Saturday, February 19, 2011

The tip that changed my life...

or at least changed the way I approach my pre-k and kindergarten classes!

I started teaching pre-K for the first time this year, but not only that, I had the same pre-K class EVERY day. I would plan a lesson for each day, and most days, there was always so much time left over. I felt like I was just "filling time" in many lessons.

I tried art centers some days, but it was so KAH-RAZY those days that I didn't even consider having them everyday. Then I read this, and the way the "Little Art Teacher" used centers seemed SO much simpler, so much better. Before, I would have one table cutting and another gluing or painting, while a third did something simple. (Cutting and gluing might seem simple, but they are 4! Learning to cut paper and only use a small amount of glue are major skills.) It makes a lot more sense to have kids do more centers that they can basically do on their own. I started with the pre-K in my last school, and it was so much calmer. Now, at my new school, I have centers with my Kindergarten classes, too.

At this point, I have two centers that have not changed. We have blocks each time. I bought a lego type block on clearance. Then, the pre-k aide at my other school, told me that she had pulled a few different things out of the trash that we could use. In came another set of legos, though they don't work with my other set, a set of wooden blocks, and a bucket of plastic shapes that are generally used as math manipulatives.

Playdough is another center that we've kept each class. At this point, I've just let the students do as they wished, but I will start having them work on skills as well.

The last table is the main lesson table. This is where I teach the lesson that I would normally have tried to stretch to fit the whole time. Sometimes this means we spend more days on lessons, but, for the most part, I am much more relaxed about this class.

I have a few kinks to work out. Our transitions aren't great, but at least I don't have students finished with their drawing in 10 minutes where I am trying to get them to work on it longer or have them do a "free time" procedure for the rest of the class.

I have also started using these different blocks and playdough for my older classes to use when they finish a lesson. So far, I am happier with how that is working as well.

If you are struggling with  "filling time" for your younger students, I do suggest giving art centers a try.

(And thank you for the idea!)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Love the hearts!

I'm not much of a holiday art person, but this Jim Dine lesson was a perfect "filler" lesson for a couple of first and second grade classes. This would definitely be a good sub lesson, too.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone


Pre-k looked to Kandinsky for their circle inspiration. I love how they look together.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Tuesday, February 8, 2011



We received 14+ inches of snow last week, which SHUT DOWN the state. Snow plows were slow, and I guess they won't have school unless EVERY neighborhood street is clear. We got another inch or two on Friday, but quite a bit melted over the weekend. Still, no school Monday, Tuesday, and they've already called it for tomorrow. We are supposed to get 5-10 more inches in the next 24 hours, which would not be that big of a deal for quite a bit of the country but, obviously, we won't be having school for the rest of the week AT LEAST. Please melt. Please melt. Please melt.

(Why yes, I AM feeling rather dramatic about the whole thing.)

Monday, February 7, 2011


First and second grade classes made paper mache masks, finishing them shortly before I left my last school. We started with a gallon milk jug, cut in half. Students could use newspaper to create different 3d aspects to the mask faces. Then, we started adding layers of paper mache, from newspaper to paper towel and finishing with tissue paper.

Most of the students used the tissue paper to add color fairly randomly. I think next time I would suggest using the color a bit differently, though I am still.happy with how these turned out.

This student added layers of crepe paper to her mask. I really like the texture in this one.

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