Monthly Archives: October 2013

Art For Students Who Can’t Draw (Guest Blog Post)

I am so excited about this guest blog post. Claire Hodgson has some simple, practical ideas for including art into our classrooms (even for those of us who may not be Picasso)! Thanks again Claire, for your fantastic post!
Art lessons can be a chance for everyone to have some fun in the classroom and show what they can do, but only if you ensure that every child feels able to create something, regardless of how much natural artistic talent they may have. When you are coming up with lesson plans, you should consider how you could provide art projects that don’t just inspire the most creative students.

Coming Up With Ideas

Some children struggle with art because they find it hard to come up with new, creative ideas. They look at a blank piece of paper, and all they can see is a blank piece of paper. Finding new ways to help these kids to unlock their creativity can ensure that they get to enjoy art class as much as everyone else. One of the reasons why art is so important in education is that it encourages students to express themselves and to come up with their own ideas. Giving the less artistic kids a little nudge of inspiration can help them all to become more inventive and imaginative. It can be particularly rewarding if you need to reach out to students with additional needs. Children who have ADHD or who are on the autistic spectrum can often surprise you with their dedication and creativity when you find the right subject or material for them to work with in an art lesson. The easiest way to make sure everyone can come up with a good idea is to plan a more directed art lesson, where you offer a particular source of inspiration or starting point for the class to work from, but you can also encourage more experimental creativity by helping your students to look at the world differently.

A good source of artistic ideas can come from linking your art class with a book that the kids have been reading, which can be a perfect opportunity to link in to the core curriculum for literacy, particularly when it comes to finding evidence in the text and understanding figurative language. Try getting them to draw a picture of a character or location from the story, thinking about what visual clues are provided by the book, and how much is left to the imagination, or ask them to draw both literal and figurative versions of things that have been described metaphorically.

A different way to inspire creativity is to encourage the children to find a new way of looking at the world. There are endless ways you can do this, but it can be as simple as getting your students to find a new perspective from which to look at the world, by turning upside down, looking at objects close up or through a mirror, or cutting out and decorating a picture frame that they can use to compose their pictures of a landscape or still life. If you thread string into a grid pattern across the frame, they can even use this as a tool to help them keep their drawing to scale. The grid technique can even tie in with math lessons and the core standards for understanding scale drawings, since it can be used to copy and resize pictures.

Techniques for the Less Artistic

Another issue for some children is that they simply lack the technical skill of some of their more naturally artistic peers, which can really damage their confidence. Introducing a variety of techniques can ensure that everyone gets the chance to express themselves, and it can also make teaching art easier for you, since you won’t have to be particularly artistic to demonstrate them.

1. Photography: taking photos can be the perfect way to allow kids who are less skilled with paints and pencils to learn about composition. If you can get your hands on a cheap, kid-friendly camera, this can also be a great homework or vacation assignment that you can use to get an insight into what is most important to each child. Ask them to come back with five or ten photos of people, places or objects that matter to them.

2. Computer Art: kids who might not come across as particularly artistic in more traditional art lessons can often be the ones who have the best computer skills. Allowing them to show you what they can do with computer drawing and painting tools can give them a big confidence boost.

Digital Art

3. Comic Book Art: a lot of artists start by copying other people’s work, and comic book art and cartoons use bold lines and bright colors, which can be easy for kids to copy and use to create their own stories.

4. Collage: this is the best medium for ensuring that every child gets the chance to do something creative, since it requires willingness to experiment more than technical skill, and it can make a great collaborative art project. You can provide a variety of materials yourself, but it can also be interesting to see what the kids will bring in if you let them collect extra material at home. Encouraging them to see everything as a potential piece of art can generate some really surprising effects.

5. Mosaics and Pointillism: if you want a slightly less messy lesson than collage making, then you might want to look at Roman mosaics or pointillism. This is an art history lesson that can easily merge into a practical art class. You can prepare plenty of little squares or circles of colored paper, like the remnants left over by a hole-punch, or get the kids to tear off tiny pieces for themselves, to glue down to create their own mosaics or dot pictures.

Paper Mosaic  
Claire Hodgson: After a decade in graphic design, Claire decided to combine her passion for writing and her family by being a full-time mother and freelance writer. On a more personal note, she says she also loves to take her English setters for long walks.

Halloween Freebie: Point of View Improv Cards

Here’s a fun little freebie for your grade 5-7 Language Arts class –12 Point Of View cards with a Halloween theme. Students take a card and play out the scenario  from the unique point of view. I’ve included a werewolf husband keeping his secret from his wife, a witch who is scared of heights, a pumpkin about to be carved – even a shiny red apple in a bowl of Halloween treats, just waiting to be chosen. It’s all in good fun and to spark some creativity in students’ writing. In the download there are also suggestions for a couple of different ways to use the cards and some simple extension ideas.

Halloween Freebie Point of View Cards



Blurt – A Fun Vocabulary Game

I love word games and I love having lots of different games available to my students to play upon occasion  – free time, indoor days, with guest teachers or as word work in Language Arts class.  I received a new word game this summer “Blurt” that I was really excited to try with my students. We had a little bit of extra time in one of our Language Arts classes last week and I thought it would be a perfect time to try it out.

Blurt is a board game for 3 to 12 people and is basically a vocabulary building game. One of the big selling features for me, was that so many people could play – works great for the classroom. The version that I have, is really for two age levels; 7-9 years and 10+ (it depends on which side of the cards you use).  The game includes over 300 clues and is extremely easy to play as a large group or even a whole class.

Blurt Board game

Blurt – A Vocabulary Building Game

Here’s how I used it!

I left the board and pieces out and just used the cards, to play with the whole class. I created teams and chose words from the vocabulary cards that I felt would be the appropriate difficulty level for my students (not too easy or too hard). So, I read out a definition and then the fun part! Students get to blurt! Both sides blurt out answers until one side says the correct answer. They loved it! Of course, the only difficult part was knowing which side had actually blurted first. In the case of a tie or discrepancy, we rolled the die and the highest roller scored the point for their team. Then two other teams would compete.

 When I asked the students how they enjoyed the game, they were all very positive in their responses (maybe it was just the fact that I was letting them play a game and shout…hmmm….).

Ideas for use in an ELA class:

-Use vocabulary words from the game to build short word work activities (using the root word, prefixes, suffixes etc.)

-Use Blurt words to create a word wall, adding a couple of new words to the wall each time you play

-Choose one or more new vocabulary words from the game and use it as a word of the week – students gaining credit/class cash for using the word correctly in context.

-Have students make up their own definitions/vocabulary words to add to the game

Square Up - A visual thinking game

Square Up: A Visual-Thinking Game

There are lots of possibilities!

So where did I get this great little game? A really amazing site called SmileMakers. The site actually applies to various occupations, but has tons of goodies for teachers. They have  little prizes, incentives, certificates, pencils, stickers, awards, holiday themed goodies, books and other teacher resources, anti-bullying resources and lots of other great stuff! You can search by occupation, grade or subject level.  That’s where I found out that they have a whole Middle School section with games, activities and prizes! I have a wish list going of items that I plan to get from them in the future. My next buy will be a visual-thinking game called Square Up – I know my class would love it and it would be perfect for a pair of early finishers to play together. They also have something called “Teacher Perks“. If you sign up for Teacher Perks at checkout (it’s free to join) orders over $75 receive FREE shipping and orders under $75 are a flat rate of $7.99. Okay, that’s all for now. I know that the last thing you probably need is yet another awesome teacher site to go spend your hard earned money – but it’s a REALLY good one and so I had to share!

 DO you have any really good board games that you use in the classroom OR teacher sites that we MUST know about? Please share!


**Also, thank you to everyone who voted for my school and entered my giveaway. The winner was Kelly Brown. Your support helped us to finish FIRST in round one and has advanced us to the semi-final round which will be in December. We’re that much closer to winning the funds for a new inclusive playground for our deserving students. For that, I thank you. Also, we’ll need your help again in December to make it into the finals. STay tuned…**

We’re Winning And You Could Too! Did Someone Say Giveaway?

Thank you SO much for your support so far with the competition that my school is in to fund an inclusive playground for our students! We appreciate it more than you know! As a thank you, I’m hosting a little giveaway over the next few days!

We are currently in FIRST and we want to stay there! If you can spare a minute or two of your time – please support us through your votes, shares, tweets, likes or pins! Basically just get us out there on your social media networks! You can vote every day and so feel free to enter my little giveaway every day as well! Also, share this blog post with your friends, so that they have a chance to win a little something too!

Probably should mention the prizes! Someone will be winning a $25 Amazon gift card and a $25 shopping spree in my TPT store! Not too shabby for a little random act of kindness!

Thanks so much for your support – let’s work together to get these kids a safe, fun, wheelchair accessible place to play!


 current playground

a Rafflecopter giveaway