art and teaching



Back to School 2017!

After being off for over a year on maternity leave with my son I am gearing up to return back to the classroom! I decided I would accept the challenge of a new school and asked my former principal to release me from my old school. Fortunately I ended up at a school very close to my home, and with an admin team that I have already worked with and admire.

I am just starting now to dust off the cobwebs of being away from teaching and hope to get ready for the Fall with some back to school tips I have used in the past that have helped me feel more organized, ready, and calm ūüôā

  1. Start going to bed at a decent hour and waking up early
    In the Summer this is easier said than done, however the few weeks before school starts it is so helpful to start getting your sleep cycles and body into the routine of going to bed at a reasonable hour and waking up early.
  2. Get the Planner ready and make a To Do List
    I am a major agenda/planner junkie, and sometimes have a few on the go. I have decided to try to consolidate into 1 planner for school / home so that my brain is less scattered this year. One of my favourite things to do to be ready for back to school is add in all the dates I have been given ahead of time (conferences, professional development days etc). I also go in and add birthdays, and other holidays so my planner at least is ready for work. Make a list of what is the most important stuff that needs to get done before the first week.19287279970_ca010938d4_k
  3. Create a warm, inviting space you’d want to learn in
    The summer is tough when looking on social media at some of the amazingly beautiful classrooms out there. The decor, the colour schemes, the organization – it can be almost overwhelming to see, especially when your own classroom has no theme, decor, or design whatsoever. My main goal with my classroom environment is to create a space I’d want to learn in. I do add some decor, and one time I did do some bulletin board borders, but mainly I try to set up the tables in nice arrangements, ensure I have some flexible seating, add some lights that aren’t fluorescent, and buy a bunch of easy to maintain plants to provide some greenery. (Look for my classroom tour soon)

    My attempt at some “decor” in my space a couple of years ago
  4. Try New Things!
    Sometimes the social media space for teachers is overwhelming (see above) but most of the time it is super inspirational. Every new school year I find it helpful to pick 2-3 of my favourite things other teachers have done in their classrooms to try to emulate in my space. For example, I am going to attempt some whiteboard art this year – inspired by Mrs Ws Whiteboards and I am very excited to try to “Keep the Quote” in my classroom thanks to Miss 5th

Those are my top tips for back to school, I am so excited to be teaching again in the fall, and look forward to more connections, blog posts, and learning! I am so excited for Back to School this year I have joined up with a bunch of teacher bloggers for a sweet giveaway! Click below to enter to win a $50 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card, and a $15 Starbucks Gift Card – great way to start the school year.


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Watercolor Techniques & Positivity

Masked off and exploring techniques
Masked off and exploring techniques
Tape removed, great negative space!
Tape removed, great negative space!
Awesome techniques
Awesome techniques


The past two weeks my class explored watercolor painting techniques.  We explored many techniques that I showed them (wet-on-wet, splatter, using salt, using plastic wrap etc.)  Then I let them do their own experimenting in their Visual Journals.   Many of them commented that it felt like a Science class Рawesome!

Each student was given a piece of watercolor paper, they loved how heavy it felt, and its texture.    I asked them to use masking tape to create negative space on their page.  Many chose to go with a geometric design, but some were also random.    Each section they created they were asked to demonstrate their new understanding of the techniques.  They could layer different techniques, or highlight just one.

We left those to dry for a few days and did some lessons in Health surrounding body image, relationships, and self-esteem.   Afterwards we made a list of ten positive things about ourselves.  We talked about being ourselves, loving who we are, and accepting our mistakes as learning opportunities.

After this was done we did a photography lesson!   The kids were so excited with all the different components to this project.   We discussed shooting close up faces for impact (SCUFFI), and using lighting to help create value on our subjects.    Students loved going outdoors and taking lots of various portraits of each other.

Final step was to put everything together in a creative way. ¬† Don’t you just love how they turned out?

IMG_6276a IMG_6279a

Ancient Athens

My students had to explore life in Ancient Athens by using books, and some critical thinking skills to create a timeline of a day for a slave, metic, citizen, or woman.

We had some amazing costumes, props, and paintings created, but the most fun was the students bringing in food to make some traditional Greek recipes.

We made: stuffed grape leaves, homemade tzatzkiki, chicken pita wraps, and watermelon soup!

Ancient Athens (8)
Watermelon Soup!
Ancient Athens (3)
Stuffing the grape leaves
A citizen dressed up in armour
A citizen dressed up in armour

What an exciting day we had sharing in the cultures of the past.   It was so rewarding to hear them telling their peers how they learned how to properly use kitchen tools and chopped onions and garlic.

Kindergarten and Gr 5/6 Collaboration

Spring Mosaic

Our Kindergarten buddies put on a play that needed a background. ¬†Together, we created colourful squares that represented signs of Spring! ¬† The 5/6 students drew the picture, and we discussed the concept of “monochrome”

The project took a few weeks, but it really paid off, and the students loved seeing it come together slowly.  We glued the pieces to the background as they came in, so it slowly came alive!    The Kindergartens loved drawing cacti, vines, flowers, leaves, fruits, and vegetables in new colours!   My class did an excellent job teaching their buddies about using monochromatic colours.

Together we created this lovely mosaic that our buddy class used as a backdrop for a cute play!


Art in my classroom

Well, I am now in my third full year of teaching (can’t believe it already!). ¬† I am beginning to get a good grasp on the curriculum for Grades 4, 5, and 6. ¬† In doing so, I am finding it much easier to plan big, cross-curricular projects, focus on the big questions/concepts, and infuse art and technology into areas that make sense for the students learning.

Making art and technology authentic to my students has been important to me, as well as ensuring they learn important skills, techniques, and vocabulary associated. ¬† With art, I always try to focus on the WHY, (WHY did I choose this colour, WHY did I like this, WHY didn’t I?)

I am already beginning to have some amazing ideas for next school year that relate to art projects – I will share those hopefully as I come out with them.

For now, here is what I’ve been doing THIS year, that is art-related!

1. Visual Journals
These have been an amazing learning tool for the majority of my students this year. ¬† Whether it be Social Studies, Math, Science, LA, Art, Health… whatever! ¬† The students always get options on how to represent their learning, and usually they choose to make a visual journal page.


Here is a great example of a math multiplication strategy page a student made.  Each strategy is a flap that explains what it is, how to do it, and an example!

I will make a longer, more in depth post about how I introduce the journals, the requirements I provide my students, as well as the self, and teacher assessments I use.

2. Art Cart!

In order to make the most out of art supplies, myself and another teacher have pooled our stuff onto an “art cart” that we share between classes. ¬†Her kids come grab it when they need it, and mine grab it when we need it. ¬†It has worked very well so far this year as a great mobile supply cart for unique items to add to Visual Journal pages, or for other creative endeavors.

visual journal cart
visual journal cart

On the cart there are stamps, stamp pads, sponges, mod podge, scrap paper, newspaper, old books, old playin gcards, string… etc! ¬† You think of it, its on the cart!

3. Daily Drawing

This has been a class favourite! ¬† We’ve done 3 separate 30 day drawing challenges – a lot of ideas I come up with on my own, or borrow from other drawing challenges that I’ve googled. ¬† Basically I use my SMART Board, and create a Notebook file. ¬†Each slide is a new day. ¬† In the morning when students arrive, the daily drawing task is on the SMART Board, so that I can do attendance, check homework, talk to students, etc. while everyone else stays occupied with an artistic task that requires creativity and time. ¬† For the 30 day challenges, I have students use a two page spread in their Visual Journals. ¬† They then divide each page into 15 squares (3×15).

My students LOVE seeing the creative ideas they’ll have to draw next!

Some examples of daily drawing challenges:
– draw your teacher as a monster
– draw a fruit eating a vegetable
– draw the inside of your brain
– draw two animals mixed together

I will try to post a picture of one of my student’s completed drawing challenge, they are so fun, and get the kids drawing, and thinking while I get morning tasks completed.


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