Thursday, October 7, 2010


Tonight was Open House in my school. It's great seeing all the kids proudly showing off their school to their families. By the end of the evening, I had four pages of college-rule notebook paper filled with the names of attendees in my room - YOWZERS! Every year, I'm blown away by the interest shown in my art program. Thanks for attending, moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, and other family members. Your support means so much to me and your kids.

And something extraordinary I noticed this year. I've been teaching a VERY long time, 34 years, 25 of them in my current district. And tonight, easily 1/2 the parents I saw were former students of mine. How did this happen when I wasn't looking? Where did the years go? And why haven't I gotten tired of it yet?

Maybe it stays fresh because of days like today. Yesterday I posted photos of my still life. Today, the 4th graders dove in. I showed them how to "squint up one eye like a pirate" to use viewfinders to zoom in and compose their still life, and each child did several thumbnails. Then, we jumped into 18x24" paper, enlarging a favorite composition. Kids were everywhere, spread out working on tables and the floor, and the first class suddenly and spontaneously burst into song, particularly those songs they've been learning in chorus. First it was a song from The Lion King, and next was Don't Stop Believing. I felt like I had entered an elementary school version of Glee. I hated to tell them when it was time to clean up, as there was such joy in the air.

The next class was funny too. There were yardsticks out, and one boy put viewfinders on the ends of a yardstick and pretended to be lifting weights. Another held a yardstick up with a viewfinder at the top, making like the Statue of Liberty. I ran for the camera and they hammed it up while drawing. I'm not posting the pictures because I prefer not to show my students, but gotta tell you, they were glowing.

And they were doing a good job on their still life drawings too. I had told them that I had already taken photos of the still life, and I didn't need any more, so their drawings did NOT have to look like photos because I wanted each painting to be different, their own creation. And NOBODY complained, or said it was hard, even though it is. They didn't want art class to end.

And then there were the 3rd graders. They looked at Matisse paintings and chose words to describe. They decided the paintings were colorful, cheerful, lively, and patterned. Then suddenly they started coming up with "f" words to describe what they saw: flowers, foliage, fish, furniture, fruit, feathers (on a hat), females, flower pot, fishbowl. Plus fancy, fantastic, and of course fauve! After teaching that fauve means wild beasts, I wanted to move into a drawing/painting project. So I had planned to use an Elmo to project my son's safari photo for reference for drawing zebras, elephants, leopards, rhinos, cheetah, buffalo, giraffes, and more to start. But true to form, Elmo wasn't in the mood. If you use an Elmo, you know what I mean. You can't get it set up ahead of time, because it goes to sleep and refuses to properly wake up. Which means you have to hope it works right when you want it. And today, when I logged on, it refused to project from the computer no matter what I did. I couldn't leave the kids twiddling their fingers while I fought with technology, so I gave up and we spent some time inventing wild beasts with pencils on drawing paper. Hopefully I can find a way to get Elmo to work next time, but luckily the kids didn't know what had been planned, and they were able to create fun silly drawings of wild beasts.

I guess this is why I'm still teaching!


  1. Sounds like a wonderful day. Congratulations on all those productive years of teaching. Just think how many children you've inspired to be creative.

  2. Those are the days that keep you motivated. I love day where I leave with a smile on my face.

  3. You are the best! Parents must not be able to leave the school till they come see you at open house. Love a good energy day. A great day makes me want to skip out of school with care bears look up at the rainbows and watch the unicorns fly by while eating skittles! :))))) Great days are that special and few between.

  4. Erica, that sounds great! Except it should be m&m's to eat, and dragons flying by, and if I was a good whistler I'd be whistling. Just my personal bias!! :-)
    Today another group heard about all the "f" words, and started in with "p" words: patterns, polka dots, pots for flowers, pink, purple, pretty things, plants, people, etc. YOu get the idea!