Sunday, April 29, 2012

How to Lesson & Freebie: Two Point Perspective Drawing

Drawing in perspective is a concept that seems to capture the attention of even the most hard to reach student. Perspective drawing is a technique that can make drawings look realistic and very three dimensional, something that many students feel is out of reach and past their ability level. So, when I tell my students that they can learn to draw in perspective if they know how to draw straight lines with a ruler, they look at me like I am the one not thinking straight. However, once I have shown them the basics and taught them the rules they are amazed at their own drawings, which is a great delight to me.

Perspective drawing is not only something for art class, however. It's a technique you can incorporate into other subject areas as well, such as history and math.

Historically perspective drawing became popular during the Renaissance when many artists such as Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci used this technique in their drawings and paintings. Even The Last Supper uses perspective. Learning a bit of perspective drawing in history class would be a natural fit.

Math is also used in perspective drawing. Students have to use parallel lines while drawing, drawing horizontal and vertical lines as well. Check out this website for great advice on using two point perspective drawing in a math lesson.

I also think that measuring angles would be an easy way to incorporate math into perspective drawing. The angles become smaller and smaller as lines come nearer to the vanishing points. Different parallelograms could also be studied as well.

Here are two lessons I have created that will make learning about and teaching perspective drawing easy. First up is a freebie, a basic how to draw boxes in two point perspective. This PowerPoint lesson will teach students basic steps they need to learn perspective drawing - and it's free!

Next is a great lesson for taking basic perspective drawing to the next level by creating a city block in two point perspective. This lesson takes students from start to finish and shows them how to add all details from their first building to windows and a sidewalk.

Enjoy these lessons - for history, art, math, or ???

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fabulous Friday Freebies!

This week's Fabulous Friday Freebies focus on something that just about every teacher has in their back pocket - sub plans! Sub plans can take a long time to put together when you know you will be absent, so it's nice to have some plans ready to go for those days when an emergency arises and you won't be able to go into work. Sub plans are even better when they are already made and free!

This is a great freebie I have used as a sub plan for my high school art classes. It worked great and students seemed to enjoy it. It was very easy to print it out and make copies as well. There are also some word searches and how to draw printable pages available through the link as well.


For you language arts teachers out there, check out this language arts packet which includes an excerpt and several related worksheets. It's a great freebie and available in Microsoft Word so you can make changes or add/delete questions as needed.

I am also impressed by these sub plans put together by Rachel Friedrich. She has free whole day elementary sub plans for grade levels K-5! Each packet contains a warm-up, language arts, reading, math, and science activity. There are many links and ways to enhance the plans as well.

I hope these plans save you time and keep the headaches away.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Getting Students Talking in the Foreign Language Classroom

There are a couple activities that I use to engage my students in the practice of speaking Spanish.  They are a couple games that take me out of middle of the conversation and get them interacting in the target language with each other.  Not only that, but they have fun while doing it.  If you are looking for a way to get your students talking, check out the activities below:

1) Rey del Mundo is a free instruction sheet for a fast paced game that gets students dialoguing in the target language.

2) Human Bingo is an activity that prepares and requires students to dialogue in Spanish.  It is easily adapted, though, to any second language classroom.  It also helps students in the class get to know each other better!  Check it out at my store.  It's just $1!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sometimes Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine!

I was sitting recently listening to a little girl sing an original, improvised song with real passion and sincerity:

There was a girl out in the yard
She liked to sing and dance
And then she went in the house...

Suddenly the boy next to her took advantage of the improv-induced half second pause to finish the verse...


Now, what followed was not so funny, but children - to me - are an endless source of amusement.   Who doesn't like to laugh? Scowls break apart, shoulders relax a bit and here is the best part--minds are engaged! I've used units on humor to engage my students. Here are a few ideas for how you might use it as well:

1) Use humor to teach the concept of genres and audience.  We study about a dozen different comedy genres and how to analyze and categorize comedy into sub genres.  We also look at audience and why different jokes are funny to different audiences.  We poll the class to see what they find funny and graph the results.

2) Use cartoons to teach visual literacy, exageration, symbolism, political science, etc. 

3) Teach them to analyze language.  I also must caution you here.  While I have seen comedy units engage my most disengaged students, I've also seen struggling readers require a lot of scaffolding to analyze and make the necessary inferences to comprehend some jokes.  That being said, having students analyze (and maybe even draw) puns is an excellent way to engage them in the idea of double meanings.

Good luck!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Keeping Students On Task

It can be difficult to keep students on task when there are so many different things happening in the classroom at one time. Some students might finish at different times or some students needed more help than others. To help keep students that have finished early on task, I have created art packets that rely on using each student's creativity.

This Fast Finishers Art Activities packet contains 50 printable creative drawing pages. It has been rated 4 stars by fellow TPT members so check it out!

For spring, a spring themed Fast Finishers packet is also available. It contains 22 spring themed creative drawing pages for your students.

If you want to check out a sample of what my fast finishers packets are like, check out my free Valentine's Day fast finishers packet. Although most of the pages are themed for Valentine's Day, some of them are still easily usable in your classroom year round.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fabulous Friday Freebies!

TGIF!  Here are some fabulous Friday freebies to check out.  These are all websites I've enjoyed using with my students.  If the description sounds interesting, click on the image to be taken to the website and investigate more!

1) This is a website that generates bingo cards.  You can choose from their list of themed cards or use your own word lists to make your own printable cards.

2) Animoto is a website where you can create short digital movies.  Just upload pictures of your class and let them generate a mini movie of a trip you took, a special project, etc.  Then you can share it with your students and their families in school or via email.

3) Use the website ToonDoo to allow your students to create their own comic strips.  They can create one based on a story they read in class or make up their own.  They really enjoy working with this website.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Happy Birthday!!

I am going to use this post to give a birthday shout out to my blogging partner and good friend.  One of the things I most respect about Lesson Lady is that she one of the most honest people I know.   But, she is also so much more: hardworking, smart, frugal, great at cooking, artistic, resourceful, thoughtful, and kind.  She has always avoided negative chatter and been a trustworthy confidante.  I wish her a great year ahead.

With that, I would like to advise all you teachers out there who are looking for a great art project to check out the art lessons she has for sale at her store.  I especially like her Art of the World series.  Here are a couple examples...

Art of the World-Benin Masks
Have your student make a mask while learning about the Benin people of Africa.

Art of the World-Frida Kahlo
Have your students make a collage in the style of the famous female Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo.

She has a birthday sale on through the end of the day tomorrow.  Check it out!

Birthday Sale April 18-April 19!

Enjoy some great savings at my TPT store with 15% off savings during my birthday sale! All the products in my store will be on sale April 18-19. Celebrate with me with savings.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Year Round Earth Day in Your Classroom

Earth Day is coming up and it is a theme I use daily in my classroom. After having taught art in classrooms where the annual budget was sometimes zero, I have the motto that recycling is my friend and there are cheap and easy ways to be kind to mother earth.With more budget cuts in education, supplies are one of the first areas to go. Using recycled and free materials is a great and easy way to teach fun lessons without emptying your own pocketbook.

Where to find recycled materials? I collect some items throughout the year to use in my classroom and bring them in as I get them. Old magazines and newspapers come to mind. If I need something more last minute, I always ask and people are more than happy to share things that would normally go to the trash. Some cities and town may also have places that collect items that would otherwise go the the trash. Here in the Chicago area a great resource is SCARCE. I have gotten many great items from them that seem as good as new to me even though other schools decided there was no need for them. 

Here are some ways you can use cheap and free recycled materials in your classroom.


- Use newspaper torn into strips for paper mache. This could be used to make pinatas, planets, animals, and more. If you are on a very tight budget flour and water mixed make a very cheap paper mache glue. Mix it to the consistency of thin yogurt. Make sure it is not too thick or lumpy!
 - Use newspaper for covering surfaces when you are painting or doing anything messy in your classroom.
- Newspaper can be used as stuffing. I have seen newspaper stuffed in between paper to create 3-D looking animals and more.
- For a cheap origami paper, cut newspaper into squares.
- Use newspaper to create a pot for seedlings and plants. It is environmentally friendly and can be planted directly into the ground!

Cardboard Boxes

- I used these as storage when I had only a small cabinet in my tiny classroom that I had to share with another teacher. I piled two layers of cardboard boxes filled with supplies on top of my cabinet. I kept the supplies I used less often at the bottom and rotated the boxes if I needed to. To keep it looking nice I bought a very cheap piece of cloth that I used like a sheet to cover the boxes.
- Use cardboard as construction materials such as when making things like buildings, a puppet theater, landscape models, and more.

Tubes and Rolls

- I love using tubes (empty wrapping paper tubes) and empty paper towel rolls for many different things. One of my favorite projects is using tubes to make rain sticks! You can find my lesson for making your own rain stick here.
 - Empty tubes can also be turned into kaleidoscopes, imaginative periscopes, totem poles, vases for faux flowers and legs for newspaper animal bodies.
- Cutting tubes apart into rings can make beautiful designs that would be perfect for lessons on symmetry or geometry.

Other Materials

- Whatever you find you can make creative use of! In the photo at the top of this article is a finished product after having my students make things that have to do with nature using recycled materials. They used empty chip bags, soda cans, and whatever they could find and the results were great! This would make a great end of a unit type project. I also have a former colleague that auctioned these off during a parent night and gave the proceeds to an environmental organization. Great idea there!
- Use leftover plastic to create mock Chihuly sculptures with your students. They look gorgeous and the students will feel proud that they used recycled materials.

Please feel free to share how you use recycled materials in your classroom. I am always open to new ideas!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Earth Day Games

Earth Day is coming up in a week on April 22nd and this week is a great time to help your students become more familiar with Earth Day and teach them some new things about this important holiday. Games are a great way to help students learn basic information and new concepts. To help with that, I have two Earth Day games available for purchase on my TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers) store.

First is an Earth Day Memory Game. Included are 48 cards (24 pairs) of Earth Day terms and concepts. This game would work great as a center or large group activity but included are suggestions for a variety of playing options.

Earth Day Bingo is another great option to teach students about Earth Day scientific concepts and terms. I use bingo regularly and it is always a hit, even with hard to reach students. Classes often beg to play the game again and again.

Check out the previews to see if the games are right for you and keep us in mind on Tuesday for an article on using cheap and free recycled materials in your classroom.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fabulous Friday Freebies

Warm weather, green grass, and sunny skies all add up to one thing: spring fever! I have experienced that this time of year can be very hard for students staying inside the classroom and working when they would rather be outside and enjoying the nice weather. This makes is especially tricky to help them stay focused on their assignments and appropriate behavior in the classroom.

This week's Fabulous Friday Freebies is focused on helping you keep even the fast finishers and down moments in your classroom filled with activities.

Here are some fast finisher drawing sheets. I love the suggestion of laminating these and having students use dry erase markers so they can be used over and over again. I will definitely be doing that in the future!

Blank face templates are also a great resource. You can use these for art, to practice symmetry, or have students create characters and write a dialogue two or more people!

Play Boggle with students using this fun and free template. This game would be great for a small group of students or even a last few minutes of class activity on an overhead projector.

Discovery School's Puzzlemaker is a great resource for teachers. I have used it to make word searches, cross word puzzles and more. I like that you can customize it and the puzzles can be made as a text document so you can copy and paste it into word. I make the word searches more challenging by leaving out the words and putting clues at the bottom of the word search instead. 

I hope these freebies will help keep your students focused on the classroom and keep the spring fever at bay!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Let them speak Spanish!

I recently compiled the 35+ pages of exercises I have created for my students over the past twelve years for unit 1 of Spanish I into a digital packet.  The packet practices numbers, greetings, calendar, time and school vocabulary.  It is great for reading and writing Spanish.  Use it for tests, in-class worksheets, sub plans, homework, etc.  It is for sale on Teachers Pay Teacher for only $4.50.  Buy it now! If you would prefer to just purchase the activities on greetings or numbers there are smaller packets for $1.50.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Good Investments

Like so many Americans, I'm living in a home that is worth less than the price I paid for it several years ago.  If only I'd known at the time....  That isn't the only area of my life, though, where I've invested more in something than it's worth.  For example, I have invested time in meetings that bore no significant outcomes or new insights.  I have invested money in technology and books for school that have grown legs and walked.  Does any of this sound familiar?

Fortunately, I have made many investments that I thought were worthwhile.  Of them, I've chosen four of my top ones to share.  These are materials I use in my classroom so often, that if the school went up in smoke today, I'd start shopping to replace them tomorrow.

#1-Dry erase boards

My first year of teaching, a colleague suggested I create my own mini white boards for my students.  So, I visited Home Depot and purchased a large melamime board with a white resin coating on one side.  I asked them to cut the sheet into 12" x 12" squares.  I walked out of there with a class set of white boards (35-40) for under $25.  I still have them more than a decade later.  I use them to play games with large classes.  Students break into groups and each group gets a board to write their answers to jeopardy questions on.  I also use them with smaller groups.  I give every student a board and have them do their work for the day on the board.  They enjoy doing it and it allows me to see very quickly whether or not they understand.

#2-Post it notes

This may sound a bit mundane, but I use them all the time.  Students use them to mark up texts, to create quick dividers in their notebooks, or for quick informal assessments.  If there are five minutes left in class, I'll pass out post it notes and have students answer a few questions to check for understanding.  I also use them for word sorts (see the blog entry about movement in the classroom).

#3-Classroom library

There is rarely a day that goes by that my students are checking out books from the classroom library.  Besides technology, this is probably the most valuable thing in my classroom--collectively, of course.  I save money by going to thrift stores, library book sales, or checking out websites like BookSource and Townsend Press.  (My students especially like the Bluford series--$1 books written at the middle school level about high school students).

#4-A timer

If you have access to the internet or a phone with a timer in your room, then you don't need to invest in a separate one.  But, I am always timing my students.  I've found that time limits help them stay focused on a daily basis.  I've also used them with timed reading activities to help my students learn to read faster.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

New Spring Lessons and Centers

Spring has arrived and while I am enjoying the weather I know my students are more antsy to get moving and get outside! To help your students stay focused on academics while still thinking about spring I created several spring themed lessons and centers for you to enjoy!

My Spring Literacy Centers has six literacy centers to use in your classroom for spring. Centers focus on prefixes, suffixes, synonyms, antonyms, and more! They are perfect for grades 3-6.

My Spring Math Centers packet contains 10 math centers with a fun spring theme. Math worksheets focus on skills such as multiplication, division, rounding, simple decimals, money, addition, subtraction, and place value. Also available for grades 3-6.

If you have students that finish assignments early my Spring Fast Finishers Art Packet is the right tool for the job! The packet contains 22 pages of spring themed printable art worksheets to inspire their creativity.

These three packets are each sold separately or also together at a discounted rate. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Giveaway Congratulations!

Congratulations to MamaHen who won her choice of two free products from our TPT stores! I will be contacting you with the details.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fabulous Friday Freebies

Here is today's edition of Fabulous Friday Freebies! I have gathered some fun freebies you can use in a variety of classroom settings and subject areas.

First, I would like to highlight this free PowerPoint games template website. They have a great collection of PowerPoint game templates that you can adapt to any subject area! Since the templates are already made, they save a lot of time since you can just type in the information needed for your own classroom.

Next up is a fantastic Manda PowerPoint. Mandalas can be used for many subject areas such as math to teach symmetry and balance, art, and more. You can even create a science mandala by drawing the life cycle of an animal or plant in a mandala design.

Lastly, is my free Andy Warhol Style Hand Print Lesson. This lesson contains everything you need, except the art materials, for this lesson. Examples of Warhol style paintings are also included. This is a great lesson to help students learn about making patterns and printmaking.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of fabulous freebies!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Take a virtual trip to New Zealand

Wouldn't it be nice to start your summer vacation early...or even just wrap up the year with a fun, educational project?  One of the best vacations I've ever taken was a one month jaunt to New Zealand, during which I traveled from the upper most tip of the northern island to the bottom most tip of the southern island.  To share highlights of the trip, I put the best of the 1,000+ snapshots taken into a book.  I also turned them into a narrated film for students. 

So, here is a suggestion that combines some of our best tips into one idea: Use technology, give them choices, and have them work on a fun research project.  They can either research a place their family is going to visit over the summer, research a place they'd like to go someday or research places that you are studying (for example, I remember studying the 50 states in 4th grade and the whole world in 8th & 11th grade).  Then have the whole class share their videos and go on a virtual vacation around the country...or world.  Turn it into a special day where students kick back, while sharing what they learned about someplace new via a cool digital story they created.

I like to use the movie maker on Mac at home and Windows at school.  I've found they are both easy to use for an end user such as myself (someone who doesn't know much beyond what is right in front of her face when it comes to technology).  If you want a quick tutorial there are online articles. If you want to create a quick rubric, click here.  If you want an example, but don't want to create your own, go to my store and check out my New Zealand film.  I've reduced the price by 50% (only $1.50) for the next week only!

Have fun!  The summer will be here before you know it!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Cool Classroom

Sometimes students seem to think that teachers live in the school and that all we do in our free time is grade papers and plan ways to torture our them (a.k.a. making our lesson plans). Now, while that sometimes might be true, it is nice to surprise them now and again by bringing things that they consider cool into the classroom and remind them that you know about these things as well. And, I have found that 'cool' lesson plans are one of the best ways to engage hard to reach students. Here are some of my favorite 'cool' lesson plans:

1. Anything comic related - Students love comics and comics are usually a big hit when I use that as a topic for a lesson. You can use comics for a variety of subjects. Use them in art by having students design a comic or create a Roy Lichtenstein style comic. Use them in English by having students write dialogue between characters. Teach inferences by cutting the comics into sections and having students try and figure out what order the comics go in. Create political comics in social studies or view political comics in class.

2. Tattoos, tattoos - The Maori people of New Zealand are known for their striking facial tattoos. I have had students draw a self portrait and then design facial tattoos onto their face in a Maori style. The picture above is an example I made. The project was a hit and one of my student's portraits even won an award in an art contest. Check out my lesson plan for this project. For social studies, you could check out the history of tattooing or check out how the Maori used tattoos.

3. Rapping & Music - Bringing music and raps into your lesson plans are a great way to engage auditory learners. You can find many lessons turned into song or rap or students could write a song or rap with a particular theme. One of my favorite ways of bringing music into the classroom is having students read poems by Tupac, as mentioned in this post. Tupac dedicated a poem to Vincent van Gogh which could be analyzed, compared to his artwork, or compare and contrast the lives of the two artists.

Please feel free to share a way you make it cool in your classroom.
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