Monthly Archives: February 2014

Kumihimo Weaving Disks



This is a pretty simple weaving lesson using a disk weaver. There are loads of versions of this out there. The first time I did this kind of weaving was when the San Diego Weaving Guild gave weaving disks away at their booth at the Fair. It has been a favorite of my students for years.

Once kids get this, look out! Belts, book marks, bracelets and tote bag handles will be everywhere. I use pieces of corrugated cardboard or fun foam to make the looms for this project.


Cut an octagon shape out of a card board or fun foam square. (3 inch square works well)

Place a slit on each flat side of the octagon about 1/4 inch. Put a hole in the middle of the octagon-a sharp pencil is great for making the center hole. To find the center, fold the octagon in half and make a line then fold it the other way and make another line-you should have an “X”.

You need seven pieces of yarn or floss. Length will depend on how long you want your finished piece to be. About 18 inches is a good start for a bracelet.  Once you have cut 7 strands of floss, tie a knot in one end. Push the knot through the hole in the octagon. Place one thread into each slot. You will have one empty slot.

To weave; count three strings from the empty hole. You will pull that string and place it into the empty slot. Rotate the disk and repeat-count to the third string, pull it and put it in the empty spot-repeat. You have to make sure you comb the loose strands of floss or yarn as you go or it will tangle.

Once you have come to the end of the yarn, you can pull the strands out of the slots and tie a knot.

Crazy Climbers


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The after school art class is the place for doing fun things that we would not have time for in a regular art class. It also allows my former students from the upper grades to come back and do fun art projects.

This lesson came from seeing a friend’s box art projects. She gets a box each month for her children and in the box is everything needed to complete the art or science lesson. For this project, her kids had made a jelly fish with ribbons on the bottom. For my students, they created whatever image they wanted to.

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Students used cereal box cardboard, straws cut in half, yarn, packing tape and art room donations for this project. First, they drew an image of their choice and cut it out. They decorated the images with collage, beads, buttons, glue, marker, just about anything they could find.

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Once they finished decorating, they taped 2 straws on the back with packing tape. We then fed a piece of yarn through the straws leaving it looped at the top. To prevent the string from going back through the straws, students used beads or buttons as stoppers.

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Colonial Signs


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Part of the social studies for 5th grade is studying the Colonial period.

For this lesson, students used scrap cardboard and tempera paint.


Students looked at images of historic and reproduced colonial signs noting what things should be included as well as noticing the spelling of words.

Students drew a quick sketch to lay out their designs. Once the sketch was complete, they drew images onto the cardboard then painted their sign.

Some chose to cut the cardboard, others did not. To make sure we had lots of diversity, the classroom teacher assigned colonial jobs to their students.

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Collaborative Creatures



Not sure where or when I first saw this lesson but it always has interesting results. It is a twist on Exquisite Corpse-a visual collage game made famous during the Surrealist period.

I have done the creatures with several different grade levels. First I discuss animals and what features they have-snout, trunk, types of ears, tails, wings, feathers, scales, beaks, tongues, teeth, claws, etc., etc.

We also talk about being creative and making sure that whatever they draw that it is something they would be happy to see on their own paper.


Students start by drawing a creature body part on their paper. They then pass the paper to another student for that student to draw another part. I usually pick them up from one table and give them to another table then start the passing process.

At each trade, another student adds a part to the creature. I typically have them pass the papers 6-8 times. When the paper returns to the owner, the owner adds finishing touches and creates a habitat for their creature. I usually use marker and watercolor. Students often write about the creature’s habitat and what it eats.

Abe and George




Years ago, my children did directed drawings of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington with their second grade teacher. It is one of my favorite directed drawing projects.  Even with similar directions, students give their own flair to these presidential pictures. I borrowed the reference page from their teacher. It obviously came from a book but I do not know which one.


For this lesson, I was working with Kindergarten students. They used pencil for their original drawings then used permanent marker to go over the pencil lines erasing extra lines when they completed their drawings.


Once the images were outlined in marker, they colored with crayon. I did this in two 30 minute periods for this class. The first 30 minutes to draw the images, the second 30 minutes to color.


This was a very art capable group. If you try this with your students, you may find you need to adjust the time.

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Winter Olympic Athletes



Kindergarten students drew self portraits of themselves as Olympic athletes. I showed them two ways to create more realistic figures: the sausage and egg method and fatten up your stick figures.

The sausages and eggs idea came from Art Attack by Neil Buchanan about ten years ago.



His idea is that the body is 3 eggs-head is one egg, the body is two eggs. The limbs are each 2 sausages. I drew this on the board as I talked about it. I also drew a stick figure for the students and show them that just by adding another line to the legs and arms, and adding clothes, they look more realistic. We also talked about how to draw hands. This age group usually draws a circle with lines for fingers if they draw hands at all. 

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We looked at pictures of Winter Olympic Athletes and students chose which winter sport they might do if given the opportunity.  Students used oil pastel for these images.

The Dot


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The book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds is an art room favorite. It lends itself to many dot projects and students love the idea that starting with a dot can take you on a fantastic art journey.


For this lesson, pre -school students were given black construction paper and scraps of colored paper. The large black paper you see underneath is an art room “placemat”. They are from a package of extra large black construction paper ordered by mistake by another teacher. I have used them for several years to help make clean-up easier.

A plastic lid placed in the center of the paper helped keep the dot shape as students  glued and added paper to make these collage dots. 

I save scraps of paper from other projects for this lesson.



Olympic Silhouettes



This lesson was based on one I had seen from Clayton Elementary School.

For this lesson, students used clip art images of winter sport silhouettes. They first drew the image in permanent marker then fractured the background into sections.

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Once complete, they used watercolor to fill in.

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Fifth grade students learn about the early explorers as part of their CA Social Studies curriculum. To tie into the unit on exploration, I had the students paint caravels. Caravels were smaller than a galleon, had a different sail configuration and could be maneuvered easier.

I showed the students pictures of caravels and they looked at information about these ships. They were allowed to paint the ships with different sail configurations and could choose the time of day. It was a good lesson to introduce sgraffito and how to use a dry brush to make foam.

Because I am not a ship historian, I found this resource to answer student questions that were not in the social studies book: