Pick Your Pleasure!

Making Choices in the Art Room

Lately, in the art rooms here at JTL, we’ve been getting quite the variety of projects.  Currently, I have a fairy house made of bark, pine cones, and dandelions in one corner and an egg carton growing Rzeżucha (a plant native to Poland) on the window sill.  Two kids are drawing, three are painting, a few have oil or chalk pastels out.  There are signs on every medium available telling kids whether it’s water or oil based (so they know if they can mix and match the mediums or not). Continue reading

Product or Process?

I’m looking back at the year so far, and wondering- where’s all the art?  I know every class is filled with art, and I know my kids have not been slacking off, so where are the piles of artworks?


Angelyn works on an adorable clay project, while Manny gets an earful.


What we remember

When I played softball as a kid, I knew I was never going to be a professional softball player.  I knew I wasn’t getting a scholarship.  I knew I wasn’t even going to try fast pitch.  I just loved playing.  I didn’t care what the score was, truthfully.  I certainly don’t look back fondly on the season we ‘won’ more than others.

No, I look back on the friendships I made, and remember the love I had for my first base position.  I remember the coaches who encouraged me, and I took with me an ability to catch, throw, and hit a ball.

What does that have to do with my art classes?

The answer is this- I enjoy the experiences we have as we learn about art as much as (more than) the finished products.  This isn’t necessarily a popular opinion to have come exhibit time, but it’s true. Continue reading



Making more than just art

This year it’s become much more evident to me just how much our students get the opportunity to do good deeds.  I think JTL has been doing a great job of showing our kids that they don’t live in a bubble, and that they can have a positive impact on their friends and community in all sorts of ways.

From the first month of school, we jumped into the game with our Kindness Rocks project, as followers of my blog will recall.

Continue reading

Scientists in the Art Room

Mad Scientists

Lately, my inner Gemini has been showing through in the art room.  Kids are coming in and I’m showing them science-y art.  Or artsy science.  I’m telling them we’re going to artists doing science.  Or scientists making art.  It doesn’t matter!  We’re having some fun.

I start the class by showing them this artwork, and asking them how they think it was made.  A feather?  I dog’s hair? A painting?  Is it the sun?  These are all guesses the kids have suggested.  When I tell them it’s made from bacteria that was painted in a petri dish, they get grossed out.  EEEwwww!!! Continue reading

Confessions of a Middle School Art Teacher


Super Teacher or Real Person?

I don’t know what it is about this time of year.  I struggle.  I really do.  Students start to show their ‘true colors’, and for some those colors ain’t pretty.  I have seen and felt a change in my inner self over this past week, and it’s becoming something that is taking priority over doing the fun things I usually do to keep me excited and engaged.  My gut feeling is that this is something to hide and work through on my Continue reading

Rockin’ It!

Rockin’ it on Dot Day!

If you have been following JTL Art classes for any amount of time, you’ll know that Dot Day is a tradition I and my smART partner Mrs. Shemansky have started with our kids, and we celebrate it every September 15th (or around then).  Last year we pulled out every crafty material we could find and let the kids go nuts making colorful and sculptural dots to hang in the halls.  That was great, but my gosh, by the end of the day we were SPENT!   Continue reading

Outdoor Classroom Day

A global picture of the countries participating and how many schools in each

Outdoor classroom day is being celebrated by 1 Million kids in 75 countries today!  And WE are a part of that!  JTL Art classes were officially registered as participants in today’s event.  We love exposing our kids to these fun events, and this one took our kiddos out to the trail behind JTL to complete a Photo Scavenger Hunt…. Continue reading

Color Mixing Challenge

I love a game.

Lately every lesson I teach is being made into a game.  A competition.  A table versus table bonanza.  I love everything about teaching this way.  I could go on and on about all of the wonderful things I see and teach when I structure a lesson as a game- from motivating my lazy bones students to teaching kids that there actually are winners and losers in our world.  No, everybody doesn’t get a prize.  And yet everybody lives to see another day.  But keep coming back, because the next winner may be you! Continue reading

Why I’m Giving My Students $10

If you came into the art room lately, you may have heard kids talking about whether they could afford to buy bottle caps or a balloon, or asking whether I take returns.  You may have seen kids in deep discussions about what supplies they really need and what they could live without.  You may have seen me handing back change after they handed me a dollar and thanking them for doing business with me.

So what’s the deal?  Have I started actually charging kids for their supplies?!  YES!!!!

Continue reading

Snowflake Challenge!

6 Maple Winners!


Snowstorm Stella is approaching, and we’re in full snowflake alert mode in the art room today.  All art students are taking a break from business as usual and competing in a SNOWFLAKE CHALLENGE!

Slow and steady wins the race….

Kids are being given a variety of paper choices and are challenged to each create a snowflake using whatever method they want.  Snowflakes can be 2D or 3D, and can be any shape or size.  After 20 minutes of research and development, kids are marching two by two up to the second floor and dropping their snowflakes off the stairwell.  Each head to head match yields a winner- the kid whose snowflake takes the longest to hit the ground.

Giulia tries a 3D design


STEAM and Snowflakes

Today the two go hand in hand.  STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) in the classroom is a big part of the ever evolving art curriculum, and today we are sneaking a little engineering into the festivities.  Talk of drag, weight and surface area can be heard as kids are designing their flakes.  They’re testing their theories, and re-evaluating as they go.  Some ideas get scrapped, some get modified.  Some are big, and some are small (some are the size of a quarter!).  Whatever shape or size, though, we’re all having a (snow) ball!!