Monday, May 23, 2016

Tipi Tri-rama

I have been making quite a few of these lately.  Now the tipi is an old project of mine but I realized I hadn't posted how to make the background.

This tri-rama has many uses or as a teacher told me this week, "This is a game changer".

Here are student examples from this week.


- tipi, use this post of mine to guide you
- file folder letter sized
- ruler and scissors
- oil pastels
- disk tempera paint
- white glue
- some moss and pebbles
- modelling clay in yellow. orange, and red


I like to use file folders for these tri-ramas but you could also use manila tag or pasteboard.

Using a ruler draw a line down the tab on the right side when the folder is open.

Cut along the line cutting the tab off.

Inside the folder there is a box, using the bottom of this box draw a line.

Essentially we are making a square so if your folder does not have a box just measure until you a square.

Fold 1 corner across to another corner.

Do the same with the opposite corners so it looks like this.

Choose one corner, (only 1) and cut to the centre.

This enables the bottom sections to overlap and form your tri-rama.

But before we put it together we want to complete our background.

The students drew their backgrounds first in pencil and then went over those pencil lines with oil pastels.

On one of the bottom flaps we made marks to look like grass.

We then painted with disk tempera.

This is mine fully painted.  You only need to do one section on the bottom.

Before I glue I re do those folds so my sides will stand up nice and straight.

Spread some glue on the unpainted flap.

Fold the painted flap over top the one with the glue and press down to seal them together.

We glued in some moss.

Glued a ring of pebbles for a fire pit,

and a bit of modelling clay for the fire.

Add your tipi and you have a great little tri-rama.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

S is for Starfish

This is a recent project I did with 2 kindergarten classes to go with their Ocean unit.

They even made it into the display case.

Sorry for the quality of these photos but the lighting in the display case is challenging.


- substrate (base), we used 9"x12" primed canvas from Michaels
- acrylic paint in turquoise, white, red, orange, yellow, and brown.  You could use liquid tempera but we sealed ours with Mod Podge and we needed it to be permanent.
- paper 
- sand
- a few shells
- glue
- printed text from computer "S is for Starfish".  You could also use stamps.
- unsharpened pencil
- little cup, cork, cut up pool noodle
- sponge
- painter's tape


I taped off each canvas where I wanted the shoreline to be.  The tape gives the kinder a visual stopping point.

Using turquoise acrylic paint we painted the top portion blue to be our ocean.  We took care to paint the top edge and sides of the canvas down to the tape.

Set aside to dry.

I gave each student a piece of paper (8"x8").

They had a choice of red, orange or yellow paint.  They painted the entire paper one colour.

I then gave them little cups, a cut piece of pool noodle and a cork.  Using the 2 colours they did not choose they stamped on some patterns.  Set aside to dry.

 Back to the canvas.  When the paint had dried I pulled the tape off and then re positioned it to sit on the blue, right on the line.

I added some white paint to the brown paint to make a tan colour.  The students then painted in the sand taking care to paint the bottom edge and sides.

When the sand paint was dry we removed the tape.

I gave each student a small piece of damp sponge and we sponged on some white paint along the line to be our foam.

We glues some real sand onto our painted sand as well as a few shells.

I made up some templates of starfish for the kids to trace.  Normally I don't use templates but with kinders you need to give them that guideline.

We traced on the back of our painted papers and cut our starfish out.

I printed off "s is for starfish" and painted some red, some orange, and some yellow.

I used disk tempera.

We glued the starfish on our canvas. Using some white acrylic paint and an unsharpened pencil we made a dot outline on the starfish.

We then cut out the words and glued them to our canvas.

When the paint is dry you can add a coat of Mod Podge to seal.

That's it.  They look great in the display case and I suspect a lot of them will get hung up in bathrooms when they go home with the kids.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Clay Crest

Last month Grade 4 constructed the Alberta provincial crest out of clay.

The students did a terrific job and they were quite proud of them.  Great tie in with social studies.

Now you could adapt this to fit whatever province you are in.


- 1 box of low fire clay, buffstone or white for each class
- fabric mats, optional (if you work a lot with clay this are handy to have)
- rolling pin
- wooden skewer, penny nail
- small cup of water
- reference photos of the crest
- glazes or acrylic paint depending on what finish you want


I pre roll all the slabs for the class.
Cut a 1inch thick slice off the clay block, place on your fabric mat and roll to about 3/4's of an inch even thickness.

I will place these on a garbage bag that I have cut open, (down 1 side and across the bottom. I usually have mine on a cart as I'm moving from room to room.  I can get 6 or 8 on the top of the cart.  I then fold over the end of the garbage bag to cover the slabs and put another layer on top.

I will pre roll all I need for a morning or afternoon and the plastic garbage bag keeps the clay soft.

In the classroom each student gets a mat, a wooden skewer, a nail, and they share a small cup of water (every 2 kids).

We look at our reference material, I draw out the shape of the crest on the board and then I get them to first trace the shape using their finger onto the slab.

I like to check them before they cut to ensure the size is large enough and that the shape is good.
If they need to trace it out again just rub a little water on the surface to smooth out the 1st attempt.

Using the nail cut out the shape.

I get them to dip their finger in water and smooth the edges.

Using the skewer we lightly divide our shape into 3 sections.

I stress lightly as we don't want to cut our shape, it's just a line on the surface of the clay.

I asked them to make the middle section the largest as we have a lot to fit in there.

We start at the top of the design and work our way down.

For the cross we cut a long strip. I remind them that we use the nail for cutting and the stick for scratching.

By now they are very used to my 'scratch, scratch, water, water' chant but we say out loud a few times to remind everyone.

To attach the strip we make surface scratches (scoring) both on the crest and the strip. (scratch, scratch)

We then dip our finger in the water and rub a little on the scratches. (water,water)

I tell the kids you then get the scratches to kiss and that is how we glue one piece of clay to another.

The kiss analogy works great, they never forget it.

Cut 2 little strips for the rest of the cross.

Continue working through the sections using the 'scratch, scratch, water, water' method to add your pieces.

With the mountains you can make it all in one piece or indvidual ones.

For the wheat stalks I showed them 2 methods.

- cut a strip and scratch on the kernels or
- form each kernel seperately and add or
do both.

When finished we gently turned over in our hands ( a partner can help) and scratch our name and year onto the bottom.

Set clay crests aside somewhere on paper towels to dry out undisturbed.
I tend to use the tops of the bookcases in the library.
Depending on your climate the clay will dry out in 1-2 weeks.  To check hold it up to your cheek. I find clay is always a bit cold even when dry but if it feels damp give it more time.

Do the bisque fire when dry.  You can then paint using clay glazes (I love Mayco Stroke and Coat) or acrylic paint.

If you choose glaze it will need to be fired a second time.

Great job Grade 4!


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Valentine Printmaking Project

Valentine #1

This is a Valentine printmaking project I have planned with grade 5.

The main focus is teaching them how to create their own stamps with craft foam.

Valentine #2

Here is a second version.


- watercolour or disk tempera paint
- heavy paper or wc paper
- sticky backed craft foam
- scraps of corrugated cardboard
- black acrylic or tempera paint
- coloured pencils, china markers, sharpies
- alphabet stamps, glitter gems, optional

Using watercolour or disk tempera paint your background.

Here I'm using disk tempera and this resulted in Valentine #2.

I used watercolour paint and a little kosher salt to create the background for Valentine#1.

Set aside to dry.

Now we can work on our stamps.

Gather your materials, we need some scraps of cardboard for the base of the stamp and some craft foam.  I like the sticky back.

There are 2 ways to make a stamp with craft foam:

1st Way:
Cut the cardboard into the shape of the stamp. I then cut strips of craft foam and apply to cardboard to outline the shape. You can also cut shapes to be added like the inner heart for this stamp.

2nd Way:
Cut your cardboard shape, then trace around it on the craft foam.  Cut the shape out of craft foam.

You then use a blunt pencil and draw designs into the craft foam shape.  Push hard enough that you can feel the design marks with your fingertip when you touch the foam.

Here is a good tip I got from Traci Bautista.  Use small pieces of craft foam on the back of the cardboard to make a handle.  I use the parts where the product sticker is, I normally just throw those ones away.  You can also use the leftover little pieces from cutting out a stamp.
Use 2 layers and you'll have a good handle.

Using a paintbrush brush some acrylic or tempera paint onto the stamp.  This gives you more control than stamping into a plate of paint to load.

I always have practice paper nearby when doing a printmaking or stamping project.

Here you can see then difference between the 2 types of stamps. 

Have the kids practice working with the stamps.  Sometimes the ghost print or the 2nd ghost print turns out to be the best.

Ghost Print = the second print from a stamp without applying more paint.

When they are confident apply the stamp to your dry background.

Now you might want to just stop there but I like to take it further.

Ensure your print/stamp is dry.  I use a hair dryer to speed things up a bit.

I added some coloured pencil, some china markers, and some sharpie.

I also used a little white and silver paint that I dipped the end of a pencil into and stamped on some accents. (see finished photo)

I painted some scrap paper.

I then stamped on some letters and added these to the Valentine.

You can also add a few sticky gems.

You could also print off some text from the computer to add.

Pair it with a Valentine poem and you have a great Valentine the kids can make for Mom and Dad.