Spicing up the Art Studio!


I’ve had some happy moments lately in the art studio with my students.  I have basic supplies available each  week for  drawing,  collage, and 3-d explorations. But I also try to bring in some novel things to keep interest and enthusiasm up. Since coming back from holiday vacation I’ve had sand dough, painting with spaghetti and gadgets, paper marbling, blocks with ramps and marbles, texture materials with colored glue, and this past week glitter glue and heart stickers. The kids have responded really positively to these additions to our standard choices.


Paper marbling is both calming and exciting. While lightly touching the surface of the water with the paint brush, children ooh and aah as they watch the colors move and interact. They are calm and focused. Then when they are ready to print  there is an element of  suspense when they first lift the paper to see how it looks.  Everyone is always pleased and thrilled with the results. I have facilitated paper marbling with children as young as two on up through adults.  Everyone loves it! The best comment I heard was, “Mrs. R you should call this bubblegum art!” The colors look very primary when you place them in the water but look pastel when you pull the print, which reminded the little girl of bubblegum pink.P1050837


Colored glue used by this artist like paint.

Glue is essential in the art classroom, but who knew that colored glue would be so exciting? I made colored glue by adding some acrylic paint to my white glue.  The colored glue was fun to drizzle and create designs with as well as working very nicely to attach layers of collage materials. Several students really enjoyed mixing the glue colors, and one student discovered she could use it like finger paint.

I had a group of  morning kindergarteners that used the colored glue and the texture materials ( cotton balls, textured papers, yarn pom poms, sand paper, bits of felt and yarn, tissue paper) to create homes for stuffed animals.  These homes had couches, beds, side tables, and even a tv with a remote! It was so much fun hearing them describe the various features they had created and seeing their attention to detail.

This house for a tiny stuffed animal has a hot tub (cupcake wrapper), a bed, night stand, couch with tiny purple remote,  a TV,a sculpture, and more!

This house for a tiny stuffed animal has a hot tub (cupcake wrapper), a bed with black pom pom pillow, night stand, couch with tiny purple remote, a TV, a sculpture, and more!

Over the last year I have had quite a few groups that have enjoyed using blocks, ramps (cove molding), and marbles to create marble runs. When I failed to bring the ramps and marbles one week, several students requested them. This past week several boys got the idea to turn the materials into a billiard like game using the ramps as cue sticks and the blocks as corner pockets.  And to top it all off when they shared their game at the end of class they even passed out collage scraps as tickets. It was a novel idea that no one had come up with before. It was an idea that could arise because play is supported in the classroom.  Play is vital because it is how we innovate, come up with new ideas, and push boundaries.  I was so proud of those boys!


I’ve realized that I get a lot of mileage out of a material across the various classes I teach. When I received my Japanese marbling inks that I had ordered specifically for one group I was able to use the leftovers with several other groups. The great thing was that I had all the supplies like my portable drying rack, trays, water jug, and tiny plastic caps for the ink easily accessible.  Now that we’re done with marbling I’ve stashed those things for the time being.

One of the classes I’m teaching in the homeschool program now is called Cooking Up Some Art.  I’ve discovered a plethora of great art recipes on Pinterest. This past week we cooked up a batch of chocolate playdough. It looked and smelled just like fudge.  (With the salt content though I’m sure it didn’t taste like it!) On Friday morning I whipped up a huge batch for my preschool art class and they really enjoyed the scent and making birthday cakes and horses. As my next kindergarten choice studio classes are on Valentines I’m going to bring the playdough for them to enjoy!


Each week I’ve got exciting things to look forward to. I’ve got a variety of classes and wonderful students.  I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to engage my students hands and hearts. In this age of assessment and a media that is so negative about education, I feel lucky to be bucking the system!


About francifularts

I am an independent art educator. I had my first experience teaching ceramics when I was 24 and worked in the University for Youth program at the University of Denver. As an elementary school teacher I always found myself integrating the arts across the curriculum, which led to me working as an artist in the schools. In May of 2008 I began a master's program with Lesley University in their Creative Arts in Learning Program. It was a truly transformative and incredible experience which led me to decide to devote the rest of my teaching career to teaching art, and through the arts. About the same time that I completed my master's degree in January of 2011 I was hired to teach art in two different programs. I have never been happier in my work as a teacher, and I really appreciate the wonderful professors and cohort of fellow teachers I studied with at Lesley University. I also want to thank all of the wonderful arts educators that I have met online through the TAB/choice list serv for their thoughtful posts and insightful suggestions for teaching art!
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