Monthly Archives: April 2018

Birds: Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzek



I did this lesson a few years ago as a collage project. I love illustrator Laura Dronzek  images in the book. For this lesson, I had planned my shape birds for K thinking it was a “B” week for art but alas, it was “A” week and instead of a pile of Kinders popping into art, it was First Graders. Yikes! That’s what I get for not double checking my phone calendar.


Anyway, I had tempera cake, black crayons and skinny paper and immediately tried to think of things that were spring themed and could be done on the skinny paper. Laura Dronzek’s birds seemed perfect.

I always start my lessons with younger students with guided drawing for those who want that sort help. I also tell my students that they can move ahead if they have a plan. The only “rule” for this lesson was birds and trees.


Clay Wall Pockets


My mother has a clay wall pocket hanging in her dining room that my brother made in elementary school. I have always loved that little bit of clay goodness and was excited to be able to do it with my students. I told them the story and said that they might want to do an extra good job because one just never knows how long their art might hang in their family home.

Students rolled out a rectangle piece of clay. Added texture then folded and pinched. I encouraged them to make sure the sides were well attached and then they poked two holes and wrote their name on the back.

making the pocket

We are using Mexal Air Dry Clay by Laguna that I discovered a while back at the Mingei.

wall pocket close up

They are super fun to make especially when using lots of texture tools (shells, potato mashers, buttons, forks, etc.) and with some organizing, they were easy enough to complete in our 45 minute class period.

So fun to revive an old 70’s clay lesson!

wall pockets

We did pop a bit of brown paper towel in the pocket to make sure it didn’t collapse while it dried.  That’s it! So easy and so much fun.

Second Grade Suns



I used Mexal White air dry clay from Laguna with students to create these suns.



I gave each student a ball of clay about the size of a tennis ball. We talked about how to make it into a sun:

How do you flatten it? with your whole hand or your palm? Depends on the artist.
Do you pinch, cut or press to make the edges? Depends on the artist.
Do you add patterns or a face? Depends on the artist.


I told them the only “rules” were that they had to make a sun, they needed to make sure that the clay was not too thin, they could not get any clay in the sink or on the carpet and they had to have their name on their art.


They made their sun however they wanted to. After a few attempts, I realized it was best for me or a parent to write their name and double check the hole in the top so it could be hung up later.


We used Jazz Gloss Tempera Paint to paint them. I bought a set of regular colors and a set of metallics.

Clay Pinch Pots


lots of pots

This year, I received a stipend from our PTA for Curriculum Enhancement. I chose to purchase air dry clay. The pinch pots to go along with their Kumeyaay Social Studies Unit and their reading of Indian of the Oaks.

pinch pot

The clay we used is called Mexal White and made by Laguna Clay. The texture is similar to kiln fired when creating with it and has a nice hardness when dry. After drying for a few days, students got to paint them. We talked about how the Kumeyaay did not traditionally paint their pottery but painting with bright colors is lots of fun.

painted potspainted

NAEA Seattle 2018


san diegoseattle night

The NAEA Convention is such a great place to get ideas, meet new people and hear about things going on in the art teaching world.

My school is not able to pay for me to attend these conventions so I have to be really budget conscious if I choose to attend anything outside of my town.

I was so lucky this year that NAEA was in Seattle because I have friends who live a short walk from a Link Light Rail Stop. I am so grateful for their kindness and hospitality!  I loved getting off the train each day and seeing these images.

art in columbia citycolumbia city artcolumbia citymagnifying glass

The exhibit hall was packed with lots of vendors with great products and fun projects.


The theme this year was STEAM and as always, there were tons of excellent workshops and great speakers.

I always leave things like this full of new art lessons and ways I can improve my teaching.  Until next time Seattle!

seattle airport