"What are we going to do today?"
Almost every kid knows that that's the one question that sets me off. If you walk in my room for class, I PROMISE that you won't leave without figuring out what we're going to do today. And I really, really, really don't want to tell every single kid, individually, what we're doing as they walk through the door and ask. So, instead I point to the board.
Along the top is a timeline for Visual Arts (my 5th-8th grade elective class), because they tend to ask what project they're doing next.
The main part of the board is dedicated to each class, with an example for each grade level.
3rd grade was starting a new project and I had the example to show the class, in case you were wondering. :)

2nd grade students were given a challenge: Use scrap paper and party streamers to create a portrait, realistic or abstract. Here are the results:

You'll notice I accidentally photographed one of the portraits twice. That particular artwork is a portrayal of the student's grandfather with chickenpox, according to her! Another artist, according to him, created Elvis. I bet you can pick him out!
I really love giving kids an idea and some materials and turning them loose. They're always so creative.

So I kind of came upon this project by accident. I was pouring some plaster into molds of world masks. I had some left over, and seeing how quick-setting plaster of Paris tends to be, and how non-wasteful art teachers tend to be, I decided to see what sort of print would turn out if I set up some plaster in a foam plate that had a design drawn in it.
A quick drawing, the remainder of the liquid plaster, and sure enough... the outline comes out very nicely (I was skeptical seeing how shallow the pen lines are, even at the deepest you can make them without creating a hole in the plate). On the first design, I covered the design with metallic paint and called it done. Mind you, this is probably nothing new to anyone else... but I was pleased with my discovery nonetheless. :D
But wait! Dry plaster scrapes away pretty well with clay tools and even popsicle sticks... so we should scrape away the background and add texture before adding metallic paint, right? Yes. So it's our experimental project in Visual Arts (5-8). Here's the carving with a layer scraped away (without detailed outlining at this point):
 Like I said, I used leftover plaster mix for this so it wasn't very thick, but you can take that into consideration when pouring it, depending on how much contrast you'll want between the positive and negative space. Since mine was pretty thin (and especially thin along the edges), some of the edges broke off.
We are detailing around the subject, and using sand paper to smooth down the scraped away areas, but the texture will still be contrasted against the smooth, untouched area inside of the main subject. The next step is to add in any additional texture, smooth away any extra lines or mistakes, and paint with metallic paint to finish it off. Be looking for posts of finished artworks! I'm so excited to see how all of these turn out.
Kindergartners finished their bugs and added them to their chosen spots on the "Bugtown Boogie" dance floor. This turned out really cute! The kids absolutely loved the book, Bugtown Boogie by Warren Hansen. I love the variety of bugs that kids made- flying bugs, spiders, bees, stink bugs, lady bugs, and bugs that haven't yet been named! They were proud of their class's buggy dance party artwork!

My kindergartners have been working on dancing bugs! We watched a read-aloud on Read to Me Las Vegas and the kids love to sing along... "The Bugtown Boogie..... shaking up the woods tonight!" The book featured a variety of bugs all having a good time at a dance party that was found through a little door at the bottom of a tree in the forest.
Some bugs have wings, some have antennae, some have dots and stripes, some are stinky (see green bug above- that is stink coming from his behind!)

Now we have to place all of our bugs into place on our "Bugtown Boogie" class page which will be displayed at the art show.