Thursday, December 20, 2012


As an art teacher I strive to encourage students to "engage and persist" one of the Eight Habits of Mind. So, when I see students work on one project over many weeks, I'm thrilled!

 
3-d sculpture made by a third grader.
"It's a tower and a building, for animals. I needed for the popsicle sticks to be smaller, so I broke them."


This photo is not enough to capture the coolness of this origami sculpture! Constructed over six or seven art classes, it's made up of dozens of cootie catchers.


The fourth grader who sewed this creature didn't have too much to say about it, but I can tell you that he worked on it for several weeks, and was diligent about making small, even stitches, so that the stuffing wouldn't fall out.


"It's not very good," the second grade artist told me. So I told her, "Hey. I'm pretty sure it's better than the horses you drew in kindergarten. It's even better than the one you drew last week." She tilted her head to one side thoughtfully, "Hmm," she said, "you're right. I am getting better."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012





"It's a bag like Indian Jones has. You know on the movie? Yeah, well, he was a pouch like this to put his stuff in. I sewed it. By myself."


The fifth grader who painted this asked me, "Do you have any other green watercolors? [besides the one in the set]" I told him he could mix up his own shade of green. And he did. I think he did a great job, don't you?


Shark created by a fourth grader.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"He's a prince, I made him from clay. But part of him broke in the kiln. So, we're gluing him together, this is his bed 'til he gets dry."


"It's Mrs. Picklehead. She's a teacher."


This softie was created over four art classes by a second grader. "It's for my new baby cousin. She's a girl."


"I made him from cardboard and colored him with pastels. It's my brother, 'cause he likes to play baseball."


Watercolor created by a kindergartner. I love the dabs of color.


"So, it's a pirate ship, and then I put this guy on it. It's me and my friend."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"I used the shapes in this tracer to make a tiger!"


"Well, first I made it with glue and cardboard at the 'struction center. Then I painted it with the white stuff [gesso], then I had to wait. I didn't want to wait; I wanted to take it home, but I waited. And this week I painted it, and glued the puffy eyeballs on. I'm glad I waited 'cause now it's all colorful and stuff."


"It's a bedroom, here's the bed and pillow, with blankets. The bottle is her garbage can, see? I put little scraps of paper in it for it could be the garbage. And here's a lamp, then a decoration."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


"It's for my baby sister. It took me a lot of art days to make it, but she's really going to love it."


This third grade student likes drawing stylized faces, with all sorts of emotions. I suggested he might want to translate one into a stuffy, and this is the result. It took him several weeks and a couple of extra recesses, but he did it.

A stuffy created by a second grader.

"He's cyclops, that's why he only has one eye. I think the hardest part was probably sewing the ears on, because they're so small."

Monday, November 26, 2012

"It's an alien, Mrs. Dyer. But he's friendly."



This is a hippo created by a second grader, "I used two different colors of watercolor to make it the right color."



"He's a super hero, 'cept he's not a real super hero, just a made up one. I made him up. He's ironsuperman."

Monday, November 19, 2012




You can't see from the photo, but this is a tiny teddy bear, about the size of my palm. A fourth grader worked on it for weeks, stitching and stuffing it for his little sister.



"I saw these mittens in the collage box, so I made a girl to go with them. She's going to play in the snow."



The second in a series of robots made by a second grader.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"It's 'posed to be a girl, can you see her hair? She has pigtails and purple bows."



This ceramic cat was created by a second grader. She made a pinch pot for the head and added the limbs.


The work of a kindergartner, this art was created by drawing with marker on watercolor paper, then going over the marker with a wet brush.

Friday, November 09, 2012

This work was done on a coffee filter. I love how this kindergartner used different shades of blues and greens.

This second grader opted to color his creature in with pastels, rather than painting it. Many students want to take their work home TODAY (!) and don't want to wait for paint to dry.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012




 This first grade artist brought his book to class as a reference. He worked hard to draw an airplane like he saw in the photo. I especially like the close up he did of the cockpit.



"There's on for everyone in my family. Me, my brother, my mom, and my dad. My mom's the one with orange hair, 'cept in real life her hair's not orange, it's blonde, but yellow didn't show up, so I did orange instead."




"Look at this, teacher, I drew a spider with lots of legs, then I cutted it with the fancy scissors. You can see it in the mirror too."


Wednesday, October 17, 2012






"This is Chewbacca! I made him from some of those mail things [envelopes]."
-first grader



More Star Wars characters, created by the same first grader.




This drawing has a super long, complex story behind it, and was created by two sixth graders.


"This is a sign that I will put on my bedroom door."
-first grader


Watercolor created by a kindergartner. I love the slashes of color that cover the whole page.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A New School Year!
It's the first week of art classes. All classes begin with the drawing center.

"I just cut out the wings and glued it, it doesn't have a body. It has a squiggly mouth."
-second grader

"I just drew it by a mirror, I didn't know I was going to draw it really good."
second grader


"It's a silly face, isn't it funny?"
-second grader

"Do you know what these are? They're two dinosaurs. It was hard to cut out the teeth."
-first grader

"You are going to be so surprised by this picture. It's me, at Halloween. I'm a cheerleader or a princess or something. And that's my little sister in the pink dress. (She loves pink). And those are other people in their costumes."
-first grader

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I have a love/hate relationship with blocks. I LOVE the collaboration they inspire. I LOVE the problem solving and critical thinking skills they encourage. I LOVE the rich imaginative dialogue that accompanies their use. I LOVE the way blocks are "age appropriate" for any person.




I HATE that we don't have enough class time to truly develop the stories/themes/structures that the students need to create. I HATE the way the blocks spread all over the room, causing clumsy people (ME) to stumble and trip. I HATE the way the blocks invite the students to throw them."But I'm cleaning them up, Mrs. Dyer! I'm just trying to make it into the box." I had to come up with an uber specific rule about blocks and throwing. Simply saying, "Don't throw blocks" isn't enough. No, I have to say, "You may not throw the blocks. You may not throw them even if you're cleaning up. The block can never be airborne. The block must be touch either your hand, another block, or the floor AT ALL TIMES." 

But honestly, blocks are wonderful. Their benefits far outweigh the few headaches. 


Monday, July 02, 2012





A flower ribbon bouquet, "My mom showed me how to make these, and I taught my friends."


This a stuffy created by a first grader. He worked diligently to sew it together, it took several art classes to finish. 


Another stuffy, sewn by a second grader, "I don't need it to be a pillow, I just want it flat"


"Mine's flat, too!"


A quiver sewn and modeled by a fifth grader, "Can I make a thing to hold arrows, Mrs. Dyer? 'Cause I know we can't make weapons in art class." We decided that he could sew a messenger bag . . . 

About Me

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Bountiful, Utah, United States

How does TAB work?

To implement TAB, I began with 1 center--the drawing center. It contains different drawing media: pens, pencils, crayons, markers, pastels, chalks, as well as various papers. Also included are dozens of different "How to Draw" books. We discuss as a class what artists draw. Some draw real things, or pretend things, or non-objective designs.

I also discuss the variety of drawing media available, and explain how to clean up.

It is amazing how much the kids enjoy this. I've recently added plastic animals and dinosaurs for the kids to look at while they draw.

The second week, I introduced the collage center, containing colored paper, glue, glue sticks, staplers, scissors, brads, and fabric.

I showed them some collages by Romare Bearden, as well as many student created works. I had to tell them how to determine what adhesive to use, and showed them the stickyometer poster.

They could then choose to go to the collage center, or the drawing center. The kindergartners LOVE the collage center. I love to watch them create. They are so free, so unlimited.

The third week, I opened the watercolor center, with watercolor pans, brushes and paper. The main focus for me was to teach them how to care for the brushes, put on smocks, and where to put their work to dry. They could then choose watercolor, drawing, or collage.

I kept it with just three centers for a few weeks (I see them once a week). It's important for them to learn to care for their supplies and the classroom. But while I wasn't introducing new centers, I did introduce new materials into existing centers, explaining their use (for example, I added whiteboards and markers to the drawing center). I also demonstrated new techniques (crayon resist with watercolors). And I've even started to integrate art principles and elements. Of course I included numerous examples and prints from to reinforce the concepts.

With those three centers humming along, I added the clay center. I did a super brief demo, showing them how to work with it. I did tell them that they could simply create with the clay and not try to keep it, or they could create things for me to fire in the kiln. I gave them admonitions like: "Clay can't be thicker than your thumb, or it will take too long to dry." and"Be sure to join any attachments securely". (Which we all know is MUCH easier said than done!)

Of course, the day I introduced clay, ALL the kids wanted to use it, but I had to limit it to eight. The kids grumbled a bit, but soon were off to other choices (it helped that I introduced craft sticks and chenille stems at the collage center!).

I tried to be as hands off as possible at the clay center. I stayed at the table with them, giving demonstrations as necessary. Joining clay is very difficult, but the determined kids will learn. One third grader created an adorable dog with toothpick thin legs barely hanging on. She wanted me to fire it. I knew there was no way that those pitiful little legs could hang on, I said, "Okay, but you'll need to put it on the shelf to dry." The shelf was only a couple of feet away, but poor little dog was legless by the time he got there! I will admit I felt more than a little coldhearted, but really, this is the only way for them to learn! The student sat with me, and I demonstrated joining and adding just a bit of moisture for her. She worked and worked on that dog, and it finally came together.

After clay was going (it took several weeks for all the students to have a chance, and I stayed at the clay center so they could all have some individual instruction), I was free to add some more centers.

First, I added painting with tempera paints. Next was the architecture or "temporary art", containing legos, blocks, cuisenaire rods, magnets, mosaic boards, and geoboards. This is where the students learn hands on about spatial properties and design elements.

I introduced the fiber center, with weaving and sewing. Kids truly enjoy this one, but they do need significant hands on instruction (especially threading the needles!) and I've put this one away for a bit.

The collage center was joined by the construction center. They can use cardboard, small boxes, and other castoffs to create. Kids have made houses, boats, star wars aircraft, cameras, and so much more here. Their adhesive of choice, though, is tape. Rolls and rolls and rolls of tape! I've spent some time with them, encouraging them to use some of the glues we have, or even to paper mache over the tape, but very few takers so far.

Now, midway through the year, with many centers going, I can work with the students on some art history and appreciation.

TAB is truly a wonderful teaching method. The kids can create things because THEY want to, not because I (or some other teacher) think they look neat. The energy and excitement in the room during class time is thrilling! I LOVE my job!

Blog Archive

A different approach to art education:

TAB stands for Teaching Artistic Behavior It is a research-backed, student driven method. Kids are taught a new concept, technique, or medium each class period, and then are able to choose what art to make.

The idea is to teach them to work like artists. We talk about how artists get ideas, where they get inspiration, and how they behave.

At the beginning of the year I have to focus extensively on set-up and clean-up routines. I want them to learn to be responsible for their own art experiences.