Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas cookies ...Yummy !!!

I first would like to apologize for not posting anything since late September but I have been incredibly busy ! Thanks you for being so patient with me .

This month I chose to share some Christmas cookies . As a mom , I think this is a wonderful thing to do with your children during the holiday season . In fact in my family I made this a tradition since my son was a toddler ....and now that he is much bigger...he still looks forward to make Christmas cookies .....but ..shhhhhhhhhhhh ! Don't tell him I told you =)

Of course you can choose your favorite Christmas cookie recipe , this is one that I like and this is what you will need :

* 4 eggs
* 2 sticks of margarine + 1 tablespoon (or 17 tablespoons)
* 1 cup of sugar
* 3 cups of flour
* 1 teaspoon of baking powder
* a tiny little bit of salt
* 1/2 pack of vanilla sugar
* zest of 1/2 lemon
* 1-2 egg yolk to make the cookies golden

(1) Beat eggs, butter and sugar until you obtain a smooth texture .
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl . Sift .
(3) Make a whole in the middle of the dry ingredients (flour , baking powder and salt) . Add the liquid ingredients (eggs , butter and sugar mixture) inside the whole , as well as the vanilla sugar and the lemon zest . Mix with your fingers . ( Some kids will love this part ...some will hate it...) Knead it until it becomes smooth and not sticky .
(4) Let the cookie dough rest for at least half an hour in the refrigerator .
(5) Roll the dough and c
ut it with your child's favorite cookie cutters.
(6) Arrange the cookies on a cookie sheet and
brush them with egg yolk .
(7) Bake the cookies in the middle of the oven until they become light yellow . It takes about 10 - 15 minutes in an oven at 350 F . (This should be a job for a grown up !)
(8) Let the cookies cool off .

(9) Mix some powder sugar with some lemon juice to make some icing (or use your own favorite icing .) Brush the cookies with the icing and add your favorite decoration before it dries !

Enjoy =o)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Cat in papier mâché , part 3

Part 3 .
Painting your cat .

Material needed :
* your cat in papier mâché
* gesso (or white acrylic paint)
* HB pencil
* acrylic paints (as many colors as possible )
* old newspaper (to cover the tables)
* paintbrushes of different thickness
* small cups of water (to rinse the paintbrushes)
* rags or paper towels (to wipe out paintbrushes )
* small plastic plates (one per student) to put a small amount of acrylic paints of different colors
* Varnish (to protect the paint from chipping off )

Activity :
(1) Each student should take their cat , now entirely covered with newspaper ...

and apply a couple of coats of gesso (or white acrylic paint). You should plan that one day ahead of the painting of the cat itself, so it has plenty of time to dry . If you are an art docent and are limited by time like I was (I only had one hour a month !) , you could go to school and apply the gesso on all the cats yourself . It will save you some time and ensure that all the students will have enough time to paint their cat entirely .

(2) Each student now has a "white" cat . They can take an HB pencil and draw the outlines of their cat's eyes , nose , a particular design , etc.

(3) Now they can choose the colors they want to paint their cat with and put a small amount of each color in a small plastic (or paper) plate . Ideally it would be a good idea to put two coats of paint , but again if time is limited , one coat of paint will do . Each student should have a small cup filled with water to rinse their paintbrush , and a rag to wipe it out .

Here is the finished cat ...

Once the paint is dry , don't forgot to apply some varnish to protect the cat . (It will prevent the paint to chip off too easily .) I would suggest that you do day the day after the painting .

Other examples of cats :

When I did this project with these 5th graders , the teacher had a classroom filled with "Garfield"... so we made some "Garfield" cats...Here is an example from one of the students ...

Examples of cats with random designs...

A black cat. Perfect for...Halloween ...

I hope you and your students or children had fun =0)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cat in papier maché , part 2

Part 2 :

How to make the cat itself .

In part one , I explained to you how to make some papier mâché paste . I gave you some alternative recipes as well. Now we are all ready to start the "real" lesson : the students will learn to make a cat in papier mâché . How exciting ! They will love it !!!

Material needed : Here is what you will need :
* some clean empty plastic bottles ( like Gatorade , soda or juice bottle )
* some uncooked rice
* some dry beans
* a funnel
* a plastic spoon
* some labels (one for each student)
* sharpies
* some aluminum foil
* cardboard (from old cereal or cookie boxes)
* a pencil
* scissors
* masking tape
* newspaper (that you will have collected from the students )
* papier mâché paste (we made in part 1)

Activity :
(1) Each student will fill the bottle with some rice (using a funnel and a plastic spoon). They will add a little bit of dry beans and then mix .(The rice and the beans will put some weight in the bottle , which will prevent it to tip later on .) Close the bottle .

(2) Have the students write their name on a label with a sharpie . Then have them glue the label at the bottom of their bottle . (It will make the identification of each cat easier after they dry !)

(3) Next ask each student to make a ball with some aluminum foil .

They should cover it with about half a page of a newspaper ...

and secure it with some masking tape at the top of the bottle . This will be the head of their cat .

(4) To make the tail , each student will need another piece of aluminum foil . This time they will roll it as if they were making a snake with play dough ...

They should cover it with a newspaper page as well and secure it with masking tape ...

And attach it to the base of the bottle with masking tape as shown .

(5) For the ears , the students will simply draw two triangles on a piece of cardboard ...

cut them with their scissors ...

and attach those two triangles to the head with masking tape . The ears can be a little bit tricky to secure and some students may need your help with it .

(6) Each students will then gather a few (2 to 4) pages of newspaper and and tear it up in pieces of all sizes and lengths (long , short , wide , narrow).

(7) The students are now ready to dip their strips of paper , one at a time , in the papier mâché paste .(Each student should be provided with a small paper bowl containing some papier mâché paste .)

After dipping the strip in the papier mâché paste , they should directly adhere the strip to the bottle and smooth it with their fingers . They should start at the bottom and work their way to the top , go over the head , the ears and of course the tail . Once they are done , they should go over a second time , so they will have two coats of papier mâché .

Now they will have to let it dry...until next lesson ...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cat in papier mache , part 1

Part 1 :

How to make papier mâché paste .

This lesson will have to be separated in 3 parts :

Part1 : How to make the papier mâché paste . (Only for teachers , art docents or parents)
Part 2 : How to make the cat itself .
Part 3 : Painting and finishing touches .

Grade level : I made this lesson with 5th graders . I know some teachers (or even some parents ) do not like projects that involves messes ....but they are ALWAYS the ones the children have the most fun with ! However you should remember that when the kids want to do something fun , they will be willing to compromise . They will behave themselves during the lesson and they will help clean up the mess at the end ! So relax and have fun with this project =0)

Art concept and skills : This project give the children the possibility to experiment with 3D . I find that students are always very enthusiastic with 3D lessons . They are able to focus much more on their work , maybe because they are so amazed of what they can accomplish .

If you are a teacher I will recommend that you start asking your students to bring old newspapers at school about one month before the lesson . They will be very generous ! Try not to reveal what the plan is ...they will be very curious and excited about it ! You may also ask that every child brings an empty clean SMALL plastic bottle (bottles of Gatorade or juice are excellent choices . (The newspaper and the plastic bottle will be needed for the 2nd part of this lesson , not this one .)

Materials needed : For making the paste you may need different items depending of the "recipe" you choose . (Some people follow a formula using glue , other use wallpaper paste .) Here I am listing the ingredients needed for the "recipe" I use . You will need :
(1) a medium pan
(2) a whisk
(3) measuring cups
(4) 1 cup of flour
(5) 5 cups of water
(6) 2 tablespoon of salt ( to prevent the papier mâché to mold .)
(7) a plastic container to store the final product .

"Recipe" : Mix flour , water and salt in the pan . Boil for about 3 minutes (whisking from time to time and making sure it does not stick to the bottom of your pan ). It will become a little bit like pudding . Let it cool . Store it in a plastic container and put in the refrigerator .

This is the cheapest method and it is nice and smooth .

Resources : As I said before there are plenty of papier mâché paste recipes . I found the one I use on a website called DLTK's Crafts for Kids . You can find more papier mache recipes (with flour , wallpaper paste and glue) on .

Another good website is called The Papier Mache Resource . Besides recipes it also contains some tutorials . Please RESPECT those fabulous artists work ! It is meant to inspire not to copy their work !

The second part of the lesson will be much more exciting and fun. I will try to have it ready as soon as possible .

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Artists paint landscapes

Grade level : third graders .

Art Concepts and Skills : A landscape painting usually has 3 areas : foreground , middle ground and background . A landscape can be drawn with a black pen before applying watercolor washes which tend to make the black lines soft and fuzzy .

Materials needed : * white paper (9 x 12 " or smaller )

* black felt pens

* watercolors

* small brushes

* water containers

* rags

* color photos of landscapes .

Vocabulary : * Balance : to keep steady , to keep even .

* Composition : the combining part to form a whole .

* Foreground : the part of the picture that is or seems to be the nearest to the person who is looking at it .

* Middle ground : what is in the middle of the picture . It is not the closest , but it is not the farthest in the picture . It is half-way .

* Background : the part of the picture that is the farthest from the person who is looking at it .

* Horizon : the line where the sky and the earth or sea seem to meet .

Resources : A landscape is a painting that shows us the natural world around us : trees , lakes , mountains , fields , etc. Sometimes the artist shows us people or animals working or living in the landscape paintings . Other time the artist shows us the landscape itself . Most landscapes include 3 parts :
(1) The foreground : the things that are the closest to you and are shown lowest in the picture . (They are also the biggest !)
(2) The middle ground : the things that are farther away and higher in the picture . (They are the things in the middle of the picture .)
(3) The background : the things that are the farther away and higher still . (The are the smallest things you see on the picture !)

Here are some landscapes painted by well-known artists . Which shows churches ? Which one show a whole city ? Which one is a single building ? Which one has a windmill ? Which landscape would you like to visit ? Which landscape would you NOT like to visit ? Why ?

(1) El Greco (1548-1614) View of Toledo . In this painting , El Greco shows us the city of Toledo . By the time he painted this picture he had lived there 31 years . Toledo is a very old city that is located on a high plateau in central Spain . Can you find the river in this painting ? Can you find the old city wall ? (Both are good protection !) Look at the sky . Why do you think it is so dark ? ( A storm is approaching .) What do you see in the foreground ? ( Trees , shrubs and the river .) What do you see in the middle ground ? ( A meadow with trees on the right , a building on the left and the city wall .) What do you see in the background ? ( The city of Toledo .) Where is the horizon ? (Where the land and the sky seem to meet .)
El Greco , whose name means "the Greek" , was born on the Greek island of Crete . He started studying in Greece , but then move to Italy (in Rome and Venice) . At 36 , he moved to Spain , to the city of Toledo where the Spanish King Phillip II was building a palace . He hoped to help with the decoration of the palace , but the king did not like his work and did not hire him .

(2) John Constable (1776-1837) Salisbury Cathedral . John Constable painted pictures of this church , called the Salisbury Cathedral many times . The Cathedral is over 700 years old and the spire (tower) you see in the painting is 404 feet tall , the tallest spire in England . This style of architecture is Gothic . Gothic buildings are known for their pointed arches and great heights . Can you find some pointed arches on the cathedral ? What is in the foreground ? (The narrow strip of land at the bottom of the painting , the pond from which the cows drink , and the trees which frame the cathedral .) What is in the middle ground ? (People strolling and cows grazing in the sunlit field .) What is in the background ? (The cathedral .) Look at the clouds . Can you see the sun ? During what season did he paint the cathedral ? (Summer) .
John Constable was an English artist , whose father was a miller . He always loved the countryside . He was among the first painters to paint outdoors , spending hours in the open air , drawing trees , fields and rivers . He was especially fascinated by the changing sky . His paintings were first appreciated in another country, France .

(3) Claude Monet (1840-1926) Tulips in Holland . Describe what you see in this landscape . What are the largest areas of colors (red , yellow and violet ) supposed to be ? (Flowers.) Where (what country) do you think Monet was when he painted this landscape of windmill ? (Holland) Then we can also know that the flowers are tulips . What do you see in the background ? Where is the horizon ? In Monet's painting there few outlines . What objects are seen fairly clearly ? (The buildings .) Notice how all the flowers blend into one another . We cannot see even one flower clearly !
Claude Monet was a French artist . He decided that only by painting outdoors could an artist paint a picture of the way things really look . (Before him , painters would make their drawings outdoors , but would then return to their studio to paint them .) Monet was very poor . People started buying his painting once he was 50 .

(4) Lyonel Feiniger (1917-1956) City Hall in Rega . What is the focus or center of interest of this painting ? (The city hall .) The space in this painting is very shallow (close to the edge of the painting ) . What is the foreground ? (A tower with a blue top .) What is the background ? (The city hall.) The entire painting is broken into geometric shapes . Find and identify some of this shapes . The shafts (thin beams of lights ) of sunlight . When the subject (a person , a tree , a house , etc.) of a painting is broken up and reassembled into geometric shapes by the artist , we call this kind of painting cubist .
Lyonel Feininger was born in New York . He went to Germany to study . His favorite subjects were sailing ships and cityscapes . In 1937 , during the World War II , he left Germany and returned to the United States until his death in 1956 .

(5) Edward Hopper (1882-1967) Seven A.M. In this painting by Hopper , is there a foreground , a middle ground and a background like we have seen in Constable's painting of the Salisbury Cathedral ? By giving us a diagonal view of the street , almost everything seems to be in the foreground . What about the building ? Can you find the front of the building ? (The window display and the rest of the store which is mainly in the shadow .) Part of the building is in bright sunlight . From which direction is the sun coming ? What time does it say on the clock in the window ? The title is "Seven A.M." . It is seven in the morning . What is happening to the sun ? (It is rising .) Find the horizontal and vertical lines and shapes in the painting . Notice how the park or area of trees on the left contrast with the building . There are hardly any straight lines here , the grass and low shrubs from a curved area as do the bunches of leaves on the trees . In what other ways are the building and park contrasted ? (Color and light ; harsh early morning light on the building contrasts with the warm browns of yellow/greens of the park .) What kind of building do you think it is ?
Edward Hopper was an American painter who was born in Nyack , New York . He attended art school in the United States and then traveled to Paris , France , where he studied for a year . In order to make money , he worked as an illustrator .

(6) George Seurat (1859-1891) Sunday Afternoon on the Grande Jatte . Many people think that this is the most important painting of the 1880's . The artist planned every detail according to his theory of color . He made hundreds of drawings in preparation and over 30 oil sketches . The artist spent 2 years on this work . He made every point of color with much care . The effects of both vertical and horizontal lines against the curving forms of sails , parasols , and the dog's tail make for a marvelous design structure . La Grande Jatte is an island park on the river la Seine just outside of Paris . The colors are bright and we can almost feel the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the shade . The water seems to shimmer (to shine with a faint , unsteady light ). The artist's method was to apply the paint in small dots of pure color in such a way that our eyes blend them when we look at the painting from a few feet away . He used only red , yellow and blue , plus white to obtain the secondary colors . Shadows were made from complementary colors of the lighter areas . The figures high up on the painting are smaller and less detailed . (Why?) The ones in the foreground are larger and closer to us . How many activities can you identify that people are doing ? The woman on the right is wearing a dress that was popular at the time .
Seurat died at the age of 32 . His main effort went into a few large pictures in which he perfected the technique of "pointillism" .

Project : (1) Use a black felt pen and draw a landscape . You may choose to use some places you have seen in the photos .

(2) Include details . Show kinds of tree trunks , branches , leaves , shapes of houses and cars . Fill the paper . Remember to draw things in the foreground , some in the middle ground and some very small things in the background . The background will be the highest area on the paper .

(3) Put a drop of water in each color of the watercolor tray to soften the colors . Rinse brush in water and wipe it on the rag . Keep water clean .

(4) Mix watercolor washes in the paint tray lid and apply them to your drawing . Keep color fresh and clean . Don't scrub with the brush . When washes touch the black lines , the lines will become fuzzy and soft .

Example :

Friday, May 13, 2011

Animal collage à la Eric Carle

Grade Level : this lesson was made with 1st graders . But as always it can be adapted with any grade .

Motivation : This lesson was inspired by one of my favorite children book illustrator and author :Eric Carle . You can read one of his books prior to the art lesson .

Materials : * White tissue paper

*Food coloring

* Water

* Some spray bottles

* Construction paper (to draw the outline of your animal )

* White Paper

* Black Paper

* Scissors

* Glue

* Pencil

* Crayons

Vocabulary : Collage : an artistic composition made of various materials (as paper , cloth , wood ,etc ,) glue on a surface .

Outline : drawing of the outer edge of something .

Sketch : rough drawing .

Resources : I found a lot of information about Eric Carle or about lesson ideas on the internet . The most important site would be the Eric Carle Official Webiste . It is a gold mine of information about Eric Carle !
Other websites that have lessons inspired by Eric Carle are the followings :
* Pre-kindergarten lesson

*Another Eric Carle Collage

And I am sure there plenty more out there !There is also a very good
DVD about him and his work : Eric Carle:Picture Writer .You can show that to your students .
And of course many of his books are a great source of inspiration for the project !

Eric Carle's Biography: Eric Carle was born in Syracuse , New York , in 1929 , from German parents. He moved back with his parents to Germany when he was 6 years old (His mom was homesick and missed Germany) . He went to school there and graduated from a prestigious art school ( the Academie der bildenden Künste ) Eric Carle missed America and so in 1952 he came back to New York with only 40 dollars in his pocket . He worked as a graphic designer in the promotion department of the New York Times . He also worked for many
years as an art director of an advertising agency . After creating an advertisement with a red lobster , the author Bill Martin , noticed him and asked him to illustrate his story Brown Bear , Brown Bear , What do you see ? That's when his career as a book illustrator started . He , then , decided to write and to illustrate his own stories for children , including his famous story : The Very Hungry Caterpillar . This story was translated in 45 languages and was sold all over the world !
Eric Carle's art is created in collage technique . He uses hand-painted papers , which he cuts to create his wonderful and delightful illustrations .
For more information on Eric Carle visit his official website .

Activity : This lesson may be made over 2 days . The first day the children will work on making their own tissue paper using spray bottles and food coloring . The second day they will create their animal .
Day 1 : (1) You will mix some food coloring with water in a spray bottle (you may want to have one or two of each color ).
(2) Every student will have three or four pieces of white tissue paper . They will make their own COLORFUL tissue paper by spraying some food coloring (mixed with water in those spray bottles) on the white tissue paper . (They should not spray too much at a time so their tissue paper will not stick to the table !) They can apply one color to start with , and then add a second or even a little bit of a third color to make their tissue paper .
(3) Let it dry !

Day 2 : (1) Each student should decide what animal they would like to create . It can be an elephant , a turtle , a dog , a cat ,a butterfly , etc.
(2) On a piece of construction paper they should make a sketch of this animal .
(3) They should cut the outline of their animal .
(4) The students should now trace the outline of their animal on their colorful tissue paper .
(5) Step five will be to cut the colorful tissue paper and put it on the white paper . Once they like the way it look they should glue the tissue paper on the white paper .
(6) The students can now add details to their animal with crayons or with a black felt pen .
(7) The final and last step will be to glue the white paper onto a black paper .

Examples : Examples of tissue paper and tissue paper set .....

And her are some examples of animal collages . Enjoy !