One of my fourth graders emailed me this stop motion video he made to ring in 2018! I love getting emails like this and am so impressed with how it turned out! Happy New Year everyone! ūüôā


As part of our discussion on visual culture, the grad students in my Elementary Methods class at BU were challenged to create a memorial or monument dedicated to someone or something important to them.

To begin the conversation, I showed students a few videos about the current debate over the removal of confederate monuments and a public art monument initiative in Philadelphia. The first videos I showed were from a lesson created by The Choices Program at Brown University called History in Dispute: Charlottesville and Confederate Monuments. I showed my students three of the videos and they answered a question about the content of each video after each one was over. Next, I showed students a six-minute video from the PBS New Hour about a city-wide public art project in Philadelphia called Monumental Lab.

I also showed students monuments created by contemporary artists including: Free at Last, by Sergio Castillo, Monument in Trafalgar Square, by Rachel Whiteread, Pedestal for Strangers and Pedestal for a Little Girl, by Miranda July and Public Figures by Do-Ho Suh.


Then I taught students how to create a pop-up box out of oak tag (inspired by my Not-a-Box lesson) and students brainstormed ideas for what they would create. My goal was to show my grad students how a lesson could be adapted for different age groups. This is a lesson I think would be amazing to teach middle school students right now.

After creating their monuments, my students also wrote a brief artist statement about their work.¬†Here are a few pictures of their finished monuments…



Additional Links & Resources:

What the Removal of New Orleans’s White Supremacist Monuments Means to My Students

Spark Lab: Design Your Own Monument

Teaching for Big Ideas: Art Education for the 21st Century

Second graders had so much fun experimenting with different ways to print leaves. First, students went outside to create texture rubbings around school. Students made rubbings of bricks, the sidewalk, grass, trees, benches and more! Then, students collected 2 leaves and brought them inside to create a second layer of crayon rubbing.

On the second day of this lesson, students learned how to paint with watercolors over the crayon rubbings they had made. Students were also given the option of creating rubbings on tracing paper. On day three, students learned how to print leaves using ink. Students loved experimenting with the different techniques. Students’ finished prints needed to include at least two layers or techniques.

After learning about blind contour and contour drawing, students used their drawing skills to create an abstract self-portrait. Ms. Nemes taught students about abstract art and students discussed some of the reasons an artist might choose to make something abstract. After looking at images of abstract portraits as a group, students brainstormed ideas for their own Abstract Feeling Self-Portrait. During this unit, students thought about what colors, lines, shapes and features would describe their feeling best. I am so impressed with all of the portraits that students created!

As part of a fall drawing unit, I want to share three drawing prompts I use with 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders.¬†I love teaching these lessons in the beginning of the year! It’s a great way to build students’ drawing skills, practice routines and build students’ drawing skills from year to year.

1st Grade Apples Drawings: I put one fake apple on each table before students arrive. On the first day, I walk through a few steps of how students might approach the drawing and give them a few tips along the way (like sketching lightly before pressing harder). After drawing for about 5-10 minutes, I do another short demo explaining how to blend colors. Then students have the rest of class and another two classes to finish their drawing.

2nd Grade Pumpkin Drawings: This lesson is similar to the first grade lesson. Before students arrive, I put one mini pumpkin on each table. On the first day, I walk through a few steps of how students might approach the drawing and give them a few tips along the way (sketch lightly before pressing harder). After drawing for about 5-10 minutes, I do another short demo explaining how to blend colors. Then students have another two classes to finish drawing their pumpkin and creating a background from observation or memory. This lesson usually falls around Halloween, and students love adding spider webs, ghosts, vampires, and other Halloween-themed ideas to their picture.


Third graders have been talking about how scientists and artists are similar. For this unit, students chose a colorful autumn leaf to observe carefully. Students made sketches of their leaf and labeled it with observations and questions they had. After reading the book My Name is Georgia¬†and learning about how Georgia O’Keeffe made paintings large, so that¬†viewers, “[would] be surprised into taking time to look at it,” students enlarged their scientific sketch onto a new piece of paper. Ms. Nemes taught students how to blend colors used colored pencils or mix colors using watercolors. Then, students colored or painted their drawing and created a background to unify their image.

After teaching the same kindergarten collage unit for a few years, I decided to tweak a few things…

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1.¬†Black & White Composition: I read the first few pages of the book Matisse’s Garden¬†and discussed a few different things that inspire artists. I explained what a collage is and taught students how to rip paper into smaller pieces and attach it to a background paper using dots of glue. Then students created their own collage inspired by a person, place or animal.

2.¬†Primary Colors: This year, for my primary color collage lesson, I used the post Primary Color Mixed-Media Exploration as inspiration. First, I read a little more of¬†Matisse’s Garden and showed the video¬†Three Primary Colors, by OK Go. After identifying the primary colors, students experimented with different types of red, yellow and blue paper, tape, crayons and colored pencils to create an image.

3.¬†Secondary Colors: For the third lesson, I read the book¬†Little Blue and Little Yellow and taught students about all of the different painting materials–paint, water cups, brushes, sponges and mixing trays.¬†Then, students worked with a partner to mix the three secondary colors and paint them on a piece of white paper. The next day, I read the book Henri’s Scissors and taught students how to use scissors. I cut up the painted paper they had made and students used it, along with red, yellow and blue construction paper to make a collage of their choice.

BAC is offering several full-day art classes on Veteran’s Day (Observed¬†Friday, November 10)!¬†Students ages 5-7 can join ArtVentures: Build It to take on the role of artist-engineer as we envision and design sculptural, architectural artworks. For students ages 8-12 we are offering a Mixed Media Illustration Intensive where they will taking collage to a whole new level using experimental techniques such as transfers, textured mediums, stencils and more. We also have our popular Jewelry and Metals Intensive for ages 12-17. For more information and to register, visit

This year, I want to give first graders a few more sketchbook assignments so that they can learn different ways to use their sketchbook. For this lesson, I read the book Ten Black Dots, by Donald Crews. The book shows various ideas for transforming a dot into something different. After reading the book, first graders sketched what they wanted to turn a dot (or many dots!) into.

Next, students used their sketch as inspiration for a collage. After making a plan in their sketchbook, students used paper to create the shapes they saw in their sketch.