson 3, students will add color to their Self-Portraits! Using basic materials at home, add color to provide more information about themselves!

Grade 2: Portraiture – Lesson 4: Collage

In Lesson 4, students will add collage items to their Self-Portraits! Using images and text cut from old magazines and newspapers, students can add more information about themselves using different imagery and text.

Grade 2: Portraiture – Lesson 5: Portraits

In Lesson 5, students will use what they have learned in previous lessons and create a Portrait which is a drawing or artwork portraying someone else! Using the same materials and drawing guide, students can create a portrait of a family member, role model or even the family pet!

Simple Portrait Drawing Guide

Expressions & Emotions Drawing Reference

Grade 2: Portraiture – Lesson 6: Assessment

This week’s assessment is to show Ms. London and I what you have learned on Portraiture! Click the button below to take a  fun and short online quiz, testing you on what you have learned over the last 5 weeks of hoe learning in art!

Grade 2 Assessment


Grade 1: Where do Artists Get there Ideas!? – Lesson 1: Observational Drawing

Grade 1 learners are introduced to the artwork of Adam Frezza & Terri Chiao as well as learning different ways artists generate and gather ideas for their own art making. This lesson focuses on observational drawing as a way to gather ideas for art making like Adam Frezza & Terri Chiao.

Grade 1: Where do Artists Get there Ideas!? – Lesson 2: Draw from your Imagination

For Grade 1’s second lesson, students will use their ingredients of art, The Elements of Art, Line, Shape and color to build pattern to take their plant from the real world to the surreal world!

Grade 1: Where do Artists Get there Ideas!? – Lesson 3: Sculpture_Play Dough

For Grade 1’s third lesson, students will use some other ingredients in the kitchen with Ms. London to make play dough! This lesson also introduces the art vocabulary and actions for Sculpture, 3D & 2D. Students will later use the play dough as a sculpting material to create playful plays.

Grade 1: Where do Artists Get there Ideas!? – Lesson 4: Sculpture_Hand Building

For Grade 1’s fourth lesson, students can use the play dough they made in Lesson 3 or another sculpting materials to practice hand-building techniques in preparation of creating their playful plant in next weeks lesson!

Hand Building Worksheet

Grade 1: Where do Artists Get there Ideas!? – Lesson 5: Playful Plants & Cacti

For Grade 1’s fifth lesson, students will use either the play dough they made or another sculpting material to create a playful plant or cacti! Note that the examples in the video are what students have created years prior using air dry clay and acrylic paint to paint designs once dried. Depending on the materials you have, the clay can be painted or simply made over and over again using play dough – it’s up to you!

Grade 1: Where do Artists Get there Ideas!? – Lesson 6: Assessment

This week’s assessment is to show Ms. London and I what you have learned! Click the button below to take a fun and short online quiz, testing you on what you have learned over the last 5 weeks of home learning in art!

Grade 1 Assessment


Reception 2: Looking Like an Artist – Lesson 1: Hong Kong Buildings_Drawing

In the classroom Reception 2 students are learning about the city in which they live, Hong Kong! They are connecting their learning to art by practicing building from observation and resources. In this lesson students practice drawing iconic building within the city and/or buildings they see around them!

Reception 2: Looking Like an Artist – Lesson 2: Hong Kong Buildings_Tracing

For Reception 2’s second lesson, students will trace their drawings with black marker. This is a great way to help practice fine motor control and mindfulness. Use what you have at home – lots of options are listed in the video.

Reception 2: Looking Like an Artist – Lesson 3: Imaginative Creature

For Reception 2’s third lesson, students will use their imagination to draw an imaginary creature we would not see roaming around Hong Kong i.e. dinosaur, unicorn, space alien. Using materials at home, students will draw and color a crazy creature to have ready for the next lesson.

Reception 2: Looking Like an Artist – Lesson 4: Arrange & Glue

For Reception 2’s fourth lesson, students will cut, arrange, and glue their buildings and imaginary creatures to a background to complete their artwork.

Reception 2: Looking Like an Artist – Lesson 5: Imaginary City

For Reception 2’s firth lesson, students will use the skills they learned in previous lessons create their very own imaginary city. This lesson again combines observation and imagination which helps young artists start to use their observations of the world around them and their own ideas to create art.

Reception 2: Looking Like an Artist – Lesson 5: Assessment

This week’s assessment is to show Ms. London and I what you have learned! Click the button below to take a fun and short online quiz, testing you on what you have learned over the last 5 weeks of home learning in art!

Reception 2 Assessment


Reception 1: The Elements of Art – Lesson 1: Sing Along!

It is important for our littlest learners to retain and practice the language we have been using in the art room. Below is a video of a song we sing in the art room, The Elements of Art Song, as well as the actions to use when singing and listening. When your little artist is drawing and painting at home, ask them to show you where they used Line, Shape and Color. Talking about their art is as important as making art so take some time to use the song and actions to help your little artist practice their art vocabulary.

Reception 1: The Elements of Art – Lesson 2: Color

Read some of our favorite books from the art room with Ms. London and her dog, Dolly. In this video, Ms. London and Dolly read White Rabbit’s Color Book by Alan Baker. Try making your own color wheel at home using found objects. Paper clips, toys, or bottle caps try to find one object for each color in the color wheel – Red, yellow, orange, green, blue, indigo (light blue or teal) and violet.

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Reception 1: The Elements of Art – Lesson 3: Line

Read some of our favorite books from the art room with Ms. London and her dog, Dolly. In this video, Ms. London and Dolly read A Line Can Be by Laura Ljungkvist. Using string or yarn at home, try making ten different kinds of lines! After you make each line using the string, try to copy the line using a pen/pencil on paper. This is a great challenge using your hands in two different ways!

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Reception 1: The Elements of Art – Lesson 4: Shape

Read some of our favorite books from the art room with Ms. London and her dog, Dolly. In this video, Ms. London and Dolly read My First Shapes with Frank Llyod Wright by Frank Llyod Wright Publishing Company & Muddpuppy. At home try to use shapes to build a house. You can choose the materials! From blocks on the carpet to paper and crayons, name the shapes as you use them to build a house like Frank Llyod Wright!

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Reception 1: The Elements of Art – Lesson 5: Hello, from Friends in the Art Room

White Rabbit, Larry the Snake & Frank Lloyd Wright miss the students! So this week students can reconnect with them as well as reminding them to continue using their ingredients when they are making and baking some yummy delicious art! These three art loving mascots are excited to see you!

Reception 1: The Elements of Art – Lesson 6: Assessment

This week’s assessment is to show Ms. London and I what you have learned! Click the button below to take a fun and short online quiz, testing you on what you have learned over the last 5 weeks of home learning in art!

Reception 1 Assessment

Matte Medium & Tape Transfers

Teaching Art

From journaling to mixed media art, transfers are a great way to add text, texture, and images to your artmaking. I learned several techniques in my papermaking course at university and have recently incorporated some of these techniques into my lessons. The students were amazed that they could ‘make stickers’ and transfers images to surfaces ‘like tattoos’. Below are some easy ways for you to add transfers into your art as well as how to teach transfers to your students.

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InkJet Printer Images

For transfers explained in this is post, the images that are used need to be printed from an inkjet printer as opposed to a laser printer. The matte medium and the adhesive of the tape stick to the printed ink from the paper leaving the transferred image. High contrast black and white images and text work best. Because the images are transferred background, any words, characters or symbols must be reserved on a computer program before printed to ensure the when transferred they can be read correctly.

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Tape Transfers

Using adhesive clear packaging tape, apply the image sticking the image on the adhesive side. Then, wet the back of the paper with a wet cloth or rage or run under water. Once the paper is slightly transparent, begin rubbing the paper off the tape. The white paper rolls and rubs away relieving just the black ink image sticking to the adhesive. Continue to rubbing until all of the white paper pulp is off the tape. Use a clean dry cloth or rag to pat dry the tape. The tape is still slightly sticky allowing it to stick to surfaces.

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Matte Medium Transfer

The matter medium acts like the adhesive of the tape and created a thin layer of medium for the ink to adhere. Brush on the matter medium unto the surface you are placing the transfer on. Place the paper ink side down onto the medium. Be careful not to get the matte medium on top of the white backside of the paper. Although it to dry and use a wet cloth to wet the paper until it is transparent and you can see the images beneath. Then using your fingers or gentle with the rag, begin rubbing the paper away. Often some of the images rub away which creates tarnishes, antique effects. Rewet the surface to continue to rub gently until all of the paper pulp is rubbed off. The technique also works on cardboard and most surfaces however because you need to wet and rub the paper using a heavier weight paper for the background is important.

Latex Glue Varnish

I often use a latex glue to varnish the surface of a collage or artwork with transfers because it helps to seal the collage items, gives a slightly shiny surface finish and also helps to intensify the black of the transfers.

For the artwork below, students began by making backgrounds with watercolor. Then they added cut out collage items from lai see packets. Lastly, they added matte medium transfers before putting a coat of latex glue on the top.

Day of the Dead Inspired Pumpkin Artwork & Display

Teaching Art

Because we are such a large school and lack permanent space to exhibit students’ work, I have had to get a bit creative on how to share our students’ art within our community. Therefore, I have hitched my wagon to our school’s annual Pumpkin Festival and this year it was another wild ride!

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Wanting to recycle the same lessons, planning and logistics from last year, Grade 2 students made papier-maché pumpkin sculptures, Grade 1 created oil pastel and watercolor resistant pumpkins and Reception 2 collaborated to make a large banner that tied in their learning from their color theory unit. Last year students pulled inspiration from the art and life of Yayoi Kusama, whereas this year students looked at the imagery, colors, and designs from Dia de los Muertos to influence their art.

Reception 2: Painting Pumpkins using Tints & Shades

After learning how to mix secondary colors as well as how to lighten and darken a color by adding white or black, Reception 2 students painted pre-made pumpkin templates demonstrating their ability to create two tints and two shades. Once we had all two hundred painted, I cut them out and glued them to a banner that I painted and prepped prior.  I painted latex glue onto the back of each one and then flattened them with books while they dried.

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Grade 1: Day of the Dead Inspired Oil Pastel a Watercolour Wash Pumpkins

Students began the unit by creating observational drawings of pumpkins. Once they had the outline of the pumpkin traced in marker, we looked at images and videos from the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. Students then created posters to have as reference later.

Students practiced drawing Sugar Skulls in their sketchbooks before transferring their designs to their pumpkin drawing. After tracing the rest of the designs in marker, students added oil pastels and then painted a watercolor wash over the top. for the background, I taught a step-by-step lesson on how to draw a web with rulers also using oil pastels and finishing with a watercolor wash. Lastly, pumpkins were cut-out and glued to their background.

Grade 2 Day of the Dead Inspired Pumpkin Sculptures

Grade 2 students began by applying several layers to a balloon. After the form was solid, they added a stem using rolled newspaper and masking tape. Then applying a final layer of papier-maché to connect the two forms. A layer of black or white gesso was applied to create a smooth surface.

The Day of the Dead celebrations were introduced and students learned how to cut a symmetrical paper skull to which they then glued onto their pumpkins with latex glue both under and on top of the skull. Before drawing directly on to their sculpture, students practiced different patterns and designs in their sketchbook first. Posco paint pens were used to build color, shapes and lines to make their skulls unique and their own.

When I first began visualising this display, I knew I needed a cohesive color scheme to help tie the three different art forms together. I made sure to stick with the same colors for each project as well as using black and white to ensure the artwork looked both stunning on its own and as a collective.

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I enjoyed my second ride through the pumpkin patch and the students felt excited and proud showing off their pumpkin paintings and sculptures. It made the prep, planning and pungent smell of papier-mache in the art room all worth it! cheers to another wild wagon ride in 2020!

Want to Teach Art at an International School?_Part 1

Teaching Art

So, you want to teach art abroad, eh? These five tips can help you take the first steps toward making the big leap.

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Mosaic mural at my school’s Lower Primary Campus.

1. Pay Your Dues

Large, well established international schools will not consider any candidate without at least 2 years of full-time teaching experience within the grade, department or subject matter that you are applying for…period. I learned this the hard way. After driving 16 hours to Philadelphia in the middle of February to an International Recruitment Fair, I was told by every school from across the globe that I should, and I quote, ‘save myself the paper and the ink’ because they wouldn’t even look at a resume without at least 2 years of teaching experience. Because international schools are private, parents pay tuition, therefore, schools are not willing to spend the time nor money to help new teachers cut their teeth.

Art Shed

I taught art in a shed at one point in my career as well as art from a cart.

2. Do your Homework

An international school is a school that promotes international curriculum, in an international environment, either by adopting a curriculum such as that of the International Baccalaureate, Edexcel or Cambridge Assessment International Education, or by following a national curriculum different from that of the school’s country of residence. A good place to start when researching international schools is looking for schools that are connected to your home country i.e. American International Schools. Experience gained within your home country will be seen as valuable and sought after when applying to such schools. If you are interested in teaching within a particular country, then research what international schools are there and begin viewing their websites and application requirements.

IMS was the first international school I ever worked at. I am glad they took a chance on me as I had the bare minimum experience when I started.

3. Make What You Do Visible

The international teaching realm is competitive. Bigger packages mean greater expectations of teacher’s experience, education, and influence. It is very important to have an online presence when applying for international schools to be able to show who you are, what you do and what you’re all about. Be a brand and promote your self as such. This does not mean having a public Facebook account with your weekend exploits, it means having social platforms such as Instagram, Weebly, WordPress and/or Facebook devoted to documenting your teaching. This is on top of your school’s required blog page for your class or subject, this is an account that can go with you if and when you move on.

When I was at IMS I began building my brand and generating new content. I then created my Instagram account devoted to documenting my art teaching and posted art education videos on Youtube.

4. Make a Plan

Make a plan and work your plan. International school begins recruiting as early as September for the start of the next school year. Therefore, planning ahead is crucial to help your chances in being offered a contract. There are recruitment fairs in many large East coast cities in the United States every January and February as well as International Teacher Recruitment fairs in London and Bangkok around the same time. The goal for most schools is to secure all teacher contracts before the end of April for the start of school in the fall. Search Associates and CRS are two large international teaching recruitment companies and are a good place to start your search regarding job opportunities and recruitment fair listings.

Student Teacing

After my student teaching in Perth, Australia, I knew I wanted to teach abroad. It took me years to land a job at my dream school in Hong Kong but every journey starts with a single step.

5. Once you go abroad, it’s hard to go back

Once you have taught in at international school with ample resources, your own art room, small class sizes, and parent communities that support what and how you teach, many of the institutions that you have come from are going to seem less appealing. So, be prepared, this decision to go abroad might be the beginning of your life abroad for a decade or more. Venturing into the unknown with clear eyes and an open heart will help you take full advantage of the opportunities that lay ahead.

Hong Kong Inter

Me in my brand new art room at HKIS! Hong Kong International School is one of the biggest and most reputable international schools in Asia. Planning, preparation, resilience, and determination got me to where I am today.

Space Invader Pixel Art

Teaching Art

Invader, is a French urban artist, is known for his ceramic tile mosaics modeled on the pixelated art of 1970s–1980s 8-bit video games. His creations can be seen in highly-visible locations in over 65 cities in 33 countries. 

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As a massive fan of Invader, I have been dreaming up a unit to incorporate and connect Pixel Art with the Lower Primary Visual Arts curriculum. So when I wound up with a crazy amount of small papercraft tiles, I pinned down a unit that combined art, math, and spatial planning. WINNING!

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To introduce the concept of a pixel, Reception 1 students practiced using grids and pom poms to make simple pictures. Learning that a pixel is a small part of a bigger picture, students practiced following a template as well as planning their own picture using the grid and pom poms.

After making a grid that matched the size of the paper pixel tiles, I drew different colored Space Invaders on the grids to match the color paper tiles I had. Students then glued the tiles to the grid using glue and Q-tips.

Students then created their own Space Invader grid template by using colored pencils, colors that matched the paper tiles and then gluing the paper pixels to their grid. The photos below show the grids before and after the pixels were placed.

The unit totalled six, 30 minute lessons. Two lessons were spent on practicing with large girds and pom poms, the next two lessons, students glued pixels on to a pre-made template and the last two lessons students designed their own template and finished gluing.

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Students worked on a large Invader at the early finisher corner each week to help create large pieces of pixel art to use for the display as well as hide and hang-up around the school.

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I also printed 20 pictures of Invader’s Pixel Art and put them in various places around the school. This created intrigue from other grade levels who spotted them and wondered what they were. Despite only facilitating this unit to Reception 1, the entire school, including teachers and staff, learned about the art of Invader. The hope is that students continue to try and spot Invaders around the world, wherever they go!

Pop Art Patterned Puzzle Portrait Prints

Teaching Art

When I left for maternity leave (3 weeks earlier than expected) one of the units I had loosely proposed was further planned and facilitated by my teaching partner, Augustine Tse and my maternity leave substitute, Kim Campbell. Combining the styling of Andy Warhol’s Pop Art Prints, printmaking vocabulary and processes, portraiture and pattern building, these Pop Art Patterned Puzzle Portrait Prints produced by our second graders are positively…phenomenal.

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After discussing the life and art of Andy Warhol, students began by taking selfies using the iPad. Their photos were then printed out, in black and white, on A4 cartridge paper. With their picture on top of thicker weight paper, students traced over prominent lines of their face. The pencil marks push enough through and into the paper beneath to act as a guide for them to then trace over in black marker. Students then added other hatching lines to add value and details in their face, clothing, and hair. This traced portrait from a picture acted as their template to transfer to a foam printing plate.

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Once engraved into the printing plate students cut around their head and torso then glued their portrait print plate to a cardstock weight paper backing to help make printing easier for them to align their edges (an ingenious move by Kim and Augustine).

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Students used four different ink colors on four different pieces of colorful paper to pull their prints. The prints were them clipped together with a binder clip and students followed guiding instruction to cut around the outline of their head and torso, cutting the background pieces into two parts, then cutting out their hair, dividing their torso as well as their face. Students were left with puzzle pieces of their portraits which were then put back together varying the colors in the four different portraits glued to an A2 dark colored base paper.

Lastly, students drew from prior knowledge to add pattern using only line and two colors to the background and highlighted areas of their face and torso. The final product truly pops and students were pretty proud of their pasted portraits.

This unit is an example of three art educators working together on various parts and pieces of the lesson plan to provide a uniquely punchy piece of…GOLD, PURE GOLD!

Indian Woodblock Printing

Teaching Art

My former art teaching partner, the fabulous and ever talented Claire Kirk, dreamt up this richly layered unit ladened and linked with many different levels of learning.

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With our Kindergartners participating in a unit centered around the Hindu Festival, Diwali, in their Kinder classroom, The Indian Woodblock Printing Unit was designed for students to then further explore how art is influenced by and connected to culture. Students are introduced to the intricate and symmetrical designs synonymous with Indian textiles and learn about how to create artifacts that celebrate the traditional arts and crafts of India, specifically woodblock printing.

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The unit begins with inquiry about how patterns are transferred to cloth and fabric. Students are then introduced to the idea of woodblock printing with a focus on the designs and techniques found in India. Students learn about symmetry and how to create a symmetrical design. The first lesson is devoted to practicing and creating symmetrical designs in pairs using paper shapes.

In the following lesson, students begin by planning designs in their sketchbook based on the adhesive foam shapes provided for them. Once they have created a successful symmetrical design, students transfer the adhesive foam shapes to the surface of a woodblock. The shapes are cut from larger shapes to ensure a variety of sizes are provided to make a developed design.

Ink trays are prepped by soaking felt squares in salt water before ringing them out and putting them on a plastic try. The salt helps delay the felt pads from drying out so the pads can be covered and used over and over again. Water-soluble printing ink is painting on the felt ink pads and are reinked twice within a lesson by students or the teacher.

Students practice printing on paper before they print on fabric. A great emphasis is placed on ‘hovering’ over the spot they want to print on to ensure they are being mindful about each print’s placement. Once the fabric dries, it can be used for a variety of things. From gluing it to a bag or sewing two printed pieces together, the results are luscious and lend themselves to lots of variations for creations.

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This unit is one of my favorite for its integration of culture, math, the design cycle, and printmaking. It gives a great foundation to show young learners that art is more than painting and drawing but a part of many different aspects of life and learning.

Papier-mâché Pumpkins

Teaching Art

If you know me, follow me or ever met me, you are aware and often obnoxiously reminded of my love for Yayoi Kusama. As an art teacher, I have always wanted to create a student art exhibition of all Yayoi Kusama inspired artwork. So when I learned that my school hosts an annual Pumpkin Festival for our school and the local community, I began plotting.

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All of our Grade 2 students, which includes 200 kids, all constructed their own papier-mâché pumpkin sculpture inspired by the artwork of Yayoi Kusama. The enduring understanding for the unit was, ‘Artists make art to express their thoughts and feelings.’ Yayoi, using art as her medicine, uses repetitive mark making to cope with her mental illnesses. Incorporating vocabulary such as Shape, Form, Organic, Geometric, Pattern and Infinity Nets, Grade 2 students not only learned perseverance through the pumpkin making process but also practiced talking about their art and their artmaking – an opportunity which I think is often missed in primary art education programs. Below is an outline of the step-by-step process toward creating the pumpkins sculptures but I must warn you, if you plan to participate in this pumpkin project be prepared to experience potential highs and lows throughout the process.

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Preparing the Pumpkin Form

To create the pumpkin form, balloons were blown up for each student. If you can, procure an air compressor to speed up this long-winded part of the project. Make sure to really tie the balloons extra tight to ensure that they do not deflate too soon. Also, different balloons have different elasticity backed on their size and age. Balloons, not blown-up all the way, allow for the rubber bands to push into them more so the indentations are more prominent. With that said, the rubber bands move more easily which can create a problem in the early stages. Balloons that are more taunt and feel tighter, the rubber bands will stay on easier but the indentations are not pronounced.

Pumpkin Forms

We had students put their own rubber bands on in partner pairs – one stretched the rubber band while the other person held the balloon and helped wrap the rubber band around the bottom. This is challenging for kids but they CAN do it. Just be prepared for a few popped balloons and some rubber band flingage.

Papier-mâché-ing

I have always used flour and water for my papier-mâché mixture but due to Hong Kong’s humidity, I thought I should use watered down latex glue instead. BIG MISTAKE! After the first layer, with 200 kids mind you, the balloons stuck to the latex glue and as the balloon shrunk so did the entire pumpkin forms looking like real pumpkins come Thanksgiving – a shriveled, shrunken patch of pumpkins! DISASTROUS! RIP the first batch of the papier-mâché pumpkin patch.

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After some screaming and repetitive head-banging against a wall, I returned to my old stand-by – GLUTEN! Students started over and they successfully applied three layers of flour and water based papier-mâché to create a strong pumpkin form. Due to my allotted class time (40 minutes per lesson), students worked together on one pumpkin with a partner and then the next lesson switched. The third lesson they papier-mâché their own. This made sure that the forms were strong enough if the balloon began to delate.

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Teaching STEM – LITERALLY!

For the stem, students used newspaper and masking tape. By scrunching the newspaper, folding it in half leaving the two ends out before wrapping the shaft with tape, students taped the stem down and then applied a layer of papier-mâché.

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Pumpkin Painting

To help cover the newspaper print, students applied a layer of gesso to their entire pumpkin, allowed it to dry and then painted it one solid color. We mixed our own paint colors for students to ensure the colors were rich and varied.

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Lastly, students drew guidelines on their pumpkins and then used the line to guide the painting of their polka dots.

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Students also had the choice to paint their stem, polkify it or leave it one color. Painting uniform dots is not easy and students needed a lot of guidance and reminding about how to be successful. Last but not least, the pumpkins were coated with a thin layer of varnish to help protect them from the humidity.

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Storage & Management

Each class painted their class one color which helped for the organization of the pumpkins. Also, be prepared not to see your floor for several weeks as the pumpkins take up a lot of space! We found it helpful to use masking tape name tags which were used to place next to the drying pumpkins, stuck on once dry if needing to be moved and later writing names and class codes on the bottom. Large moving bags worked great for later storage, moving and returning the pumpkins to the classes. We see students once every 3 days for a 40-minute lesson, note that this project spanned 1 and half months (about 10 lessons = 6 to 7 hours) but can go faster with a smaller group. 

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Polka Time

The real power of the pumpkins is having them displayed collectively. Like Kusama’s artwork, the repeated forms and patterns presented together provides a punchy and dynamic display. Although visually appealing and producing Instagram worthy pics, this project is challenging nor can be done quickly. Heed my warning, it is messy, it is smelly, it is long and sometimes scary but like we teach our students, if you persevere, great things will happen! Like Yayoi, greatness came from such perseverance and we now have the artwork to prove it!

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P.S. The reading of this blog post can double as a drinking game. Every time you read ‘Pumpkin’ you drink or every time you read a clever alliteration, you drink! After the positively preposterous pumpkins making process, you’re gonna need a drink…DRINK!

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White Rabbit Color Mixing with Pre-K

Teaching Art

Color Theory is an obvious choice when introducing your youngest learn to art experiences in the art room. It provides a foundation of color mixing knowledge as well as introduces students to key vocabulary. For my Pre-Kindergarten students, I adapted and redesigned a unit that I facilitated with partner last year. Using Alan Baker’s White Rabbit Color Book as a color mixing catalyst, students follow White Rabbit as she mixes different colors of paint into her fur discovering the magic of primary colors!

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This series of units is similar to the ones you have seen with Mouse Paint but includes a fun final color mixing task that learners will not soon forget!

The video and lesson outline below gives a brief look into the steps within each of the three lessons within the White Rabbit Color Mixing Magic Unit.

Lesson 1: 

  • Introduce White Rabbit and read White Rabbit’s Color Book
  • Introduce the Primary Colors
  • Use inks in water jugs to show color mixing in action
  • Use primary colored inks on coffee filters or transparent circle rounds to experiment with color mixing

Lesson 2:

  • Review the Primary Colors and facilitate call and response practice with color mixing of orange, green and purple i.e. red and yellow make…?
  • Demonstrate color mixing on the color mixing paper palette
  • Students mix paint to make orange, green, and purple
  • Students mix all three Primary Colors to make brown

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Lesson 3:

  • Review the Primary Colors and facilitate call and response practice when mixing to make orange, green and purple
  • Present the color mixing magic using the inks in the water jugs again to review
  • Draw White Rabbit on student’s Brown painted paper using white paint markers or white oil pastels
  • Read White Rabbit’s Color Book and say goodbye to White Rabbit

There are so many ways to introduce the Primary Colors and color mixing theory to young learners. This unit ties in a fun book to reference, color mixing exploration, painting practice, and drawing practice. Also, in a way, the lessons are linked together like a story which is helpful to learners this young. I must warn you though, your little learners may magically turn into brown rabbits when painting but it is part of the fun right!?

Collaborative Art: Together As One

Teaching Art

This year I began the school year with a whole-school collaborative artwork and it was so successful I plan to do it every year! Yes, bold statement, but from having all the same theme, objectives, materials and focus for all grade levels, it helps set a tone for the whole school year as well as makes the first week of school less stressful and overwhelming than it already is AND it provides a large display before you have student art ready for show.

With our whole school year theme this year being ‘Together as One’ I decided to use an idea that the Art on Ed had featured on their website (SHOUT OUT!). Based on the artwork by Vasily Kandinsky, each student creates a concentric circle painting that will become part of a larger piece. Like the circles in Kandinsky’s painting, each circle is like all of us; different, shapes, colors and sizes but all of us together make one school, one community showcasing our unique differences.

Kindergarten through Grade 2 used watercolour paints and Pre-K used tempra cakes of only the primary colors.

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Pre-K Primary color circles

For the final display, Kindergarten through Grade 2 was displayed together and Pre-K was separate. Both works are mesmerizing and each has a different mood, feel and strength.  The kids were very excited to see them displayed in the school and they could no doubt stare for hours trying to find ‘their dot’. This collaborative artwork is also a great segway into Dot Day which is typically in mid-September or can be hung to help celebrate the day.

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All in all, collaborative artworks to kick off the year are the way to go! Not only for the ‘wow factor’ but to help you from going a bit dotty at the start of the year and oh, boy, it is going be dotty for me, we, together as one come December!

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