Friday, December 12, 2008


My fifth grade students had been happily creating Kaleidoscope designs. Drawing the design posed a problem for some. Those who drew in only two or three lines in each section had the least difficulty transferring the design to each of the eight sections.

The Kaleidoscope design is a crayon and watercolor resist. Black lines are drawn with black crayon, then watercolors are added. Since wax crayon resists the watercolor, you can paint right over the crayon. The dark, bold crayon lines define the shapes of the design, and contain the color similar to a stained glass effect.

It was a first time project for me. I wasn't sure which way to go with the instruction. Should they make reflections of the design, or rotations? To find out, I had two classes do reflections of their initial design, and two classes made rotations of their designs. I don't think one was any easier than the other. Some kids found the reflections easy, while others had no trouble doing the rotation version.

Not everyone followed my directions when it came to painting the colors, though. The instructions were to paint each section using the same color pattern they started with. This piece below shows a student who had made a reflection for their kaleidoscope design, but didn't follow the initial color pattern. Sometimes it happens and you just got to keep going forward with the artwork. Sometimes starting over is not an option.

Other students in the lower grades were working on the Holiday Candles. One lesson I learned is worth mentioning. I added to my routine a means to aid cleaning up at the end of their classtime: the styrofoam meat trays. I had been saving them for a couple of months for some project... nothing particular in mind. As I prepared for the candle project, I realized the kids would need many materials at their desk. Giving them out as they are needed would take up too much class time; asking them to get out of their seats to come get their materials is also asking for trouble when time is a factor. Having at their desks several supplies all at once means things rolling off the table and fidgety hands playing with the items. The meat trays solved that problem!

I had all the materials laid out on a table as they filed into the room. Students picked up the styrofoam tray first, walked by the materials, picking up each supply and material needed and laying it in the tray... kind of like when they get their food at the cafeteria. It went smoothly... and clean up was done in reverse. Students carried their materials back to the table at the end of their class time and returned everything, each to its own basket.
Special Note to teachers: Just make sure you wash the meat trays in hot soapy water before you give them to students, much as you would any dish you plan to eat from. A good rinse isn't enough to clean a tray that has had raw meat on it. Hot soapy water and nothing less than a good scrub will do!
The kids loved the tray idea as well, especially the youngest ones. There was a bonus feature to having the tray on the students' desks as they worked... it provided a place to hold all the supplies they weren't using at the moment. Crayons and pens weren't rolling off the desk; scraps and small pieces didn't fall on the floor; etc.
Organization is the key to success! Yes, indeed!