Big Mouth Fish!

Kindergarten students had fun creating their own silly “Big Mouth Fish” this week!

We were inspired by Leo Lionni’s story of Swimmy, a small fish with a big idea!

We created our own fish by folding a piece of drawing paper and drawing a very simple, happy fish… but our fish has a BIG secret 🙂


Wait for it…











They have HUGE mouths!

Some of our fish are eating pizza, ice cream or even waffles!


Spring Wrap Up!

Here is a peak at some of the fun projects our Gators have been working on as our school year is winding down:


Kindergarten artists made adorable self-portraits!  We learned about artist Frida Kahlo and students were encouraged to include “clues” about themselves in their paintings!


First grade

First grade artists had a blast engineering their own “roller coasters”!  We used strips of paper in new and inventive ways to build twists, turns and loops!

Second grade

Second grade artists made AMAZING clay fish with reaalllly big mouths!  They turned out so cool!  We’ve also been weaving friendship bracelets like crazy.  More information about this project is at the end of this post!


Third grade

Third grade artists finished up these enormous and colorful flower still life paintings inspired by folk artist Heather Galler.  Aren’t they lovely?!


Fourth grade

Fourth grade artists built pinch pot clay owls.  They are all so unique!

Fifth grade

Fifth grade artists have been hard at work on their ocean-themed stop motion animation films!  We’ve finally began production and the movies are looking great so far!

We are working in teams to collaborate on our films:

Here’s a little look after our first day of animation:

There’s no question that the highlight of our spring lessons is always Kumihimo friendship bracelets!  I usually share this lesson with students in grades 2-5 but this year our 1st grade artists gave it a try… and LOVED it!  It is super fun and engaging!  Because the looms resemble jellyfish we watched the jellyfish cam while we were weaving.  It was so relaxing!


First grade artists “in the zone”!

A student hopped off the bus weaving!

I like to use small paper plates at looms for the project but any scrap cardboard will do (cereal boxes are great!).  Here’s a link to easy to follow directions if you’d like to try this at home:

Stop Motion Animation

Many of our Greenwood Gators have been participating in the Spring session of the After School Enrichment program!  I have been teaching a 6 week session on stop motion animation and have enjoyed integrating art and technology!

Stop motion animation requires a lot of time and patience.  Artists create their films using drawings, sculptures or found objects (like toys) to create action.  Each time the object moves, the film maker must make TINY changes and capture the change with a photo.  When many (MANY!) photos have been taken and the photos progress very quickly the action appears to happen seamlessly.


One of my very favorite stop motion animation films is “Fantastic Mr. Fox” directed by Wes Anderson.  Here’s a cool behind-the-scenes look at how much talent and effort goes into creating a full-length stop motion film!

We are using the library’s iPads and a free app called Stop Motion Studio to produce our own videos.  This app is very easy to use and super kid friendly.  Our animators range in age from 5-10 and have all made wonderfully creative films!

Each week our artists have about 30 minutes to experiment with a variety of stop motion techniques.  Here’s a small taste of what we’ve been working on…

Drawing on paper:

Dry erase markers and boards:


Modeling Clay:

I hope you have been inspired to try stop motion animation at home!  If you’d like to check out more of our movies you can visit The Artsy Art Room on YouTube.

Youth Art Month!

Youth Art Month is in full swing!

We have been working on our daily Creative Sprint challenges and enjoying art books shared by a verrrry cool Mystery Reader (me)!


Kindergarten artists are learning how to mix the primary colors to make NEW colors.  We love to mix colors!  Check out this inspiring video from OK GO!

We used the primary colors to make our spring chicks come to life!  They are so adorable!


First Grade

First grade artists are finishing their self-portrait collages inspired by Frida Kahlo.  I love to see so many interesting personalities 🙂


Second Grade

Second grade painters are still working on their Blue Dog paintings.  Students are working on mixing colors and adding unique details to their dog paintings.


Third Grade

Third grade artists made a variety of SHADES this week.  A shade is a color (hue) with black added to make it darker.  Next week, we will begin cutting this lovely painted paper to build our own amazing ice cream cones!


Fourth Grade

Fourth grade artists are wrapping up their Women’s History Month portrait projects by mixing TINTS for the background.  A tint is a color (hue) with white added to make it lighter.  They are coming along so nicely!


Fifth Grade

Fifth grade artists had a blast printing this week!  We created symbolic flower prints inspired by contemporary painter Kehinde Wiley.  We used foam plates and printing ink to create a series of prints.  Next week, we will use the same foam plates with additional details added to print AGAIN.  I am so excited to see how they turn out!


ARTS Festival!

I sure hope you all will have a chance to stop by the annual HCPS ARTS Festival featuring art from EVERY school in Henrico County!  It is a wonderful family event!


Plants, Animals and People Too!

I don’t know about you but I am SO excited that spring is on the way!  Our lessons this week are reflecting the sights and sounds of warmer weather…


Kindergarten artists are beginning a unit of color mixing.  To begin our lesson we watched a short video of “Peep in the Big Wide World” all about how to mix primary colors.  We used shapes to create six silly birds like Peep!  Next week we will use the 3 primary colors to make a rainbow family of silly birds.

Kindergarten Birdies

First Grade

First grade artists are creating self-portrait collages inspired by painter Frida Kahlo.  She loved making self-portraits! We read the lovely book “Viva Frida” and made observations about Frida’s paintings:

  1. She doesn’t always paint herself exactly the way she looks in real life.
  2. She likes to include clues about herself in her paintings.
  3. She loved animals and liked to include them in her self portraits.

Students are using paper and collage techniques to create self-portraits.  We will be adding “clues” to our self-portraits that help express special things about us.

First Grade Self-Portraits

Second Grade

Second grade artists are working on colorful paintings inspired by New Orleans painter George Rodrigue and his famous “Blue Dog”.  We looked at several paintings and compared their similarities and differences.  I shared the book “Why is Blue Dog Blue?” to explore some reasons Rodrigue selected the colors he used in his paintings.  We love this book!

Students drew Blue Dog and began painting her in a variety of colorful ways!  These are a work in progress 🙂


If you want to try drawing Blue Dog on your own check out my tutorial!

Third Grade

Third grade artists are learning how to create tints and shades.  A tint is a color + white, a shade is a color + black.  This week we worked on making delicious looking TINTS for the enormous ice cream cones we will begin building in a few weeks.  What flavors can you see in the colors below?  Don’t they look tasty??

Third Grade Tints

Fourth Grade

Fourth grade artists continue to work on their portraits inspired by Women’s History Month and artist Amy Sherald.  They are looking so fantastic!

I was so tickled when Amy Sherald commented my Instagram post!!!


Maya Angelou and Malala

Fifth Grade

Fifth grade artists are beginning a new printmaking unit inspired by artist Kehinde Wiley.  Wiley had an amazing exhibit at the VMFA several years ago and I was very inspired by his unique work!

Most recently, Wiley’s official portrait of former president Obama was unveiled.  We looked at the portrait and were able to see how the artist used symbolic flowers to communicate information about the president’s roots.

Students used flowers to express their own unique qualities.  We looked at birth month flowers, our state flower as well as the “language of flowers” from the Victorian era.

Fifth Grade Symbolic Flowers

Our next step will be to create prints from these flower plates.  Eventually, we will use technology to create self-portraits using our prints as the floral background!

School Board Art Show

I am so proud of Cali in Ms. Wilson’s class!  Her poppy field painting was selected by Henrico County School Superintendent Dr. Pat Kinlaw to represent all the elementary schools in Henrico at this year’s Virginia School Board Association art contest!  Way to go, Cali!


Happy Youth Art Month!

March is here which means it is officially Youth Art Month!  We will be celebrating in a few fun ways…

Creative Sprint


Students in grades 3-5 will have the opportunity to participate in daily drawing challenges.  These challenges are shared each morning on the announcements as well as on our school Instagram page.  You can follow along @TheArtsyArtRoom!  Students that complete a sketch each day through the end of March will win an art prize!

Mystery Reader

Students in pre-K-2nd grade will have a chance to enjoy an art book read by an artsy Mystery Reader (it’s me… shhh!).  I will be sharing one of my favorite silly art books The Day the Crayons Quit!

ARTs Festival

Henrico County’s division wide art festival will take place at Freeman High School on March 24th and 25th!  It will be a fantastic event!

Women’s History Month

March also marks Women’s History Month!  Fourth grade artists are recognizing the accomplishments of important women in history by conducting research and creating portraits inspired by Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald.  Sherald is best known as the artist selected by former First Lady Michelle Obama to paint her official portrait to be displayed in the National Portrait Gallery.

To prepare students for their shaded portraits, they practiced by sketching pictures of their teachers (including me!).  They used ebony pencils to create a variety of shades from very dark to very light.  We used close observation to make realistic portraits.


Mrs. Barlett (oh hey, that’s me!)


Helen Keller and Rosa Parks


Jane Addams and Ruby Bridges

Career Dress Up Day

This week was Read Across America week.  We celebrated each day with a Dr. Seuss theme!  Thursday was “Oh The Places You’ll Go” day!  Students were encouraged to dress up as their future career.  I saw lots of little artists, including sweet Kensi!  Here she is showing off her awesome costume and the adorable pet portrait she finished in art!






We’ve been feeling a little crafty in the art room!  We are weaving, working with clay, quilting (with paper) and more!


Kindergarten artists are wrapping up their fun Richard Scarry-inspired lesson with Ms. Mull this week.  Students cut out their imaginative cars and glued them to a “road” on the lovely painted paper they made several weeks ago.  Before gluing the cars down, though, we made a short stop motion movie of their cars travelling through Romare Bearden’s “The Block”!  Check out our Instagram page @TheArtsyArtRoom for these adorable videos!



First Grade

First grade artists learned about painter Alma Thomas, an artist and art teacher from Washington DC.  She created abstract paintings inspired by nature.  Although her work is abstract and you can not quickly identify an object, she provides titles which reveal her inspiration.  Students had fun looking at her work and guessing the natural inspiration before learning the title of the painting.


Painter, Alma Thomas with “Spring Flowers in Washington DC”


“Irises and crocus'”


“Triceratops in the Sun”


“Rainbow Flowers”

Students used sponges to create abstract paintings inspired by nature as well.  We listened to nature sounds (thank you Amazon Prime Music!) like chirping birds and trickling water to inspire us.  Finally, we gave our paintings a title, to provide a clue about our abstract work.

Second Grade

Second grade artists finished their unit on printmaking with Ms. Mull with an introduction to Amish quilting traditions.  Students selected their favorite print to create a quilt block.  We used construction paper to cut geometric shapes to surround our prints.  When the class was finished we assembled the blocks into a classroom quilt.


“Mrs Wrighter’s Class Quilt”

Third Grade

Third graders are still in “weaving mode” … and they love it!  We will spend one more week weaving!


Fourth Grade

Fourth grade students are starting a new unit inspired by American painter Amy Sherald.  She was selected by former First Lady Michelle Obama to create her official portrait for the National Portrait Gallery.  We will be making portraits of famous women in history in recognition of Women’s History Month in March.


Painter, Amy Sherald

To begin our unit, students practice making a variety of shades with an Ebony pencil.  We then worked on a sketch of our classroom teacher 🙂  Thank you for letting us draw you, lovely 4th grade teachers!


Students also finished up their blind contour portraits with zentangle doodles and wild, wonderful paint colors.  Check out the solution these friends had for their portraits.  So sweet!


Fifth Grade

Fifth grade students are working on finishing their face mugs!  We are painting them with glaze and they look awesome!  I can’t wait to see the final results following the glaze fire!  Please note, the weird smurf blue color is actually the final glaze coat that will be clear and shiny 🙂


On the move!

Our Gators have been working hard with Ms. Mull!  Check out some of the fun lessons she’s sharing with us:


Kindergarten artists learned about author and illustrator Richard Scarry!  We looked at illustrations from his silly book Cars and Trucks and Things That Go and had a chance to draw our own wonderful transportation creations.  They are all so unique and FUN!


Banana Car


Cupcake, Egg and Burger Car

First Grade



First grade artists have finished their Pokemon-inspired clay sculptures by glazing and creating Pokemon cards to describe their awesome creatures!  They had so much fun!



Second Grade

Second grade artists worked on another round of printmaking this week.  Students have been working on creating symbols that represent their own unique personalities.  They transferred these images to a foam printing plate and have worked on printing with these plates.  This week we used brayers and printing ink to make a series of prints using our printing plates.


Ms. Mull demonstrates our printmaking routine.


Symbolic prints

Third Grade

Third grade artists began weaving this week!  We love to weave!  Students used their symbolic color sketches to help them select which colors to use.  Next week, more weaving!


Fourth Grade

Fourth grade students had the chance to paint their blind contour drawings this week.  We used bright, unexpected colors to bring them to life.  They are stunning!

Fifth Grade

Fifth grade artists continued to work on their clay face mugs.  Last week we rolled slabs and built the cylinders of our mugs.  This week we added the facial expressions.  They look so cool… scary… silly… funny… crazy!

After School Enrichment

Our paper mache class is coming along great!  After two weeks of building our armatures we began working with the paper mache paste this week.  We measured the ingredients (1 cup flour/1 cup water), whisked out the lumps and dipped strips of news paper into the paste.  The strips are wrapped around the armatures to create a hardened outer shell.


Painting, Printing, Rolling!

The art room has been buzzing with activity as Ms. Mull, VCU student teacher, has been leading lessons with our Gators.


Kindergarten artists had a chance to experiment with a series of printmaking stations this week.  Each class rotated through 3 stations using either warm or cool colors.  We printed with bubble wrap, sponges and even matchbox cars!  Printing was (messy) fun!

IMG_8786.jpg IMG_8787.jpg


Printmaking was just the first step of our project.  I will share Part II next week!

First Grade

First grade artists finished their Pokemon-inspired clay creatures with a variety of animal characteristics like eyes, ears, wings and tails.  A few groups were able to begin glazing, which is how we add color to clay!



Second Grade

Second grade artists are learning about how artists use symbols.  We looked at Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, a system of pictures that represent ideas.  Students were asked to create a series of symbols that represent themselves.  We used foam sheets as our printing plate.  The plates were colored with markers and pressed onto a wet sheet of paper.  The ink from the markers created a print on the paper!  The process was repeated several times and students were encouraged to experiment with the colors and amount of water used.  The process can be a little unpredictable but always had interesting results!



Making multiple prints means coming up with creative ways to carry your art to the drying rack!

Third Grade

Third grade students are beginning a unit on weaving!  We looked at weaving traditions from First Americans as well as from Ghana in West Africa!  We learned how these artists use colors and shapes in their weavings to tell stories and communicate ideas.  Students wrapped the warp on their cardboard looms and had an opportunity to create a symbolic plan for the story they plan to tell with their weavings.


Cardboard looms ready for weaving!


Colorful plans for symbolic weavings.

Fourth Grade

Fourth grade students have been working on blind contour drawings inspired by the work of Jean DuBuffet and contemporary artist Ian Sklarsky.

Students were challenged to draw portraits or self-portraits without looking at their paper!  They were encouraged to make close observations by only looking at the subject of their drawing… it’s challenging, but fun!


Once the drawings are finished, pencil lines are outlined with permanent marker and painted with watercolors.  Next week, we will finish painting and add smaller details and doodles with a thin sharpie.


Fifth Grade

Fifth grade students are making face mugs inspired by American ceramicist Mitchell Grafton.  Students sketched plans for their expressive face mugs first by studying their own faces in mirrors as they made a variety of funny, scary or shocked faces!  Next, they used rolling pins and precut templates to make slab-built cylinders.  The clay cups were packed in large plastic boxes to keep the clay moist and flexible.  This week, students will add expressive faces to the walls of their mugs.  We are so excited to see how they turn out!



Back into the swing of things!

After weeks of snow and holidays (…and then more snow…) we finally finished our first FULL week of school in 2018!


Kindergarten artists are preparing for their upcoming PTA program all about PETS!  We read a beautiful book called “They All Saw a Cat” about how a variety of animals interact with a pet cat.  We were introduced to the lovely work of Japanese painter Miroco Machiko, an artist who loves to paint her cat as well as other animals.

images     fc82080342e4731147293d91dffd0165--japanese-cat-felt-art

Painter Miroco Machiko in her studio and a painting by the artist.


After discussing the difference between WILD and TAME animals we had the opportunity to paint a pet of our own.  I was blown away by the variety of pets our kindergarten artists imagined!  Next week we will color our pictures with oil pastels to bring them to life!






First grade

First graders started a super fun lesson with VCU student teacher Ms. Mull!  She introduced the class to the mixed up creatures of Pokemon world!  Students will be creating their OWN unique mixed-up creature using clay.  This week, students began their project with a pinch pot and worked on small sketches of the creature they’d like to create next week.  To close the lesson Ms. Mull shared “The Mixed Up Chameleon” by Eric Carle, a story of a chameleon who wishes he had qualities of all kinds of different animals.  He ends up very mixed-up!

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Our first graders are pinch pot masters!  Ask your first grader how they “chomp chomp chomp” like an alligator to make the perfect pinch pot.

Second Grade

Second grade students have been learning about warm and cool colors.  We learned that artists use a tool called a color wheel to help them understand how colors work together.

One side of the color wheel has warm colors: Red, Orange and Yellow.  The opposite side of the color wheel has cool colors: Blue, Green and Purple.  Artists can make color choices to help them express feelings.  Warm colors tend to make us feel happy and excited while cool colors tend to make us feel calm or sad.  Students selected either warm OR colors and experimented with a variety of lines to create a winter collage.


Third Grade

Third grade artists are also preparing for a PTA program – the theme is JAZZ!  The students were introduced to the work of American artist Romare Bearden.  He was not only a painter and collage artist but also a musician!  He was inspired by the art, music and literature of the Harlem Renaissance and made many works of art illustrating jazz musicians.

Students made sketches of a variety of jazz instruments and then selected one to create using collage techniques.  We are experimenting with line, shape, color and paper techniques.  We listened to Miles Davis and John Coltrane while working!   They look fabulous!



Fourth Grade

Fourth grade artists learned about South African painter Esther Mahlangu.  Her work reflects her Ndebele culture and has evolved in new, exciting ways!  She is the first African artist to be asked by the BMW company to participate in their art car series.  She was also the first woman AND the first artist to be invited back to do it again!


Painter, Esther Mahlangu

In 2014 she was invited by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to paint several murals on the gallery walls.  We watched this wonderful timelapse video of her painting at the VMFA!


We used black paint to create symmetrical designs by folding and rubbing our paper as our designs grew and grew.  We added color with chalk pastels which are SUPER messy but make gorgeous colors.  Our last step was to imagine where we would like to see our designs go… on a shirt… on our school… on a plane!  There were lots of great ideas!

Fifth Grade

Fifth grade artists are working on their pet projects inspired by the Henrico Humane Society.  They are having so much fun working with these sweet pets!


Fifth graders listened to a cool NPR produced podcast called Wow in the World while they worked.  It is a weekly kid-friendly podcast that explores a variety of science themes.  This week’s episode was about the benefits of RECESS!