The Grade Three team shared their curriculum map with me which makes my job oh so easy! I knew whales would be part of their curriculum for November and December.


I found some beautiful images on Etsy that I loved. Enormous whales, a lot of ocean and tiny ships or boats. The work is by Rachel Blyer of the Colorful Cat Studio. Her work is done in watercolor.


For this lesson, I had my students create these in a mixed media format. We did these in just under an hour.

They started by drawing the image of their boat and sky. Then they did some scrubby paint with a cardboard scrap and some “ocean” colors which I tossed in some blue glitter glue for fun. They used pre-painted gray paper for the whales. I put out lots of images of whales for them to use as reference. I think they came out pretty amazing.




Miner 49er Self Portraits



Our fourth grade students just went on a field trip to Rendezvous in Poway It is a yearly event where they have living history encampments showing how people lived and worked during the the civil war era and around California’s turn of the 20th century.



For this lesson, I showed the students my collection of tin types and ambrotypes.


I also showed them some information about the Gold Rush and talked about the tools miners used to find gold.


They then created a self portrait in colored pencil. They created a rounded or decorative edge on the paper and mounted it to black then embellished with metallic paints.


Fish like Sandra Silberzweig



If you have not seen the work of contemporary artist Sandra Silberzweig, I recommend you stop right now and go to her site. Her art is colorful, dynamic and beautiful and much of it is perfect for students to imitate. She also does some fantastic faces that are reminiscent of Picasso.


My Grade 4 students needed something fun and colorful (or maybe it was me) so we looked at Sandra’s work. We learned that she has synesthesia which is a condition where one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another an example would be when a synesthist hears a sound, it also produces a visualization of a color.


We discussed color theory: primary, secondary, complimentary, and analogous color and created these images in her style.


The students told me there is a book many of them have read called A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass and some of them have also read Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper both books have characters with synesthesia.


I think these fish came out beautifully. One of the teachers told me she is saving them to put up when the students study biomes.


Self Portraits with Calvera Masks


I have a combo class of grade 4 and grade 5 students that is just always amazing. Their classroom teacher has taught a combo class for several years. She creates such a great community in her classroom that it makes it easy to teach art to her students. The students are well behaved, polite, flexible and go with the flow. If I have a new project idea, like this one. I often choose her class as my test subjects.

Most of these students have been in my art classes since preschool or kindergarten so without a lot of directions, they drew a self portrait in oil pastel. I do self portrait almost every year with every grade level. Because I upload all of their art to Artsonia, we can see their progression as an artist.

We looked at some slides about Dia de los Muertos and sugar skulls and they used those as their inspiration for their calavera mask.

Once they were complete, we put brads in the top so the mask could be spun out of the way or removed completely.

I also did a felt calavera project this week with my 5th graders.  Hopefully that lesson will be in San Diego Family Magazine in November so the directions and my samples will be there.

The best part of this, one of the students brought in a ceramic sugar skull that she had at home. She shared stories of her family’s Dia de los Muertos traditions and I gave her a small Altoids tin so she could create a small nicho similar to the ones I did with fourth grade here. I love when they share things like that with me and want to do more with a project.

#DSESRocks Family Art Night



My College buddy Ali runs a Children’s Art Foundation in the Central Valley. A few months ago, she posted an art project she was doing in her area #805Rocks. I knew it would be really fun for our Family Art Night.


I started looking in my yard for rocks but realized that it would be a huge task to dig up and wash a hundred rocks. I do have a rocky yard but whew digging and washing and sorting rocks AND planning for art night was just a little too big of a job! I opted for buying a bag of white rocks for about $13 from Home Depot.


I already had acrylic paint, a few paints pens, and some sharpies from past projects so I just had to buy some inexpensive paint brushes.


It was a lot of fun. We ended up having such a huge turn out that we ran out of rocks. A couple of teachers, the principal and I all looked around the school yard but there were few to be had. I suppose it might be a good idea in the future if I ask our PTA to do an interest survey to make sure we have enough supplies.


I look forward to seeing the posts with the hashtag on social media. I also hope the families paint and plant their own rocks in  our community.

Sock Puppets



Over the summer, one of my Boy Scouts built a really cool puppet theater (and a bookcase) for a kindergarten teacher at my school for his Eagle Project.


After talking to the classroom teacher, we decided to do a puppet making workshop. I brought out all my scraps of fabric and felt, buttons, bows, etc. and so did the classroom teacher. She asked students to bring in clean socks. They did not need to be new.


The 5th graders arrived first and I gave them the basic details of what we were doing. I showed them how the sock fit on their hands and told them to think about characters. I also asked them to help their kinder buddy be creative and reminded them that it was a project for the kinders.


It was great. We had a few parents on glue gun duty for kids that wanted immediate adhesion and had fabric tac and tacky glue  bottles on the tables.





Girl Scout Volunteer Conference


20170826_104247I’ve been a Girl Scout since I was 8. I loved it as a girl and when I had girls of my own, I became a leader and loved it just as much through two troops and at least 40 girls. My youngest daughter’s troop just graduated in June and we had a great 13 year run.


I LOVED this S.W.A.P. though I wish it said, “S.T.E.A.M.” instead of STEM 

I was asked if  I would do a workshop at the volunteer conference and I, of course, said yes. How could I not? Girl Scouts means a lot to me and for me it was a way to give back to a great organization. I packed up my rolling cart and was on my way!


For this workshop, I made a couple of gelatin plates and I brought some that were older.

I brought the supplies for the attendees to make paper bag books and do print making and collage. I also brought samples of all kinds of projects like letterboxes, carved stamps, weaving disks and plaster sculptures. I tried to think of things that that they could adapt for use in their troops when working on badges and service projects.


The conference was really informative with lots of excellent speakers and tables of information. Here are a few images. Of course, it would not be a Girl Scout function without the cookies! My favorites were the mandala with flower petals and found objects from nature and the painted rocks. The flubber station was good also.


Super Hero Day Camp


20170814_092310 (1)Last Spring, our librarian asked if I wanted to help her with Super Hero Camp. She has done the camp with different helpers for a couple of years. I of course agreed. What a treat to spend a week with some of my smARTest artists!


I primarily did crafts and she did reading and language arts activities. With her, they made accordion alphabet books, did crossword puzzles, described the inside characteristics and outside characteristics of superheroes and much more.

With me, they made parts for their costumes: cape, shield, gauntlets & masks.

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They drew themselves and split it in half to add their super hero side.


They made marshmallow launchers with plastic cups and balloons which we launched in a variety of ways. We talked about the science of launching the object and what happens when we pulled hard or gently. What happens when there is more than one marshmallow, which team could launch the most into a target, etc.


We blew bubbles on the playground so they could practice their superhero breath. Bubble and kids-whats not to love? They even got rid of kryptonite-using ping pong balls and spoons, with relay races to move the balls from one end of the team to the other.

I taught them camp songs which I changed the words to so they were superhero themed. They were split into two group for rotations so each team created a cheer with motions. They made superheroes and side kicks out of clothespins and vehicles from recyclables.

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My favorite was their creations out of recyclables. They made super hero vehicles. SO creative!

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This team made space for their clothespin character.

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Loved the flames and the ball turret underneath this one.


Our Friday finale was a parade to the preschool classroom. They put on all their gear and we walked over to the preschool and through the preschool class. So much fun.

I was so busy that I forgot to take my usual pile of photos. What a fun week. I hope to do it again next year.

Technology Goddesses


As you know if you have been reading my blog, I volunteer at Technology Goddesses Day Camp. It is held at a Girl Scout location here in my area. I started as Unit Leader working with a group of girls but found my niche working with Crafts.

This year we did some great mosaics


Painted with marbles-no tech


Painted with Sphero Robots-tech


Did some Tie Dye


Made things with circuits and LEDs  (this is last year’s bag but I LOVE that it says “maker camp”)


And even did some kumihimo weaving


I did not take as many pictures as I usually do. It was super hot and muggy all week at camp which always makes crafts a little more interesting. We’ve learned over the years that when the weather is really hot, elaborate crafts are not as appealing. Sometimes, it is just nice to be sitting in the shade of the porch with the fans on. Even with the heat, it was another great year of camp and crafts!

Kumeyaay Ollas



The third grade learns about the history of our community. Part of that history includes the Native American tribes that lived here before anyone else.


They often take a field trip to the Kumeyaay Interpretive center and see a replica of an Ewaa, grind acorns, paint rocks and learn about the tools, food, lifestyle and culture of these people.


To complement the study of the Kumeyaay, students created these paper pots. We looked at images of Kumeyaay pottery, learned how it was made and then cut out our ollas from paper. I do not have a kiln, so we cannot easily do clay lessons.


We also looked at images of petroglyphs and petrographs from our county. We learned that most of the Kumeyaay pottery was not decorated but did have fire clouds from the Raku firing process they used. We also learned that Kumeyaay pottery is still being made today.


I allowed the students to use images from pictographs and petroglyphs to add more color to their pottery if they chose to. They glued their finished pots onto simple backgrounds when complete.