Saturday, March 30, 2013

Seems weird not to be doing these...

I get bored easily, so in my years as an elementary art teacher, I would continually try out new ideas with my students, and I liked to introduce the kids to different artists each year. When I repeated a project or idea, I tried to give it a new 'spin'. But there were certain projects I did every year without fail, and never tired of them (I suppose that's like a singer singing the same favorite song in concert after concert, year after year).  They were the projects everyone expected to see, no matter what.

But this year, I am retired, and this time of year, four particular annual projects are on my mind, and are not likely to be in my replacement's repertoire.

Thumbprint Pussywillows!
 *Note: the pussywillow pic at the top of this post was found on facebook, and I apologize that I do not know the source.  But it's so cute I wanted to share it with you!  
Before everything starts to blossom and bloom in the spring, there are the pussywillows! Year after year, in early March, I have slogged around in melting snow to find pussywillows and bring them to school for my kindergartners to see and touch. In years where I couldn't find them outside, I resorted to purchasing them in the floral department of my local supermarkets.  I'd put some on each table, and we would examine how the black seed pods would open and let the little soft silvery pussywillows out.  The kids would color a vase, and maybe a table, on colored construction paper, and draw the stems and seed pods.  Then, with tempera paint (a mix of white with a dab of black and a hint of silver) they would use their little thumbs to stamp the soft fluffs.

Spring Hats!
You may call them Easter bonnets, but this little Jewish art teacher (me) simply called them spring hats, and my kindergartners made them every year before spring break. The materials were paper plates with a hole punched on each side and a ribbon or hunk of fat yarn strung through, colored paper tape, scissors, and moist sponges to activate the glue on the paper tape.  The kids learned how to fold, cut, bend, twist, and curl the tape, and the hats became as crazy as they wanted.  Here's a group of happy kindergartners!

Teddy Bear Chairs! 
The 2nd graders in my school district take an annual springtime field trip to tour the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory,  traveling by ferry across Lake Champlain to get there.  Many of the students purchase a Build-a-Bear while at the factory, plus they all have some sort of stuffed animal friend at home.  So each year, my 2nd grade students built teddy bear chairs, out of 4 toilet paper cores (the legs), 2 paper towel cores (the back supports),  two 7" squares of cardboard from shipping cartons (the seat and the back), and Elmer's Glue-All.  We painted them either with acrylic paints, or tempera covered with a tempera varnish or Mod Podge to seal the paint.  I think my replacement has chosen to make bear beds instead, and I'm sure they will be adorable.  But they won't be the chairs!

Q-Tip Lilacs! 
I have some lilac trees in my backyard.  Every year when they bloomed, I would cut big bunches of them and bring them to my art room, putting a vase full of fragrant flowers on every table.  Ahhh!! Every year, one first grade teacher, upon smelling the flowers, would say this to her little ones: "Do your very best today!  This is my favorite project!  I will hang them all up for Author's Day!"  Then the students would create a vase, a table, stems, and leaves, and finally paint the flowers using Q-Tips with with various tints of violet, lilac, blue, pink, and white.  Over the years, the vase, table, stems and laves were done with various materials: crayon, oil pastel, collage, etc., but the flowers always were exuberantly painted with cotton swabs. 


  1. I remember seeing your teddy bear chairs in years back but didn't recall the Lilacs. They are lovely and I will steal the pussy willow picture you found on face book for sure, tooooooo funny. Thanks for sharing. Just think, with retirement you don't have to schlep matzos to school!

  2. This is a very sweet post...thank you!

    1. Thanks for the kind comment, Alice. Funny how these little projects are often as memorable as some of the big stuff!