Genius Hour: Fifth Grade

What is “Genius Hour”? Well, the concept is based on the Google corporate principle of letting their employees investigate their own interests 20% of work time.

In Art, students could choose an art-based “Big Question” to explore, such as “How do I draw a realistic dragon?” or “How can I construct a chair?” Alternatively, students could chose an “anchor artist” based on a Thrively strength they identified using an online questionnaire in Media . Finally, students could visually answer a “Wonderwall” question (created in Media) via an accordion book. Sample “wonder” questions include “I wonder why tree branches are brown?” and “I wonder how Steph Curry got so good at basketball?”

As the culminating, choice-based project of their Leighton Art curriculum, students had ample time to research, brainstorm, sketch, and create. This unit started in mid-April and runs through to the end of the semester with a presentation week.

There are so many different projects going on–Lego stop motions, optical illusion painting, papier mache masks, even “soundsuits” created with odds and ends. Genius Hour has been a very fun way to end the fifth grade art year!

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Global Day of Design: Fourth Grade

Students have been working on a collaborative project based on the Global Day of Design,with the goal of creating/designing/building. Students worked on their projects in both Media and Art, in one of three categories: rollercoasters, mini-golf course, or board games. Students had specific design parameters to follow and co-edited the documents they needed with GoogleDocs on Chromebooks.

After each class completes their projects, they present their pieces to the class for feedback. The wide variety of approaches to designing a rollercoaster for a marble or a golf hole following a theme is amazing! The board games also have a tremendous variety of approaches. This unit is a Problem-Based Learning initiative, empowering students with voice and choice.
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Annual Art Show

This gallery contains 22 photos.

The first five pictures are from the high school (plus the altered book sculpture). The rest are all LES, grades third, fourth, and fifth!

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Graphic Novels

This gallery contains 22 photos.

Fifth graders learned about literary tone (Common Core Language Arts), and applied a tone to either an existing story, or their own. It took me awhile to photograph these, but it was worth the wait!                         … Continue reading

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Drawing Hands (Sketchbook)

DrawingHands from L. Girbino on Vimeo.

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Where To Buy Art Supplies

This comes up a lot, which makes me very happy! I get almost all of my supplies from Blick (also known as Utrecht). The closest store is on Coventry in Cleveland Heights, but they have a great online store with fabulous service:

Utrecht has their own website, too:
Smaller stores, with less selection of fine art supplies include the chains, Pat Catan’s & Michaels.

Other online resources include:

Have fun making art—all you really need is your IMAGINATION!

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3rd Grade: Drawing A face

Note: this video does not have sound–

1) Draw an oval first
2) Divide the oval in half vertically and horizontally.
3) Your eyes go on the middle line. One eye width in between your eyes, one eye width on each side of your eyes.
4) Your nose is half way between your eyes & mouth.
5) Your mouth is halfway between your nose and chin.

“Draw light until you get it right!”


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How to Draw in One Point Perspective

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February Art News

3rd Grade is wrapping up their Picasso/Guitar/Weaving unit, and do they love to be guitar heroes! You can see the Picasso video on my site, as well as the weaving video. It is always good to practice art skills at home, so feel free to review how to weave and try something else for a loom. Here are some ideas–

4th grade is almost done with their Design Thinking Unit where we made wallets. Design Thinking, which originated at Stanford’s d-School, involves a design cycle of empathy-define-ideate-prototype-test-revise. Sounds a lot like setting up a Science experiment, right? In our case, we watched a video on IDEO, an innovative design firm. Students sketch-noted about designing a wallet, then made paper prototypes. After picking the best design, they could make their wallets out of fabric or leather (donated), duct tape (students brought in such fun designs), or plasticized paper.

5th graders are finishing their Graphic Novels, using a specific literary tone (Common Core Language Arts State Standard) to guide their art. This unit built upon our knowledge base from sketch-noting about Graphic Design (see video about Sketchnoting here).We started by watching a video from MOCA about Derf, a prominent graphic novelist who just happens to live in NE Ohio! Students spent a good amount of time on their layouts (tutorial on this site) before starting their stories. Students could reinvent classic tales like Sheep in a Jeep, The Lorax, etc. or come up with their own. Some inventive titles include: Kid Owner (a kid owns an NFL team), Frosty the Snowcone, and D-Day (non-fiction). We discussed and viewed some famous graphic novels, as the genre has really exploded in the past decade.
If you are curious about age appropriate graphic novels, here is a meta link list at

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Wacky Woven Guitars (3rd Grade)

Third graders learned about Picasso’s Guitar (the video is on this site), then designed their own cool guitars using poster board, markers, and lots of imagination. Then, we wove on the guitar necks over the course of two class periods, which helps with spatial reasoning, sequencing, and especially, small motor skills.
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