Monday, October 24, 2011


Today we learned all about texture. I started the lesson by playing hangman with my students. They LOVE to play hangman, and the word texture is an excellent hangman word because it is tough to figure out.
 In order to distinguish between tactile and visual texture, each student reached into a bag to feel a mystery item. After each student felt the mystery item, we made a list of words to describe how the item felt.
Then, before seeing what was in the bag, students were invited to guess what it was. Students were able to see that just by touching something, they were able to describe and identify it. 
 After exploring the mystery bag, I held up different items and asked my students to describe how they thought the items would feel if they could touch them. This was fun for them, and the adjectives came easily. Soft, hard, fuzzy, smooth, rough, bumpy.
Through these two activities, students were able to process and comprehend the difference between visual and tactile texture.

 The next activity was to create a texture chart based on the items on display. Students started by folding a piece of paper three times to make 8 boxes in which they would paint their different textures.
Then they started filling their boxes with a variety of brushstrokes to represent the textures of the different items on display.

This project works well for all grades in elementary school. Adults love it too!
The results of the finished charts are impressive and refrigerator worthy!


Monday, October 10, 2011


Last year for Dia de los Muertos my 6th, 7th, and 8th graders made colorful skulls. We talked about the significance of the Mexican holiday, and we compared Halloween and Dia de los Muertos to see what differences and similarities we could find. We also looked at different skulls on-line to gain inspiration for our own creations.

The first step in building our skulls was to paper mache a balloon. Make sure to check the size and shape of your balloons ahead of time. I had one class where each student received a balloon that could be blown up to the size and shape of a basketball! The ideal shape is oval, and the size is up to you.

After the paper mache balloon dried completely, we poked holes into the areas where we wanted to insert egg carton cups (I'll use the word "cup" for lack of egg carton terminology) for eyes and a nose. If you look carefully, you can see the egg carton insertions in the first photo. You can also see where we taped egg carton cups for the cheek bones. Below the cheek bones you can see where we taped thin, pre-cut cardboard pieces for the jaw.

After the paper mache completely dried, we applied a coat or two of white gesso to strengthen our skulls. White acrylic paint works, too.

Then we painted our skulls using fun colors and playful designs. Before we put our skulls on display, we made tissue paper flowers. If you have ever been to a Dia de los Muertos celebration, you know that marigolds are in important part of the holiday tradition as they help to guide the spirits.

If you look carefully at the pink and purple skulls in the photo below you can see a shiny glitter coat that some students applied to their completed skulls. Excellent work, everyone!

Saturday, October 8, 2011


The photographs displayed here are from "Indian Day" at the school where I teach. Indian Day is held each year in September, and it's my favorite day of the school year. An entire day is devoted to a variety of dances performed by students and staff for parents and the community.
Living on the Hopi reservation fills one's imagination with an endless array of inspiration from which to draw upon while making art.  Different ceremonies are held throughout the year, and the colors, textures, and designs on display are enough to fuel a lifetime of potential artistic expression. Anytime I go for a simple walk in the village or the desert, I come home with a head full of project ideas. It's just a matter of engaging in the creative process in order to bring those ideas to life. Sometimes this doesn't happen as often as I would like!

Hopi culture is so rich in many ways. The children grow up immersed in such incredibly layered traditions, and they come to art class brimming with creative potential. I love sharing art from around the world with them and watching them integrate their own cultural impressions into their art projects.