Year of the Dog!

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – Cultures Around the World (China)

Mathematics – Symmetry

Possible Art Concepts: Art Mediums – Sculpture, Ceramics, Painting, Collage, Drawing

Art Principles – Symmetry


Another Chinese New Year is upon us. It is the “Year of the Dog”. For my family, it truly is the “Year of the Dog”, as my daughter just got a puppy. All kidding aside, while researching dogs in Chinese art, I found mostly ceramic sculptures and a few brush painted dogs as can be seen here. The “Celebrating the Year of theDog” exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, also shows all sculptures.The clay sculptures were buried along with corpses for companionship. If you’d like to do some brush painting with your students for a Chinese New Year celebration check out this blog post. Simply replace the monkey with a dog. Want to make some dog sculptures? Try putting a dog face on one of these paper roll animal structures from Frugal Fun For Boys and Girls.


I’ve also seen plenty of Chinese paper cutting images of dogs in reference to this year’s Chinese New Year. In Japan, paper cutting is called Kiragami. I don’t know what they call it in China. I know they cut paper because when my daughter visited China, she took a class in the skill and brought me back a how to book. You can find a super simple dog cutting video here. (a good lesson for teaching symmetry) If that dog is too simple for you, students could draw and cut out this dog or this dog. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but all the Chinese paper cutting seem to be cut from red paper. So, find yourself some light weight red paper and cut yourself some dogs. Then you can either fold them and cut shapes into them like you do while making snowflakes or you can draw patterns on them using a white pastel or colored pencil. You can also cut out a fancy frame like you see above. Or, why not glue your dog onto a Chinese kite like Mrs. Stacy does in her blog, Elements of the Art Room, found here.

However you decide to celebrate the Chinese New Year, ENJOY!

Come back again real soon!


More Bubbles

Possible Classroom Concepts: Science – Bubbles

Social Studies: Friendship

Possible Art Concepts: Jean Siméon Chardin

Art Media – Drawing, Printmaking


Jean Siméon Chardin’s  “Soap Bubbles”

In my last post, I talked about things we can do with friends. Then, this morning I was watching Sunday Morning Magazine and they did an excerpt on bubble blowing. I thought, another thing a child can do with friends, blow bubbles. The excerpt was very enlightening. I was amazed that bubbles are a component of so many things. Did you know there are bubbles in ocean waves and even ice cream? Or that doctors are now  using bubbles to deliver medicine into the body. Check out all the amazing details here.

If you happen to be teaching bubbles for a science lesson, I have three ways you can incorporate visual art into it. You could introduce Chardin’s  “Soap Bubbles”. Find a nice video explaining this painting here. Students could also create bubble art. I love the Smart Class Blog’s bubble drawing lesson which can be found here. You can also print bubbles by adding a bit of tempera paint to your bubble blowing mixture. Check out the steps here.

I also talked a bit about bubbles in this past post.

Saw the bubbles this morning and was inspired. Maybe you will be also. What do you think? I’d love to hear your views. Simply click on the post’s title and scroll down to the comment section. If you like what you’ve seen here, please feel free to toss me a “like” or better still become a follower.

Thanks so much for reading. Hope you’ll stop by again real soon!


Friends and More!

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – All About Me (Friends)

Language Arts – Writing, Storytelling, Literature, Mathematics – Pattern, Shapes

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Gustave Caillebotte,  Jacob Lawrence, Carmen Lomas Garza, Andy Warhol

Art Media – Painting, Quilting, Art Genres – Portraits, Landscapes, Still Life, Elements of Art – Line, Shape (Organic and Geometric), Color ( Complimentary)


Do you teach Friends as part of an All About Me Social Studies Unit? If you do, I have a few ideas for you. The first comes as a result of a visit to the Renoir and Friends: Luncheon of the Boating Party Exhibition at the Phillips Museum in Washington DC. It focused around Pierre-August Renoir’s painting “Luncheon of the Boating Party” seen above. You may not realize it but the models in this particular painting were all friends of Renoir. The painting is composed of an artist, a seamstress, actresses, a critic, an art dealer and writers. You can find a chart explaining who’s who here. Discuss with your students that the people in this painting are all friends. Ask students what they think is happening in this painting.  This painting takes place at the Maison Fournaise Restaurant in Chatou, a town outside Paris. In the late 1800s, Parisians often road the newly built trains to the suburbs outside Paris for a weekend of rest and relaxation. The friends in Renoir’s painting have just finished sharing a meal. What is different about what the people in the painting wear and what we wear today? The people in this painting are wearing both casual and dressy clothes. Many are wearing hats. What kinds of clothes and hats do we wear today? They are sitting on the restaurant’s balcony overlooking the Seine River. Can you find the still life, portrait and landscape in this painting? Ask students what kinds of activities they share with their friends (playing outdoors with friends, sports activities, birthday parties, bike riding etc.)  Have students illustrate a get together with their friends, including detailed outfits and a setting. Students could even write a short paragraph about their picture.

Another friends art lesson I often taught centered around friendship quilts. Friendship quilts were made by a group of friends or family as a going away present for someone. Each person would make a block, often incorporating a scrap from an old piece of clothing holding some sentimental value. The group would sew all the blocks together into a quilt. They would then present the quilt as a going away present.  Maryland has a tradition of  friendship quilts called Baltimore Album Quilts. You can find an example of one, including a lesson here.


In my teaching days, I would create blocks with my kindergartners when they were studying friends. We would start by tracing our hand, cutting it out and gluing it onto a complimentary colored piece of paper. Complimentary colors are colors across from on another on the color wheel.  We talked about how a hand shape is an organic shape (shapes found in nature, not name shapes like we find in geometry) . We would then look at these works by Andy Warhol: Cow 11 and FlowersThese mixed media paintings are composed of organic shapes with a print on top. So, we printed our hand on top of our collaged hand in a contrasting color. Next, we created a pattern using wallpaper squares.  I then introduced the concept of friendship quilts and we added a broken line around the outside to simulate stitches and of course added our name. Lastly, we glued all the blocks down onto a large mural paper, creating our own classroom friendship quilt. I also introduced friendship quilts to my second graders when they studied pioneers as part of a fibers unit. Students made pioneer children tucked away in their beds similar to the way Miss Lagerstam did with her first graders here. I read them the friendship quilt excerpts from the American Doll book, Happy Birthday Kirsten! A Springtime Story  when we created the quilt portions of the project .

Why not sprinkle a little art or craft history into your next friendship unit? What do you think? I’d love to hear your views.Simply click on the post’s title and scroll down to the comment section. If you like what you’ve seen here, please feel free to toss me a “like” or better still become a follower.

Thanks so much for reading. Hope you’ll stop by again real soon!


An Artist After My Own Heart

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – African American History (Martin Luther King Jr.), Empathy, Self Esteem, Acceptance, Cultures Around The World (Africa)

Language Arts – Literature, Science – Go Green (Recycling/ Repurposing)

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Nick Cave, Karen Katz, Todd Parr

 Art Mediums–  Costumes, Sculpture, Recycled Art, Fiber Art, Illustration, Art Careers – Sculptor, illustrator

Nick Cave, who includes fibers, upcycling and dance in his work, is truly an “Artist After My Own Heart”. Being a fiber artist and recycler myself and having three daughters who love to dance, Cave’s work is right up my alley. I have been intrigued by his work for the last couple of years. I first saw examples of his work at the Hirshhorn Museum and a short time later at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  BUT, I found true love when I recently saw a whole room of Cave’s colorful soundsuits in the NICK CAVE FEAT. exhibit at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, TN.

Working in three disciplines gives Nick Cave’s work an array of ways to integrate into your curriculum.

The soundsuit, full body costumes created from items found in thrift stores, were inspired by the Rodney King slaying years ago. Cave felt African American people, like himself, were not valued, that they were a discarded group of people. The soundsuits are a sort of armour to camouflage the wearer, so people will not “judge a book by it’s cover”.  To date, Cave has created an army of over 500 soundsuits to battle social injustice.  So, if you are teaching a Self Esteem, an Acceptance or Martin Luther King, Jr. (“I have a dream!”) unit in your classroom, Nick Cave would be a GREAT artist to introduce. We are all different in some way. Different doesn’t need to be a negative experience. We all want to be accepted. Some books that accentuate this theme are The Color of Us by Karen Katz and It’s Okay To Be Different by Todd Parr. Videos of these stories can be found here and here. Talk to students about how they feel different. Why does Nick Cave feel different? Find a lesson including Nick Cave’s feelings  here.

Making the soundsuits from thrift store items brings a new life to discarded items. Here is another place to introduce Cave’s work, as a part of a Go Green science unit. Students could create a simple mask shape from discarded cereal boxes in the shape used by Kinderart for this lesson. Then create the features for the mask using recycled items such as cardboard, bottle caps, lids, etc, like Adventures of an Art Teacher did here Toys, dolls, stuffed animals and buttons can be found on Cave’s soundsuits also. Students could also bring in old small toys to incorporate into their masks. If you would like to explore recycling fibers, try out Babble Dabble Do’s Pieces Dolls or KROKOTAK’s Rag Dolls to create miniature soundsuit dolls. The dolls can be made from leftover fabrics from around the house or old t-shirts. Buttons and beads could be added to create sound. Check out a 5 year old’s soundsuit themed birthday party here.

As an extension to the above activity, share  this soundsuit dance video with your students.  Then, while wearing their masks or holding soundsuit dolls, students could  choreograph a dance of their own.

Cave’s work could also be shared as a part of a Cultures Around the World unit.  His whole body soundsuits are reminiscent of costumes and dances from Africa, the Hopi Kachinas,  and Mardi Gras or Carnival.

Other contemporary versions of whole body costumes are Jim Henson’s Big Bird and Snuffleupagus and Julie Taymor’s Lion King animals. And let us not forget Wookie from Star Wars.

So, what do you think? Could you interject some of Nick Caves works in one or more of your classroom units? I’d love to hear how. Simply click on the post’s title and scroll down to the comment section. If you like what you’ve seen here, please feel free to toss me a “like” or better still become a follower.

Thanks so much for reading. Hope you’ll stop by again real soon!


What’s With The Impressionists and Bridges?

Possible Classroom Concepts: Science– Engineering (Kinds of Bridges)

Social Studies – Countries Around the World (France, Japan)

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Ukieyo-e prints

Classifications of Paintings – Landscapes, Cityscapes, Media – Painting, Printmaking

In my last post, I talked about bridges and storytelling. While researching bridge artworks, I noticed a recurring theme.  Impressionists/ Post Impressionists, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Camille Pissarro and Alfred Sisley loved their bridges and painted not only one kind of bridge but varying types of bridges. This can easily be explained. The Impressionists were shunning the traditions of the past. Traditional artists painted history and mythological paintings. The Impressionists wanted to paint everyday people and modern life. They went out to the countryside and into the city and painted what they saw. There they would see both the old cart/foot bridges and the newly built train bridges. It makes sense that they would include them in their paintings.

Wouldn’t it be great fun to include some of these paintings as part of an introduction to, a review of or as part of an assessment of different kinds of bridges. I was thinking that the teacher could either make a powerpoint of some examples or print out reproductions of Impressionist train paintings. Students could then identify the arched , beam, draw and suspension bridges. Yes, there were draw bridges and suspension bridges way back in the late 1800s.

Side Note: An art teacher friend shared with me recently that Leonardo da Vinci  designed a suspension bridge way back in the 1400s. Check out information about it here along with some of his other inventions.

Okay, back to business. I prefer the reproduction cards, so students could also categorize the paintings in other ways. (i.e. by artist, by bridge)

These artists tended to paint the same bridge over and over. Monet would paint a bridge at different  times of day or in different kinds of atmospheric conditions. In the past, I talked about Monet painting in all kinds of weather here. Pissarro also painted different atmospheric conditions. All of them painted the same bridges from different points of view. Which Impressionist painted the most bridges?  Here are Impressionist bridge paintings that I found. Simply click on their title to see them. I wasn’t kidding when I said they liked to paint bridges, so pick and choose which paintings best match your curriculum.

Arched Bridges

Camille Pissarro’s Pont Boieldieu in Rouen, Rainy Weather, The Great Bridge, RouenThe Boieldiieu Bridge at Rouen, Setting Sun, Foggy Weather 1896

Vincent Van Gogh’s Fishing in Spring, the Pont de Clichy (Asnières) , The Seine Bridge At Asnieres

Vincent Van Gogh’s Pont du Carrousel with Louvre

Claude Monet’s Waterloo Bridge, Sun Effect, 1903 Monet painted Waterloo Bridge’s fog at many different times of day. Look here to see them.

Claude Monet’s The Bridge at Argenteuil 1874The Argenteuil Bridge 1874, Bridge at Argenteuil on a Grey Day

Claude Monet’s Le Pont de Bois

Alfred Sisley’s The Bridge at Moret at Sunset

Alfred Sisley’s The Bridge at St Cloud

Alfred Sisley’s The Bridge at Argenteuil

Alfred Sisley’s Under the Bridge at Hampton Court

Alfred Sisley’s The Bridge at Saint-Mammès This bridge is half arched and half beamed.

Camille Pissarro’s Little Bridge on Voisne, Osny

Camille Pissarro’s Pont Royal and the Pavillon De Flore

Beamed Bridges

Claude Monet’s Charing Cross Bridge, London, 1901 Monet painted many versions of this bridge. Look here to find more examples.

Claude Monet’s Railroad Bridge, Argenteuil

Claude Monet’s The Grande Creuse at Pont de Vervy

Vincent Van Gogh’s The Bridge at Trinquetaille

Vincent Van Gogh’s Bridges across the Seine at Asnières This painting also shows an arched bridge in the background. This painting is also featured in the new movie, Loving Vincent, which is animated totally with paintings. A beautiful tribute to Van Gogh.

Vincent Van Gogh’s Railroad Bridge Over Avenue Montmajour  This painting is also in Loving Vincent!

Vincent Van Gogh’s The Promenade With the Railroad Bridge, Argenteuil

Camille Pissarro’s Charing Cross Bridge, London, 1890

Camille Pissarro’s Old Chelsea Bridge, London 1871

Camille Pissarro’s The Railway Bridge, Pontoise There is also an arched bridge in the background.

Draw Bridges

Vincent Van Gogh’s  Langlois Bridge at Arles Van Gogh painted several versions of this bridge. You can find examples of them here.

Claude Monet’s The Bridge, AmsterdamCanal in Amsterdam1874 The Zuiderkerk in Amsterdam

Suspension Bridge

Alfred Sisley’s The Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne

Students could also draw/paint their own bridge example to show their understanding of bridge types. Simply write down the different kinds of bridges on slips of paper, have students choose one and draw the basic characteristics on a piece of paper. Students could then follow blogger, Art With Mr. Hall’s lesson, that can be found here. This is a great way to assess visual learners.

Before I close, I’d like to talk about one more influence on Impressionists/ Post Impressionists. It was the Japanese. Yes, I said the Japanese. At this point in time, all things Japanese, including Ukieyo-e prints were very popular in Paris. This Japanese influence was called Japonism. Blogger, www. Art Smarts for,  explains Japonism very well here.  Many artists owned Ukieyo-e prints, especially Monet and Van Gogh. Van Gogh copied his own version of Hiroshige’s  Sudden Shower over Shin-Ōhashi bridge and Atake.

Monet went a step further and built a Japanese arched bridge similar to Hiroshige’s “Wisteria at Kameido Tenjin Shrine” #65 (seen above left) on his property at Giverny. Monet’s painting, The Japanese Footbridge , is probably one of his most recognizable works. Another bridge art project you could do with your students is a styrofoam print. See steps below.

Bridge Prints

For more bridge art examples, check out my Pinterest page here.

So, if you are studying different kinds of bridges, why not let the Impressionists help you out? What do you think? I’d love to hear. Simply click on the post’s title and scroll down to the comment section. If you like what you’ve seen here, please feel free to toss me a “like” or better still become a follower.

Thanks so much for reading. Hope you’ll stop by again real soon!


A Bridge Pic, Just Because

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies (State Waterways and Bridges), Language Arts – Literature, Storytelling,  Science – Engineering (Bridges)

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Faith Ringgold, Media – Quilts, Painting, Principles of Art – Proportion, Art Careers – Fine Artist, Commercial Artist, Illustrator, Point of View

                                                     Because I hail from Maryland,                                                                             And because Maryland has a big ole bay nearly splitting it in two,                                             And lots of rivers, creeks and streams peppering through it,                                             And because there are two bridges connecting the eastern and western shores of                                                                         Maryland.                                                                                                             And because fourth grade always studies Maryland,                                                                    A bridge project was always on my art teaching bucket list. Unfortunately, it never came to fruition. However, if a bridge lesson had come about, I would have gone straight to Faith Ringgold for inspiration.


You probably know Ringgold as the writer /illustrator of the book,  Tar Beach, but those illustrations are actually her artwork. She is an artist who creates painted storytelling quilts. Quilts are a part of her African American Heritage and the stories come from her childhood memories . The George Washington Bridge and other bridges are frequently depicted in her storytelling quilts. Sonny’s Quilt”, Dancing on the George Washington Bridge”, and Double Dutch on the Golden Gate Bridge: Woman on a Bridge #2″ are three bridge examples. What do these three works have in common? They all show people doing something on a bridge. In my virtual lesson, I would ask students what experiences they may have had on, under or around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge or other Maryland bridges. (Road over, ran/ walked over in a marathon, a boat ride under, fishing under, hung out at Sandy Point Beach nearby, flew over in an airplane). Do you have famous waterways and bridges in your state you could include in a social studies lesson? As an art teacher, this project would follow a lesson on creating a proportionate person using ovals.  We would begin by reviewing drawing people, discuss the basic shapes involved in drawing a bridge, and then discuss point of view. Look here, here, here, and here to find Ringgold and other artists who made the Brooklyn bridge from different points of view.  You can find some simplified bridge drawings in this post.    Students would then illustrate their own real or imaginary bridge experience including the bridge and at least one proportionate person. I would have the students watercolor over the entire drawing in sky and water colors and then paint in the details with tempera paint. For classroom purposes, this may take too long. If so, simply have students color in with crayons, colored pencils or markers. If you wish to take this in a storytelling quilt direction, students could write their experience across the bottom or top of the drawing. Students could then glue squares of wallpaper or patterned scrapbooking paper around their drawing/painting to create a boarder. See my example below.



All the quilt blocks could be displayed together on a bulletin board or blank wall to create a class quilt.

A cool extension to this literature lesson would be to read Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty with your students and see the cool suspension bridge he comes up with in a pinch. Also, see some extensions for this book here at Carrots are Orange.

All the bridge paintings highlighted in this post were suspension bridges. So, if you simply want to stick to science objectives, you could display them as examples of suspension bridges.

So, whether you’d like to investigate bridges through Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, or all of the above, enjoy. How do you teach bridges in your classroom. I’d love to hear. Simply click on the post’s title and scroll down to the comment section. If you like what you’ve seen here, please feel free to toss me a “like” or better still become a follower.

Thanks so much for reading. Hope you’ll stop by again real soon!

A New Way to Look At Color

Classroom Concepts: Science – Color

Language Arts – Vocabulary, Literature, Social Studies – Famous Women

Art Concepts: Art History – Mary Blaire

Elements of Art – Color, Art Careers – Commercial Art (Illustration)


I recently discovered a new book about Mary Blair entitled, Pocket Full Of Colors by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville. I have talked about Mary Blair before here and here. If you don’t know who Mary Blair is, she was one of the first women illustrators for Walt Disney.

I love Blair’s work. So naturally, I bought the book to give as a Christmas gift. I was not disappointed. It was even more than I expected. It’s not just a biography. It’s so much more. The book is centered around color. Young Mary collects and saves colors to be used later on in life. It is also marvelous that the colors mentioned are not your plain ole red, yellow, blue, etc. They are russet, azure, veridian, etc. I also love how the illustrations by Brigette Barrager echo Mary Blair’s work in both color and style.

I can see this book used to reinforce a color unit, a women’s history unit, to help students beef up their vocabulary or all of the above. So check it out. I’m sure glad I did.

If you love the Mary Blair’s work, you might enjoy the recently rereleased books by Disney illustrated by her, Cinderella by Cynthia Rylant and Alice in Wonderland by Jon Scieszka.

I’d love to hear how you teach color in your classroom. Simply click on the post’s title and scroll down to the comment section. If you like what you’ve seen here, please feel free to toss me a “like” or better still become a follower.

Thanks so much for reading. Hope you’ll stop by again real soon!