Wednesday, July 28, 2010

For Beginning Art Teachers

This question recently came up on the listserve I belong to:
What art the top ten things beginning art teachers need to know and be able to do?

Here is my reply:

1. Teach less so they learn more. A professor said this to me years ago and it stuck. Teach the basics and let them explore.

2. Make friends with the custodian and secretaries. Everyone knows they run the building! My custodian saves items for me, checks the kiln, and does a great job keeping the room clean.

3. Set the standards for your classroom from the beginning. I had several teachers approach me and ask that I create the decorations for each holiday to hang outside their doors. I made it clear (very nicely!) that I teach "art", not "cut and paste" class. I haven't been asked again and I have the respect of my peers.

4. Advocate for your classroom! Attach a summary of the project you have done to the back so parents will understand the hows and whys of the artwork. Send home newsletters explaining what your class is learning. Have an art show or arts night. Communication with the parents is key to getting them on your side.

5. Get a parent volunteer that you can trust. He/she will be a lifesaver.

6. Join your state association and go to the conventions!

7. Stay creative. Keep creating your own art. I didn't and now I regret it!

8. Organization is key in the art room. Find a system that works for you and keep it consistent so that it will become habit for the kids. Assign clean up jobs, label everything, have one student in charge of counting supplies at the end of class, etc.You don't want to be at school until 6 cleaning.

9. Learn all of the kids' names. I know this is hard, but it makes them feel safe, important, and part of the class. Use nametags until you get them down.

10. Have fun! How many careers involve creativity with children every day? Once it stops being fun, re-evaluate and start over fresh. Try new ideas each year.

So, any comments? Questions? Anything you would add?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

MUST HAVE Story Books For The Elementary Art Room

The following are some of my favorite story books to use with my elementary classes. As a bonus, many of these books are A.R. (Accelerated Reader) books, so the kids can earn points for listening to them. I have given a short summary of each book, as well as any links that may be relevant to them. (Clicking on the titles takes you to an external link)

by Michael Garland
This book is currently out of print, but still available on Amazon. It is well worth the hunt to find it. The story tells of a little boy who is invited to dine with artist Rene' Magritte and Salvador Dali. The illustrations include several references to both artist's work and are very whimsical. This is a great indroduction to Surrealism for young children.

by John Duggleby
The paintings of Jacob Lawrence serve as a backdrop to this story which introduces the acclaimed artist.

The following two book are by author Peter H. Reynolds.
Video of Peter Reynolds speaking about his work.

The Dot is a story about a little girl named Vashti, who is convinced she cannot draw. Her teacher encourages her to just "make a mark" and then then fawns over the dot Vashti makes. This encourages the young girl, who sets off to create more masterpieces.


When Ramon discovers that his younger sister has secretly saved his crumpled artwork, he tells her that the work is not good, but she tells him it looks "vase-ish". With this perspective, Ramon is encouraged to create even more "ish" works of art.

Guide for using The Dot and ish in class.
Merchandise featuring The Dot, including t-shirts.
FableVision site which features games and interactive media and resources. Founded by Peter Reynolds

This series, by Pam Stephens, follows a puffin named Puffer as he travels to interview various famous artists. The artist's works of art are used within the books. I actually use the videos with my class and the kids are mesmerized by them!

Getting To Know TheWorld's Greatest Artists
by Mike Venezia
The author cleverly uses comedy and cartoon like drawings interspersed within the story to keep the listener's attention. There are tons of books on nearly every well known artist. Some books have been made into videos.

Getting To Know, Inc.
Mike Venezia's website
A peek at one of the videos.

by Roberta Angeletti
While on a field trip in France, a young girl discovers a real life caveman who tells her of the ancient paintings and his life. This is a great introduction for young children to cave painting art.

Sneek peek video of the book.

Adventures In Art

This series of books is the BEST artist biographies I have found. They are imaginative, to the point, and are not too difficult for students to understand. Believe me, I have bought several biographies and these are the best!

by Thacher Hurd
Guard at the museum by day, artist by night, Art Dog also finds time to apprehend a band of thieves who have stolen the Mona Woofa from the museum. Great story with vivid illustrations.

Thacher Hurd's Homepage

by Bimba Landmann
The collages in this book are beyond amazing, which makes the story even more rich. It is based loosely on the life story of artist Marc Chagall and includes referneces to his work.

By Faith Ringgold
Tar Beach tells the story of Cassie Lightfoot as she lays upon her roof, which she calls "tar beach". Cassie dreams of flying over her favorite landmarks and owning them. This book will inspire many art projects with its beautiful illustrations.

Faith Ringgold's Website

When Pigasso Met Mootisse
by Nina Laden
There is a great site which has various actors reading books and this book is on that site. You can find it here.

Resource page.

by Rhonda Gowler Greene
Various shapes are introduced in this colorful book. The illustrations are very cute and make this book ideal to use with kinders.

Teaching ideas from the author.
A peek inside the book.

by Cristina Bjork
Linnea befriends her elderly neighbor Mr, Bloom, who educates her on the life and art of Claude Monet. They decide to travel to France to see the actual gardens of Monet.
I use the video with my first graders and they LOVE, LOVE it. The video includes footage of Monet's garden and the infamous Japanese bridge. I HIGHLY recommend the video.

Watch the trailer.
Buy a Linnea doll or mini suitcase.

by Claire Hartfield
When James' mom gets close to delivering the new babies, she sends James to visit his artist uncle Romare Bearden in New Your City. James learns a lot about his uncle's life as an artist and learns a new way of creating his own art.

Picasso And The Girl With A Ponytail
by Laurence Anholt
I simply love the books by Anholt. They tell a story of the people around the artist while telling about the artist himself. In The Girl With A Ponytail, we meet Sylvette, who becomes Picasso's model and develops her own artistic style.

Kids (or adults!) can create their own Picasso portraits on this interactive website: MrPicassoHead

The Anholts have an awesome website also.

by Joan Shaddox Isom
This book creates a mood from the beginning. The deep blues and purples used in the illustrations draw you in immediately. The story of Vincent vanGogh and his starry night is told through the eyes of a young boy.

Author's Website

Cool video of vanGogh paintings set to the song "Starry Starry Night"
by Jan Greenburg
The artist Jackson Pollack is introduced in this short story.

Jan Greenberg author site

If you haven't tried this site for making your own Pollack masterpieces, you really must!

by Nancy Andrews-Goebel
Using the format of "The House That Jack Built", this book tells the story of Juan, a potter from Mexico. The book has a unique format, in that it has the poem form of the story on the left, and the narrative form on the right. Based on the life of artist Juan Quezada, this book is a great introduction to his pottery and the Mexican culture it arises from.

Uncle Andy's
by James Warhola
Written and illustrated by Andy Warhol's nephew, this book allows us a glimpse into the artist's personal life and creative process. The illustrations are wonderful and comical!

James Warhola's Site
(woo-hoo! Looks like there is a new book, called Uncle Andy's Cats)
James Warhola talks about his uncle Andy

by Karen Beaumont

The youngster in this book takes pleasure in painting various parts of his body until his mom finds him and throws him in the bath. Cute story!

Camille And The Sunflowers

by Laurence Anholt

Camille befriends the odd new artist in town and learns a lesson in tolerance and loyalty. VanGogh's artwork is used within the drawn pages also. I use this book as a starting point for our chalk sunflower drawings.

Website of Laurence and Catherine Anholt- Cool interactive site!
Laurence Anholt reads the story to you here!

Roberto The Insect Architect

by Nina Laden

Another favorite book of mine! I simply adore the mixed media artwork in this book and it inspired our Neighborhood project.

Roberto is a termite who is supposed to destroy the very architecture he loves. His journey is sweet and fulfilling.

There is a movie version of the book available.
Trailer of the movie.
Website of author Nina Laden.

The Art Lesson

by Tomie DePaola

A cute story of a boy who wants to spread his creative wings, but is nearly stifled by an overbearing teacher.

Website of Tomie dePaola

Mouse Paint

by Ellen Stoll Walsh

This book is an essential for any elementary art program. The mice mix the secondary colors by crawling in and out of paint jars and mixing it with their feet.

Project using the book as an inspiration- includes handouts.

by Patrick McDonnell

Art loves Art. He draws and doodles all day long. A really cute and sweet story for younger kids.

Interview with the author.

Patrick McDonnell's website.