#Mannequin Challenge meets the Gesture Drawing challenge

I was so happy to see the #MannequinChallenge pop up on the internet because I instantly saw a correlation between the newest pop culture movement and Art!  I love it because I know that my students will totally get into it and I love showing them how the arts are everywhere!  The ideas flooded my brain and I could not wait until today to start this lessons with my students!

To have this related to art, I decided to connect the mannequin challenge with gesture drawings and living statues!  In addition, I connected the Studio Habit of Mind: Observe. We are observing others closely so it paired nicely!  

The slide presentation I created gave students the background to gesture drawings, linked it to Keith Haring's art and showed them images of various Living Statues! They got to view a few clips of others doing the #mannequinchallenge as well! We talked about how this popular challenge could be seen as art (essential question).

 I gave them a gesture drawing challenge upon finishing the presentation. Half of my students posed in the room like mannequins and the other half had 2 minutes to draw them using the gesture drawing technique they learned.  The class switched places after the first 2 minutes were up. We finished up by doing the #mannequinchallenge as a class and I took video! I was very impressed with how serious they took being a mannequin and how great the gesture drawings were!

4th Grade Mannequin Challenge

The video below has students doing their mannequin challenge in the hallway. This was connected to living statues or performance art!

Dia de los Muertos: A Cultural Lesson

Art encompasses a variety of cultural influences and I love to share this connection with my students! Several students were so excited when I introduced Dia de los Muertos, a holiday that traditionally started in Mexico, as our Big Idea! Students that celebrated this holiday or knew about it shared information with the class about their personal experiences with this holiday or wanted to share what they knew about Dia de los Muertos.  A few also shared that it reminded them of the movie, The Book of Life. The connections between their world and art became closer and closer and this lesson proved to be very interesting to them! 


After our discussion, I showed the short film, "Dia De Los Muertos" by Whoo Kazoo on YouTube Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCQnUuq-TEE


The video portrays a young girl visiting her mother at the cemetery but shows students a variety of celebrations that happen during Dia de los Muertos! It has no words which helps allow the students to create a story within their imagination.  By the end of the story, students have several visuals associated with Dia de los Muertos including sugar skulls.  The young girls memories with her mother who had passed were fun and exciting and shared the essence of this holiday which is remembering loved ones and celebrating their memory.

I connected this lesson with the Studio Habits: Express and Understand Community. In addition, the students were asked to share what they learned or express a feeling within their art work.  This way they can have voice and choice and show you what they learned! 

I love how my students ran with the ideal of Dia de los Muertos and interpreted in the way they saw fit!


Art Career Rotations

"What type of job can you get in the art related fields?", was a question I posed to my students! The main answers were artist and art teacher! A few students mentioned illustrators but mainly that was it! I was glad that I decided to let my students focus on Art Careers for a week in order to enlighten them about the many jobs that relate to art and creativity while allowing them to learn more about the new centers in our classroom: architecture and technology!

While we started the year off reviewing basic techniques each week starting with drawing then collage and finally painting.  I add techniques, give skill builders and artists' inspirations to add on to these centers through the year! So now I am ready to unlock more centers and instead of taking a week to do each I figured rotations would be a fun way to go and allow my students to learn about ART CAREERS as well! This was done with my 1st - 5th graders!

To start off our lesson, we had a discussion about various art careers to and from there I shared that they all would get a chance to try out 4 Art Careers for the day! They were very excited!  I explained that they would get to explore being an Illustrator, Graphic Designer, Architect and try out the Marketing Business.  I shared a little information about each job then placed a description of the job and title at each table.  The students had about 7-8 minutes at each station and took their work with them when they moved tables! I rung a bell in order to let them know that it was time to rotate!  

By the time the class was over, we reflected on each job and I had students reflect and share which job was their favorite! They had samples to take home with them as well from all stations except the graphic design station!  Some apps allowed them to save their work in which I plan to print at a later time! (I did print a few for the hallway and have pictured them in this blog).

The apps on my ipad that the students explored were Aviary, Faces iMake, WordFoto, Drawing/Painting app and Tactilus.  These are great for the art room and fun to explore!

When it came to supplies! I had sharpies at the Illustrator station, crayons/markers at the Marketing Business station, pencils only at the Architecture station and 5 ipads at the Graphic Designer station!

The students had a blast! They left the class being able to identify a number of art careers and also gained knowledge about the art apps we have on our ipads and how to successfully use the blocks for the architecture station!

I plan to have Open Art Studio next week so students can finish any past work but also have the opportunity to have drawing, collage, painting, technology and the architecture center open! Can't wait to see what they create!

If you are looking to try out this lesson! I uploaded my Art Career table signs that give the title and description of what to do on my Teachers Pay Teachers page for FREE!!!! Here is the link...https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Art-Career-Rotation-Table-Signs-2852658 

Thank you for checking out this blog post! Please Follow me at Wy_ArtisLife on Twitter and Facebook to see my classroom in action each day!



It's Always Good to Reflect

One of my goals this year is to create reflection time that is intentional!

When you get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of creating sometimes you leave little time to reflect! I purposely have students clean up 3-5 minutes earlier in order to add a thought/statement to the reflection board that is in the art hallway!

This year I have tied their reflection into categories aligned with the national art standards.  I want them to develop the habit to reflect as well as know their are various levels to their reflection!

I created a few prompts that align with each of the four areas: Creating, Responding, Presenting and Connecting.  While we often share in class about our work or techniques we explored I find the literacy piece with reading and writing valuable and using higher level thinking skills by deciding how to categorize their reflections.


Currently, have students sit quietly for 30 seconds to a minute to think about their practice in the art studio for the day. It is so "zen" and peaceful!  While they are sitting quietly I pass out the sticky notes to each student.  I read a few of the prompts as well before they begin writing! Students are allowed to go look at the chart as well and I write a few on the board depending on the day and how much time we have.  If I do happen to forget, early finishers go to this reflection area, write their own sticky note and place it in the hallway!


As you can see in the photographs above, we are just getting started.  I have students discuss and reflect at their tables and I walk around and listen too on days that we may not have cleaned up in enough time to do this reflection activity. The kids love writing on sticky notes and deciding which area they want to reflect in for the day! 

Take a look at a few of the sticky notes!

Hope this helps some of you with more ideas to elevate or change up your reflection activities! What are other reflection techniques that you would recommend?

Please share on my FB page Art is Life or find me on twitter @Art_IsLife!

Thanks for reading!

Take a Look into My Art Studio! (Link to Free Printable)

Hey everyone! If you are like me, you love going to other art studios to get ideas and see how other art teachers/facilitators  organize their room.

In my TAB/Choice art studio, I have students come in and go to their home seat! They get to pick a seat at any table they would like and they go here every class upon entering the art studio.  I welcome them and we review and talk about the topic for the day whether it is an artist inspiration, skill/technique builder, demo, etc.  From there I remind students to check out the stations on the board.  

Each table represents a center so while they have studio time they may be at a different table.  For instance, painting could be located at Orange and Red table, Drawing at Yellow and Blue Table and Collage at Green Table.  You will know what is popular typically and if a table has no one I just close it and change it to one of the more popular tables so kids can go to the station they want to go to and not have to wait.  Students go to centers around the room and gather their materials and take them to the designated table!  Studio time is amazing to watch with all the engaged students!  I like to put challenges and big ideas on the board sometimes to help those who are lacking inspiration!

Any who....lets take a look around the art studio! Click or slide the pictures to see them all! 

The pictures above are my board! I have "I Can" written with objectives for the students along with challenges for some grades! You can see the Studio Habits of Mind below the board and we refer to them often and currently focus on a Studio Habit of the Week.  The posters are located on my teachers pay teachers page if you would like to get our own set   https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Art-Center-Posters-for-Centers-and-Stations-2755624

The photo on the right will show you a few other things: Essential Questions, Did You Know.., Studio Habit of the Week and Art Stations/Centers.  The photographs are helpful for students who are still learning to read.



These two areas are:  WOW art display and the Artists' Tool organizer area. The late Barbara Berry coined the term WOW (Wonderful Original Art) for students to reflect about creating art past the exploration stage.

The peg board area that holds supplies is extra fun and the kids love it! I have placed photographs and labels to help students put supplies back correctly!

The pegboard with drawing tools and a few other things is located next to the Drawing Center! This area is full of various drawing supplies such as sharpies, markers, colored pencils, crayons, oil pastels and rulers.  I have a few other little containers with sequins, brads, paper clips etc to have for optional additions to their work.

Near the drawing area on the counters I have mannequins as well as charcoal pencils, blending stumps and self portrait mirrors.  

The collage center is full of all types of paper from painted papers, magazines, newspaper, wallpaper, construction paper, construction paper scraps, magazine scraps, old books with lots of text, string, sequins and so much more! The menu was found via pinterest! I changed it a little bit but like the general message for students.

As you can see the mixed media cabinet is next to collage for ease of getting materials! I have stamps, gelli plates, etc inside of the cabinet to add to mixed media work!

For paper management, I saw something beneficial on Midwest Tab Teachers page on categorizing paper into different levels.  I adapted this for my room in a way that it works for me.  I have drawing paper for Level 2 and I wrote a label that if a students wants bigger they can ask me but would need to submit a sketch.  Watercolor paper is available upon request as well. Sketch paper is there for practice and sketching but it is computer paper so they do not paint on it!

The 3 photos above are in the Painting Center (sign not shown). This area has information on paint-set up as well as various supplies to try different techniques.  I took the clear palettes off the watercolor container for easy usage as well as cut up straws to try the straw blowing technique. Currently, students are working with watercolor and I will demo acrylic soon to add to their artists' tool belt and knowledge. The sign above the paintbrushes reminds students to put brushes bristle side up instead of down! Here is the FREE PRINTABLE on my teachers pay teachers page! https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Paintbrushes-Poster-2754886 

The Sculpture/Construction area has loads of found materials and things that many would consider junk! Everyones trash is our treasure!  I created the cardboard menu from an idea shared by a couple art teachers on the MidWest Tab page!  I did not do all of the ones I saw but the ones I wanted to include for my kids.  I may make another one soon with our attachment ideas! 

The Document Station is created for my students who are taking photographs of their work for our digital portfolio Creatubbles! I piloted it last year with our district and this year all elementary schools are working to incorporate this amazing digital portfolio.  If you are not familiar, it is an online portfolio that allows students to share their work globally.  Kids from around the world or the school can look at their work and "bubble" it like a Facebook like and provide positive feedback about the work! It is a great way to expose students to other forms of collecting their work as well as allowing them to see work from around the globe!

Thanks for checking out my art studio! What are your favorite centers or areas in your classroom? Any questions about my studio? Feel free to comment below!

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @Art_isLife or on my FB page at Art is Life! I upload almost everyday!  Thanks for reading!


This year I am implementing the 8 Studio Habits of Mind.  This framework is created by Project Zero, a research group at the Harvard Education department.  Those involved with this study focused on studio thinking and from that came the studio habits of mind. You can review their website for more information on this topic here: http://www.pz.harvard.edu/projects/the-studio-thinking-project and I have all listed on my website that this blog is on under Studio Habits of Mind.

While this framework developed by contributers watching those teach in the arts these habits can be used in other disciplines and helps students gain critical thinking skills that are beneficial to their development and understanding!

The habit that my students are studying this week is Stretch and Explore! To sum it up...this habit focuses on learning to reach beyond one's capacities, explore ideas and thoughts as well as embracing the opportunity to learn from mistakes!  K-5 all participated in this lesson although Kindergarten had choice with their ideas, I limited their medium by placing charcoal pencils, crayons, oil pastels and stamps at 4 tables and let them rotate in order to explore each material.  It was fun to watch some students get new paper for each medium and some used the different mediums on the same paper which created mixed media art!  Can you say teaching moment....on mixed media art!

1st - 5th grade expanded on our Artists' Get Ideas focus from the first week of school while "stretching and exploring" with their art creation because they had drawing, painting and collage centers open!  They enjoyed the freedom to choose their medium and subject for their art piece!  We all read Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg which gave them inspiration to try their best and if they mess up they could turn that mistakes into something beautiful! This book was perfect!   I watched some students tear their paper on purpose or place a mark on their paper to see what they could create from it! I loved that they challenged themselves in that way!

Some students messed up and wanted new paper but I pushed them to keep it and find a way to make it work and problem solve through it! I was proud that some went beyond their capacity and ventured off into new subjects that they typically did not create and tried new things! I love teaching TAB/Choice style with my students because they are truly becoming artists' in their own right and using their own ideas, life, experience, imaginations, etc to create! It is truly beautiful to watch!  Before we start, I typically remind students about where they can get ideas from (surroundings, memories, emotions, nature, life, family, studying artists' styles, etc).  We do this by closing our eyes and reflecting on our practice and what we want to be inspired by for the day.  Some students come prepared with their own personal sketches or notebooks with ideas! It is great to see them thinking about art time outside of school! 

In closing, last week was an amazing week in the art room as students learned about the studio habit: Stretch and Explore! Their art was unique and creative! Check some of their work below!

Have you every used the studio habits? If so, what do you like to do with them?

Thanks for reading! You can also find my students work and blurbs from our class on my twitter @Art_IsLife and FB page Art is Life! Thanks for reading! 

Dot Day

The week of September 12th full of dots galore since DOT DAY was on September 15th!  Dot Day is inspired by Peter Reynolds book, The Dot!  The book shares the importance of trying your best and believing in yourself! Vashti was a young girl in art class and did not believe in her art.  Her teacher helped show her that she created something even if it was just a dot on a white paper.  Vashti started to explore dots even more and making them in a variety of ways for her art.  This is a great lesson for all kids to listen too and my students loved it!  

K-5 students decorated their very own circle that was representative of their dot! They were tasked with the mission to "make their mark" on the dot.  While our theme was dots, I told students that they could create anything they wanted on their dot.  It could represent them, be something they are inspired by or even just explore dots with painting, drawing, collage, etc.

An added emphasis to this project was community art! I talked about what community art is and how it impacts others! The dots from all of my students were taken and put into a large mural in our cafeteria to be displayed! The dots were glued onto paper in words that read, One Love, although the love was represented by a large heart! The students love to see their work on such a large display! It brightens up the school and shares a message that we are one and we love each other!

On September 15th students were asked to wear dots of any kind! It was a great sight to see!  If you have never read, "The Dot", I would check it out if I were you!  It is a great book with a great lesson! Check out some of the work below!


Artists' Get Ideas: Week 2 in the Studio

The first week in the art studio flew by and we have rocked the second week of school!  My 1st through 5th grade artists' are focusing on the big idea of where do artists get their ideas from.  This created an awesome discussion amongst table groups as they chose one person to share out what they discussed.  Responses ranged from their emotions, life and what artists' want to get better at...to their surroundings and nature.  There were so many great responses!

This was a great way for students' to think about where they get their own ideas for their art and gave them a great starting point at coming up with the subject matter for their project, Artist Trading Cards.  The demo consisted of me showing students drawing techniques that I feel are beneficial to review at the start of the year.  We focused on drawing light with pencil (Draw Light Until You Get It Right), coloring spaces in with the wider side of the marker, using color pencils and crayons to blend and create shadows as well as using the sharpies!  I worked on keeping my demo to about 5-8 minutes so all my students could have lots of time to work on their artist trading cards!

We are going to learn/review techniques each week in order to open various centers around the classroom.  This past week was drawing, this coming week is collage/stamping, then we have painting, oil pastels and 3D/Scuplture center with cardboard creations to start.  I will add to each station throughout the year with new media and show more techniques.  This way they continue to add to their skills and by January we should doing more big ideas and TAB (Teaching Artistic Behavior) format for class.  I love sharing various inspirations such as contemporary artists and various ideas to get them thinking!  I love watching students come in with their own ideas, creating what they feel.  When we are done with learning techniques for drawing, collage, painting and oil pastel each class will have the opportunity to trade one or two cards minimum.  Several students' don't want to part with their work yet but when they have a few I know it will be easier and a fun way to share art with others!  I love that some are even taking some blank trading cards home to work on them and bring them back! Definitely made my art teacher heart happy to see how engaged they were with our project!

Choice-Based/TAB has been the best thing for my students! Lots of growth in a multitude of ways! Last years art show got rave reviews as all the pieces were unique in their own way and so many were blown away by the skills and subject matter! That was nice to hear especially since my first year of Choice/TAB was last year and I knew parents and others may be accustomed to certain type of projects but the students are engaged, learning standards and having a great time!  Looking forward to week 3! Stay tuned for more art from my amazing little artists', it only gets better! 

Lastly, you can follow me on Twitter @Wy_ArtisLife to see what is happening in the art studio each day as well as my FB page at Art is Life (WyArtisLife)!

Art is Essential: How We Prepare Kids for a World that Constantly Changes

As an artist and art teacher, I truly understand the importance of art in the lives of children and take my mission in life to educate today's youth very seriously!  While we (those in the arts) may be the class that allows others to have plan time or be seen as "just the fun" class.....art teachers and others in the arts work hard to provide a class culture that meets the needs of all learners and give our students experiences that allow them to gain skills that are essential to their success as individuals and to be successful in a world that continues to change.

I know there a several people that understand this but there are many that do not!  

Art is fun but art also allows students to enhance their creative capacity, critical thinking skills, innovate, make, problem-solve, express themselves and create!  My focus is not on creating just artists but my main goal is to create students that have an appreciation for the arts, understand the influence culture and the world has on art (vice versa), express themselves, enhance students' mental capacity to solving problems and thinking outside of the box.  Art allows students to take on new media in a variety of ways and interpret themes and ideas in their own way.  They make mistakes, they learn from them, they learn from each other and I facilitate this process by exposing my students to a wide range of ideas/techniques/processes/opportunities, giving my students choices, providing them with the tools necessary to grow and allowing our art studio to be a safe place to explore and experiment.  

With that, I hope that my teaching leads to students that have creative and innovative minds that can easily adapt and work through challenges they may encounter in life as well as have the tools and knowledge needed to express themselves creatively in every environment they encounter.  Whether it is high school and they must collaborate in a group effectively, work on a new idea for their business or within a career they chose.  I want my students to be equipped with a mind that can solve problems and work there way through them...Know how to use technology creatively and as a viable resource.  I am hoping my students acquire the skills to find innovative solutions to issues that exist and that may come in our future.

Overall, Art is essential and has a chance to give children skills that will be beneficial to them in the 21st century!  In my classroom, you will see many opportunities that allow my students to grow in this manner!  In a world that constantly changes, we have to think differently than most.  The use of the 4 C's (creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking) is a great start to making this a reality.  

To all my art teachers and others in the arts! We are making a difference....keep doing what you're doing! I love what I do! 

First Week of School: Art Olympics

The first week of school has come and gone!  It was an amazing 5 days of creativity, collaboration and getting to know each other! I am happy I stumbled upon a fellow art teachers idea (Melissa Purtee) of a game that used predetermined materials to get students creating right away while learning procedures of the classroom!

Students learn best by doing so instead of talking the entire class I gave students a quick slide presentation about myself and a video tour of the classroom! Did I mention I love technology! I used Adobe Spark Video to create a video with my voice and pictures of the classroom.  Anyway back to the project, I put my own spin on the idea and made it into Art Olympics.  It flowed well because my fitness teacher and gym teacher were doing their spin on the Olympics so it just worked out perfectly! Some of the prompts were to make a robot, make a head piece, make sunglasses and a few other ideas. They kids did a great job at it! Check out my twitter page @wy_artislife to see several photos of our first week!

Students in 1st - 4th grades were given a various prompts and they had to create a treasure out of lots of "trash"! This was a great way to teach the students how to collaborate as well as use their critical thinking skills to create art out of items that some may feel is just trash!  It was a great time had by all....myself included!

My Kinder friends learned about where artists get ideas and they created art inspired by their lives! This was fun so I could see the drawing ability of these students and access where they are in order to plan lessons to help them grow as artists!

My leaders of the school, 5th grade, worked together in an effort to create the highest marshmallow and toothpick structure! This was a great lesson in teamwork as well as critical thinking!

It was a great first week! Looking forward to many more fun filled weeks with my artists'!


Choice in the Art Classroom

I am a firm believer in students being in control of their learning and being offered choices.  The 2015-2016 school year I initiated choice within my 1st - 5th grade classes and allowed K more choices in the Spring semester.  I have seen my students grow in a way that has surpassed my expectations for the TAB (Teaching Artistic Behavior) and Choice approach I offered my students this year!  While we still focus on areas that we need to based on the TEKS, my students are growing in a way that will help them think creatively and be innovative! 

My students have grown their critical thinking skills, creativity, communication skills and collaborative efforts with their peers!  I honestly could have cried with happy tears on several occasions when I saw it all click and see my students work as independent artists using their own ideas and learning from their mistakes!

If you think about how school was decades ago you would mainly see a "sit and get" session.  Students lined up in rows with a teacher feeding them knowledge.  In our world today, it is important to change things up and not teach how teachers taught decades ago but to adapt.  This style of teaching is beneficial for teaching 21st century skills to our 21st century students! I also embrace the Studio Habits of Mind.

Plano ISD Visual Art Department is an advocate of Studio Habits of Mind which focuses on Developing Craft, Engage and Persist, Envision, Express, Observe, Reflect, Stretch and Explore and Understand Art Worlds!  The align with our Texas Essential Knowledge Skills as well.

Teachers would often tell me how much students love coming to art and that really meant a lot to me! This supports the greatness of this teaching style as well as my relationship with each of my students.  I work hard to give them a loving and supportive environment that they feel free to take risks, innovate, create, collaborate, make and grow with their artistic/creative endeavors!

In closing, I look forward to this upcoming school year and sharing more blogs with you all as well so you can get a deeper look into our art studio.