The Dot & Ish Childrens’ Books Art Lessons

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds is not only one of my favorite childrens’ books, but it is also one of my personal favorites. As a teacher and an artist, I find it incredibly inspiring for both children and adults.
The Dot is a story about a little girl named Vashti who doesn’t have much faith in her self as an artist. One day at the end of art class, Vashti has yet to draw anything but her art teacher encourages Vashti to “make a mark, and see where it takes you.” Frustrated and annoyed, Vashti slams her pen down on the paper creating a small, single dot.” Her art teacher sees something more than just a black dot and Vashti comes to art class next week to find her dot framed in gilded gold and hanging behind the teacher’s desk. This sparks Vasthi’s creativity and her belief in herself. From there on out, Vasthi can’t be stopped!

I love it because it inspires the reader into believing in themselves. So, for the last art class, I read the book at the beginning of the class to the students and then let them go crazy with markers and pens. They took their assignment very seriously and came up with some beautiful and unique “Dots”:

I was so impressed with how much they loved the book and how excited they were to do this activity. If you need a filler or an opener for an art class, I would def. recommend it. Just read the book, and let your kids go crazy with blank paper and markers.

Also, worth reading to your kids is Ish also by Peter H. Reynolds, and it has the same sort of artistic inspirational message. Reynolds has a great website that is full of ideas and activities. He also answers questions from students: http://www.peterhreynolds.com/dot/

And of course…I had to do some of my own Dot inspired artwork:

watercolor crayons 

acrylic paints on a moleskin journal 

Artist Trading Cards!

Ever since I got the “ok” to teach my art class, I have been WAITING for the session where I taught my students how to make Artist Trading Cards. And this last week, was FINALLY the time to do it! I was so impressed by the results….I loved all of them, they worked so hard on them. I was a little worried they wouldn’t take it seriously and give it %100 of their efforts but I stressed the importance of each card being like a mini-artwork….I loved how hard they worked and how unique all of them turned out…. 
How cute are these owls??? 
….I did a mini-lesson on creating “mixed media” pieces and showed them a couple of my favorites I have found via the web as well as some of my own ATCs. These are a few of mine: 
I brought in tubs of different materials including: magazine pages, fabric, yarn, glitter, watercolors, pens, markers, buttons, pom-poms…

I loved that each card never failed to showcase each students’ personalities…Here are a few of the ones the boys in the class did…they mostly stuck to markers and pens:
We are looking to SWAP with another classs….if you are an art teacher and have done or are doing ATCs with your students! Email me at jsheffield@kenilworth38.org

Art Lesson for Kids: Canvas Colorfield Art Journals

So, I’ve started my after-school art class at the elementary school where I teach. At first, I was nervously checking the office for completed registration forms and worried I wouldn’t have enough students BUT lo, and behold, I reached my limit of 20 students and went past it, ending up with 24 students in 2nd-4th grade!
In our first class, students created their own art journals using the “colorfield” technique of abstract painting and canvas. I found this lesson on Dick Blick’s website. Here is the link: http://www.dickblick.com/lesson-plans/color-field-sketchbook/
The finished art journals should end up looking something like this:

The kids LOVED making their journals but it was a little messy. I spent a good two hours after they left scrubbing the paint from the tables, stools, and floor. So, just wanted to CAUTION you if you plan on doing this with kids (or even if you do it for yourself) you will need LOTS of old newspaper, or trash bags, and paper towels. 
So, how to make these lovely journals you ask? All you need are various colors of acrylic paints, unprimed canvas, plastic cups, an empty spray bottle and some paint brushes. 
* For each color you want to use, squirt about tablespoon of paint into a disposable cup and then put about a tablespoon of water in the cup (less water for darker colors) and mix with a paintbrush until smooth. Choose 3 or 4 colors you want to use (remember that mixing more than 3 colors together in one place will create a brownish blah color) 
* Fill the spray bottle with water and spray sections of your canvas (this will help create the swirly patterns when the colors mix together with the water and the dry canvas). 
* Pour onto the canvas! 
Experiment with different colors and different “pouring techniques.” Try pouring from far away, to create a splash pattern. Use a paintbrush to flick a spatter pattern, or pour colors, then tip the canvas up, so that the colors create a “raindrop” or “drip” pattern. 
* Be careful of using too much water, or pouring too much, because it will pool on the canvas and mix with all the other colors to create an unpleasant brownish color. 
I spent way to much time on mine…I used a lot of white paint, because I found that it brightened the colors and kept it from becoming to dark. Here’s how mine turned out….I am sure if I was to make another one, it would be completely different. 
I think next time, I want to try a more simple approach; using only 2 or 3 colors and not worrying so much if there was blank canvas. 
These are just a few of the outcomes from my students..I love how unique and colorful they all turned out. I can see their individual personalities in the colors they used and how they mixed them: 

Binding these guys is a whollllle other story!

fun and easy art activity for kids

I love melted rocks. Melted rocks rock. I did this art activity with two 6 and 7 year old boys and I think I enjoyed it more than they did (probably because I wouldn’t let them touch the hot rocks…and you know how boys are…they only want to do what they aren’t allowed to do:) ).  Something about the simplicity of the activity and watching the crayon melt and mix and swirl with the other colors is so relaxing.

You will need:

  • smooth rocks- pick out some rocks from your garden (preferably smooth rocks with flattened tops) or you can buy a bag of river rocks from a craft supply store for fairly cheap. 
  • crayons- The Crayola brand work perfectly fine…I had some oil pastels I also tried using…a few of them worked, the more thicker and more expensive they were, the LESS they worked because they didn’t melt as easy and didn’t mix with the other crayons. ALTHOUGH, saying that, one gold oil pastel I had from Blicks art store turned out to be the best. So, try a few different types and experiment. 
  • an oven- or access to one. 
  • An oven mitts (those babies come out of the oven hot) 
  • Foil paper
  • a large (and preferably old and well used) baking tray
Instructions: 
  •  Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit 
  • Wash off and dry the rocks if you grabbed them from the garden
  • Peel the paper off the crayons you want to use 
  • Put foil paper on the oven tray (to keep any melted crayons from getting on the tray)
  • Place the rocks on the tray and put them in the oven for at least 15 minutes (the hotter they are the better) 
  • Take the rocks out using the oven mitt (if you are doing this with children make sure to warn them NOT to place their hands directly onto the rock because they will born themselves) and place them on paper plates or foil sheets
  • Put the crayon onto the surface of the rock and push down firmly for a few moments. Use several different colors to get a colorful effect. 
  • Let them cool. 

and WHALAAA! Glorious- beautimus rocks!

Felt-tastic Necklaces


Happy New Years!!!! I hope everyone had a fantastically memorable New Years Eve. Mine was definitely memorable but not so much fantastic.  We listened to a really horrible 70’s cover band (in TIGHT COSTUMES!) and watched a bunch of surprisingly limber, but incredibly inappropriate drunk old women dance.  Next year, I’m not even going to try. I will be at my house, with my husband and my dog; which is always what I wish I was doing when I am out on New Years Eve.

Anyways. Back to felt. fantastic felt! felt-tastic.

Felt. I love this stuff! I’ve been hearing a lot about felting crafts in the past few years- it seems to be what all the cool kids are crafting these days- but,  as usual, I am running a little bit behind with the “trends” and have only just fallen in love with felt! And fell hard! 
So I thought I would share this felt flower necklace craft that I’ve adapted from a couple of different crafters….I love Martha Stewart’s fabric flower necklace and have unsucsessfully attempted it several times but my flowers don’t look anything like Martha’s. And I KNOW for a fact that I picked up the felt flowers from some creative and inspiring crafter on the internet but I cannot find the website for the life of me! I’ll add the links in when I find them.  
Making the felt flowers are super easy. All you need are felt squares, which come in so many different bright and fun colors (Michael’s has them for $.29 per 8 x 11″ sheet), permanant marker, craft scissors, tacky glue (the clear kind works the best) and random circular objects of various sizes!  They come in so many bright and fun colors too.  Just trace various sized circular objects and cut them out. 

 The next step is cutting the felt circle by cutting in a circular spiralliing motion. Then, starting from the inside, with the smallest circle, overlap the layers to create wider and wider circles. Dab some clear tacky glue every once in a while on sections of the felt and then a dab of clue and the ending tip to keep it together.

Once you have a good amount of completed felt flowers, (as you can tell from the above pictures of my felt flowers, I got a little OCD and made way more felt flowers than is needed), then you need to make the base of the necklace. I’ve used a kidney bean shape to create a curve around the neck, but you can do anything really. 

 Using needle and thread, arrange the flowers and sew them onto the backing. I also threw in some

colorful beads. 
Thanks to my beautiful friend Mary who was nice enough to be my felt-tastic model!