The Art Problem
How can young students let go of
realism while maintaining control of
their art tools?
Students will create a silly character
(and scene, if desired) using loose
lines and shapes while demonstrat-
ing crayon and scissor skills.
crayons, scissors, construction
papers, glue sticks, books by
1. Look through illustrations by
Dr. Seuss to show students how he
used loose lines and shapes to cre-
ate his scenes.
2. Demonstrating on a teaching
easel, guide students through char-
acter drawing, beginning with the
head, then torso, arms and legs,
tail, etc. Remind them to keep their
lines and shapes soft and loose,
with allowances for a few sharp
3. Color with crayons and cut out
4. Glue the figure onto another
color paper and cut it out “bubble
5. Glue the cutout to a background
paper and complete the scene as
Was the student able to maintain
pencil and crayon control while
drawing loosely? Did the student
follow proper scissor and glue prac-
By Laurie Bellet, art specialist at
Oakland Hebrew Day School in
Oakland, California, and creative
consultant for Torah Aura Productions.
Days of the Dead Middle School
The Art Problem
How can students create contemporary, expressive characters to
celebrate the Days of the Dead as
a cross-curricular project in art and
Students will draw a skeleton with
an interesting expression and/or
pose, and dress it as a recognizable
12 x 18" ( 30 x 46 cm) brown construction paper, reference skeletons,
white oil pastels, colored oil pastels
1. Use human or animal skeletons
for reference while drawing the
outline of a skeleton on brown
paper. Once the outline is drawn, fill
the bones in completely with white
2. Apply colored oil pastels to the
skeleton to create facial features,
clothing, and accessories as needed
to complete the character. Use
colored oil pastels to create the
objects, background, design, or
wallpaper to fill the negative space.
3. Have students trace over the
edges of the shapes created when
using the oil pastels to create outlines for edges that create definition or “pop” when the image is
To what extent does the character
express a contemporary human or
animal that is not scary, but humorous? How do the color choices of
the figure and background elements enhance the white bones
against the brown paper? Does the
student understand the difference
between the Days of the Dead and
traditional Halloween celebrations?
By Linda Lea Evans, art teacher
at Rock River Intermediate
School in Waupun, Wisconsin.
Mutant Sock Monsters Elementary
The Art Problem
How can students create a sock
sculpture and at the same time
learn to sew?
Students will create a soft sculpture
made exclusively from recycled
2–3 used socks, 2 buttons, needle
and thread, accent bell, polyester-
1. Turn one of the socks inside out.
2. Cut the sock down the middle,
starting at the cuff and stopping
just before the heel. The two
“flaps” will be the monster’s legs.
Sew up legs inside where the cut
was made, leaving the middle of
legs open for stuffing.
3. Turn the sock right-side out
and stuff the monster’s head with
polyester-fiber fill until it is firm to
the touch. Sew up hole.
4. Carefully take the heel of the
sock and make a horizontal fold to
create lips, making sure that the
stuffing inside the lips says firm.
Sew through both lips, starting at
the corner. (Important: Stitch out-
side of each lip, catching a small
stitch in the middle, for lip crease).
5. Sew on two buttons for the
monster’s eyes, using different but-
tons for contrast.
6. Cut off the cuff section of
another sock completely, cutting
just below the heel section. Cut
the cuff in half vertically to create
two arms. Sew each arm individu-
ally, leaving openings for stuffing.
Turn arms right-side out, stuff, and
sew closed. Sew each to body of
7. With the same sock, take toe
and heel area and cut in half hori-
zontally. Fashion an ear from each
part by gathering in a circled shape,
and stuffing. Attach ears to the
8. If desired, students can use a
contrasting sock to create a shirt or
vest for their monsters, adding an
accent bell in the center. They can
also use contrasting sock scraps to
create a tongue and attach it to
their monster’s lips.
By Julie B. Wells, an elementary
art teacher from Stanfield,
Pastel Self-Portrait High School
The Art Problem
How can you “jazz up” the basic
Students will learn how to use
oil pastels and will become more
acquainted with their image and
ability to show emotion through
black or gray construction paper, oil
pastels (one box per 2–4 students),
digital camera, pencils, rulers
1. Discuss and show students
examples of self-portraits through-
out the ages. Ask students to make
note of color and expression and
how it affects them as viewers.
2. Let students know that they will
be creating expression self-portraits
based on digital photographs of
3. Ask students to draw several
empty circles on construction paper
and fill each one with a different
technique using oil pastels (hatch-
ing, cross-hatching, scribbling, solid
color, and blending color), creating
a sphere with a cast shadow.
4. Print out the digital photographs
of each student and teach them
how to grid the picture and blow
up it up on the black or gray con-
5. Students fill their faces in with
oil pastel techniques. Remind them
to focus on color choice in differ-
ent areas: complementary, warm,
By Krystal Caldwell, an art
teacher at Oakridge S.S. in
London, Ontario, Canada.