Monthly Archives: March 2015

Cherry Blossoms


In San Diego, we have a beautiful Japanese Friendship Garden. In the spring it is full of cherry blossoms. This lesson was created for my K-1 Combo classes but I have done it with other grades.

The students learned about the cherry blossom festival and the cherry trees in Washington D.C. and our own in Balboa Park. We looked at pictures of cherry blossoms and our local Japanese garden for inspiration.

Students painted a brown branch on blue paper. They dipped their fingers in pink and red paint to make small dots for the blossoms.

Grade 3 Koinobori fish



Nothing says sub shortage or Monday better than an impromptu buddy art lesson: 30 kinders and 28 third graders in the art room creating mixed media koinobori fish.


This was a desperation lesson. I needed something simple and quick that the kids could do together while they found a sub for the Kindergarten class. It turned out that I just ended up doing the lesson with the entire third grade throughout the day and they loved it.


We used 12 x 18 construction paper folded in half. They drew a fish shape on one side of the paper. They cut it out then opened it to decorate with oil pastel. They painted with water color, glued it along the seam. I showed them how to add the cereal box cardboard in the mouth openings-most did it without assistance. Amazingly, we did complete this in our 60 minute time slot. Whew!


The next group was hilarious, “Mrs. N., don’t you have any music besides this opera stuff (it was classical btw).”


Another child said, “Yeah like Uptown Funk!”  Well, I actually did have music like that. So we put on Uptown Funk (the “G” rated version) and nearly every one of them started singing. It was really fun.



I installed our school of fish across from our library. It was beautiful.


Prairie Schooners


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Our fourth grade students learn about Westward Expansion in their social studies units. This lesson came about when discussing ideas for art, one of the fourth grade teachers said, “I don’t know what about wagons?”

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To create these images, I showed the students images of Prairie Schooners and we talked about Western Expansion and the homestead act. I did a little bit of directed drawing but only enough so that they could give the wagons dimension.


Students primarily used oil pastel but could add water color or moveable wheels if they chose to.  I also demonstrated how to make the cut-out wheels have spokes and attach them with brads. Some had a hard time with that but it was fun.

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Colonial Whirligigs



Fifth grade students learn much about the colonial and revolutionary period of America. For this lesson, I focused on Colonial toys. I showed them several different kinds of toys. The ball and cup was easily recognized though they all thought it was a strange looking kendama.


We used donated cardboard floor covering, paint and string. I also used wax paper squares to lay the art on while it dried.


I gave each student a plastic lid and a square of cardboard. They painted whatever they wanted onto the circle. They could divide it into fractions, paint famous art, paint colors that would blend together, paint patterns, etc.

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Once painted, they poked holes in the centers with a hammer and nail and threaded string through the holes, tying the string together. Once the string is attached, they spin the disk by twisting up the string and then releasing it. There are a lot of sites with colonial games you can make just search for them.

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