Food Creations

Do you ever want to see your kiddos’ artist side come out? Just show them the work of Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers and set them to work!
 
Tropical Island
Map of Israel
Loch Ness Monster 
Winter Wonderland
Mermaid
Tips for a successful food creation display:
  • Encourage students to use biodegradable, vegetarian or vegan food products (something that grows)
  • Ask students to create displays on biodegradable plates or platters so the whole thing can be thrown away (you can’t imagine having to scrap it off in the compost and then wash those glass platters, yuck!)
  • If you are making it a competition, have the school vote on their favorite
  • Set up a long table outside of your library, cover it with a tablecloth, and encourage classes (and parents) to come check out the work
  • Do this in the colder months so it doesn’t get smelly so fast
  • Do this as part of an all-school celebration or library-themed week (Homecoming, School Library Month, ect)
  • Have creations be depictions of favorite books

Pirate Pals

When one of your students realizes their school librarian loves pirates *almost* as much as they do… And you have matching costumes. Best day of kindergarten. Ever.

As soon as this picture was taken, we talked pirate-y to one another and then I pulled a pile of pirate books from the library. Some of my favorites are:
 

Ahoy, Matey! Pirate Day

I missed the boat (ahem, I mean, pirate ship) in September for International Talk Like a Pirate Day and after helping several students locate swashbuckling books in the library, I was inspired to have an impromptu Pirate Day with first grade. Saying they “loved it” would be the overstatement of the century.
How does one host an impromptu Pirate Day, you ask? Well, it’s simple…
 
First, gather together the following:
-Black, long-sleeved shirt
-Black pants or skirt
-Plain white t-shirt that has been “distressed” to look pirate-y
-Several red scraps of fabric to use as a belt (aka-sword holder) and headband
-An eye patch (what librarian DOESN’T have an eye patch?)
-Gold chains
-A menacing look
I also happened to have a pirate chest and gold coins in my office (oh, the things you can find in my office. Seriously).
The choices for pirate-themed books are endless (as are the options for fun accents when reading said books):
Pirates by John Matthews
Pirate: a DK Eyewitness Book by Richard Platt (I love to include non-fiction books for these thematic lessons. I pick small sections of text and the kiddos are always fascinated by what they learn)
Pirates Love Underpants by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort
No Pirates Allowed Said Library Lou by Rhonda Gowler Greene and Brian Ajhar
How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long and David Shannon
 
We finished up by creating these too-cute pirate decorations using paper plates, black construction paper scraps and red fabric. They were displayed in the hall and were a big hit.
Well, matey, might it be time for your own impromptu Pirate Day? Me thinks so!

Layers of the Earth Clay Models

Do you remember studying the layers of the earth when you were in elementary school? Yep, me neither. If I had made a clay model of the earth that was later cut open to expose the layers, that might be a different story…

This project came about after talking to the third grade classroom teacher and the art teacher, we all worked together to incorporate our areas of expertise into one cool experience for our kiddos. The students have been learning about the earth for a few weeks now so the kids have a great deal of background knowledge.

Before this project even began, I bought (lots) of Crayola Model Magic, this stuff is great to work with, dries over time and comes in lots of fun colors. I bought six colors, one for each of the layers of the earth the students were asked to represent:


I then divided the clay into individual bags, one for each student. I also included handouts for all of the tables and made my sample earth model: 
After a very short period of instruction, students set to work on making their models:
I purposely did not give the kiddos much direction, they discovered that if they make a ball for the very center of the earth and then wrap the remaining colors around that ball, it works well:
They loved this project!
The earth models looked great, they wanted to immediately cut them open to expose the layers, but I made them wait until the clay had a chance to dry.
Sadly, because we had a few weeks without library time, the earths got a little too dry and the seams started to crack. Fortunately, the models still held together and looked good:
After meeting with the art teacher, we decided these models should go on display for the entire school community. Therefore, we needed backdrops… What a great opportunity to re-visit the layers of the earth. The art teacher worked with the kiddos to create a diorama (of sorts) that both held the model and showed the layers of the earth:
Next step, cutting the models open, yaaay! And, yes, I let them wield the knife (brave, I know, but I watched them closely and they were so careful knowing this was a big responsibility):
It was so fun to see the variations in the layers!
After cutting open the models, the students made labels of the different layers of the earth using sticky envelope labels and toothpicks (the simplest supplies are sometimes the best option):
 
The models turned out GREAT and the kids were so proud!

Character and Setting Dioramas

I am a huge fan of cross-curricular collaborations to make learning more meaningful. My second graders are reading The One and Only Ivan in class so I recently constructed a bulletin board to feature the book and share with the community what is happening in one of the classrooms. Check out the bulletin board post here. Needless to say, the bulletin board worked. Everyone loved it, faculty, students and visitors asked second graders about the book and were encouraged to read it themselves.

When I found out the second grade kiddos were studying character and setting, I knew it was the perfect opportunity for another collaborative project. I contacted our amazing art teacher and she showed me a 3-D diorama that her daughter created for a book and we knew it was perfect for this project. I created my example using a different book so the students could be free to create without a per-conceived piece of art in their mind:

I wish I could figure out the official name of this process, I know there are other educators out there doing this and I would love to give them credit. If you have seen this process done before, or if you’re doing it yourself, please contact me in the comments section.

The students received three pieces of thick card stock, each piece is slightly smaller than the one behind it. For example, the back piece of paper is 8.5″ x 11″, the middle sheet is 8.5″ x 10″ and the front sheet is 8.5″ x 9.” This makes it so the final product curves inward and makes the diorama stand up on its own.

I cut the papers down to size and cut the window out of the front paper prior to handing them out to students. The kiddos were instructed to thinking about the following:
  • The back page (the largest piece) is to show the setting. Where did Ivan live? What did his cage look like? What was on the walls?
  • The middle page (the medium-sized piece) is to show the character(s). What did Ivan look like? How large was Ivan compared to his cage? Were there other important characters in the story?
  • The front page (the smallest piece, already cut into a frame) is to tell others what book you’re sharing. What is the title of the book? Who is the author? Who created this diorama?
It’s important to note that I cut around the character(s) after the kiddos finished their art. The pieces that turned out the best were those that were connected to the frame on 3-4 sides (the head, the arms, the legs), this made the character stay upright when on display. You can see this in some of the examples below:
The art teacher stopped by to check in and remind students to pay close attention to their craftsmanship. What details can be included to make your art even more interesting? In beautiful paintings are the backgrounds blank or do they include colors and interesting features? These questions really helped students to create some amazing pieces.
These dioramas went on display in the foyer of the school and they were a bit hit. I love successful collaborations that work to serve our students and provide them with a wonderful learning experience!

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