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!

Practice vs. Implementation

Every seventh grader learns to paint a 12-color color wheel using only the primary colors (red, yellow, blue).  This is a necessary skill for any painter to be able to do.  But even though they do it once with me and once as a quiz, I’m seeing kids the very next class asking how to make orange.  We just did that!  Twice!  AAAuuugh!!  Also, the most joyous moments for students are often at the end of class, when they start swirling all of their colors together or fold their newspaper in half to make Rorschach like paint blots.

The Game.

Kids work as a table, not as individuals.  Tables are given a half of an egg carton with the colors Red, Magenta, Blue, Turquoise, and Yellow inside.  White is free to use as much as is needed.  Next, kids choose paint swatches (made using the paints they have access to).  Each paint swatch has a point value on the back based on how difficult it should be to match.

Tables decide if they want to work together on one swatch or diversify and each take a different one.  Then the fun begins.  Kids start mixing and matching colors, talking excitedly about whether they have the perfect purple or whether it needs more blue.  As they work, I can start talking with them about whether their gray is too ‘cool’ or too ‘warm’, and they get it!  Without my ever teaching them such a concept, they are grabbing onto it and applying it immediately. I am seeing kids think about color more than I ever have before.  It’s crazy!

The prizes!

At the end of the contest, teams will tally up their points.  There are 6 prizes up for grabs, and so in this case everyone actually does win.  (I still believe that not everyone should win every time.)  The team with the most points picks first, and it goes on down the line.  One of my favorite prizes to pick is a spin of the WHEEL OF PRIZES.  I use this website to make wheels from time to time, and I made a real winner this time.  Prizes include things such as Lunch on the patio and E/I pass for any day.  They also include things like a Rubber Band and an Old Tie.  My favorite by far is the You owe me $1 prize.  Fingers crossed someone gets that one!  (No, I won’t take their dollar.)

Not just for fun

I tell kids that one of the biggest part of any career in art is the ability to match colors.  Whether you’re a painter, an Interior Designer, or you work at Lowes in the paint department, the ability to see and match colors is one of the most broad and useful skills you can attain in art.  This color mixing challenge is fun, yes, but even more importantly it’s helping kids to hone one of the most fun and useful skills I can teach.  And if they see a Rorschach-like mermaid in one of their paint blots, well that’s ok too.

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!!!!

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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!!


Makey Makey!

Makey Makey!

Just a quick post today, and an explanation of the really awesomely amazingly cool kit I’m fundraising for.  Many of you have already gotten a text or an email with a link to my Donors Choose project, but for those who haven’t, it’s Here.

So, what’s a Makey Makey and why do I want one?  Or, rather, 6?

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Why We Dance

Class dynamics

Every class has a ‘feel’, created by the mix of personalities on both sides of the teacher’s desk, as well as the room itself and the subject matter being taught.  The beginning of the school year is always an exciting and interesting time where classes that are randomly thrown together begin to settle in and develop a personality.

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Presenting the Fab Lab!


A new beginning at ‘jtlart’

The Background….

One of my goals for this school year was to make my classroom a dynamic place where kids have lots of choices as they learn about art and get to express their ideas.  I would love to see kids choosing topics to explore that pertain to their own interests and creating projects that they have a part in designing from start to finish.  This…. is a lofty goal. Continue reading