Monthly Archives: November 2013

Weaving with Pony Beads


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Kids love to weave and I love to teach them weaving. I have done soda straws, kumihimo disks, finger knitting, cardboard looms, fork weaving and god’s eyes.

I saw this at There’s a Dragon in My Art Room a few years back and wanted to do it with a group of students. I first tried it with a group of 5th graders whom I had done art with since kindergarten. Then I did it again with my after school group.


I created an excel sheet with a pattern grid for kids to fill in. I used cardboard looms that I had already. I cut them up to accommodate the smaller size of a bracelet. I purchased plastic needles from Dick Blick and used some blunt tapestry needles I had from another project. The students used pony beads. I had a group of kids sort them by color into baggies before we did the project. To save class time, I warped all the looms myself.

wampum 1 wampum2

If a kid doesn’t weave correctly, loose strings will be seen. If they skip a lot of strings, the entire project will fall apart when it is taken off the loom.


I always have the kids who can do the project without help be our “student experts”. My students love to share what they know with each other. It is a great way for me to help those students who need extra help.

One afternoon, I heard a veteran student of mine tell a new student “Mrs. N. really likes us to become art experts so we can teach others how to do cool art”.  I think by teaching others, we get better at whatever it is we do.

Atmospheric Perspective



I created art lessons for two 6th grade classes at the middle school. Because I only knew some of the students, I wanted a simple lesson where I could gauge how much painting and paint mixing experience they had. After I posted it online, a friend who teaches HS art said, great atmospheric perspective and I of course had to teach that phrase to the students. I have done several lessons with tint, shade and tone over the years and there are many out there to choose from this is an easy one and the results are nice.

Students learned about atmospheric perspective. It is the way artists create an illusion of depth by making variations in color.  I showed the students pictures of mountain ranges so they could see how this phenomenon occurs. Basically, moisture in the air combines with dust particles causing light to scatter making colors lighten as they go further from the viewer. Usually, this light looks blue but for this lesson, students were allowed to choose their favorite base color.


Leonardo da Vinci called it aerial perspective and wrote about it in his Treatise of Painting: “Colours become weaker in proportion to their distance from the person who is looking at them”.  The terms are used interchangeably from what I have seen.

After students looked at the pictures of mountain ranges, I showed them how to mix tints, shades and tones.

When mixing color, it is best to start with the lightest color and add the dark color. They drew angled  lines across the paper to represent mountain ranges and set to work. I had them start at the top with the lightest color and told them to paint from their pencil line to the top of the page. They continued making the colors darker with each level. Some students had a much easier time than others but they all turned out quite nice.

tint and shade

This lesson can be adapted for other grade level. I have also done this lesson with second and third graders and been equally successful.