Art is Alive!

May is probably my favorite month in the classroom.

Not only because the school year is almost done,

but because this is when art comes alive in my classroom.

Here are just a few of the creative happenings in my room lately.

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Joy Factor

I often talk about something called the Joy Factor

when it comes to getting students engaged and excited about learning.

Well about a month ago, I definitely added a new layer to this idea.

One of my team teachers and I decided to do something a little out of the ordinary

to bring the Joy Factor to our students.

I’d like to call this episode of Joy Factor “Class Swap”

because we did just that.  We swapped classes.

Olivia is a writer as well as a teacher

and she’s currently in the midst of getting her first novel published.

My class was finishing up writing personal narratives,

and to give them a little bit more enthusiasm,

Olivia came and taught them a lesson on the editing process.

Meanwhile, I visited her class to bring an art lesson

that accompanied her science unit on the water cycle.

It was a fun experience to step into a new class

and I have to say the kids were definitely into the swap idea.

This experiment could have easily been a bust on either end,

but I think both classes enjoyed a surprise lesson with a new teacher.

 Water Conservation Lesson – 5th grade Science

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This lesson was focused on the fact that only 1%

of water on Earth is usable by humans.

After brainstorming ways we as a community could save water,

I introduced the students task at hand –

to create a persuasive poster to encourage others to conserve water.

Each student was provided with a “must haves” checklist –

-provide four ideas to encourage water conservation

-use pictures, symbols, or words to persuade the viewer

-include two vertical lines and one horizontal line to divide the poster

-98% of the poster should be covered with color

-markers should only be used for outlining

I was impressed with the ideas the students came up with

and the ways they decided to articulate them on their posters.

I’m telling you – save the arts in our classrooms!

our students today are definitely motivated by creative projects!

Though the students were not able to finish in the 45 minute swap,

I assured them that their teacher would make time for them later.

I’m pretty proud of their work and can’t wait to hang them up in our front hallway!

To you teachers out there – how do you bring the Joy Factor to your classroom?

Art Project: California Landscapes

My fourth graders just wrapped up

a Social Studies unit on the regions of California

with one of my favorite art projects.

Each student chose their favorite region –

the coast, the desert, the mountains, or the valley.

Then, they sketched a simple drawing

of a landscape illustrating the physical features

that make this region unique.

We then used Elmer’s glue to trace the pencil and let it dry for a day.

The fun part was adding oil pastels to make the sketch come alive.

My kiddos have been practicing blending techniques

using oil pastels in their art class,

so they were pros at allowing the color to bring detail

to the simple sketch they started out with.

I love this project mostly because it doesn’t require

a lot of materials and doesn’t make a huge mess.

And my favorite part is always hanging up their work

and enjoying it the month after.

It’s amazing to me how different each product is,

even when two student’s chose the same region.

Art: It makes my classroom happy!

Here’s another plug for my Donor’s Choose project.

Hope you’ll check it out.

Let’s save the arts in our classrooms!

Grammar + Art = Fun!

Grammar can be boring.

For me, I always loved it!

Diagramming sentences, explaining parts of speech,

I loved it all!

However, sometimes you need to bring in the Joy Factor

when it comes to dry grammar lessons.

For example, this week I taught my kiddos how to

correctly punctuate a line of dialouge.

Discussing where quotation marks and commas belong

in dialogue can be pre-tty boring!

Here’s how I made it come to life:

I read Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus,

which is basically dialogue throughout.

Students love it!  And not to mention, it’s a great series!

We then examined a quotation from the book,

written correctly with quotation marks and a comma.

Students were then each given their own quote from the book

but written without any punctuation.

They rewrote it, demonstrating appropriate punctuation.

We also had a great discussion about words that can replace said,

like yelled, replied, answered, and more.

I encouraged the students to find a new word for said to add to their quotation.

Finally, I surprised them with a guided drawing of Mr. Pigeon himself!

Art brings wonders to the classroom!  I’m telling you!

Who knew quotation marks could be so much fun?

Here makes a great plug for a project I’ve posted on Donor’s Choose.

I’m hoping to add more art activities like this one to my classroom,

especially when I teach science.

If you’re feeling a little generous, check out my project.

Save the Arts in our classroom!