Grade 2 – Fall Units Update


In second grade we started off the year with one of my favorite units.  This unit has students’ focus on observation and teaches them more about printmaking, one of my favorite types of art to make.

Students first start by learning about why artists draw from observation.  Our big idea for this unit is Artists draw to record what they see. Their job for the first class was to practice their observation skills and draw leaves from observation.  When you look at their final pieces you will notice that they observed the edges of the leaves, as well as the veins inside the leaves.

On day two, students transferred their best drawing to a styrofoam printing plate, and explored how they could create a rubbing with paper and crayons. You may have seen some of these awesome rubbings at home, because students were able to take them home the same day.

The rest of our unit was spent learning how to create a print, just like printmakers do.  They learned how to ink their plate using crayola markers, how to place the paper, and pull a print.  This required some practice and patience.


Drawing from observation on Day 1

Finally they selected their best print, titled it, and uploaded it to our online gallery on Artsonia using one of our art room iPads. Be sure to click-through to check out the entire gallery of work on Artsonia.  The best prints are also currently on display at Conant on one of the bulletin boards right off the front lobby.


Transferring the best drawing to their styrofoam printing plate on day 2


Creating rubbings of their printing plates on day 2


Learning and practicing their printmaking skills on days 3-5


In extra art room 8 has been exploring and learning about the built environment. Our big idea for this unit is Artists practice thoughtful observation of the built environment around them. While working on this unit students learned about two artists: Arthur Fuller Davis, who was a librarian at the Acton Memorial Library, and James Rizzi, who was a Pop Artist from New York

First students started by exploring drawings of various buildings around Acton on our iPads, to learn that buildings are made of basic shapes. On day two students started using their observation skills, drawing either Acton Town Hall, Exchange Hall, or the Acton Memorial Library. These observation drawings helped students understand the parts of a building, so they could then use their imagination to create buildings inspired by the artwork of James Rizzi.


Shape inventory using iPads and the app Explain Everything


Be sure to stop by Conant to check out a selection of work on display in the hall by room 5!  Also, visit our online art gallery on Artsonia to see all the James Rizzi inspired drawings.


Observation drawings of Acton buildings



Coloring James Rizzi inspired buildings


Extra Art Update: Grades 1-3


This year, students in grades 1-6 are rotating through an extra class of all 3 specials.  So that means each class gets to see me for extra art for 1/3 of the year.

I’ve been doing separate extra art units, instead of one class getting far ahead of the others.

Check out below to see what’s happened so far this year in extra art, grades 1-3!

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Catching Up – Grades K, 1, & 2 – Regular Art


It always seems that each year I get behind on sharing what is happening in the art room.  This year it hit right around the holiday’s, which I think everyone can understand…..But good news is, I’m finally catching up!

Scroll down to check out what we’ve been up to at Conant in grades k-2 recently!

Grade K has been up to a lot since I last posted.  Each section has been working on a unit about sculpture, where they’ve been exploring a variety of sculpture materials.  Provided we don’t have any more delays or snow days,  both sections should start on their final sculpture this week!

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Grade 1 has been learning about shape and color via inspiration from Wassily Kandinsky’s painting Color Study: Squares with Concentric Circles. Students explored brushstrokes and color mixing, reviewed the primary and secondary colors, and reviewed how to paint.  I love how varied these paintings are!  Be sure to check out all the work in our Artsonia Gallery.

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Grade 2 has been using African animals as our inspiration for our sculpture & painting unit.  We finished up our sculpture unit in mid January, and have started our African animals painting.  For our painting we were inspired by the work of Nick Brandt, who is a photographer working and living in Kenya.  His work in Kenya is now part of the Big Life Foundation, which he founded to help protect and animals and wild lands of East Africa. Our paintings have been created to look like portraits of the animals, the same way you would see portraits of people. Check out the photos below to see the sculptures and paintings, and be sure to check out our Artsonia gallery to look at all the sculptures!

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Grade 2 – Built Environment – Extra Art


Room 8 is just about to finish up their trimester of extra art.  I’m sad it’s coming to an end, but we’ve done a lot of great things that I’m excited to share with you.  As you can see above in the featured image, students first learned about why artists might draw the built environment (to share with future generations, and to learn more about it themselves).  Students explored images of buildings on the ipads, noting the different shapes that are used.  They learned it’s mostly rectangles, which when broken down to the simples shapes, aren’t that difficult to draw! We then spent a few art periods drawing a variety of buildings that are here in Acton, MA.  This was great observation practice, and a nice connection to our printmaking unit in regular art.

The final step of this project was creating our own imaginative buildings. Students were asked to envision what they wanted their building to look like before starting, and could chose between drawing it from the outside, or drawing a cross-section of the building (think doll house).  These drawings were painted with water color paints.  Check out our online gallery on Artsonia to see all of them.  And check back later this week to see the extension activity we did on the iPads.  Buildings Buildings_0006

Grade 2 – Practice is Important – Printmaking


Second graders have spent many classes practicing how to create a print from their styrofoam printing plate.  This is called ‘pulling a print’, instead of ‘printing a print’.  Second graders had to keep their papers and printing plates still while printing, otherwise the prints they pulled would be smudged and blotchy.

It took a lot of focus, but the Studio Habits of Mind really help children remember the skills they needed to complete their work successfully.  The Studio Habits of Mind we focused on were engage & persist and develop craft.  

The reward for all their amazing practice was being allowed to print with multiple colors at one time.  Check out the images below to see the amazing work they did.  Also, if you visit Conant School, be sure to check out the work on display.  Students picked their best piece for display.

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Grade 2 – African Animal Portraits


Second graders were inspired by the photographer Nick Brandt to create these amazing animal portraits.  First students spent some class periods practicing their painting skills, and understanding why it’s important to work on a painting for a few class periods.  Then we looked at a handful of Nick Brandt’s photographs, and talked about why an artist might create portraits of animals.  Students used some reference images to create portraits of an African animal, as well as an African landscape for their background.  Check out my post on my art ed blog for more detailed information and resources.

I’m so impressed by the work these second graders created this year.  They’ve really honed their observation skills and painting skills this year. Check out their work below!

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Thumb Pianos – Art/Music/Classroom Collaboration


In connection with their studies of Kenya, second graders are making musical instruments, called thumb pianos or mbiras, during a collaboration period in art.  The mbira is a plucked idiophone, which means it makes sound by vibrating.  The mbira or thumb piano, is played by holding the instrument in the hands and plucking the tines with the thumbs. 

In class, second graders sanded their base, designed a pattern for the edge of their thumb pianos, and helped screw the dowels in place.  Many thanks to Mrs. Tulp, Mrs. Tsacoyeanes, and Mrs. Crumlish, and the parent volunteers for making time for this collaboration.

Second graders will use some of their thumb pianos during their March All School Meeting performance.