Tag Archives: art

Team Building In The Classroom Part 2

25 Mar

HUMAN BINGO

This is a great game for when a group of kids gets together for the first time. We used it during the first week of school so that the students could get a little more comfortable around each other. Each student gets a sheet and a pen, and then has a designated amount of time to get BINGO on their card (You can change the rules to suit your needs and your time restraints, ie. first one to complete a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal row, first one to fill in the entire sheet, or the person who gets the most filled in within the time limit.) The hardest part about this game is making the Bingo sheets, and luckily for you, I’ve already done it for you!! There are 5 different sheets, each one with different questions so that no one can just copy off of someone else. Feel free to change the squares to suit your kids!

Bingo Sheet 1
Bingo Sheet 2
Bingo Sheet 3
Bingo Sheet 4
Bingo Sheet 5

NOSE JOUSTING

An activity that forces participants to be ok with feeling a little silly.

Everyone gets a strip of masking tape approximately 3 inches long. Everyone rolls their tape into a loop, sticky side out (like if you were putting it on the back of a piece of paper to hang up) and sticks it on their nose. When the teacher says “Go!” everyone begins “jousting.” To nose joust is to touch the tip of your nose to another’s, and see who’s tape “grabs” the tape off of the other persons nose. The student who loses their tape in battle places their hands on the shoulders of the winner and creates a train behind them (preferably chanting the name of the winner.) The winner then battles another winner, and whoever loses also joins on the train. The jousting continues until only 2 people remain with huge balls of tape on their nose. They compete in the final joust. This game is fast-paced, as it starts out with many jousts occurring at the same time, and is exciting because as more people join the chain, the chanting gets louder and the anticipation builds. It’s also great because “losers” immediately become part of a potentially winning team.

ALPHABET HANDS AND FEET

Divide students up into teams of five. They will need to play this game with bare feet. Groups can play against each other, or the clock. Use a felt tip (washable) marker and write 3 letters on each student: one on each hand, and one on one foot. Use these letters:

1. TDO
2. HYI
3. EHR
4. BFT
5. OCS

As you call out words from the list below, the group has to spell out the word using their hands and feet. The words must be shown to the teacher, or to another student you designate as a judge.

rest, fist, dice, trot, crib, boot, rich, host, shoot, first, drift, shirt, roost, shred, hired, forest, theory, bitter, bother, frosty, boiled, strict, thirsty, ostrich, october, boosted, shifted, hoisted, stitched

Happy team building, let me know how it goes!

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Going Back To Our Future

22 Mar

There are all kinds of online tests to determine if you are right or left brained. Here is an interesting one that also gives recommendations on how to strengthen your weak hemisphere, and well as offers studying tips for how you learn best. While this is useful information to use with your students, it is also inspiration for a different kind of “left-brain” and “right-brain” comparison.

Who we are is greatly dependent on our past experiences. Our entire lives, leading up until right now, have influenced us and make us completely different than our neighbors, friends, and even family members. Our experiences are stored in our memories and affect future decisions and emotional responses. I like to call this our “Past Brain.”

On the other hand, we also have our “Future Brain.” That’s the side of us that has hopes, dreams, and goals. That’s the side of our brain that, though guided by our past brain, still has the freedom to plan out the next step. The half that allows us to try new things because it has no reference from the past brain telling it that it might be a bad idea. The two halves go hand in hand, and certainly influence each other, but while one might be filled with regrets the other has the ability to live freely.

So I asked my students to consider their past and future selves, and to brainstorm what makes up each side. Most of them, especially with some prompting, were able to list at least a few things that had great influence on them (both good and bad.) The future side was surprisingly more difficult, especially when I pressed them to try to be positive. Most of them saw little difference in where they had come from vs. where they were going. They clearly assumed that the rest of their lives, no matter how long or short, were going to continue on the same path that had gotten them in trouble and landed them there with me. That was saddening to me, especially since it was relatively easy for me to fill up my future side with new ideas and expectations. We ended up having a heart to heart about how YOU make your future, and only YOU can make it different from your past. Once they started allowing their future brains to separate from their past brains, they began to dream. And hope. And imagine things that their past brains believed only happened to other people.

Get the full lesson plan here!!
Get the brainstorming sheet here!!

DCF Can Provide, But Only You Can Provide For Your Heart.

18 Mar

One of my kids is a father. Jarell is 18, and has a one year old son. Jarell’s also a DCF kid. He lives in a group home and gets money from DCF. They will help him out until he’s 21…as long as he stays in school and lives up to his end of the deal: no trouble with the law, get passing grades in school, go to school, etc. etc. At first, these sound like simple requests…but some of these things are harder for Jarell than you might think. Most of the kids at my school can walk there, no problem. If they miss the bus, no big deal, school is a ten minute walk away. But Jarell, because he lives in a group home, lives in the next town over. And on the other side of it. That was the only placement they could give him. So the school tells him they can’t provide him transportation, so he’ll need to take the city bus. Both ways. And pay for it. That went on for a few months until someone finally questioned why his attendance was so poor. Could his commute possibly be the reason? Now a van goes and picks him up. But it’s too late for his grades, because he’s already missed too much class to make up the work. Was it his fault? When DCF comes and looks at his grades and attendance and tells him that he’s not holding up his end of the deal, is it wrong of him to get upset and walk out? I don’t know about you, but when I was 18, I had friends whose parents bought them nice little cars to drive around as they pleased. And those friends came and picked me up for school in the morning and dropped me off at the end of the day. And if they couldn’t, the worst case scenario was that I might have to take the school bus. Until I graduated and went off to the college that I was already accepted to that my parents were going to pay for, no worries. Kind of a different world, right?

So on the days that this kid makes it to school, he comes and sees me. There’s no time in his schedule for an art class, he’s got enough academic classes that he needs to squeeze in. But on occasion my classes will be doing a project that he loves, and he asks if he can make one too. Then, if he’s in a class and finishes his work for the day, he asks to come down to the art room to work on his project. The last, and most memorable one that he completed was a 3-D sculpture project. The assignment was to turn someone’s initials into a 3-D tribute. So Jarell chose his son. For the past three months, Jarell has worked diligently (well, as diligently as possible given the circumstances) on a project that would normally take a week or two. It is the most successful example of the project that I’ve seen…it’s better than the example I made to show the class. I never would have thought that this kid, with everything else going on in his life, would think that my little 3-D project was so important. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him stick with anything for so long in the three years that I’ve known him. But I know that every time I assign this project again, I’ll always be thinking of Jarell: up to his elbows in paper mache and masking tape, wanting to honor his son in any way he can. And I got to be a part of that.

Get the full lesson plan here!

Get the Rubric here!

Teachers Wear Masks…Remember “Miss Nelson Is Missing”???

17 Mar


Everyone has professional development days. Those days where every school in the state has professional development, and while the kids yell “We have no school on Tuesday!!” the teachers groan and mutter to each other that this professional development better be more interesting than the last one, where we learned about a great online curriculum…except our classrooms don’t have computers. See, unfortunately, because our school is not a public school, we’re usually left out in the cold when it comes to professional development. Usually, the principal tries to bring in someone interesting, and if no one is available, we come up with something “important” ourselves, which usually turns into a complaint session with no solutions. After sitting through countless numbers of these sessions, I asked the principal if I could have a few hours during the next session to do a little art lesson with the teachers. I explained that it would be a good way to get everyone to open up a little, have fun, and at the same time see how art (and the art teacher!) can be used for so much more than making pretty bulletin boards.

So I prepared a mask lesson that would require each teacher to make an animal mask embodying characteristics that also applied to themselves. I wheeled out a cart that was loaded with supplies, and after completing a short brainstorm session, everybody got to work. It was really enlightening to teach my co-workers, and even more so to see how clearly their personalities and styles came out in their mask. One teacher finished in about ten minutes, even though he knew he had 45. He quickly cut, added some pipe cleaner whiskers, and called it a fox. At the other end of the spectrum, another teacher used every material available in every possible color, and created the most imaginative, beautiful creature that never existed. If anyone was paying attention, it was utterly obvious through the expression of these masks what it would be like to sit in each teacher’s classroom for a day and be taught by them.

The best part of the activity was the wrap-up. I had everyone view each mask, and write on a piece of paper adjectives and descriptive phrases that they felt it conveyed. When everyone read the descriptions of their own mask, they were surprised how other people’s interpretations were different than what they originally intended to express. What does this say about the messages they’re sending to their students without even knowing it? They say teachers have to wear many different hats, but I think it might be the “masks” that we wear when we’re teaching that have the biggest effect on our students.

Get the full lesson plan here!!
Get the worksheet here!!

There’s a Wocket in My Pocket

16 Mar

I was a pretty imaginative kid. When shopping with my mom, I pretended everything I touched I got to keep; as though there was a storage unit somewhere being filled up, and my fingertips were my price gun. I imagined that the swing set in my backyard was a rocket ship that could transport me anywhere in the world. I imagined that my breakfast cereal was alive. Each little Cheerio was a teeny tiny being that couldn’t swim…but as long as there were enough banana-rafts to go around, they would all be OK. Sometimes my imagination would get carried away. And sometimes, when I look at my elementary kids, I wonder where their imaginations have gone.

I have to be careful when I assign projects to the little ones. If they hear each others’ ideas, or if they catch a glimpse of another’s paper, they end up all making the same thing. Everyone’s robot will have laser eyes. Everyone’s dream house will have a gold roof and a front door made of chocolate. Not that these aren’t very imaginative ideas, but it’s like there is only room for one idea in their little heads, and once it gets in there, they can’t come up with their own.

That’s why I love the book “There’s a Wocket in My Pocket” by Dr. Seuss. The little boy in the story imagines that there are creatures all over his house, and they are constantly doing crazy things. I read this book to my kids, and then had them create their own Wocket. For the first time, I didn’t have to encourage them to be more imaginative. They did it on their own! By giving them colored scraps of paper and little other instruction, they were able to create the most amazing, unique creatures. Plus, I think they just like saying “Wocket.”

Get the full lesson plan here!

If the World Was a Village…

15 Mar

Many of you have probably seen the “If the World Was a Village of 100 People” statistics. I’ve always found them very interesting, and they really put things in perspective in a straightforward way. Plus, my kids could always use an eye-opening lesson in acceptance and appreciation. So I made a bulletin board. If I do say so myself, it is one of the best bulletin boards I’ve ever made. All of the pieces are hand-made from decorative paper. It was the longest lasting bulletin board in the history of my school, a place where things get ripped off the walls on a day-to-day basis. If you have the time, I highly recommend using this as inspiration for a board of your own.

The Single Most Important Tool a Teacher Can Have

12 Mar

My college roommate took an education course for which the professor had one main objective: that each student in her class would not pass until they had made a yarnball. She hailed the yarnball as the single most important tool a teacher could have. My roommate, who was not very crafty and even less coordinated, claimed the professor was crazy and cursed her throughout the entire process. She looked like a kitten in a yarn store, tangled in a wooly web for days on end. I haven’t talked to my old roommate in years, but if I did I would tell her how right her professor was. I love my yarnball.

I use my yarnball for all sorts of things. Sometimes I do team building exercises with the kids at the beginning of class, and the yarnball is the perfect tool. When I’m calling on students for answers, I’ll toss them the yarnball. They’ll know it’s their turn, and then they’ll toss it to the next person. Sometimes we use it just for fun, for Silent Ball or other games. Sometimes I use it as a reward, if a student is doing really well and wants to hang on to the yarnball for the period. I’ve even tossed it at a kid when I knew he wasn’t paying attention…

Make a yarnball. You’ll figure out how to use it. Here’s the instructions.
**Your yarnball will come out the best if you COMPLETELY FILL the center hole with yarn…don’t just do a layer or two.