Category Archives: Uncategorized

Silver Linings: 4th Grade Scratch Art

This was a great 2-day lesson for exploring line variation and texture, while creating art on a new type of surface! We kicked off this project by using our iPads to browse through images of pen and ink landscapes. In case you hadn’t noticed, we use A LOT of color in the art room so looking at black and white images was an interesting change of pace. By stripping the images of color, we were able to take a closer look at lines and how simple mark making can create a sensation of place and texture without the use of color.

I distributed a sheet of pre-made scratch art paper and a wooden skewer to each student as 4th graders selected reference photos from the internet. The scratch paper was glossy black on the exterior, but metallic underneath. Students used the skewers to sketch (and scratch!) their landscapes onto the glossy black paper. Before students began scratching, we took some time to discuss positive and negative space and compositional balance. Students started by locating and sketching their horizon lines. Next, students identified the focal point of their landscapes and sketched this clearly. Students continued their landscapes by filling in surrounding details. Their last step was adding texture and dimension to areas within their pictures.

At the end of class, several students told me that they felt as if their pieces were missing something. So on the second day of this project, I encouraged students to experiment with adding color to their designs. Students found that oil pastels work best on top of this surface and that the silver outlines still showed through. Some students chose to add a color while others kept their landscapes black and silver. The end results were simply magical.

I loved seeing each student’s thinking evolve with each landscape. It was fascinating to see which areas of their landscapes students chose to accentuate with color and which areas students allowed the silver to shine through.

There is silver lining everywhere. And these 4th graders see it, feel it, capture it, and create it. They ARE it!

Plant Markers: A Project for Flowing Wells!

PicMonkey CollageEarlier this year, Joe Kirstein came to me with an interesting concept: what if EDS art students worked together to design 16 plant markers for the produce growing out at Flowing Wells? Well, of course, I thought this was a fabulous idea! My husband and I got to work- we went to Lowe’s and bought a set of 25 garden stakes, cut wooden rectangles out of wood, and drilled them together.

13237634_10100493868360821_5201377349779067623_n13227210_10100493865331891_6711783988878496458_nThen came the tricky part: Which students/group of students should paint them? Joe and I decided that it would be great to “commission” a variety of lower school artists from 2nd-4th grade. I pulled several names from a hat from each class and designated garden stakes to students. Joe sent me a list of 16 fuits/vegetables and I printed off reference photos of each so that students could look at them while sketching them.


As you can see, students sketched and painted large scale fruits/veggies on the wooden rectangles. They also painted designs on their wooden stakes!

Meanwhile, my 1st graders and 2nd graders were learning about metal tooling. I had some extra metal, so I let one class of students carve designs into sheets of metal and another class “antique” the metal using india ink. We talked about why some gardeners liked to place reflective/mirror like devices in their gardens. We discussed how metal can help reflect sunlight and discourage bugs from hanging around!


I glued the metal sheets to the backs of the garden stakes and let these younger students paint the backs and sides of them.  They clearly had a good time playing a role in this important project for Flowing Wells. 🙂

Lastly, I sketched out the name of each fruit/veggie over the dried paintings and commissioned my 6th graders to make the letters pop with paint pens.   Didn’t they turn out awesome?


We got all 16 of these plant markers cranked out in one week and almost every 1st-4th grader (plus 6th grade) was involved somehow.  My art curriculum wasn’t interrupted and students were all working on their normal projects in addition to this fun collaborative commission.  Just like the act of growing produce out at Flowing Wells, creating art is about community, working together, and contributing your own unique flare. I love that these garden stakes didn’t “belong” to anyone and how they were passed around across grade levels.

Later this week, Joe will take a group of lower school students out to Flowing Wells property to install these plant markers. I can’t wait to watch this project come full-circle and share pictures with you.   Awesome work, EDS!

Banyan Trees: 4th Grade

4th graders learned all about Banyan Trees, beautiful trees that originate in India. These trees are known for their multiple trunks and twisting branches. The branches of this tree send out roots  from the top to anchor into the soil.  We kicked off this project by admiring images of Banyan trees and their trunk-like roots. banyan-oheo625x416

Following these steps, students created their own full-page renderings of banyan trees. 13173898_10100490301768301_3109069877885606561_n

When the pencil drawings were complete, students outlined with sharpies.


Next, 4th graders carefully painted in their bark with india ink.



After a quick chalk pastel demonstration, 4th graders filled in each of their encloses spaces with chalk pastel. Students used Q-tips to blend in the small areas and were encouraged to mix lots of colors.


Check out some finished work!



This lesson came from one of the first books I was given when I became an art teacher: Dynamic Art Projects for Children, by Denise M. Logan. I highly recommend this book!

Great work, 4th Grade!

Smockmaking Extraordinaires

My sweet kiddos made and embellished their own art smocks on our last day of Art Enrichment!  This was a special request several of them made earlier on. Aren’t they the cutest?

I ordered this inexpensive class-set of art aprons from amazon and was a little disappointed how tiny they were. But I mean, they were ridiculously cheap, so it made sense.   I decided to add some length to the smocks by cutting up fabric and material I had in the art room.  There was no measuring or method to this madness- the smocks are perfectly imperfect. 🙂


I’ll miss this sweet group of kiddos! Hope you guys make all kinds of masterpieces at home this summer with your new smocks 🙂

Symmetrical Butterflies

PicMonkey CollageDisclaimer: I borrowed the bulk of this lesson from one of my art-teacher idols, Cassie Stephens.  She’s simply amazing at what she does- I highly recommend you check her projects out.  I may harbor a lil’ art teacher envy because she’s so cool.  Anyways. 🙂 

This was a REALLY fun project for Kindergarten and I’m thrilled to have woven it into our curriculum this year. First, we talked about butterflies and the importance of celebrating their beautifully short lives.  We talked about symmetry and looked at examples of symmetrical designs in butterfly wings.

We kicked off our projects by folding 8×10 sheets of white construction paper in half (hot-dog-style) like a card. We painted on only ONE HALF of our paper (to the right of the crease) and children followed my lead to create their monoprints. We used water down black paint and painted directly onto our paper. I would make a brushstroke on the right side of my paper and quickly fold it, pressing the pages together. Then I would unfold and instruct children to do the same. basic symmetryWe did this process of painting, folding, pressing, and unfolding for the entire butterfly. They really enjoyed this wild, explorative, and playful process! I encouraged them to work really QUICK, since the paint dries fast. One child accidentally dropped a splatter of paint onto one half of the butterfly and went into a panic. I said, “Oh, you got really lucky! Now quick, fold your paper!” The child was thrilled to see that the “accident” turned into a really neat marking that was now part of their butterfly wing design. therestHere’s a picture of the black and white butterflies from the first day of class. They looked very pretty at this stage and I wasn’t sure if I wanted them to add color.  (Ultimately, I’m glad we did!)12998636_10100480578798211_4387652347569286790_nThe next week, we used chalk pastels to color in our wings. We didn’t use the same “fold and press” technique since the chalk doesn’t transfer as a monoprint, but we DID discuss the importance of keeping the colors symmetrical on both butterfly wings. Here are some progress shots of Kindergarteners hard at work. 🙂123456879We blended bright colors for the backgrounds. Here is the finished butterfly garden. What do you think? 🙂 bf1bf2bf3group butterflies

I feel like they could make a really cool quilt, don’t you think?

Have an nice week!

-Mrs. Heinlein


Cherry Blossom Trees


Whenever I teach a multicultural lesson, I try create the atmosphere of that continent or country in my classroom.  For this project, I hung some asian paper lanterns from the ceilings and projected some large images of Japanese structures and cherry blossom trees on my smart board. I made sure my blinds were pulled up and students had a clear view of the huge tree right outside of the art room window. I pointed out Asia on my art room map and we closed our eyes and envisioned ourselves in Asia.

We looked at various cherry blossom trees and learning about Asian culture. I taught our kindergarteners about the word Hanami, which is the practice of picnicking under a blossoming tree. (I really wanted to take them outside to sit under a tree while we painted, but it was still cold outside!)  We kicked off the project by painting light watercolor sunsets for our backgrounds.  I demonstrated the wet-on-wet technique and showed children how to blend stripes of colors together to form a well-blended sunset. Some students added a moon with white acrylic paint.

After these were dry, I gave each table of students a little container of india ink. I showed students how to use their skinny brushes to paint a windy line from one corner of their paper to the other. We used curved Y’s and V’s as we added branches.



Next, I demonstrated how to finger paint…using ONLY ONE finger! We mixed various shades of pinks and purples together onto our picture by dotting little cherry blossoms onto our branches. I loved seeing each child approach this differently.



Oh, and check out these cute smiley faces!





…..And the fabulous finished pieces!



Nice work, you guys!

-Mrs. Heinlein

Amazing Peacocks! 2nd Grade

2nd graders finished their peacocks earlier this month and I’m finally getting around to sharing some photographs of their finished work. I think they get better and better EVERY YEAR. Don’t you love them?

12814137_10100461462961501_3769063909415771469_nEven though we all followed the same basic steps, I love how DIFFERENT these peacocks turned out from one another.  This project is a great reminder that every project is a self portrait.  The finished pieces allow us to take a glimpse into the beautiful minds of the wonderful children who created them.


They looked so pretty laid out on my floor, I didn’t want to move them!

(Sigh. But I did!)


I can’t wait for you to see them and get to take them home on Grandparent’s Day!

Have a nice week,

Mrs. Heinlein

Charley Harper Birds: 3rd Grade

PicMonkey Collage


One of my favorite things about teaching is HOW MUCH I LEARN through teaching.  Seriously, my self-awareness has skyrocketed through my daily interactions with children.  Plus, my students are always teaching me things about the world around us. If I teach a lesson about owls, children will raise their hands and offer up facts about owls that I had never heard of!  I’m stunned and thankful to be surrounded by such wonder. Learning and teaching aren’t parallel lines moving down a one-way street, they are constantly intersecting, interchanging, and changing directions.


3rd graders have been learning about collage this quarter and I wanted to introduce a brand new artist for this project. After a little bit of research, I stumbled upon illustrator Charley Harper (who is actually from WV, my home state!) My own creative wheels were spinning  as I filled my cup with knowledge about this artist and put together a powerpoint presentation for the class.

Henri Matisse defined collage as “painting with scissors,” so I encouraged 3rd graders to think about this perspective as they began their compositions. Students created their own scenes depicting minimalist birds with sharp, clean details.

While we certainly looked at and discussed many of Harper’s collages, I intentionally didn’t give students too much direction. I wanted to see where they took this project.  Here are some images of their progress.





Aren’t they fascinating? I think that, together, these collages could form a storybook. Hmm…




Have a great day!

-Mrs. Heinlein

6th Grade Selfies: Complete!

6th graders finished their self portraits a couple of weeks ago. Here are some progress pictures I snapped. For more information on the full lesson and what 6th graders learned, click here!


Everyone did an amazing job. Congrats on being selected for work of the week, Katie!

-Mrs. Heinlein