End of the year highlights

This has been a year full of positivity and surprises.  The biggest surprise for me has been how much I enjoy blogging and tweeting. I never thought I would gain as much as I have from these two modes of social media.  Through this blog, I have been able to journal about my experiences with lessons, workshops, and art shows, creating a visual diary for me as well as a method for sharing these experiences with anyone who wants a window into my art classes.
Twitter has honestly opened up a whole new professional world for me.  By building a professional learning network on Twitter (honestly, I have no idea how I became connected initially with these wonderful, creative people, but I am so happy that I did!), I have art educators that I can share ideas with, ask questions of, and chat with about best practices and a variety of topics important to our community.  Art teachers can often be the only one of their kind in a building, so it is often hard to have a team of art educators to conne…

Talking about blogging and tweeting at my first tech conference...

I presented at Ednado, a tech conference in my district that drew in participants and presenters mostly from local districts but some from further afield (2-3 hours away, on a Saturday at 8 am?! Whoa.). 
             Ms. Hesslein making art in MOMA art lab app during my session at Ednado! 

I am pretty new to blogging and tweeting, so the fact that I presented is a bit mind blowing for me. Turns out, I learned a ton at the conference, saw 3-D printing, Augmented Reality, and kid-built robots that hook up to circuit boards and move!  I was in a workshop with Brian Blodnett, a middle school math teacher who uses Guitar Hero as a Music Monday brain kickstart, getting his students' brains ready to work (plus it teaches fractions in the form of half, quarter, eighth and whole notes, and promotes respectful teamwork).  Very fun and engaging--how can I use this idea?  I loved the presentation by middle school STEM specialists from Middletown Schools, showing the steps their students took in…

3-D Art and problem solving

The art shows are fast approaching--my favorite time of year!  The faculty and staff always love seeing so much artwork hanging in the halls, and the students are thrilled to see their work showcased.
I usually do 3-D projects with my students as close to the art show as I can, for storage purposes (translation: "where am I going to store all of these sculptures?"). Right now, there is a lot going on to show you! 
Students used problem solving skills to decide which 2-D shapes would be best to draw their animals and which 3-D shapes would correspond to the 2-D shapes in their drawings.  So, if a bird has a beak that is a triangle, then what is the 3-D shape to use in a sculpture?  There were lots of moments of discovery and amazement!  Love witnessing those moments!
Model magic, play-doh, clay...any modeling materials are great for the development of fine motor skills and spatial awareness.  
WARNING: this could have probably been about 5 separate blog posts, so bear with me and…

Grade 1 art + grade 1 math = Paul Klee buildings!

The art style of Paul Klee is perfect for first graders.  He painted in a flat, abstract style using bright colors and flat shapes.  His famous quote, "a line is a dot that went for a walk," can be built upon when talking about shapes--isn't a shape just a line that met itself back where it began?
We identified flat or 2-d shapes in his work depicting buildings and villages, looked at photos of a few famous buildings to find similar shapes, and then worked with a partner using wooden blocks to build structures made from 3-d shapes.  Some of these buildings are shown in the images below--so engaging for first grade artists! 

One of Paul Klee's paintings can be seen on the smart board in the photo above, and you can see more of his work at

Then we got down to the business of drawing our structures...lots of connections to grade 1 math common core standards for geometry(see them at…

Plaster figure sculptures inspired by Keith Haring

Guest bloggers: Roman and Danny 

Step.1 First we got one roll of tinfoil. Then we rolled it up into a stick. We bent it like an upside down v. Then we twisted the rest of the tinfoil to make the body. And then we twisted the top of the tinfoil to make the head. Last we got another piece of tinfoil, twisted it into a stick and wrapped it around the body to make two arms.
    Step.2. After shaping the body we covered the base/board with plaster. We covered the top because we did not want it to stick to the ground. After covering the board we started to cover the whole figure. We made sure to cover all of the tinfoil or else it could fall apart.

Step.3 The third step includes painting our sculptures so that no white is to be seen. But some students are going to add on patterns to their sculptures.

     I liked this art project because it was fun getting to paint and pick colors to put on. Also putting on plaster was fun because it got messy.

Maskmaking, day 1

Guest bloggers:  Jada and Robert 

 Today in art class, we started making our masks, which is the project we all look forward to!  In fourth grade, we start to use plaster for the first time, so this year the material wasn't new to us. 

We made sure to put two layers of plaster on our masks and smooth it out.  One thing we had to make sure of when plastering was to overlap the pieces of plaster.  We also had the choice to cover the eyes and mouth or keep them open.  Next week, the mask will be off the plastic mold so we can add more detail. 

Of course, we had a lot of ideas for our masks but in the end, I am going to do a Leprechaun mask (Robert) and a cherry blossom tree mask (Jada)--all of the other kids have very interesting ideas for their masks too!  Throughout art class, everyone was explaining and sharing their ideas to their classmates which made it easier to come up with an idea for our masks.

Stay tuned for more mask making!

A Whole Lotta Art Going On!

We have tons of amazing projects happening in the art room right now, so here are a few highlights!
Grade 1 Woven Painted Kente Cloth
We used Kente cloth from Ghana and talked about patterns in math and art in this lesson.  Over-under-over-under is a pattern we talked about while weaving, and students were able to devise a pattern for their border.  These students both used a pattern of vertical and horizontal placement of strips, while others chose "vertical, plus sign, vertical, plus sign" or "equal sign, plus sign" or other math symbols made with their painted strips. The students were making patterns and math connections, awesome job!

Welcome To The Jungle...part 2!
After mixing all of our secondary colors, it was time to start putting together our painted paper jungle collages, inspired by the work of Henri Rousseau.  See more of his work at this National Gallery of Art link,  
Multiple shades of green make the students' j…