Are “Guided” Art Projects OK?

Art vs. Craft in the classroom

Yesterday I posted about arts integration, and how it is a pedagogical journey. One of the issues raised was the role of “guided” art projects in the classroom.

The question at hand: Is it OK to assign the kids a subject and give them step by step directions?

In my previous post the answer was yes, but I noted that not all guided projects are created equal. I see them falling along a continuum. At one end, you have something like this:

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How to Get Puppets for Your Classroom

How to get puppets for your classroom

So now that we’ve spent some time on puppet skills, you are ready to use them in your teaching. If you don’t already have some puppets for your classroom, where can you get them?

Here are my three best sources for pre-made puppets:

1- Yard Sales, Thrift Stores, and Kid Consignment Sales/ Stores:

Most people are drawn to puppets but, sadly,  just don’t know what to do with them. As a result, you can often find puppets for super-discounted prices at sales and discount shops. Start keeping your eye out for them, and if you have a friend or relative who likes to “yard sale” for fun, tell him/her to pick up puppets when they are available. You’ll build up a collection in no time!

2- Let your school families know that you collect puppets and appreciate receiving them as donations or gifts.

It’s almost time for my annual teacher gift list post (see last year’s suggested gift list here.) Often families are happy to donate the puppets collecting dust on their shelves or cluttering the playroom floor. They also love having a good suggestion for an inexpensive class gift for occasions such as Christmas and Teacher Appreciation Week. Make it known that you love puppets!

3- Shop Smart!

As you know, puppets are widely available in stores. I see them in toy shops, bookstores, and often even discount retailers like TJ Maxx. However, sometimes you might be looking for a particular character or you want to purchase a set. Here are a few of my favorite online shopping spots:

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Author-Inspired Student Work

In my last post I shared my favorite books from children’s author, Jerry Pallotta. So many of his titles are perfect for integrating ELA content with science and social studies.

In preparation for his visit to my children’s school, the teachers read his books with their students and created some amazing books and hall displays- all inspired by Mr. Pallotta.

Get ready for some eye candy! (Teacher flavored.)

I’ll start with the amazingly creative Mrs. Greenman! She did two projects with her students; A Kentucky Derby ABC project (which involved research, informational writing, and amazing pastel resists!!) and a book innovation of Jerry Pallotta’s “Who Will…” book series.

First, look at this Kentucky Derby project. I wish you could have seen it up on the wall.  The photos don’t do it justice. My 1st grade son loved doing the research and told me how he read about the Derby and recorded facts on index cards.

Kentucky Derby ABC pages

 

The second project was a class book about imaginary summer plans. They had fun with this one!

Class book inspired by Jerry Pallotta

 

Mrs. Claxton’s class did another amazing project. They read Jerry’s The Skull Alphabet Book. Then she brought in a box of animal skulls and bones and they observed/ examined them. They also looked at the artwork of Georgia O’Keefe (who often used skulls and bones in her images.) Next they took the skulls/bones outside and held them up to the blue sky to see the natural objects “like an artist sees.” Their final project was to create artistic images of the artifacts coupled with informational writing. Isn’t that inspiring?

Skull and Bone ABCs with OKeefe
And I loved this… Jerry walked around the school and signed all the displays and class books. How awesome is that?
Have the author sign displays

There was so much inspiration on display!

It was wonderful to see how Jerry’s informational writing style motivated student writing in projects such as Mrs. Adams’ Shark Alphabet book (below.)

Shark Alphabet Book

 

And this was a cute idea from Mrs. Leach and her students: to combine an alphabet book with poetry writing! (And you could combine it with research too- like the Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night book I love so much. See previous post featuring that title.)

Animal Haiku ABC Book

 

Finally, I’ll leave you with one more beautiful example (though there were dozens and dozens more on display!) My friend, Ms. Baker, had her children create a Charleston ABC book full of historical landmarks and local symbols. The images were huge and so well done. I think an ABC book featuring your town is a fantastic idea!

Charleston ABCs
*One more thing to go back and notice: all the different ways teachers bound and formatted the student work. I need to do a post on that one of these days. The take-away: you don’t have to spend hours typing and binding! For example, the shark book mainly uses student handwriting and binder clips. Simple yet effective!

Posts in this series:

Author Visits Inspire Young Writers

7 Ways to Make an Author Visit Fabulous

Featured Author: Jerry Pallotta

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