Tag Archives: grade 5

Colonial Whirlygigs


Grade 5 learns about the Colonial Period and I like to link my art lessons to classroom curriculum when I can. This lesson brings together several areas of learning into one lesson. It is a great STEAM lesson as well because of the motion and the math of a measuring a circle.


In years past, I have used donated cardboard and we had parent helpers cut the discs.


This year, I had some funds in my Artsonia account and used those to purchase round cardboard from Amazon.


Students decorated both sides of the disc. Then punched 2 holes 1-2 finger widths apart in the center of the discs. I had them measure the center and we talked about how we measure circles which tied in to their recent math lesson where they measured the tether ball courts on the playground and learned about pi.


The hammer and nail punching was not necessary with this year’s soft corrugated cardboard but last year, we used donated ram board and that stuff is hard so hammer and nails were a necessity. The kids love trying new tools so this was a way to teach them about and to use a hammer and nails.


I showed them how to string a piece of thread through the discs and tie them off. Then I show them how to make them spin. The students had to do something colorful on one side and the other side could be their choice.


If you make these, be sure to leave time to play at the end of class. My students really enjoyed playing after creating.





Oak Trees



I was asked to teach a step by step painting class at our Girl Scout Service Unit Encampment. The theme was Amazing Race so the girls went to different locations all over camp and did activities from different countries-things like making sushi in Japan, playing Futbol in Spain, and painting with me in France.


It was for our Juniors (grades 4, 5, 6) and Cadettes (grades 7, 8).

We set up on the porch of one of the cabins and it was a bit breezy and cool but we sure had a great time.


Can you believe we only had 40 minutes? Well, we did! I think they did an amazing job! I showed them my  tricks for “speed” painting like basing in the sky using a thin coat of paint and a sponge.


They did these on 8×10 canvas board. I love that they all came out so differently.







Quilling or Paper Filigree



This lesson came about because of my desperate need to use up this giant box of donated strips.


I’ve done several different lessons with several different grade levels over the last few weeks but the box is still half full.

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I showed my students how to wrap the paper into a little roll then let it go or not, then glue it and squash it into different shapes. They used a paintbrush handle to twist the paper onto.


There are loads of videos and how to’s out there on the internet if you want to do something super fancy. For my 5th grade students, I just had them do flowers.

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We looked at historic and modern day examples. I did this with 5th grade because it was a handicraft from the Colonial period.


The term quilling comes from how colonists would twist the paper around their quills to make this decorative art.

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Heart Coloring Book Pages




I got the idea for this after seeing so many coloring book pages being done by artists I admire.


Because it is so close to valentine’s day, I had the students use a heart outline and then fill in with lines and shapes.


Talking with one of the parent volunteers, I said wouldn’t it be fun to make a coloring book and sell them as a fundraiser for the foundation or have them at the auction. I brought the idea to my principal and he said great let’s do it.


We decided to donate the profits to a teacher at our site who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and will be out the rest of the year. Our principal and a few teachers will choose 30 hearts to create the book and our district publishing department will make them up for us.



Tint and Shade Tikis


48754226.jpgI am always looking for ways to make tints and shades a little more fun. We’ve done monsters, atmospheric perspective, and hearts.


This lesson was inspired by my own tiki collection as well as the art work of Erik Abel.


Students drew their basic shapes in black Staonal marking crayons and filled in the sections with different tints, shades and tones.


Pretty great results for a 60 minute art lesson!


If we had more time, I probably would have them go back and outline the different sections in marker.



13336140_10154204773829042_6344952283846368632_n (1)The San Diego Art Educator’s Association, of which I am a member, held its second annual art show for students in grades k-8.


The art went on display in the lobby of the San Diego County Office of Education in early April and stayed up until May 31 at the closing reception.


It was advertised as “juried” but there were no awards. Students received a certificate for participating which was nice. It was great to see so many student art pieces from all over the county.


Teachers could only submit eight pieces from their schools. Because I had two sites this year, I entered fifteen pieces: eight from one site and seven from the other.


As Tim the SDAEA President says, art teachers do not get compensated for entering art shows for their students. They do it because they know the value of having artists and audiences interact with art.


It was a lot of extra work for me. I spent two entire afternoons tracking down the mat board then a whole day mounting and cutting and labeling. entire afternoon but it always makes me smile to see student art displayed  and that is why I keep doing it even though so few students ever attend these events.




I love Mandalas, I think they are just stunning.


I was recently gifted a mandala coloring book and thought my grade 5’s could easily do some mandalas.


We looked at traditional mandala images, learned about radial design and talked about pattern and shape.


We thought about easy ways we could get everything to look the same. I had them trace a plate for their circle. They then folded the paper so that they had “lines” for each section. I had items they could trace like blocks, cut paper, cups, plastic lids, and various found objects.


Once they completed the design, they colored it and cut it out and mounted it on paper.


Winter Birch Trees


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Another old lesson that I updated for my new school. I did this originally about 7 years ago with my daughter’s 4th grade class. I think I originally saw it in Arts and Activities Magazine.

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I did this lesson with 5th grade. Changed the medium to water color and marker, added a resist option. Students could do a blue sky, sunset sky or aurora borealis sky. I think they are pretty good.