Two Fun Art Projects for Winter Break

16 Dec

Hello internet land!
I wrapped up another semester in my college career. I’m packing my suitcase for Arizona (and the Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference) and just finished writing out my Sub Plan for Children’s Classes on Sunday. Still I thought I’d take a quick break and leave you with two fun art projects you can do this winter break!

Winter Evergreen Tree

Watercolor paper, watercolor paint (I used the 8 color crayola pan), brushes, white oil pastel, glue, single hole puncher and white scrap paper.

1. Using an oil pastel, draw a large triangle for the tree, a square or rectangle for the base, and a horizon line behind the tree. You will need to press down firmly. You can add light lines on the ground to represent snow banks.
2. Fill in the tree with green watercolor paint. You might also add yellow or blue for dimension.
3. Fill in the trunk with brown watercolor paint.
4. Fill in the ground with blue watercolor paint. I would recommend making it very watery, unlike in my example. Or if you have a fancy silvery or glittery watercolor paint, that would look great too!
5. Fill in the sky with water first. Then add purple, red, and a small amount of blue in different places. You can mix areas together. When the area is covered, dip your paintbrush in water and let it drop onto the paper. This will create “blooms” that look like the Northern Lights!
6. While the paint dries, use your hole puncher to cut out a lot of white circles from scrap paper.
7. Use glue to add the white circles onto your painting to look like snow!
8. When completely finished and dry, trip the edges. You could glue it onto a larger piece of colored paper to make a frame.

This is a great project for children of all backgrounds to make. You may allow some to turn it into a Christmas tree if you would like, but I personally would have my students focus on natural looking trees in the forest.

Modern 9 Pointed Star Card (Or Craft)

Supplies : blank white cards (mine came from Michaels), 9 pointed star cookie cutters (can be bought from Special Ideas) black acrylic paint, large paper plate, colored pencils.

1. Get out your black paint and spread it evenly on a paper plate. You want it to be thick enough to act as a stamp pad but not too thick. Acrylic paint dries very quickly, so be prepared to add more paint over the duration of this project.
2. Dip your 9 pointed star cookie cutters in the paint, and press down on the front of the card. Use different sizes and make them overlap.
3. Let the paint dry and get out the colored pencils.
4. Color in each section with a different color. I used Prismacolor pencils, which are a bit more expensive, and I had to work hard to fill in each area. But because the card paper is thin, it would be difficult (but not impossible) to use paint. You can also try markers.

This makes a great card you can send to friends and family on Ayyam-i-ha or anytime of the year. And you can use a large piece of paper (I would recommend bristol board) to turn it into an eye-catching piece of artwork everyone will enjoy.

If the paint dries on the cookie cutters, just rinse them in very hot water and it will peel off.

Prayer Lesson, MAEA Conference, and Art Ideas

7 Nov

I can’t deny it – it really stinks when you spend 5-10 hours a week prepping lesson plans, and have no students attend class. But I understand how busy life can get. Today’s lesson was very important, so hopefully I can push my curriculum back one week and fit it in next Sunday. Regardless, here is an overview of the lesson plus some fun art ideas to try.

Lesson : Prayers.

Open with Devotions, Classroom Rules, pass out snack.
Lecture/Discuss prayers. Talking points : Why do we say prayers? What happens when we don’t pray? Who do we pray to? What do we pray for? What is the Obligatory Prayer?

Prayer Scavenger Hunt : Put students into groups and hand each group a prayer book. Hand each student a prayer scavenger Work Sheet and a pencil. You can see the worksheet here , although the formatting was changed when I uploaded it: Prayer Scavenger Hunt
(ETA : Just saw I included “When you wake up” twice, that can be changed or they can find 2 prayers for that situation!)

The students will fill out the scavenger hunt, and each group will choose a new prayer they found that they liked. They will present it to the whole class. This will be the next prayer we work on memorizing in class.

During this activity, teacher will prepare for the Arts and Crafts Activity next.

Craft : Obligatory Prayer and Frame
Ahead of time – Use a hot glue gun to make picture frames out of popsicle sticks. Glue a magnet onto the back of each frame. Also, print out the obligatory prayer on nice card stock, large enough to fit in the frame.

Students will use acrylic or tempera paint, sequins, foam stickers, ect to decorate their frame. Then they will glue the Obligatory Prayer to the back of the frame and hang it in their locker or on their refrigerator at home.

Clean Up, review songs.

Hopefully I can use this lesson next week!

On Thursday and Friday of last week I attended the Michigan Art Education Association Annual Fall Conference in Dearborn. It was quite an experience – especially for a newbie like me. But I thoroughly enjoyed it, and learned so much. One session I attended had us making illustrated accordion books with Haiku poems inside. I have been wanting to make this kind of book with the Blessed Is The Spot prayer and now I know how too! Well, I am still fine tuning the details, and when I do I will post specific instructions here. But here is what I came up with so far:

And one of my newest favorite books is The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas. I copied this project from the book, but it can be adapted and changed. I thought it goes GREAT with the story of Abdu’l-Baha and the sheep, which can be found in the Core Curriculum book of Baha’u’llah stories, Volume 1.

To make this kind of art, use a white oil pastel to draw the sheep’s bodies and some lines on the ground. Then wet the entire paper with water, and use blue/purple/pink watercolors. Make sure the colors run together and mix. I used Windsor and Newton Cotman WaterColours in Intense Blue and Permanent Rose. When the paint dries, use black watercolor or ink to add in the heads, tails, and legs. Let that dry, and then use white acrylic or tempera paint to splatter all over – the book suggests dipping a toothbrush in the paint and flicking it with your finger.

I am also working on a Shrine of the Bab drawing lesson. Here is my first attempt, drawing it out first in pencil and then filling in with oil pastels. This kind of project would work best with 4th-8th grade, possibly High Schoolers if they show interest in drawing. And crayons or colored pencils would also work better.

That’s it for this week! Hopefully next week I’ll have some more concrete things to share.


31 Oct

I was really excited that 3 students attended class today, despite it being Halloween.

Our lesson was on this quote:

“O SON OF SPIRIT! Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created.” Baha’u’llah

We played a game where we had to pass a plastic bracelet around in a circle using straws we held in our mouth. It lightened the mood and has us giggling while we realized that working together is noble. We further talked about choices in our lives where we can do the noble thing, or abase ourselves, and how good choices lift our souls close to God like a hot air balloon lifts us off the ground.

For our art project, we drew Hot Air balloons using this method on white drawing paper using pencil, and then colored them in with marker. Then we cut them out and glued them onto blue card stock. Some wrote the quotation on the front or back of their drawing.

Here is my teacher example – I used blue watercolor paint for my background and then pasted the hot air balloon on top.

Here is another art project idea for the extra tissue paper squares from the Sun of Truth project.

Materials – Watercolor paper, tissue paper squares, masking tape, black colored pencil, blue watercolor paint, green acrylic paint.

1. Stick long strips of masking tape on the watercolor paper to make tree trunks. It might help to stick it to your jeans/pants first to weaken the adhesive, so it will peel of the paper easier. Add tree branches as needed.

2. Draw a horizon line across your painting. Then fill the ground portion with tissue paper squares.

3. Use a squirt bottle to dampen all of the tissue paper squares. The colored ink will get runny and it will stain the paper. When it dries, peel off the tissue paper squares.

4. Paint blue water color on the sky portion of the painting. Let dry.

5. Peel off the masking tape to reveal white tree trunks. Use a black colored pencil to gently outline the tree, and shade in one side of the tree darker. (Make all trees match.) then add horizontal lines to make the bark of the tree.

6.You can add green/yellow leaves with paint on top, and blades of grass as desired.

Sun of Truth Craft

24 Oct

Today in our Sunday School class we began our discussion about Baha’u’llah. We talked about how He is the Sun of Truth who is awakening the people of the world to their spiritual nature, and that eventually we will create world peace. Then we made a Sun craft.

Materials : Small paper plates, yellow/orange tissue paper cut into 1” squares, orange card stock, scissors, white glue, yarn, hole punch, and black sharpie markers.

Students wrote ” Baha’u’llah is the Sun of Truth” using black sharpie markers on the “eating” side of the plate. Then they flipped it over and covered the back with crumpled up tissue paper squares dipped in white glue. Then they cut triangles out of orange card stock and glued them around the edges of the plate. To finish, they punched a hole on top and attached a loop of yarn to hang it up.

I try to plan craft projects that the children can display in their bedrooms, or homes. This way they serve as visual reminders of the Baha’i Faith during the week. The craft was a success this week, and the students really enjoyed it. I hope they hang it up in their rooms so it reminds them to “awaken” their souls in prayer each morning.

Golden Rule – And A Bit About Differentiation

22 Oct

Last week we opened our classroom to first graders, making our class 1st-5th grade. It has me thinking about multi-age classrooms, as well as differentiated learning in a religious education setting. While my brain has only begun to get a grasp on these contents, I’d love to have a conversation with anyone interested in these topics, if that’s you let me know!

Last week, our class learned about the Golden Rule. And more importantly, we learned that the Golden Rule can be found in every world religion! After we investigated their similarities and differences, we decorated puzzle pieces with the different Golden Rules.

At the end, we put it together to make a heart! All religions teach us to love one another.
We talked about how we try to treat others as we wish to be treated, and heard a folk tale about a family that treated their neighbors with kindness and respect.

Here is the finished puzzle – I’ve mounted it on poster board to hang in the classroom.

For those interested in exploring what the World Religions have to say about the Golden Rule, here is a great interactive website :

Next week we will be celebrating Global Oneness Day, learning more about our UNICEF service project, and beginning our studies on Baha’u’llah.

Whole Soul Lesson Planning

8 Oct

I have always been a fan of Whole Brain Teaching. But lately I’ve been wondering what Whole Soul Teaching would look like. So for our last lesson at the Detroit Baha’i Center Sunday School, I planned a lesson using many small activities to exercise the brain and the soul. Here’s a brief overview:

Objective – Create a lesson for 2nd-5th graders to teach Progressive Revelation. Students will understand that there is One God, One Human Family, and One Religion. Students will understand that God’s Messengers are like mirrors reflecting the light of the Sun (God) and they are the teachers of humanity.

Time – 90 Minutes
1. Prayers
2. Review Classroom Rules
3. Teacher Lectures on the Main Concepts
4. Students learn Sign Language for the Main Concepts
5. Students get worksheet and copy a quote from Baha’u’llah.
6. Students take mirrors outside to scientifically learn a concept.
7. Students draw their observations based on their discovery outside.
8. Children make a craft.
9. Children learn a song.

1. Begin class with prayers. This directs our education towards God and strengthens our soul.

2. Review classroom rules and procedures. This establishes a loving, respectful environment.

3. Teacher introduces the Oneness of God. Introduce the Messengers of God. Use metaphor – Messengers reflecting the light of God and Messengers as the progressive teachers of humanity. Discuss how through progressive revelation, unity of God, God’s Law, Love, Nation, and Humanity were achieved. This uses listening skills.

4. Children stand up in a circle and learn sign language relating 5 Prophets and the unity they established. This uses gross motor skills,

5. Pass out short worksheet on Messengers as Mirrors. Children will draw a picture of a mirror reflecting the light of the sun, and then copy a quote from Baha’u’llah. This employs the use of writing and reflection. It involves the private study of the Writings and Independent investigation.

6. We take small hand-held mirrors and go outside the school to see what a mirror looks like when it reflects the light of the sun. This involves scientific discovery.

7. Then we go back inside and finish the drawing on our worksheet. This involves critical thinking.

8. Then we make a craft project that reinforces the Oneness of God, Man, and Religion. This engages the eyes, hands, and creative mind.

9. To end the class, we learn and sing a song called “God Is One” which cements the new concept in our hearts, minds, and souls.

The class went extremely well. Although I do not plan to use so many different activities in every lesson, I could immediately see which modes of learning the children preferred. For one student, who recently moved here from overseas and is still learning English, he excelled during the scientific discovery portion. I could assess his understanding by his ability to draw what a mirror looked like when it reflects the light of the sun.

And the craft? Too cool for words. I modified a craft from the Catholic Icing Blog

Hanging below the Hand shape were squares that read “God” “Humanity” “Religion”
The song lyrics were

God is One
Man is One
And all the Religions are One
Land and Sea
Hill and Valley
Under the beautiful sun

God is One
Man is One
And All The Religions Agree
When everyone learns the 3 onenesses
We’ll have world Unity.

You can listen to it here: just scroll down until you see God Is One.

So begins a new year

19 Sep

Today was the first day of the 2010/2011 School Year at the Detroit Baha’i Center.

In addition to teaching, I have also decided to serve as the Children’s Program Coordinator for the Baha’i Center.
In order to reconcile these two tasks, all teachers, parents, and students gathered in the lower level together to hear
announcements. The parents received an information packet consisting of:
1. Welcome Letter
2. Wish List (art supplies/snacks ect)
3. Teacher Contact Information
4. School Calendar
5. Registration Forms

While I spoke with the parents, the children sat at tables on the other side of the room at decorate Pinwheels for International Day of Peace.

The parents went back to the main meeting room and children broke off into classes.

We restructured classes so that children remain with the teachers they had last year. As such, I am teaching the 2nd-5th graders. I was so surprised to find two new students joined our community over the summer. We had a great class and it made me to happy to see everyone’s smiling faces.

We were also blessed by the generosity of community members who donated art supplies and money to provide snacks.
Nestled in the donation box was a wooden heart-shaped plaque which immediately made me think of the “Virtues-as-gems-of-the-heart” metaphor so frequently referenced in the Baha’i Faith. So I came home to decorate 🙂

Also I felt inspired to try a new drawing technique that I read about so often in the many art teacher blogs I follow.
The technique is simple – use white school glue on black paper to “draw” a line drawing. When it dries clear, fill in the drawing with pastels.
At first I smudged the pastels, and then I added horizontal hatches to give it an impressionistic feeling. I can definitely see myself using this type of project this year.

So all in all we are off to a great start.

Baha’i Watercolor Resist

4 Sep

I have this art project planned for January, but I didn’t want to wait before trying it out. Though I ran out of space for the quote, so I will have children either use thin black markers or condense the quote for artistic purposes.

General Steps
1. Draw an ocean scene on watercolor paper with crayons, making sure to press firmly.
2. Use blue watercolor paint to paint over your scene.
3. Sprinkle paper with salt to give a sparkly bubble effect.
4. Let dry, then write quote on bottom.

Getting Ready For Another School Year

31 Aug

I think my lack of posting last school year really affirms how busy teaching (and being a college student) can be. The Baha’i Sunday School year went so amazingly well, the students were so enthused and as always, I learned just as much as they did.

Now I’m onto my second year of being a Sunday School teacher at the Detroit Baha’i Center. After evaluating how last year went, I’ve made some changes.

1) Focus less on learning.
Sounds counterintuitive, but after planning out a vast Scope and Sequence last year that went over the Central Figures of the Baha’i Faith, Institutions, and Beliefs I noticed that different children attended the Center each week. I had designed it so that each lesson built upon the last, and it became impossible to teach that way. So this year I designed each lesson on a specific writing of Baha’u’llah. There are small lectures, combined with many crafts, skits, and games. There is enough learning so that each child will walk away from the lesson knowing something new, but also so that anyone can walk into the classroom and not feel left out.

2) Communicate with the Parents More
This one is very obvious. I hate to admit it but it wasn’t until halfway through the school year that I started learning the parents names and really getting to know them. I wish I hadn’t waited so long!

3) Organize ahead of time!
Last year, my lesson planning included general ideas and goals for each lesson, but I ended up tossing most of it out to meet the needs of each week. This year I wrote a 60 page document describing every lesson in the smallest detail so that any teacher could pick up it up and know what to do. Of course I’m not planning to go anywhere, but as a full time college student, full time artist, and a part-time elementary school art room assistant I wanted to get everything done ahead of time. I also organized my basement so that all my materials are clearly labeled.

4) Remember to have fun!
After spending hours writing lesson plans and organizing materials, sometimes I forget why I’m working so hard. It’s so the kids have a great time! That’s why this year I decided to change the “Theme” of the classroom. Last year it was “We Are The Fruits of One Tree” and I put up a huge 2D tree on a classroom wall. Each student’s name was written on an apple and put on the tree, which was also adorned with leaves (each had a virtue written on it) and 9 pointed stars with Baha’i Writings on them. I really love that theme, but I want to keep it fun and exciting. So here is my new theme!

I drew the scuba divers in Adobe Illustrator and printed them out on cardstock. They stand about 15 inches high. As you can see, our theme this year is “Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words…” Each child will get their name written on a shell and each Sunday they attend they will get to put a sparkly pearl shaped sticker onto their shell. (They will get to take the shell home at the end of the year, just as they did with last years Apples) Also, since each lesson focuses on a particular writing of Baha’u’llah’s, those writings will be written on circular pieces of cardstock and painted with glitter, to resemble pearls. At the end of each lesson, that specific pearl will get pasted on the bottom of the poster board.

Well I’m excited for this year, and I have a lot of ideas for blog posts, so hopefully I find more balance this year and write a bit more!

Cleanliness In The Classroom – Fights Germs and Bad Behavior

26 Oct

Hello friends, it has been a while. Attendance for Sunday school dwindled down for a few weeks, but now we are back into full swing with a lot of ideas to share.

With illnesses such as the Swine Flu spreading through classrooms in the United States, cleanliness is a virtue all teachers can appreciate.  But in the Baha’i Faith, cleanliness has held an even greater power than preventing the spread of germs.

“And although bodily cleanliness is a physical thing, it hath, nevertheless, a powerful influence on the life of the spirit.” – Abdul’Baha

New research shows that clean smells unconsciously promote moral behavior.

“Basically, our study shows that morality and cleanliness can go hand-in-hand,” said Galinsky of the Kellogg School. “Researchers have known for years that scents play an active role in reviving positive or negative experiences. Now, our research can offer more insight into the links between people’s charitable actions and their surroundings.”

Above and beyond ensuring that our students wash their hands, this study could have drastic effects on classrooms everywhere. Better go buy some citrus-scented Windex, as the study cites!

How do you think this could be implemented in your classroom?
I have had my eye on the Febreze Luminary’s for a while now. They are similar to scented candles, minus the flame.