Talking About Artwork

I found this great article that sums up how we talk about art at school. Making art is a PROCESS, and we usually start with sketches or brainstorming before we move on to “final art.” Even then, I am going around the room–looking and suggesting, asking questions and listening to the answers, taking notes in my planner, and basically, looking for insights into each student’s process, and helping them to realize their art process. These are great things to talk about with your student when they bring their artwork home, so I am adding these talking points below…

What can you tell me about your picture?” This open-ended question is a great way to get kids talking about their art. It is especially good if you are not sure what the picture is. Nothing worse than saying, “What a lovely horse!” only to have the artist tell you that it is supposed to be a dog.

How did you get the idea for this picture?” By explaining the inspiration, the young artist recognizes his/her own creative spark and makes the connection from real-life events to artistic creation

What do you like about your picture?” Encourages the young artist to look carefully at his art and make a judgment. More importantly, this question teaches your child to value his own internal validation rather than performing in hopes of gaining the approval of others.

What title would you give this work?” Titles can offer a new dimension to a piece of art. Also, a title encourages your child to think about the main idea or concept of her work.

How were you feeling when you made this picture?” Connecting emotions with creative expression transfers to other content areas, including Language Arts.

If you could make this picture again, what would you do differently?” Professional artists often make many versions of the same picture, trying new things, tweaking, experimenting. Encourage your young artist to do the same.


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September & October Art News

The Art Year is going strong, with several projects completed in each grade level already!

Third graders completed their “Ninja Eggs” (drawing with simple shapes, shading with colored pencil from light to dark), did a drawing pre-assessment in their sketchbooks, completed construction paper TIKI masks, and are currently making CLAY masks.

Fourth graders did a pre-assessment in their sketchbooks, created two pages of pattern ideas in their sketchbooks, then used them as inspiration for their ZENTANGLES, using gel pens. Now, we are learning about Abstract Art. Our focus artists is Charles DeMuth (“I Saw the Figure Five in Gold”). Students chose a number that represented them, then based their geometric composition around that number. We are taking several weeks to paint with tempera, with an emphasis on color mixing to create different VALUES of the same color.

Fifth graders also did a drawing pre-drawing assessment in their sketchbooks, worked on their NEGATIVE SPACE ZENTANGLES & ANIMAL ZENTANGLES, and are currently learning how to take notes using a method called “Sketchnoting”. Once their Sketchnotes about Graphic Design are completed, they will start their own Graphic Design project.

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Welcome Back 2015/2016!

Welcome back to Leighton Art for 2015/16! There are lots of fun and creative projects planned for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. We will still have our digital gallery, Artsonia, plus rotating exhibits in the hallway.
NEW THIS YEAR: If you have artwork done at school that you would like to see on Artsonia, please take a high-quality picture (jpeg format is best) and send it to Mrs. Girbino at, and I will do my best to get it uploaded in a timely manner. Over the course of the year, I will also photograph and upload one piece per student.
Also, I’d like to review our 4 point grading scale: 4 means “complete mastery of the standard” (working completely on their own with complete control of media and well-developed imagery), 3 is “meeting the standard” (and that what we are aiming for, so it is a good grade), 2 means “developing toward the standard” (not there yet, but we will get there, together), and 1 is “needs improvement with the standard”.
Art making is about thinking through problems and challenges, and developing skills based on age-appropriate, ODE-aligned curriculum. The process of art making is much more important than a “product” at this age band. The grades reflect frequent check-ins and discussion, teacher observation, written reflections as well as sketches (all of the aforementioned are process-oriented), and finally, finished art.
Creativity is a skill that can be taught and is useful in any other subject and future career!
I am including a link about the top ten skills children learn in the Arts—

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Summer Symbaloo

Once again, many cool websites to make art without downloads (screenshot below) at
Picture 1

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Art Club 2015 Chalk Art (click for video)

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May/June News (video at end of post)

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All the art is down from the halls, the last firing of the kiln with the last of the fourth grade clay tiles is done, and I have been very busy doing an inventory of the last of the art … Continue reading

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March ( & April) Art News

In March, third grade artists completed watercolor pieces called “Inchies”. An “inchie” is art that is one inch square. Our artists did a grid of 70 “inches” using three watercolor techniques: wax (crayon) resist, tape resists, and salt “lifting”. We completed the watercolors before our spring break, and when we came back, peeled-off the tape and rubbed-off the salt to reveal the wondrous effects. Students discussed the results, and we will use these techniques again in fourth grade art. In the first week of April, we also completed collaborative radial art designs. Some of this beautiful work is currently being displayed in our halls.
Fourth grade art classes completed their colored pencil shading project, “Bots”.
Now, fourth grade artists are doing a “Zentangle” abstract art project. Learn about Zentangles HERE.
In fifth grade art, we are wrapping up our “Altered Books” unit, plus are constructing clay “big-mouth creatures” using the pinch pot method. The clay project started after our spring break, and will continue throughout April, with the bisque and glaze firings. Below is a picture of the “creatures” from last year:

It is hard to believe that another art year is almost over! The last weekend in April is our Annual District Art Show at AHS, concurrent with the spring high school musical. As I gather up all the artwork for the show, I am continually smiling at all the lovely, creative art our Leighton students have produced! I hope you can make the Art Show (free & open to the public), and see how our students’ creativity blossoms through the grade levels. Many of our students go on to premier art programs with wonderful career opportunities. Just this past week, I saw some beautiful medical illustrations (on display at University Hospital) done by a former Aurora student!
The “creative economy” is described here: “The Creative Class, which comprised less than ten percent of the workforce in the late nineteenth century and no more than 15 percent for much of the twentieth, began to surge in the 1980s. Since that time more than twenty million new Creative Class jobs were created in the United States. This epoch-defining class now numbers more than forty million workers, a third of the workforce, and it generates more than $2 trillion in wages and salaries–more than two thirds of the total US payroll. An additional seven million or so Creative Class jobs will be created over the next decade, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics projections. Members of the Creative Class engage in complex problem solving that involves a great deal of independent judgment and requires high levels of education.” citation: Creativity Is the New Economy, by Richard Florida, 4.12.2015, Huff Post Business.

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January/February Art News

Third grade art: We completed Zonkey Cartoons in January using acrylic paint. If you want to know what a Zonkey is, check out this video:

(video from Art @ Apex HS, Ian Sands, instructor)

Fourth grade art: In January, we used “Design Thinking” to create actual wallets out of cardboard, paper, fabric, or duct tape. Design Thinking is a process of making quick prototypes out of cheap materials to work out design bugs, making changes in the final piece, and being open for revisions in later design cycles. In our case, students made two paper prototypes before we went on to the final art. Also, each student worked on a MINDMAP about wallets—their function, color, size, materials, etc. to oraganize their thoughts before prototyping.
Our technology integration team has suggested a free online platform called “Mindmup” for creating mindmaps. Created maps can be saved to Google Drive, and even shared for peer-editing.
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Fifth grade art: Students worked in collaborative teams to make Graphic Novels, based on a randomly chosen literary tone. Students are learning about “tone” in Language Arts, and being able to combine text and words to emphasize the tone (such as “scary”, “contemporary”, or “funny”) helps students understand the concept of “tone” better. Each table illustrated the Greek myth, “Pandora’s Box”, but the results were all unique based on the artists’ creativity and tone. This art project was aligned with both state art standards and Common Core literacy standards.
“At Your Library” has a great listing of graphic novels appropriate for grades 3 through 5:

In February, all grades are participating in a very exciting project. We are making art for a collaborative photomosaic mural that will be displayed at Akron Children’s Hospital in honor of their 125th anniversary. Parents, guardians, and friends will be able to enjoy the mural in October 2015, and find the images online once the mural is up at You can learn more about this project (and see examples) from Project S.N.A.P., the organizers, at
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(image from Project S.N.A.P.)

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What to Do When You Are at Home (Practice Art)

At LES, students do not need to do art homework, even on snow days! Yet, I have a great resource for my students who would like to work on drawing skills–it is a website that shows you how to draw LOTS of animals:
This book is online from “open library”, and you can download it as a PDF, or just look at it online while you practice. Although it is from 1913, the lessons are still great for drawing cartoons, animals, and even in perspective.
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If you are drawing from this resource, please bring it to school. I would love to see it (actually, I love seeing any art that is made by my students)!

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