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Art Substitute

Sub Plans in the Art Room

April 12, 2017

If any of you are like me you hate taking off work and dread making sub plans and love every waking second of being in your classroom, right? Maybe it’s just me! As teachers, we have to take off a few times during the school year due to sickness, doctor visits, professional trainings, and events that are out of our control.

Sub Plans Can Take Hours

As an art teacher, making sub plans can take hours, at least for me. I teach 6-7 classes each day ranging from grades kindergarten through sixth. Each grade level does a grade appropriate art lesson and classes switch every 45 minutes. I feel like I’m running a marathon, daily. So making sub plans for this many classes isn’t my favorite thing to do. Just like any teacher, the go-to art sub tub is MARVELOUS! I know that in case of an emergency or even when I plan ahead, the substitute teacher can grab any activity for the students. The lessons are understandable and the materials are accessible for my sub and students. I have two lessons that I tend to use more than any others because I know the students enjoy them! These activities can be used in grade level classrooms as well!

LEGO Person Game

The first sub plan I use is the LEGO Person game. The students play in pairs, or in a group of 4. The students use the numbers on the dice to determine which features will be added to their portrait. The students are amused with how misplaced the superman chest may be with a pirate eye patch and long eyelashes. Once the students draw the features provided they are allowed to add extra details and colors. This sub lesson works best with my second though sixth graders. The key chart and template below are provided for each student plus 1 die for each pair/group. You can download the game here!

Roll-An-Artist Game

The second sub lessons I love to use are the “Roll-An Artist” games. These games include artists such as Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, and many more artists I introduce to my students. I also use these games as a wrap up with a particular unit we have worked on in class.  It’s the same procedures as the LEGO Person game explained above except the features are more related to the artists’ techniques. The students do not have a template to fill in, they may draw this portrait on a blank piece of paper. The key charts below are examples of what I use in my art room!


What are your go-to sub lessons that you know your students will enjoy in the classroom?

Art Integration Math Uncategorized

Math + Art = 1 Nervous Art Teacher

April 7, 2017

My recent posts here on Tenspire have shared my love for arts integration and the challenges it brings.  Incorporating content standards into my art room has been very successful in all grade levels and that’s what keeps me motivated to try new things.

Let’s talk about one academic area I may not be as confident with!

Has there ever been one thing you were terrified of trying in your classroom? One thing you knew you could never be comfortable teaching no matter how much you’ve studied and prepared? As a new teacher, I am still learning and I am still afraid to try new techniques and procedures with the students every day! But my one thing I am afraid of incorporating in my room is MATH! Yes, math. My nemesis in my past life as a student. Math was always my weakest subject because it just didn’t make sense to me. Looking at all of the word problems, numbers, fractions, decimals, equations with letters, and graphs before trying to solve the problem automatically made me feel defeated. Once I finished my last math class in college, I thought I would never be faced with mathematical challenges again except for the math we all do on a daily basis. Once I became a teacher and saw the strong push for academics into the special area classrooms my stomach dropped when thinking about possibly looking at a math lesson. I know there are students in my school who feel the exact same ways I felt as a student and even now as an adult.

At my school, we are assigned teaching partners, a teacher that we must observe during the school year. We are assigned this partner based off of strengths and weaknesses we have in the classroom and with our teaching. The day I observed my teaching partner, she was teaching…just wait for it… MATH. That was the moment I realized it is time to venture into the math world to see what I could do. I truly felt more confident after her amazing observation than I ever did sitting at my computer and failing when creating a math/art lesson. I knew I would have to build up my confidence and begin learning fun ways to incorporate math in my art room for students and for myself.

What topics do you feel uncomfortable teaching? What have you done to make your weakness a strength?

Art Creativity

All Good Science is Art!

March 26, 2017

Cells, cells, and more cells! This lesson couldn’t have been any more fun!  The only science related lesson I had taught before was abstract galaxies to my fifth grade students. Even though they turned out great and I experimented with different materials each lesson, I became bored with it. I needed something that would catch everyone’s eye and make them think, “Wow! This came from the art room?”.


Again, collaboration is key when it comes to arts integration! I knew the moment we all returned from winter break I would march to the opposite end of the school (the longest walk ever) and talk to the fifth grade teachers. I wanted to know what they wanted to see happen in the art room. I tried computer animation programs with math and science, hybrid animals mixing the predator and its prey, now it was time to create cells. The particular teacher I spoke with mentioned that students in fifth grade still had a hard time identifying differences between plant and animal cells, its organelles, and its functions. She provided me with detailed charts she had used in the past. Even I was overwhelmed when I looked at it. So now my job was to figure out how I could make plant and animals cells sound, well….fun.

The Art Itself!

Once I presented the lesson, the students did not seem interested, actually quite puzzled as to why I brought this up.  We compared, contrasted, discussed the importance of cells, and discussed how we can make this into art. I allowed the students to pick their own type of cell for the art project. They began creating small sketches, choosing to do one large cell or multiple cells. Once they began drawing, I saw that they were more engaged with the lesson. To allow more creativity, each table of four students had to create a brand new organelle as a team, regardless if they chose plant or animal. These students had to explain the function of the cell and the positive and negative effects it has on its host. Once they were allowed to add their very own organelles and explain to me verbally or in a written form how this works with other organelles in their cells, I saw that they were finally understanding how cells work!



Art Creativity Culture

Bridging the Gap between Ancient & Modern Art

March 19, 2017

Bridging the Gap between Ancient & Modern Art.

If you’ve ever taken a look at the sixth grade Social Studies standards it is almost identical to the progression of major art periods throughout Art History. Beginning with the Stone Age, Mesopotamia, Egyptian history, Greek and Hellenistic, and so on. It is much easier for me to collaborate and work with our sixth grade Social Studies teacher on this.

The Stone Age

When introducing a graffiti art lesson, I always begin with the stone age and major events that happened during this time to shape how the world is today. It’s funny to see the expressions on the students faces when teaching them about how the world used to be so much different. There hasn’t always been technology, social media, organized sport and activities, or shopping malls to capture their attention. However, there was one thing that everyone could participate in when it came to being creative, cave art. Cave art paintings were very simple drawings that used heavy earth tones but told a story. The symbolism in each piece was very important because it captured a piece of history during the Stone Age; just like graffiti art today.

TAG! You’re It!

Graffiti artist then and now captures various issues and events throughout history that have made an impact on society. Banksy is one of the most famous graffiti artists in the modern art world today. One thing every graffiti artist does is create a TAG.  A TAG is your signature for your art, your stamp on the world, proving you are a skilled artist. With my sixth grade students, I presented information that allowed them to discuss, with groups, the history of cave art, graffiti art, the similarities and differences, and the meaning of vandalism and legality with graffiti today. I provided each student with various art making materials and a plethora of fonts they could use for inspiration showing me their name, initials, or a nickname and symbols that represented them as a person. Once I gave the students those guidelines, I turned them loose for three 45-minute class periods and they created beautiful TAGS that displayed their understanding of the concept successfully.



Art Creativity

Ink Blots and Writing… How can they relate?

March 8, 2017

Arts integration is one of my favorite topics to talk about when it comes to Art Education. I love lesson planning, art making, mixing paint and clay making. However, I also love the challenge of incorporating classroom standards into my lessons.

The Inspiration

When it comes to arts integration, Social Studies is always the easier topic to stick with, but this year I wanted to venture into new worlds with education. My fourth graders just finished an art project that I was very hesitant to begin.  It challenged their critical thinking skills, creativity, imagination, and writing skills. It all began with a visit from N D Wilson, an author who wrote about personal experiences in his lifetime, but incorporated the fantasy genre within his stories. The fourth graders loved him! I personally haven’t seen students so excited about books! They were literally jumping off the floor while listening to the inspiration behind his stories. That is where I found the inspiration for a new art lesson that would become my favorite.

The Art Itself!

We focused on the artist Stefan G. Bucher; an American graphic designer and illustrator. Bucher is the creator of the popular online animation series Daily Monster. For 100 days, he filmed himself placing ink droplets on paper, spraying ink into different directions, and using the ink blots to create an original character; not two of his works are the same! The students enjoyed the messy, yet exciting process that Bucher uses as well. They used sharpies to fill in white space and to add extra details to their monsters such as horns, spikes, teeth, arms, and more. Once the creative process was over it was time to begin brainstorming for the fun part, the fantasy stories!

Once Upon a Time…

Collaborating with teachers has benefited me tremendously in the art room. I was sharing my excitement about the lesson with a fourth grade teacher and she began telling me about a narrative technique she uses in her classroom, the I.C.E.E. method.  If you haven’t heard of this acronym before, this is what it stands for…I- Introduce the characters and setting; C- create a problem for the story; E- Events that happened that worked towards a solution; and E- the ending event. The students used this technique while brainstorming ideas for fantasy stories and when writing their final narrative. I supplied them with a list of adjectives they could use to describe their monster, example stories, and transition words that they could use to assist any students who may have writer’s block.

Overall, I believe the students mastered every objective for this lesson. They enjoyed learning about both an artist and an author that had something in common. I loved seeing their expressions when they realized, yet again, art can connect everything and can make academics so much more enjoyable.

Art Creativity Culture Integration

Putting the “A” in STEAM

February 18, 2017

Wait, you can integrate art and core subjects?

In just a few years, art education has gone from the easiest thing to cut in a school budget to the most popular teaching technique. Art education can help increase student engagement and deepen understanding in both the art room and the classroom. The arts are being weaved into many core subjects and surprisingly the boost in academic achievement has risen tremendously! Academic achievement, creativity, and school pride increases when special area and classroom teachers are collaborating.

Collaborating with Classroom Teachers

Throughout college, I focused so much on the art lesson and the creative process itself that sometimes I would completely forget to incorporate the core subjects into the lesson. I was so used to being in my “art bubble” with other art education majors that I never thought about collaborating with grade level teachers. Honestly, the idea scared me and seemed overwhelming, but it has now turned into one of my favorite things to do! I enjoy asking teachers what’s going on in their classrooms and finding a way to incorporate the standards into my art lessons.

Bridging the Gap

Art integration bridges the gap of understanding for those students who need a creative approach. This allows the students to display their knowledge on a particular topic in a unique way.  For example, I’m sure many of us began the school year incorporating the 2016 Olympic games into many different areas in our classrooms. I began teaching my students in grades 3-6 about the history of the Olympics. We were able to explore geography, cultures of Greece and Brazil, artwork for a specific time period and much more. Students were able to express their learning in the form of art making, writing, reading, videos, and kinesthetic learning. Often times allowing the students to explore the standards creatively sparks the light bulb, creating the “AHA” moment.

A goal of mine is to make learning more meaningful through art

I enjoy walking through our school’s halls and seeing plant and animal cell paintings, Greek Olympic vases, onomatopoeia pop art, fantasy stories using particular writing techniques, and many more projects that I teach during the school year. Not only are these pieces aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but deep down I know that I am teaching my students skills and standards they need to know in their homeroom as well.

I love the challenge that art integration brings because it not only makes me a stronger art teacher but a well-rounded educator.

Art Creativity Culture

Creating Unity Through Art Education

February 2, 2017

What drives my passion for Art Education you ask? Let’s See…

Hello fellow educators! Thank you so much for checking out my post here on I am very excited about sharing my passion for the arts, art education, curriculum integration, and what I have learned from past challenges that have made me grow as an art educator with all of you!

Starting a new school year can be overwhelming, yet full of excitement. As a new teacher, I am still learning so much daily and applying what I have learned to my classroom routines. I begin the year with assessing art classroom routines that need changing, organizing art supplies, planning new projects, and much more.  While these tasks seem like an overload of things to do there is one thing that pushes me through the school year; knowing that I am sharing my love for art to my students and helping with creating them into well-rounded individuals in the community and in the classroom.

What’s the point of Art Education?

The one question I believe that I am asked more than any other question is “Why do you think art education is important?” I even ask myself this question when I feel defeated or I am facing a challenge that seems impossible to get through. Art has existed since the beginning of time and is more beneficial than we come to believe. When I am teaching an art lesson on Picasso, Warhol, Van Gogh, and many more successful artists, it’s not just about the artwork, it’s about the history behind it, events or emotions that inspired the artwork, and being able to use critical thinking skills to analyze the piece.

Art, History, and Emotions?

Art education exposes you to artwork that has recorded emotions through historical events. Art history gives a pictorial view on how the world has changed for centuries. When these artists recorded their emotions through art, it teaches them how to control their emotions and how to express them positively; a sense of self-awareness.

A strong sense self-awareness? CHECK √

Art education allows for my students to have a strong sense of self-awareness, not only in the classroom but in challenging situations they may have to face at home and later in life.

Communication and critical thinking skills.

How to interpret your thoughts, emotions and feelings during art critiques, group work, and class discussions are very important when processing information that we have learned or showing me what they have learned.


Art education brings various cultures together! Regardless of race, gender, or economic status the love for art and what we are learning in the art room brings us together, which I LOVE. My students enjoy learning about cultural history, art techniques, and pop culture. They soon begin to realize that themselves and their peers are more alike than they think; creating not only art but UNITY.

Art education is vital for my students and yours. Not only because of the few points I have listed, but because it can be your students saving grace, their positive outlet, their safe place. Regardless if art or crafting is a hobby or passion, it’s your escape too.