Friday, December 22, 2023

Sugar Cookie Creativity

Edible crafts are the perfect way to get students engaged in the classroom and family together during the holidays. Decorating sugar cookies can feel like a coloring book, obvious answers answers are the first you see, but once you forget what the "cookie cutter" solutions are, the options become infinite. An upside down Santa or a bell shape can be used as monster heads. A stocking Santa head shape can be made into a fish, and even traditional solutions can be given twists like a gingerbread man with an exposed ribcage and fins for arms. Traditional approaches for conservative cookie decorators are always a back up, but why not encourage some originality and see what happens?


Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Student Christmas Craft Sale

The last week before Winter Break, my students printed rubber stamp gift cards, painted wooden sleds and sleighs and trees, collaged tactile Christmas cards and melted wax and molded candles. The projects were small enough that they could be done within a class period or two and everyone could pick the type of craft that interested them the most. We set up one table of those craft items ranging from 25 cents to 6 dollars, and ended up making $200 hours within an hour. We're going to use it for something fun like pizza.


Painting Party Backdrops

Painting 8 foot high presents for party backdrops this year, made for a quick and easy math lesson for a couple of special needs students. For example:  they had to  divide the panel in half (vertical line at 2 feet in from the side) then divide the 9 inch ribbon in half and make 4.5" marks on either side to place the painters tape. A similar problem was made for the horizontal ribbon. We mixed green paint from yellow and green, so suddenly it was a color theory lesson) and then the painting began. Within a few hours we had simple images that made for a big impact for pictures of Santa at our student party.

We had another couple of large panels and a smaller tree at a seating area for students to take selfies and group shots throughout the party. By the time you add music and food to the decorations, you've got yourself a party! High School students are more likely to participate in karoake and dancing then middle school students, so we set up games like  twister, giant Jenga and Connect Four for smaller group activities. The photo booths were a hit regardless of age. Everyone had a blast!


Another fun backdrop for Santa photos included three yard reindeer with twinkling lights, a plywood sleigh made by a friend from church, and cardboard trees that we painted for a dance years ago. This set up was a hit at two separate parties! It's worth putting in a lot of effort into one year of building so that future years are just a matter of repainting and tweaking!

Spin Art

 I've had little Spin Art machines in a cupboard for 10 years, and when I finally got them out to use, I realized that batteries were required. Why bother getting batteries, when I have a quality potter's wheel that can do the same thing? Today my students  taped paper to the center of the wheel, put the pedal to the metal, and started squirting gel paints to the paper. It only takes a couple seconds to make the images, but being able to create a science lesson on centripetal force that includes a fun painting experience is totally worth the tiny bit of effort.

Cyber Security Posters

My students recently participated in a Cyber Security Poster Contest. It's a great way to start important discussions about safety and as well as learn about the role artists play in creating awareness on social issues.
Drawing is a huge part of these kind of contests, but it is where we generally fall short in a school with visual impairments, some of whom only read Braille. Rather than focusing on coloring and typography most of our students used the computer and printed the text for their posters. Then they collaged most of the shapes to give bring color and contrast without crayons and colored pencils. I think they came up with some cute ideas.