Sunday, February 21, 2010


This is a slightly altered project from an Usborne book that I have. I do this one with second grade. We read the book "Roberto The Insect Architect" by Nina Laden which has some fabulous collages in it.
If you look closely at the projects, they are made of three separate sections (or strips) that are then stapled to a piece of railroad board.I give each student a piece of 4 1/2" X 12" white tag to work with for the first strip, 6" X 12" for the second, and the last strip (the skyscrapers) are made on a slightly taller piece (sometimes I even give them the entire 9" X 12" piece).
They are then given a scrap box filled with lots of cool patterned papers (remember, I LOVE paper!). The first strip must have a front yard and a row of houses. The second row must have a street, yard, and row of houses. The last row gets skyscrapers and all the cool metallic papers are brought out. It is fun explaining to my very rural students what a skyscraper is! Some of them have not seen a building more than two stories high.
I have them leave a slight bit of white at the bottom of each strip and when all three strips are finished, they cut around the top edge of the houses. I tell them to cut close, but leave a small amount of white as a border. This is needed so that the subsequent rows will show.Staple all three rows on to a piece of railroad board or poster board, bending each row slightly so that they stand out in a curved arc.
We get lots of compliments on this one!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Felt Cuna Mola

Third Grade Project, as seen in this gallery:

The color palette comes from the traditional Molas in that the dominant colors are red, black, and orange with hints of every color of the rainbow thrown in.We started by drawing a leaf pattern on paper (or tag) and then drew it on the top layer. They cut this out and then also cut out some "french fry" shapes around the leaf shape to make "windows" for other colors to show through.

They worked from the top down. To create the second layer, they put their first layer on top and traced the leaf shape, but made it slightly smaller. This was cut out. The last layer was left whole. They then glued scraps of felt (from the leaf shapes that were saved) behind the "french fry window shapes" to add color. Use tacky glue for this.

Sewing is next and I pinned their molas together, but did not glue them at this point because it would make it hard to get the needle through all layers. They came to me one at a time to get needles and I demonstrated backstitching the veins to small groups. We used variegated thread found at JoAnn Fabrics- very important- do NOT use cross stitch floss (the kind that comes apart)! Use crewel thread that is in one piece, like this:

As for the blanket stitch around the edge, I again taught small groups how to do this. It is the easiest stitch for them to master! No practice is necessary. I just tell them to go straight down and make sure their needle is in the loop before they pull. But, if they miss the loop, they can still use their needle to go back and "catch" it. I do usually tack the corners when they round them- they just come to me and I use their thread to make an extra loop there- it looks better and keeps it in place. Older kids could probably do this themselves.

When they are finished, the layers can be glued together by adding some drops of tacky glue to the inside edges. I know a teacher who uses the adhesive backed felt, but she says that the needles get all gummy and that it is harder to get the needles through the felt. Also, it is more expensive. I bought the red, orange, and black felt through Molly Hawkins' House by the piece at a very low cost. I cut those in half and that is the size we use.

See these sites for the history and examples of authentic Cuna Molas:

I have actually ordered a Mola from Crizmac and it is quite nice:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Jim Dine Inspired Hearts

I LOVE PAPER! I have a habit of ordering all types of beautifully decorated paper; glittered, pearl, screen-printed, and metallics. So, it was inevitable that I created an art lesson in which to use all of these cool finds. I have donethis lesson with first graders for the past five years, but it is easily adaptable to all grades levels.
I do some prep on this lesson by punching a hole in the end of the paper "flags" and putting them into envelopes and then attaching them to 9" X 12" piece of construction paper with a paper clip. Students then choose which color they would like to paint on.
I have my students make a heart template and trace it on to their paper. Paint colors are chosen, by the students, based upon their "flags". They also outline their hearts in either black or white. Sparkle is added by putting on brushstrokes of glitter paint.
Background frame color is chosen based upon whether they used black or white to outline their hearts. I punch holes in the frame using a Fiskar's 1/8" hole punch, which is the perfect size for the brads to go through.
I have found that Oriental Trading has a value pack of colored brads at a reasonable price.

See our entire gallery of Jim Dine hearts on Artsonia.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Clay Bakery Hearts (Low Relief Quilled Forms)

Some "cookies" ready to go in the oven:

This is a very quick and easy project that I use with my 2nd graders. Forming the clay "cookies" takes one 40 minute class and decorating them takes another 40 minute class. We use Sculpey white clay to form these hearts on plastic placemats and I bake them at home in my oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. I actually post the "recipe" for these hearts on the board for the class to follow (notes added in parenthesis for your benefit):

Clay Bakery Hearts Recipe
1. Knead the dough (clay) to soften it
2. Remove part of the dough and flatten the rest to form a "pancake"

3. Cut out the heart shape (you could use a cookie cutter, but we use a cardboard heart template approximately 4 inches in diameter. Also, students use large, blunt tapestry needles to cut the clay)

4. Roll up the edges to form the "crust" (like a pizza)
5. Make the "sticky buns"
~ Roll out a snake
~ Smash the snake so it looks like a flat firehose
~ Roll up the firehose
6. Add the "sticky buns" to the crust (remind students not to smash them in to the crust, but rather to wiggle them in to place)
7. Add the "crumble topping" (students use bits of clay to fill in the empty spots on the crust. They can rollup little balls or something of their own choosing)

8. Place in on your "baking pan" to be baked (I hand out pieces of paper with their names on them)
Bake at home at 250 degrees for approximately 20 minutes. I leave them right on the papers to bake and they are FINE!

Second Class:
Have students write their names on the back of their piece using a permanent marker before they begin painting.

Frosting the cookies: use acrylics in various colors

Sparkles/Sprinkles: Use glitter glue in tubes to add some glitz to the cookies

I hot glue these on to a scrap piece of matboard and hang them in our showcase. They get rave reviews and the kids love making them!

Note: These are very hard to photograph as the glitter messes with the lens. If anyone has any solutions, let me know!

See our entire gallery on Artsonia.