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.

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.