Tag Archives: crayons

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!



Another colleague taught this lesson when I student taught. I have taught it a few times over the years, and am always impressed with students’ creativity. It’s a fun lesson with a lot of possibilities and allows students to bring humor into their work.

I introduce the lesson by having students close their eyes and listen to me read a few names from the list and try to imagine a picture of what they hear in their head. Then, students open their eyes and I tell them that the names I read were real bird names. I defined the word pun and challenge students to create a visual pun by drawing one of the birds the way it might look based on it’s name.

I photocopied a list of bird names for each table and cut it into three strips (so students could share easily). Students went to their seats and created a sketch of one of the birds form the list. Some students made one sketch; some made many. Then, students traced a 1″ boarder onto a piece of 12″x18″ paper paper using a cardboard template, enlarged their drawing and traced it with permanent marker. (Tracing with Sharpie was optional.) Students were also required to draw a real or imaginary background to help describe their bird. Next, I showed students how to blend colors. Students had a choice of using oil pastels, crayons, colored pencils, or a combination of materials to color their picture. Students really enjoy this lesson and I love seeing all of the different results!

How do you include humor in your classroom?



Kindergarteners have been working on their Shape and Texture Books for a few weeks. On the first day of this lesson, students learned how to create a crayon rubbing by: bending a piece of wire, putting it under a piece of paper, and rubbing with the flat side of a crayon. Next, students went on a texture scavenger hunt and “collected” textures around school–on the stairs, on the wall, and outside! When students came back inside, they practiced their cutting skills by cutting out each shape (and saving it in a baggie for later).


On the third day, students used fall colors to print colorful leaves. (I collected the leaves ahead of time.) For this step, students shared printmaking materials with a partner. Each partner chose one color and when students inked their rollers, the colors blended together, creating a “rainbow roll.” The excitement was contagious and students printed leaves on their paper multiple times.


The next class, I told students that all of their experiments would be turned into a one-page book! To make the cutting a little easier, I folded each student’s paper and drew a line on the back so they knew where to cut.

After opening up the paper, students arranged and glued their texture shapes (from day two) and pieces of pre-cut textures (like ribbon, bubble wrap, corrugated cardboard, foam shapes, and more…) onto each page.

Finally, students created a cover for their book. On the front of the cover, students wrote “Shape and Texture Book.” I wrote the words on the white board next to the rug area, and students copied the letters. (Because this project had a lot of steps, I only had about 5-6 students on the rug at one time.) Then, students traced their letters with a thin Sharpie and decorated the cover with pictures/designs.  When all the parts of the book were complete, a teacher helped fold the pages together and staple the book together.


Students had so much fun making these and they are excited to take them home and share them!


Inspired by this post, I wrote a short letter explaining the whole process and attached it to the book with a rubber band.

Check out these links for instructions/handouts on how to make a one-page book.

8-Page Mini Book

How to Make an 8-Page Zine

Off-Cuts Zine Workshop


I love celebrating fall in New England with fresh apples, beautiful leaves, and pumpkin flavored everything. Drawing pumpkins has also become one of my favorite fall lessons. This lesson is part of a vertically aligned drawing curriculum using elements of fall to teach observation skills to Kindergarteners-4th graders. (The entire curriculum is still a work in process.)

I teach this lesson to my second graders in October. Students are usually really excited to draw the pumpkins and learn a few tips for making their drawings better. I also like teaching an observational drawing lesson early in the year to build student’s confidence.

I buy 6-7 mini pumpkins (each under a $1) and put one on each table. The most important part is finding pumpkins with interesting/unusual stems so that they are more interesting to draw. Before the first class, I put a small piece of colored tape on the bottom of each pumpkin so that I remember which pumpkin I put on each table.


This year, I created a step-by-step visual giving students a way to breakdown all of the steps into smaller parts. After demonstrating how to use the handout, students get to work. Some students follow the steps one-by-one and some students work more independently. I like that I can use it at the end of the lesson as  check list to encourage students to include as many details as possible.

How do you teach drawing?

I teach a “Not-a-Box” project to my 2nd graders, so I was super excited when one of my colleagues shared this “Not-a-Stick” lesson, inspired by the book Not a Stick, by Antoinette Portis. This lesson is fun, engaging and students come up with a huge variety of creative solutions. Also it only takes about 2-3 classes. Stay tuned for some finished samples!



I’ve been teaching for a number of years now, and I’m officially cray-zy about crayons. Crayons sometimes get a bad wrap. They’re so common and older students often think that there’re “only for little kids.” If you get creative, however, you might begin to see new possibilities for using them.

When I did my middle school student teaching placement, my cooperating teacher taught an 8th grade lesson using crayons. I was a little skeptical. Crayons? With 13 and 14 year-olds? One trick she used was buying the 64 color class pack of crayons.

Seeing the box of colors brought back memories… I remember watching how crayons are made on Mr. Rogers. I remember eating Mexican food at a local restaurant with my parents and coloring together while we waited for our food. I remember my parents buying me my own set of 120 colors. I loved learning the names of the colors. Names like “sea green,” “mac-and-cheese” and “purple pizzazz.”

Another one of my cooperating teacher’s “tricks” is that she taught her students how to use them. Students gathered around and she taught them how to blend colors by overlapping/mixing them together to create new colors. The students were amazed at the options and possibilities.

Another plus is that crayons aren’t very messy. (I love getting messy sometimes, but I also love it when clean up can be done quickly. A quick clean up means more work time!)

IMG_5550 melted crayon hearts for Valentines Day.JPG

The downside to crayons, however, is that they break. And if you hold them too tightly, or at the wrong angle, or drop them… you end up with a lot of broken crayons. Because of this, I collect the broken bits and melt them into “super crayons.” One of the special materials on my ATC cart is a box of “warm” and “cool” melted crayons and plastic texture plates that students can use with watercolors.

In addition, I make melted rainbow crayons and occasionally give them to students at the end of the year. (Sometimes homeroom teachers collect broken crayons. Last year when our school had to pack up and move to our temporary school, a few teachers donated old crayons to the art room.)

For a great tutorial on how to melt your own crayons, follow this link. (I skipped the freezer step and just had the molds/crayons cool to room temperature. I also soaked some of the crayons to help the wrappers come off more easily.) Also check out this BuzzFeed article about a California dad who came up with a creative way to give broken crayons a new life. 🙂

Happy coloring!