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Monday, January 24, 2011

Easy Woodcut Art Activity

My grade five class recently read the book "Riding the Tiger" by Eve Bunting. The book is a rich and powerful allegorical story of the allure of the gang.  The story is beautifully illustrated with hand-carved woodcut art by illustrator David Frampton. After doing some research, I came across some simple directions to create woodcut art in the classroom using styrofoam plates

The steps were simple to follow - the students first created a basic design on a piece of paper.  Next, they drew the design onto a piece of styrofoam (cut in a square or rectangle, rounded edges removed) with a marker.

Finally, they used a pencil to colour in everything that wasn't drawn by the marker - they are supposed to press hard here, leaving the marker lines raised above the background.  Those lines pick up the ink and the part colored in with pencil will not.

They then inked the styrofoam with an ink pad or other type of ink, and made sure all the lines were marked with the ink. Quickly but carefully they pressed the Styrofoam onto a piece of paper.

The end results were amazing!!  The students were so proud of their work. (O.K., their teacher was too . . . )

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Easy Stained Glass Paper Art for Children

It has most definitely been a long time since I've blogged.  I'm touched, and sometimes floored, by the number of friends, readers, and total strangers who often drop me a line to tell me how much they miss reading regular posts from me.  Yes, that kind of stuff means a lot to me. 

Yes, I did return to work in September and life has been more than harried and stressed since then.  There's a lot to say regarding that, but I think I will save that for a separate post.  For now, it's the holidays and I've missed blogging so much that I couldn't stand NOT to post a few holiday craft ideas.

I have done this stained glass paper art activity with several of my classes, and tried it at home with my 3 Things this year.  It's fun, easy, and looks fabulous on dreary, cold windows this time of year.

What you will need:  

(they must be wax)

 Small dish of vegetable oil
Cotton balls or cotton pads
8 1/2 by 11 plain white paper
The first step is to draw your picture or design (with the crayons) on your paper.  Whatever your design is, you need to make sure that there are no white parts of the paper left visible - it should be completely covered in colour.

Coloured stripes or designs in the background work very well, and show up much better when you hang these in your window.  It is best if you outline the coloured areas with a dark black crayon, creating borders and edging for the picture.

When your picture is entirely coloured, you are going to dip your cotton ball or cotton pad into the vegetable oil. 

Rub the oil over your picture, until the entire paper is saturated with the oil.  

When you are finished, you will have a glossy sheen all over your paper.  Hang the oily paper to dry for a good 12 hours.

Last step is to hang the pictures in a window that gets lots of light. 
You'll notice the oil has created a "see through" effect, making your coloured paper look like real stained glass!

These decorations are sure to add a festive, colourful, holiday touch to any classroom or home window! 

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Home-made crayon muffins!

Do you have mounds of broken, old crayons lying around?

Do you have children? Then of course you do!!!

I was looking for something to do with all my bits and pieces of old crayons - this activity is a blast and my kids LOVED doing it.

Gather all your old pieces of crayon - unwrap them and peel the paper off. Place them all together in a bowl. The more colours you have, the better.
Then you take a sharp, large knife (make sure children are only watching at this point!) and chop all the crayons into little pieces, about 1/2 - 1 inch thick.
Place your crayon bits in a muffin tin (we used the small muffin tin). Have the kids mix up the colours and create designs as they wish.
Bake the crayon "muffins" in your oven at 350 for about 15 minutes. Let them cool for a good long time, and then place them in the freezer for half and hour - they will "pop" right out of your muffin tin for you!
Voila - you have created your own multi-coloured crayons!!! Lay out some paper and have your kids get creative . . .
These are a great idea to do for loot bags or birthday party activities as well!!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Reflecting: Part One

I have been feeling a sense of upheaval and change regarding my blog lately . As many of you know, I am returning to work full-time in September, and with that date approaching quickly, I guess I don't really know what will become of my blog. It scares me, it saddens me, but I am just trying to be realistic. A full-time job with three young children is likely going to be all that I can handle. I've considered taking the blog down, but I don't feel ready to do that yet. Last night as I walked my dog through the tree-lined streets in my neighbourhood, a song popped up on my iPod's shuffle mode that really spoke to me and made me want to write this.

The Cranberries' "Zombie" blasts from the dusty and archaic black stereo speakers in their ninth floor apartment. The girls had been painting for hours - all day to be exact. The upbeat music oscillating through their veins pulsed alongside their adrenaline, keeping them going long after they should have taken a break. Empty coffee mugs and the leftover pizza they had ordered for dinner were all that were visible in their plastic-covered condo.

"It looks fantastic!" first girl exclaimed to her roommate, her eyes wide like saucers from too much coffee and an overdose of paint fumes.

"Yes, it does," second girl admitted, giggling incessantly as she scanned her own handiwork. "We could totally ditch our degrees and become painters, you know."

The pair had just completed their third year of university. Their thrifty landlord had responded to their pleas to give the apartment a new coat of paint by offering them paint at no cost. So they could paint the walls themselves. As these young ladies matured, they would see how they were "swindled" by their landlord with an unrecognizably thick French accent. But at the time, they were pleased to have completed such an onerous task, a welcome reprieve from their final exams and a brief interlude before they started their summer employment.

"I'm exhausted", second girl proclaimed. "I could lay down right here on the carpet and go to sleep."

"Maybe we should have a beer to celebrate our success?" first girl suggested.

"We don't have any beer," second girl reminded her thirsty friend.

"We could go pick some up?"

Second girl was known by her friends to occasionally resemble a stick-in-the-mud. "I'm so tired," she said. "My entire body aches, it's late, and my face and hair are coated with thick, white paint."

"So what?" first girl demanded. "What if we just threw caution to the wind, hopped in the car, and headed over to the Beer Store?"

"You only live once," first girl added, as if it were an afterthought, either as worldly advice or as back-up to persuade her friend to put her petty reservations aside and have a little fun.

"Meet you in the car!" second girl screamed, grabbing a light sweater from a hook near the front door, and dashing to the elevator to beat her roommate, like she was ten years old.

First girl had the music in her car blaring and the windows all the way down as they drove the couple of kilometres it would take them to get to the Beer Store. They belted out the lyrics to those mid-1990s songs on the radio like they owned them. They laughed as the ridiculousness of their situation set in and they began to wonder if people would mistaken them for gangsters with their painted-covered faces.

They stepped into the front doorway of the Beer Store minutes before it was closing. First girl walked up to the cashier and asked for Labatt Blue. Second girl - as if on cue - stuck her finger down her throat to convey her distaste for the prolific Upper Canadian beer.

"I'll take twelve Moosehead," she told the young man behind the cash. "Only because you don't sell Keith's in Ottawa yet."

Other customers must have been inspecting the two young, paint-stained, seemingly care-free girls arm themselves with the alcohol they would need for a night of fun. The girls paid for their beer and headed back to the small red hatchback that they had arrived in. They acknowledged a couple whistles and a hoot and holler from several college guys in the same parking lot. They waved, grinned, and hopped in the car and drove away.

To Be Continued

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