Art Inspiration: Graffiti Art Signs For Sick Kids



Last week at the school I am working in, they were having a fundraiser to raise money to help support Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. Every group would be responsible for one of the three days to help raise funds.  Tuesday was popcorn day, Wednesday was ice cream and Popsicle day and Thursday we had baked goods. The students also participated in the fundraiser by helping to sell the goods and my grade 3, 4 and 5s’ also helped to make the baked goods.

I am not very good at baking, correction not good at baking with kids (too messy for my liking, actually the clean up part). Therefore I volunteered to help create awareness by creating posters with the students. I did not want to create the traditional posters the students and teachers make with large paper and tempera paints. I learned a new way and I wanted to share it with the students. So we created Graffiti Art posters.
We needed to create four posters, one for each day and a central one with Sick Kids on it. This was perfect because I had four groups. Below you can see the images of the different stages of the process and the best part was that I had the students do all the work.


Stage 1 – The students’ chose which poster they wanted to create and they got busy creating the letters for the sign. I gave them card stoke paper and told them that they can create the letters in any way they wanted. They didn’t have to be the same and they could cut out the letter and have them either a negative or positive cut out (the letter itself or a page with the letter cut out in the centre).

They then would tape the letter onto a large piece of butcher paper. I told them that they would be spray painting the letter with black paint and whatever is taped down would be the colour of the paper and exposed sheet would have the paint.


Stage 2 – once the letters were taped down, we took the large sheet outside and spray painted the letters and sheet. I let the students spray paint their own letter after a bit of instruction on how to do it. You need to spray paint outside because of the smell, and I used flat Black paint so it would not look too shiny and it would be easier for the next stage.


Stage 3 – after the paint was dry and the smell has gone (usually it takes a day), I had the students colour in the poster using oil pastels. I told them to remove the paper stencil they created and then just look at the poster and their letter before they coloured. I told them to take a moment and see what they could do with their letter, to use their imagination.

What they created was imaginative and inspiring.  

Friday Two Cents: Summer Vacation Part 5: Washing The Dust From My Soul




Usually a vacation is when you go off somewhere to relax and forget the struggles of the daily grind. Yet this summer I decided to go somewhere and improve myself and take an additional qualification (AQ) course. An AQ course helps teachers learn new skills that they can bring into the classroom. From math, language and science to the arts.

The AQ course I am taking is entitled Visual Arts, Part 1. It helps teachers with the foundations of visual arts from elements and principles of design to activities they can bring back to the classroom that is based around the Ontario curriculum for the Arts. I have always been interested in all art forms. Music, drama, dance, and the visual arts, yet I particularly enjoy the visual arts.
Straight from the Curriculum document;
‘The visual arts include a broad range of forms, genres, and styles that include the traditional arts of drawing, painting, sculpting, printmaking, architecture, and photography, as well as commercial art, traditional and fine crafts, industrial design, performance art, and electronic and media arts.’ ((2009), The Ontario Curriculum: Grades 1-8. The Arts.)
As you can imagine it covers a wide spectrum of art forms, all of which I enjoy. There is a lot to cover in the course but it is very fulfilling. So I choose to make this journey into the art world a part of my vacation. The other benefit is that I am taking the course in a wonderfully beautiful small city in southern Ontario, Guelph. I have my undergrad from the University of Guelph and I have always enjoyed going to Guelph since my parents took me as a child. Now I have the opportunity to explore and experience the rich artist atmosphere the city has to offer.
I have been busy with my studies and I have not been able to take in too much but this city has inspired me to draw and create. I also went on an art galley tour with the professor and other teachers in Guelph. I had no idea that Guelph is full of artists. I was so engrossed with the tour I did not take any photos, a situation I will remedy the next week.
There have been a lot of art discovery this week and I cannot post all of it here, yet I will post some photos of some of the activities I did that inspired me to create. These included a few elements of design such as line, colour, shapes and texture. See if you can figure them out.


Yet I believe that the most important lesson I learned comes from what Picasso once said about art.
‘The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.’ Pablo Picasso
After a week of art my soul is refreshed and ready for the next day.

Art Inspiration: Greek Vases


Several weeks ago I did a weeklong exploration/inquiry on mythology, specifically Greek/Roman or Classic Mythology.   The students truly enjoyed the week with me reciting the tail of the Greek gods and other classical myths. Yet one art project we did inspired many to create some wonderful artwork.

Below you can see the Greek vase art project we did. You can follow each step on how we created them.


Step 1. First we drew a vase and then we choose warm or cool colour oil pastels and totally coated or coloured in the entire vase, pressing hard. If you don’t, the black paint will stick and absorb to those areas and won’t easily be scratched away.

Step 1: Colour the vase with oil pastels

Step 2. After we fully colored and coated the entire vase with the oil pastels, the students use black acrylic paint to paint over wherever they colored in oil pastel. We let the creation dry fully over night.

Step 2: paint the vase with acrylic paint.

Step 3.   The next day the students used wooden toothpicks and skewers to scratch away gently into the vases and just remove the black paint exposing the colored oil pastel underneath.

Step 3: using a toothpick or a skewer, scrap away the black paint to create your image.


I told them that many Greek vases depicted tails from mythology or some impart scene from the life of the time the vase was created. My example shows a scene from the tail of Prometheus being visited by the eagle. I told them that they could do a story or some thing important to themselves. A couple of students enjoy playing baseball and you can see their creations. Below you can enjoy the students hard work and amazing finished vases.

Friday Two Cents: Integration Is Not Good For Everyone



This week I had the privilege to work in a kindergarten class with a wonderful bunch of students. Yet there was one student with exceptional needs (EN) in the class that kept me on my toes. This was not the first time that I have worked with students with EN and the student was a good student except for a few instances where I had to stop them from running out of the classroom or pushing another student. However, it did bring up a debate that I had with many other educators about the integration of students with EN into mainstream classrooms.

There is a movement in main if not all school boards to integrate students with EN into a regular classroom. The argument is that they need to be part of the general student population, which makes sense. However, I have been in about a dozen different kindergarten classrooms with these students and it has been a very difficult experience for everyone involved.

Many of these students with EN have behavioural issues, some violent. I have been on the receiving end of students hitting, punching, yelling, screaming, and biting me. In every case the teacher and I had to deal with the student with no other help from the board. The more difficult situations involve these students harming other students. I have seen students with EN pull hair, jump on top and tackle, punch, hit, bit and scratch other students with no provocation.

This behaviour also has psychological issues on the other students as well. There was one student at one school whom, whenever they went out into the playground would hide behind some trees. I saw them and asked why were they there. They told me that they were hiding from this one student with EN because they were afraid that they might hurt them again. When I heard this junior kindergarten student say this my heart sank. Here I am a teacher who’s responsibility it is to provide a healthy, caring and safe environment for the students and I cannot help this student feel safe because the EN student might hurt them. That was when I decided that integration of EN students in a regular classroom environment not matter what is not the best policy.

Mind you, there have been some classrooms I have been in that had EN students and they were integrating well into the routine of the class. Yet those instances are few and far between. In the 12 different classrooms with students with EN, I could safely say that there were 3 that had integrated well. That still leaves 9 that had difficulties. The issue, that many teachers and educators have told me, is that there is no support for these students.

Many believe that integrating is great and it is the new doctrine for the school boards, however I for one think that it is not a good idea. For some time I kept my thoughts on the matter to myself for fear of reprisal, but a colleague of mine told me something that changed my position. She said “If you disagree with a situation you should stand up and make your case for it. If people do not challenge the system or status quo, nothing will have the opportunity to change for the better.” Ever since then I have been vocal when asked about the integration of students with exceptional needs.

It is a good idea but you need to have the support available to help the student and teacher/educator. Simply placing a student in a classroom and expecting the teachers to magically help these students without any support is a fantasy. School boards and the government need to seriously look at how they fund, run and organize the integration of students with exceptional needs. Until that happens everyone will continue to suffer, both the students and families with EN and those without.

Art Inspiration: Grade 3 & 4 Pastel Pumpkins


This past week I tried to bring an art project I did with another grade to my grade 3 – 4 in the afterschool program. I introduced it as part of the autumn theme and wanted to see if they could create the pumpkin scene as will. Of course my expectations were a little different and not as high as the grade 6 class, but I know that there are a few students that can achieve wonders with art.

 First we drew the outline of the pumpkin shapes with red pastels and coloured a thin amount of red on the inside to the outline. Then they coloured orange on the inside leaving a small spot where they coloured it yellow. They had to really press hard to get the right colour and it helps with the next stage, smudging. They took some toilet paper and in a circular motion smudged the red, orange and yellow to get the look of depth and a highlight on the pumpkin surface. After the smudging they would take a green pastel and create a stem and contour lines to make the pumpkin more realistic. Some took a black pastel to increase the depth. They would then add vines, sky and the surrounding field with shadows. We were going for pumpkin patches at night and you may see a few drew a full moon and a few clouds.
The results are inspirational.

Art Inspiration: Fruit Turkey


Well in Canada this past weekend we celebrated our Thanksgiving. It gives people a chance to reflect, to take stock of what we have and be thankful for the many gifts within our lives. For many of us it is the gift of family and I am no exception. I spent a wonderful time with my family, my nieces included.

Yet this year I found a little art activity that I thought would be a perfect opportunity to build some memories with them. I saw this in a classroom and was impressed by the creativity. It is a Fruit Turkey Centrepiece.

It is very easy to put together and perfect for small children to get involved in. What you need are shish kebab skewers, a tray and some fruit. You can use any type of fruit but for my turkey I used red and green grapes, pineapples, strawberries and a cantaloupe. I did this with my nieces and it took about 30 – 45 minutes with them but I did prepare all the fruit and materials before hand.

You start by having the children wash their hands, of course, but while they are you can cut one skewer into four and place them on the bottom of the cantaloupe for support. So it does not roll away and is stable on the tray. Chop up the pineapple into triangles and pick the grapes off the vine. Then skewer the fruit to create a tail feather. You can also use this opportunity to help the children to work with patterns. For my creation we set the pattern as pineapple, red grape, green grape. The children can do this themselves and you can talk to them and ask questions such as “What is next in the pattern?” Or “What is the pattern?” You make about 7 – 8 skewers for the tail feathers.


Once they are done with the tail skewers, you cut one skewer a bit shorter for the head and neck. Place 5 – 6 grapes in any pattern for the neck but use a larger strawberry for the head. Then place the head at one end of the cantaloupe and the feather skewers in a fan pattern on the other end. Then step back and enjoy your centrepiece.

Fruit Turkey

Fruit Turkey

This was a wonderful activity to do with my nieces and I know that they enjoyed creating it as well as eating it for desert. As well I told them a few days before that they were responsible for making desert but I did not tell what they were doing. They were very excited and I could see in their eyes the pride they had for creating something for Thanksgiving dinner. Building memories one fruit skewer at a time.


Friday Two Cents: George Helping With A Lesson


    No matter how many times I see it, I am always amazed at the reaction my puppets get in a class of students.

In the kindergarten class I am in, I have used my puppet George to help teach lessons, do learning circle or a read-a-loud. The students are always engaged and focused on what George has to say. I even do songs and the motions with him and it gets them moving along with him. As well, I have been talking to the students about bringing in my Mufasa puppet with little baby Simba. Well today I finally brought them in.  

I used them as an example for the students on why Mufasa, as the adult lion, may have some rules for little Simba. I asked the students why do they think why Mufasa has these rules for Simba. A few raised their hands and their response was that Mufasa wanted to keep Simba safe. I wanted the students to see and hear Mufasa when I asked him, ‘If Simba broke the rules and you are upset with him, does that mean you do not like Simba or that you will always be upset with him.’ Mufasa said, “No, even though Simba may have broken a rule or did something wrong, I will never stop caring for him.

photo 2

Mufasa with little Simba

 I extended it by agreeing with Mufasa saying to the students that, ‘Even though you may break a rule and the teacher and I may be upset or disappointed, that does not mean we will always feel that way towards them. The adults in the class, the teacher and myself, are there to help them and care for them and that rules in the class are there to help keep them safe.’ Some students even smiled at that.

photo 4

Little Simba, Mufasa and George

I continued the lesson with a read-a-load with the story “How full is your bucket?” George introduced it and they were very attentive. Even though we have a number of very young junior kindergarten students, they listened and participated. George was able to introduce the book and after I continued with the idea of filling the bucket. Students as well referenced the filling my bucket metaphor at different points in the day.

Amazing how something as simple as a puppet can be used for so much good.

Hi Everyone!!! My Name is George!!!

Hi Everyone!!! My Name is George!!!

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