Origami Star Box -- 3rd Grade

I did Origami star boxes with 3rd grade this year - a couple of the folds are tricky for them, but everyone succeeds in the end!

Origami Flying Crane - 5th Grade

Here is a video where I talk through the steps of making an Origami Flying Crane - I do this with my 5th grade students!

Origami Cats and Dogs - Kindergarten

Here are directions for making origami cats and dogs!

I do these with kinders - it is a perfect introduction to folding. After we make one of each, as a class, I let the make as many as they can for rest of the class. I make sure to supply different sized paper - kids loving making families (mom, dad, baby, brother, sister) and markers to add eyes, noses, spots or stripes. Often the dogs end up with laser vision and purple eyes - it is hysterical.

For students that start to reach ultimate fun with cats and dogs I challenge them to make up different folds to make other animals. This year I got an elephant, turkey(picture above), spider, and some reindeer!


Start with a square piece of paper.

Pick up one corner and pull diagonally across paper - match up corners and crease.

You should have a triangle. (make sure the long side of the triangle is at the top)

Pick up top corner - pull towards you and then down.

Crease.  Point of ear should hand off the dogs head.

Repeat with opposite corner.

This is where I stop with Kinders - but if you have awesome folders, try the next few steps!

To add extra detail - pull up top layer of dog's chin.

Pullup as far as desired - crease down.

Pick up top of triangle you just folded and bring down to meet folded edge.

You should get a tiny triangle - here is your dogs snout. 

Add some details!


Start with a square piece of paper.

Pick up one corner and pull diagonally across paper - match up corners and crease.

You should have a triangle. (Make sure the long side of the triangle is at the top)

Pick up top corner, pull towards you and then up.

Crease down.

Repeat with opposite corner.

You can decorate this side or flip over.

Add some details!


Origami Bracelets - 4th grade

This was based on an idea our Dance teacher saw on YouTube when she was looking for a special way to fold money for a birthday. As soon as she showed me the video I remember making chains with my mom using gum and starburst wrappers.

The video used $1.00 bills which gave the bracelet some extra give to get over the hand and then cinch a bit for the wrist.  I didn't have any cash on me and for some reason trial and error seemed faster and easier than looking up dollar bill dimensions on-line.  So, I took some printer paper and started to mess with sizes - it took a couple of tries to find the right ratio for the rectangle.

I found that paper 2.5 inches wide x 7 inches long gave us the extra movement needed to fit over hands.

Students decorated 10-12 strips of paper the first day. We did a little math if they had 30 minutes left and 10 strips - then they had only 3 minutes for each one. I tried to stress that they had very little time to color/design their papers. Most finished, some didn't - but got close enough.

The next class I showed the kids how to fold, assemble, and finish their bracelets.  Most students finished, but a handful did not - I promised to put the videos on the blog so they could make/finish them during break!



Thank You

This is what I felt like this morning when I read the e-mail from Jessica at the Art of Education.  I was shocked, excited, and I even e-mailed Jessica to confirm the e-mail.

Thanks to everyone that voted for Organized Chaos!  Check out that side badge!  Yup, you read it right - 1st place!  I am honored to have such support.  I do hope that everyone that voted stops back from time to time to see what is happening in the art room.

PLEASE click on the Art Ed Blog award badge on the side - it will take you to a bunch of other AMAZING art blogs that will give you ideas, inspire you, and even give you support if you need it.  I am honored to be on this list with so many fantastic teachers and resources.


Last Day to Vote!

If you enjoy Organized Chaos, please go to The Art of Education and vote it for Art Ed Blog of the Year!

Voting closes tonight at midnight!



Art Ed Blog of the Year 2012 - VOTE!

I can't believe it!  I am so honored!  I just got an e-mail from Jessica over at The Art of Education letting me know that my blog has been selected as one of the finalists to win "Art Ed Blog of the Year!".  I am super excited, and honestly - a little surprised - there were over 80 nominations this year, so even to be a finalist is amazing.  

I love that Jessica does this each year, because I find so many more art blogs that help to stretch me as a teacher in both instruction and projects!  Most of the blogs I have found are through other blogs and having Art Ed Blog of the Year helps to further find gems hiding amongst the internet!

Here's the thing - being in the top twenty means that now the voting starts.  Voting is all week this week and will end Friday, December 14th.  All you have to do is click on the name "Organized Chaos" in the poll and click VOTE - SUPER EASY.  I know I have awesome fans out there - please take a moment or two and promote us to one of the Top 10 Art Ed Blogs of 2012! (Oh and last year we got 4th - lets raise the bar, shall we?)

While you are at the Art of Education check out some of the other Art Ed blog finalists - I love my job, my community - so much passion, creativity, and dedication.



Suggestions? - I'm conflicted

I am working on ordering my supply list of the year (I know it seems late, but I have all sorts of stuff in my room to use up).  I am having issues trying to weigh out what to order and what to pass on when it comes to specialty items like printmaking, clay, glazes, metal tooling and such.

In a perfect world I would do all these special projects with every kid every year - however, the budget of less than $2.oo per kid just isn't going to stretch that far.

Here is my priority:
1) Clay
2) everything else.

I think it is important to do clay each and every year because kids love it, it lasts FOREVER, and it really is unique.  My issue is that clay is expensive, but manageable -- my real issue comes down to glazes.  I feel like glazing is almost as important to the clay experience as actually building with the clay.  Trusting that your pale chalky glaze will turn into bright shinny colors is almost magical. 

So here is my thought/issue or rather my options as I see them:

1) Do clay and glazes like normal and forgo any printmaking, metal tooling.
2) Do traditional clay for most classes, do some sculpey clay beads for another, few glazes, and printmaking or metal tooling.
3) Do clay but no glazes this year and get printmaking, metal tooling, and some paint for the clay.

I should note that when I talk about printmaking I want to get some cutting blocks and really do printmaking - not just Styrofoam plates.  While it works great for younger kids, it doesn't really capture the awesomeness of printmaking. 

My questions:
1) Is it necessary to use clay that is fired for all grades every year or is it acceptable to do a clay project with a different type of clay like sculpey?

2) Are my students missing out on the full clay experience if we paint their clay instead of glazing?

3) Is it better to keep the full experience of clay with glaze if it means other art options are not explored?

What do some of you do with a limited budget and the desire to give kids a well rounded, explored art base?


2nd Grade - Assemblage Sculptures

Louise Nevelson - Assemblage Sculptor
So, I had BOXES, I mean BOXES of just stuff -- milk bottle caps, empty thread spools, wooden spools, cedar chunks, other wood chunks, styrofoam balls, and all sorts of other things.  I was sick of having them stacked in a closet in my room.  I decided it was time to come up with a project I could use it all for.  Then I remembered seeing a picture of this cool sculpture at some point in my life - where there was a lot of rhythm and texture but no color -- everything was one color.

So, aimed with the knowledge of sculptures that were busy and all one color, I searched and searched till I found it, or rather - her.  Louise Nevelson.  Louise is known for her assemblage sculptures full of texture, rhythms, objects, and always painted a solid color.

I had prepared a slide show with some of Louise's work.  I asked the students to look at them and raise their hand when they could tell me something they noticed.  I then had the students pair share what they noticed.  After a few minutes of further discovery we talked as a class.  We talked about what we thought they were made of, what individual pieces they saw, the rhythms and NOT patterns, layering, shadows, lights - we even discussed why they thought she painted her work all one color.

Next I handed each kid a piece of mat board and let them start their own assemblage sculpture.  I did put a few rules on the project -- layers and no taller than their own hand.  Students tend to want to build towers with these, and I wanted them to layer - so thus the height rule.

Kids used wood glue and hot glue to assemble their projects.  (Yes, 2nd grade used hot glue. We talked about safety and how hot glue is HOT -etc.)  It took us a good two classes to get everything glued they way they wanted.  Then the third class, students got to pick what color they wanted to paint their projects.  I reminded them that they needed to be ALL one color.  When kids were  'done' we got down at eye level and turned their project all the way around to make sure they really got it all painted!

I then took their projects and hung them on the bulletin board by color so that they kind of mimic Louise Nevelson and her rhythm of rectangle boxes.


2nd Annual Art Ed Blog of the Year

Excited for the Art of Ed's blog of the year competition! It was an honor to be apart of it last year! This is a great way to learn about new Art Ed blogs and to recognize/honor the ones you love the most!  So head over to the Art of Ed and check out the requirements, how it will work, who has already been nominated, and perhaps nominate some of your own!  Nominations are only open till this Friday, December 7th!


My Mind is Blown!

I have to be honest - I feel like my head might explode, in a good way.

So yesterday I read the book "The Artistic Edge" which is aimed at talking about 7 skills kids can learn through the arts to be successful in life.  While this book isn't exactly what I thought it was going to be - it brought me to "Artful Thinking" which then took me to "Visual Thinking" - something my Principal has introduced to my Elementary School of the Arts.

I feel like singing "it's a small world after all".  I have decided that no only have I not given enough effort into understanding 'Visual Thinking' - but that I may have found something that will truly impact my teaching and hopefully my students.

I am personally sick of having the word 'assessment' shoved in my face.  I agree that we need to always assess things:  How is this lesson going? Are the kids understanding? Are they making connections? Did I give them too much information/not enough? Did a create a lesson that has higher level thinking?  Who is confused?  Who has it?  -- These are all assessments that happen while I am teaching a lesson and conferencing with kids as I walk around.  I really despise having to write stuff like this down or create less open assignments so that they can fit into an 'assessment' to show growth.  Kids don't 'show' growth in a concrete way in art -- which is EXACTLY what Visual Thinking, Artful Thinking, and The Artistic Edge talk about in kind of a round about fashion.

These programs/studies/books all STRESS that kids learn HOW to think, not WHAT to think when they are involved in the Arts.  I have been saying for years on this site and to anyone that will listen that my job is not just finger painting and paper gluing -- kids actually learn VALUABLE skills when they come to my room. They learn how to problem solve, critically think, reflect, ask for help, preserver - and so much more.

I am super excited about these programs/books, because I had no idea they were even out there.  Where have these been all my years of teaching?  I wrote a post a few months back how I felt stuck in my own learning - that any type of conference was too expensive and out of my budget -- but this, this I can do.   My building is learning it on a smaller scale and I am so excited to learn more about it that I can barely decide where to start!  I am overwhelmed with the information and studies and such that are out there!  WHO KNEW?!

It is also nice to see actual studies, papers, programs that are aimed at what I have always believed to be true - that yes, academics (math, reading, writing) are super important but it is also valuable to know HOW to think - just not WHAT to think.  Most kids in math learn what to think in math (a few who really get it and love it ask "how") - they learn the equations and plug in numbers.  In good art programs kids are given parameters and told to create something original. 

In The Artistic Edge - there is a section devoted to kids that have low self-esteem when it comes to academics.  It is easier to refuse to do math, than to try and ALWAYS be wrong - because there is a right and wrong answer.  I tried to be that kid, my mom and tutor wouldn't let me off the hook -- bless them.  In art the only 'right' and 'wrong' are if you followed the parameters -- otherwise every answer is correct.  It is easier and 'safer' for kids with low academic-esteem to try in art classes because there is a HUGE grey area where they can succeed and grow with their confidence.

AH!  I have so many more things running through my brain - like how arts help kids communicate (talked about in The Artistic Edge) how the arts can save kids (a stories in The Element, The Artistic Edge - and seen in a few of my own students) how the arts can teach life lessons - like asking for help.

So much information!  So much to learn!  My brain is going to get stretched here soon and it may not always feel great, but soon enough I will have some new ways to help my students grow as THINKERS!

Check out this List of Project Zero's Research Projects.
Making Thinking Visual - The Book

** I should state that it is the COMBINATION of these things that make me super excited.  The book "The Artistic Edge" is interesting, but I found nothing ground breaking it in.  I had hoped for more examples of how the arts help students learn the skills she talks about, but instead there is a lot of talk and then just - kids learn this in the arts, with little examples and of the examples given are mostly Theatre based.  I agree with her points and her message, but I was hoping for more of a book I could hand skeptics and say, "read this" - but it doesn't have that kind of 'aha' factor -- at least it didn't for me.


5th Grade - Sphere Sculptures (Decorative Paper)

Pinterest strikes again!  I saw these:

I wasn't exactly sure how these were going to get woven into my curriculum this year - but I was sure they would fit somewhere.  I decided these would fit with 3D, values, hues, personal choices, recycling/upcycling - and so much more!

So, the students haven't actually made these yet - today I had them decorate cardboard that has about the same thickness as cereal boxes.  The wonderful ladies in the lunch room collect the cardboard for me from boxes of fruit!  I have HUGE stacks of the stuff and I always get excited when I have a way to use large quantities of it.  I love that it is easy to cut, but yet holds up pretty well to copious amounts of tempra paint.

Today, I had students decorate the cardboard in an Eric Carle type style.  They started with a base color, chose another color to add a design, then add another color and yet another design - then students could leave it or use a decorative comb to add designs by scraping paint around in a pattern.  I told students that I would pick the colors for their tables - but not to worry they will get to pick papers from ALL the tables when it comes time to make their spheres.  I explained that I pick their colors because it gives us more usable colors - if I just let them go, we would get a BUNCH of brown and blue.  I generally give each table their table color in paint - so blue table got blue paint, red table got red paint (keeps down the arguing and whining).  Each table got a variety of tints/shades of their color to make these stand out, for example green table got:  green, bright green (green + yellow), mixed green (yellow + blue), and a thing of white (ends up being light green).

At first students were being very careful and clean about this process - which I some what appreciated, but we needed papers that were free, open, full of motion and color - students needed to be a little more - organized chaos.  I told many of them they were being too nice and needed to give a little more 'umpf' to it.  Soon it was a controlled whirl wind!  Paint, cardboard, brushes, students were everywhere - in a good way.  I was busy filling paint as it ran out while keeping the cardboard stack well supplied.  It was awesome.

I had MANY students today exclaim, "This is the best day of art EVER!"  There is something beautiful, freeing even of letting loose - not 'making' anything in particular.  We weren't making dogs, cats, perspective drawings -- students got to just create.  It was BEAUTIFUL.

It is going to take me some time to cut all these papers for students to make their spheres - but they will be amazing - I am SUPER excited.


5th Grade -- Layered Pumpkin Compositions

So, while 5th graders at one building were preparing for their 5th Grade Production of Treasure Island, my 5th graders at my other school were having art class as normal.

I LOVE doing pumpkin projects.  I do believe it has to do with the fact that my grandparents grew pumpkins for years and I spent my early childhood in the Pumpkin Hut during pumpkin season.  I don't remember much of harvest time, being so young I was mostly entertained and kept out of the way.  I do remember kitties, community, LOTS of pumpkins and AWESOME decorations on the farm.  Most of the city I grew up in bought their pumpkins at the Novak Pumpkin Patch.  In fact, people still stop by from time to time and knock on my Grandma's door asking about the pumpkin patch.  Being so far from family, pumpkins always make me feel close to them - so I try and do pumpkin projects with all my grade levels.  (A plus with doing pumpkins and NOT Halloween is that ALL students can participate!)

Back to the project.  So this started out as a piece of artwork that I saw on Pinterest (love that site).  I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it, but I knew at some point it would be inspiration for a great project.  (I also love this artist's site - lots of great, bold, colorful papers: http://insightsandbellylaughs.com/)

I was trying to figure out a project for my 5th graders that would be engaging and more than just drawing a pumpkin.  Then BAM it hit me.  We will do a colorful background, then draw a pumpkin from a zoomed-in, unique angle on a piece of transparency!!!  PERFECT!

Off I went designing a lesson and guiding my students.  So, first we started with the background.  I didn't tell them what they were going to be used for because I didn't want them to try and plan an orange pumpkin section.  I wanted them to be free and full of color.  I really wanted to use tempra paint, but my order wasn't in yet - so we used oil pastels, chalk pastels, and water color.

I had the students divide their paper with different types of lines using oil pastel.  Then they colored in sections of their paper with chalk pastel.  Last, but not least, students used either plain water or water color and 'painted' over their chalk.  Students that used watercolor over their chalk had beautiful BOLD, BRIGHT colors.  Students that used plain water were still beautiful, but less bright.

After their background was done we talked about using view finders (two "L" shaped papers to make a frame that is adjustable).  I had about six pictures of pumpkins from different angles - I had students use their view finders to find a unique composition on one of the pumpkins.  Now, I realize that using REAL pumpkins would have been better - but pumpkins are expensive and I would have needed at least 8 - wasn't in the budget.  Any how, so students drew their compositions on a piece of printer paper.  I showed them how to draw as simple line drawing - looking on their pumpkin and where it starts in the frames, find that spot on the paper, then crawl along the line like an ant and draw as you go.  I told them their eyes should be always moving - it will look weird to start.  I showed them to occasionally stop and make sure they are in the right spot on their paper as they are in their frame.  Next, add the stem - I tried to stress to draw what they see NOT what they know.  Many students came to me with beautiful drawings and these really odd stems in strange places.  Quite often these students would look at me and say, "I don't like it.  It looks weird."  I would take them to their picture and show them that their brain knows the stem is at the top of the pumpkin but in your picture the stem actually is in the middle of your pumpkin and just the tip of the stem pokes out off the top.  Most of the kids you could hear the light bulb go on and they totally understood, a few still had trouble seeing instead of 'knowing'.

When students were happy with their pencil drawing I handed them a clear transparency and a sharpie. Students traced their work - dark lines are thick and light lines are thin.  Some students chose to add simple lines in the background to help their pumpkin stand out.

My Example
These are really remarkable - the pictures don't do these justice as it flattens them out way too much - also it was hard to get a picture without a terrible glare.  So, you might have to do a little of imagining what they truly look like.