Monday, April 30, 2012

Busy Artists

With only five weeks left of the school year, the artists are busier than ever!

Paper pulp bird waiting to be painted.

Face sculpture, made at the construction center.

"We're working together, she's starting at that end, and I'm starting here, it's gonna be lots of different colors."

Three fifth graders proudly display their pocket pouches, made with the pockets of some donated, worn-out jeans.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Clay is always the most anticipated center of the year. When it is opened, usually in mid-October, all the students clamor for a chance to work there. For some students, one or two turns at the clay center is plenty. But some students can't get enough!

"It's a smiling heart face. I made the mouth and everything stick to it with the scoring tool and the wet clay [slip]. Then I painted it."

"It's two bunnies, maybe the Easter bunny. There's a basket with colorful eggs in it." 

"Teacher! Look! I made gray with black and white. Wanna know why I needed that color? For painting that big rock. It's on a road, can you tell? 'Cause the road has black with those yellow stripes on it. I'm gonna make a car for it, too."

"Do you like the colors I painted my frog? He's in a pond."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cardboard arcade games

These students may look like they're playing with garbage, but if you could hear their conversation, you'd be amazed!
I showed my students this Youtube video:
and they were inspired to create their own cardboard arcade games.
These students may look like they're playing with garbage, but if you could hear their conversation, you'd be amazed. They were busily exploring, engineering, problem solving.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


 "I'm going to hang this in my room. I made it 'cause I love dancing!"

"I learned how to draw faces this weekend!"

"This is a castle, and I'm the princess."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sewing and fiber arts
This is a quilt made by a first grader. He worked diligently on it for several weeks, then we both decided he ought to take it home to finish it--it's going to be a gift for his soon-to-be-born sister. I was impressed by his determination; many students, especially younger are reluctant to begin a project that can't be finished in one day.

Two wall hangings, still in progress, created by fifth graders.

A yarn and glue person, created by a sixth grader. Not pictured is the removable wig she made out of yarn and a bottle cap.

Another pillow made by a fiber obsessed fifth grader. This is the third or fourth character pillow he's created this year. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

This fifth grader found the perfect item to create a basketball net for the hoop he made to go with his ceramic basketball!

First grade painters at work.

Friday, April 06, 2012

"It's a holder for my bobcat awards [bobcat awards are a student incentive program here at Bountiful Elementary]. I'm putting this on my desk, and every time I get an award, it'll go in the slot at the top!"

"He's a happy man. Not a monster, just a man or maybe a boy, 'cause he's so small, you know?"

"It's a plan for a time machine. I mean, I know a time machine isn't possible, but if someday, maybe it is possible, this is how I think I can build it. My friends helped me. I'm gonna keep this picture, so I can remember how to build it."

"Well, it's a carrot, and a flower. For Easter!"

Sunday, April 01, 2012

"Well, it's a picture of my family! My dad, (he's kinda short), my sister, me, and my mom. My mom has a baby in her tummy! It's gonna be another sister!"

"He's 'posed to be spiderman, but I think I messed up on his face, so maybe he can be a different guy? Hmm, I'll figure it out."

"It's a bluebird in the garden. The face didn't actually work very good, but I like it. See? She's in the middle of beautiful flowers."

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.