Tag Archives: art education books

Last year, first graders created Recycled Robot Collagraphs. They were so excited about creating the robots, but because they had to go through the printing press, there were limitations about what they could and couldn’t add onto their projects.

Because we are in a temporary building, we have not been able to use clay the past two years, so I wanted students to be able to build and add more onto their sculptures.

Students started by drawing a sketch of their robot and thinking about what special jobs it would have. Then, they used cardboard and oak tag to create the structure (“bones”) of their robot.

Next, students used paper, foam, gems, wire, pipe cleaners, googely eyes, buttons and other mixed media materials to create the buttons and parts of their robot. Some students began this project with only a couple of classes left before the end of the year, so didn’t get to create a sketch. I felt having a fun, hands on lesson a the end of the year was important, so I let them create without much planning first.

When I teach this lesson in the future, I would definitely do it a little earlier in the year. Students were super excited to create these sculptures, and I think teaching this lesson in mid to late May would take us through the end of the year and be a big hit!



My students loved making these Recycled Robots. As inspiration for this lesson, I read the book Robo-Sauce, written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri. I also showed students a slideshow of robots form the 1940s/50s and had them guess what power/job the robot might have.


Then, each student chose a piece of (square or rectangular) cardboard for the body of their robot and then created and attached arms, legs, and other parts to the body using oak tag. Students added facial features and buttons using bingo chips, buttons, and foam shapes.


Then students printed their robot two ways. First, by creating a crayon rubbing and second by painting and printing their robot to create a collagraph print. Students REALLY loved using the printing press.


This year, I’m introducing ATCs to 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders. I’m starting the year by giving students a couple of assignments. My hope is that these assignments will encourage them experiment more throughout the year and make cards that are more thoughtful and “complete” when they are given choice time.

2nd Graders: Oops! Card

For this lesson, I read the book Beautiful Oops!, by Barney Saltzberg. I talked with students about what choices an artist has when he/she makes a “mistake.” Next, I showed students a few Daily Monster videos and challenged them to turn an “oops” into something new… something scary, or friendly, or beautiful, or funny, or… just about anything they could think of! Students started by transforming their oops with pencil and tracing with Sharpie. Then, they added a background and colored in their ATC.

3rd Graders: Sky Color

For this lesson, I read the book Sky Color, by Peter Reynolds. We discussed that the sky is not always blue and then I demonstrated a few watercolor techniques… painting wet on wet, wax/oil watercolor resist, sprinkling salt, and blotting with a sponge brush, q-tip, paper towel, or bubble wrap. Then students set to work creating an ATC of a type of weather or time of day.


4th Graders: Abstract Dot Composition

For this lesson, I read the book The Dot, by Peter Reynolds and discussed how students might “make their mark.” After showing abstract spot and dot artworks by Wassily Kandinsky and Yayoi Kusama, students were challenged to create an abstract composition made entirely of dots. Students could choose to use Sharpies, markers, crayons, watercolors, or a combination of materials. **For this lesson, I also showed examples of this lesson from Mrs. Knight’s Smartest Artists.