Inspiring children one color at a time

The Organized Art Teacher: Trying New Things

By on Dec 30, 2011 | 6 comments

In the series, The Organized Art Teacher, I will offer creative ways to start the year off with an organized mindset. Ever wondered how other art teachers store their old lesson plans and samples? What about creating a balanced art curriculum or how to track what each class created? And what about inside the art room…what’s the best way to plan a theme-based art unit? This series will show you how starting with how to organize and store your art lessons and then how to manage lesson planning. Today, it’s all about moving outside your comfort zone!

Sometimes part of being a successful organized individual, is letting go once in a while. If everything we do is controlled and expected, then where’s the fun? We all love making things easier on ourselves, which is why striving for organization is so appealing, but what about our creative side? In the third part of the series, The Organized Art Teacher, I’ll explore the art of trying new things!

I love discovering an art concept, subject or technique that I haven’t tried before. After teaching art for eight years, I know I have a Patty-specific art style. I’m drawn to like-minded art teachers, I tend to follow blogs that are similar to mine and tend to do art lessons that I know will work. I know this not because of any scientific formula but because it’s what I’ve done a hundred times before.  Sound familiar? This year I’m stretching myself. Via my trusty Google Reader, I have “starred” some of my favorite, but in some ways difficult for me, and vowed to give them a try.

Here is a list of my “reach” lessons:

  1. Clay Chess Set from Art for Small Hands: I don’t know how she does it, but Julie sure does create beautiful art in her classroom. She is very detailed in her instructions which makes this project seem intimidating, but I know I can do it! Everyone is always looking for a unique classroom auction project and I think this might be the best I’ve seen. This is my ultimate ceramic project.
  2. Line Drawing with Shading from Art with Mr. E and Teach Kids Art. I tend to shy away from colored pencil art projects because they always seem a bit flat to me, but this lesson is so good on so many levels. Kids really gravitate to the science of lines and I can see how this would have a huge likeability factor in the art room.
  3. One Point Perspective by Smart Class. I’m a total failure at perspective. I tried it during my first year of teaching and had such a revolt of frustration on my hands I vowed I would never try perspective again. I saw a museum/framed art lesson on someone’s blog last year and I thought, “Now, that looks easy enough.” But it wasn’t. It was one of the hardest lessons I ever tried. But this one? Brilliant!!!! I LOVE it. I am going to try it soon. Can’t wait, actually! Thanks, Natalie!
  4. Laurel Burch Inspired Cats by VK Bowerman. I love this. I’ve never done a Laurel Burch Inspired lesson quite like this one. Oh, the color! The pattern! Since there are no instruction, I’m going to have to study the samples to figure out the steps. When I do, I’ll post.
  5. Roberto the Architect art lesson by B an Artist. I’ve done a few architecture lessons so I know how popular they are. I’ve done castles, barns and victorian homes. This lesson (by a gal on one of my Flickr groups) has an excellent project based on a cute picture book, Roberto the Artist. Like the Laurel Burch cats, this lesson doesn’t have instructions, but I sure do like how they all turned out; whimsical, detailed and unique to each artist.
On a fun note, I just had to point out a few favorite art lessons that I really think ressonated with many, many art teachers. They aren’t mine, but I’ve seen them copied, pinned and oggled.

Here is my list of most intriguing art lessons off 2011:

  1. Swimming Self-Portraits from Use Your Coloured Pencils Such a great perspective for a school portrait and what a great way to kick off a school year!
  2. Salvador Dali Elephants from Smart Class I think the appeal with this lesson came from the fact that no one had ever done a good Salvador Dali art lesson. Not the easiest artist to copy!
  3. Collage Chickens by Clemence G These are just pure sweetness and love. The photography is brilliant as well, which is why I absolutely adore this site.
  4. Claude Monet Art Lesson by The Crafty Classroom This lesson had many of us smacking the sides of our heads. What a perfect “water lily” lesson for the little ones.
Fauve Fauve’s by Grade 3 by There’s a Dragon in My Art Room I love Phyl’s post on the Fauves.It was inspirational, colorful and explained the period really well. Love this lesson.
Is there an art project that you want to try this year? What is your comfort zone? What do you shy away from? I hope this is the year you will try one thing that you have never tried before. And if it fails, no problem. Afterall, it’s all about the process of creating art.
Missed part one and two?


  1. Thank You so much for featuring The Crafty Classroom! I can’t wait to explore some more of your blog!




    December 30, 2011

  2. Hi Patty, thanks for posting my “fauve fauves”. It was a favorite of mine too!

    You mentioned Laurel Burch, who I ADORE, and I’m about to embark, in a week or 2, on a Laurel Burch papier-mache cat project with my 5th graders, and possibly some other Laurel Burch stuff too, so stay tuned!

    Meanwhile, you also mentioned Dali, and I posted my favorite Dali project here:

    But I also have some other really cool Dali projects, some that I posted and one that I didn’t. I posted my 3rd graders “Salvador Deli”, where they each designed a piece of surreal food, and we displayed them like a deli counter. Lots of fun. And I posted our dripping clocks, which was a lesson I found first on another blog.

    ut I don’t think I ever posted my 6th graders’ beautiful surreal lockers, which is a great project. I cut paper in the right size to fold vertically and look proportional to the dimensions of a hall locker. Our students have cubbies, but when they get to the 7th grade they get a locker and it’s very exciting for them. So we made our surreal lockers in the spring, in anticipation of 7th grade. I gave them some specific ground rules/guidelines – we looked at the construction of the locker and lock, and how and where the shelf was inside, and then they went to town. Some went very traditional on the outside, but oh what was inside the locker! Others had touches of surrealism sneaking out the vents and the locks to the front. The kids had lots of creative ideas about what could be inside a surreal locker. First of course we reviewed the ground rules for surrealism – juxtaposing objects not usually together, putting objects in places they don’t belong, altering objects in a variety of ways, including size, etc. So putting a giant eyeball next to a soccer ball in the locker would be perfect. What would hang on the coat hook? What could be on the shelf? So much fun!!! We did it all with drawing and colored pencils, but another alternative would be drawing and then collaging in the surreal elements.

    Thanks for sharing all those great lessons (love the swimming pool portraits the best I think) and have a Happy New Year!


    December 30, 2011

  3. Thanks for linking to my blog and for sharing those other great ideas, too! New ideas keep teaching fresh and fun… what a wonderful community of Art teachers we have! I hadn’t seen some of those lessons before, so I’ll definitely be checking them out! Thanks again and Happy New Year, Patty!!

    Cheryl Trowbridge

    December 30, 2011

  4. First of all Patty, I would like to say thank you for such a wonderful site! I love browsing around all of the neatly organized lessons and trying new things I see. It’s also one of my go-to pages for new lesson ideas when I need to do something different. My class just finished a lesson like the “Line drawing and shading” lesson you linked from Mr. E, however I stumbled upon it on Artsonia. I also found that Mrs. Brown has a great PowerPoint created for it on her site: if you are interested. I am loving how the projects are looking, although there was a moment of panic when we ran out of pencil sharpeners (too long a story for here, but pretty funny!) just in time for my new color sticks to come in (YAY NO MORE COLORED PENCIL SHARPENING!). The only real obstacle we had was a few students had problems making their “bunny hops” as we called them below the line, until one student realized we could just flip them 180 degrees and do the hops the same as we did on the top! I wish you luck with this lesson, and keep us updated on how the others go!


    January 8, 2012

  5. Love love love the little farmers chess set….love your ideas and website.
    thanks to infinity and beyond.


    January 20, 2012

  6. Thanks for sharing your secrets to success! Now I have some new lessons to get me excited about this year!


    September 4, 2012


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