Jan 01

How To Raise and Encourage a Creative Child

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

Encouraging A Creative Child Isn’t Easy

Encouraging a creative child

Encouraging a creative child these days isn’t easy. As a teacher for 20 years, I have seen many trends come and go in the field of education. We are all to quick to jump on the educational trend train when it comes to the newest, fastest, highest ranked priority for the now. What will give us the highest test scores to make our school or district look really good on paper? 

Creativity Isn’t On “The Test”

Currently, we are seeing the need to “teach to the test”. Standardized testing has taken the U.S. by storm and the need to have ALL students score high on these tests is the center of what seems to be important. But what kind of disservice is it doing to our kids when it comes to creativity and being original? We have become so wrapped up in having our kids read and write fluently by 4, speak 2 languages by 10 and take college credited classes in high school.

Do Kids REALLY Know What We Think They Know?

These brilliant young folks are able to pass a class or a subject where they are told what they need to know, but how many young people would be able to apply this learning in an original constructive way in society? A talented music student may be able to learn to play a magnificent piece by Bach or Mozart, but rarely are these students able to compose their own original scores.

Practice makes perfect but it doesn’t make new. Many times these bright or even brilliant students work so hard to gain the praise of their teachers and parents and conform to “the rules” but so seldom work to make their own rules.

I’ll Tell You What To Think

According to The Article Creativity: Asset or Burden In The Classroom in the Creativity Research Journal Volume 8 Issue 1 by Erik L. Westby and V.L.Dawson, students that were more likely to conform to rules were less likely to show creativity because they made little effort to know creative thought to problem solve because they were told exactly how to act and what to think.

In other words, “This is what we want you to do, at this time and in this way. Please follow all of the directions.” This is how standardized tests test our kids for factual knowledge.

Disrespect Is Not Creativity

Now let’s not mistake being disrespectful and disrespectful behavior for being creative. Purposely being defiant is not being creative. That’s just being a jerk. Some people see questioning why something needs to be done a certain way as being confrontational rather than simply trying to figure out multiple ways to solve a single problem. In other words, being creative.

Try It And See

It took me well into my adult years to understand that there are no hard fast rules when it comes to visual art and creating it. As a kid, I was a rule follower and never caused waves. I did what was asked and rarely questioned anything. I loved art and was very creative in that realm, but in anything else, I just did what I was told. The idea that there are certain rules you need to follow with techniques and mediums held me back from creating original work.

What helped me get through this wall? Well, I started following my own advice. My students always ask me if it was ok to try this or that and my answer to them would always be,”Try it and see what happens. If it doesn’t work, try something else.”

Getting my students to understand that there is always more than one way to get to the finish line is helping them to not be afraid to fail on their first attempt at anything. In fact I always kind of hope they fail in their first attempt at anything.

Learn How To Fail

Fail? Who wants to fail and why would I want my child to fail? No one wants to see their child fail. But it’s how we encourage them to fail that matters. Always fail forward! But what does this mean? In the wise words of Thomas Edison,” I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Encouraging our kids and students to keep trying until we find the “thing” that works is failing forward. You don’t quit until you find your “thing” that will work. This applies to everything you do. From reading and math to art, music, and athletics. 1, 10 or even 100 attempts to throw free throws will not make you Michael Jordan. Cover bands do not change the world! You need to find your own voice to make a difference and be original.


In adulthood, many of the students who were considered to be prodigies as kids, become prestigious professionals who work hard every day in the profession they have chosen without working to transform and change the field they have chosen. Doctors, for example, can do great things to heal their patients without working to change healthcare for the masses.

So what can we do to encourage our children to grow up to be creative adults? First, let’s understand that every single person is creative. When people think about being creative they go right to the thought of being able to create beautiful works of art. This is not what creativity is about. Creativity is more about coming up with various solutions to solve the same problem in their own unique way. We learn more from figuring out how to go from failure to success. Failing is learning.

Stress Is The Ultimate Creativity Killer

Studies have shown that stress kills creativity. Families that have excessive schedules and kids with a ton of homework or who have multiple family rules are not only less creative but far more stressed. Kids need relaxed time for their brains to be creative.

This doesn’t mean sitting in front of a T.V. or a computer screen playing video games. Reading, napping, drawing, and coloring, listening or playing music, etc. are all good ways to take a “brain break”. Why do you think you come p with some of your best ideas or solutions in t your morning shower or on your commute to or from work?


When my own children were little they loved to make pretend food out of Playdough or create culinary magnificence in their little pretend kitchen. Of course, they would bring me a plate of plastic food and I would pretend to devour it like it was the best meal I have ever eaten and ask them to go back to the kitchen to make more.

Give your children opportunity to pretend and play with props and ideas to create anything they want. Did you ever have a large empty box? It’s the cheapest creativity starter I have ever come across. Even older children can’t pass up the opportunity the create using just a large empty box. Instant fort for all kinds of adventure.

Open Ended Ideas and Questions

As an educator, we are asked to use open-ended questions for our students all the time. Open-ended means there are multiple answers to a single question. Open-ended creativity allows children to create whatever they can imagine. When I was growing up we would go over to my next door neighbor’s house where she had a HUGE box of legos. She and I would create vast dream house floor plans. We would build kitchens and bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms and even garages complete with moving cars.

Have you noticed that a lot of the lego sets now come in kits with full sets of directions? Following directions isn’t open-ended. I’m kind of ok once they put together their “kit” and don’t keep the kit pieces all separated ziplock bags. Being told exactly what to do and how to do it does not encourage creative unique thinking and problem-solving. Buy big sets of lego’s, Playdough, paints, and coloring books without the rules and directions on exactly what to do. Let the kids figure it out with multiple “correct answers”.

Designated Messy Area

Figure out an area of your home that kids can make messes. Encouraging a creative child means making a few messes. As adults, we always worry about who will stop by unannounced and see our home in a mess. I’m guilty of this too. Always making sure the toys are put away and things are in order. Now, I’m not saying that we need to have the entire house in a constant shambles striving to enrich our kids’ creativity. You could use this as a pretty good excuse though.

What we have done is set aside a room in our basement that we straighten up when the kids are not working on projects but have the ability to leave unfinished puzzles, projects and lego buildings set up if the need is there. Find a place where children can stash their unfinished projects, experiments, and ideas until they can come back to them. Someplace out of the way but still very accessible. 

Remember… Adults need creativity too!

As an adult, we need to be creative as well. Think about the person whose job revolves around constant direction with little input into what they do or how they do it. These are usually the people that hate their job and feel unimportant as they feel that their ideas are unimportant.

Think back to when you were in school. Was there a class in high school you really loved? Art class? Home Ec ( Now called Family Consumer Science Education) or Shop Class (Now known as Technical Education Class) Or is there something you want to learn how to do?

Finding What You Love Again

I have a teacher friend of mine who is a history teacher. He likes the subject matter he teaches but a few years ago his wife bought him a gift certificate to learn how to do blacksmithing. He’s always had a fascination with it. Because of his interest, he’s gone on and taken multiple classes since that first experience. This interest and need to be creative led him to set up a  mini blacksmith shop at his house that he spends hours creating various metal work in. He sells some of his items but really it’s more for him to “get away from it all” and just be.

Encourage your kids to find what creative areas they like, but also nurture yours too. Let them be a part of what you enjoy as well.

Let’s Recap

Encouraging a creative child to following directions step by step to accomplish a single intended outcome is not being creative. Don’t get me wrong, directions and instructions have their place. But, failing with different attempts to solve a problem is failing forward and the more times you fail forward the more you learn from each experience getting closer to finding the solution you are looking for. Creativity is experimentation and is hard work.

Being over schedules and not having the time to give your brain a break is a huge creativity killer. Everyone needs brain breaks to think and come up with different solutions to situations. There are lots of ways to play or relax to give your brain a rest and think differently. This is NOT a bad thing. Embrace it for your children and yourself!

Encouraging Creative Kids

Encouraging a creative child with the ability to make “stuff” is a true gift. Whether it is playing with Playdough, using legos without instructions, playing kitchen, or an empty cardboard box, just let them play and make “stuff” without direction from you. See what they come up with.

Use open-ended questions so kids have to really think about the answer. Asking them a yes or no question or asking them a question and giving them an answer to choose from is not open-ended and certainly does not get them to think about a solution for a problem or situation. Let kids come up with multiple “correct answers”. This is a great way of encouraging a creative child and thinking in creative ways.

Designated Areas

Designate an area for creative play. Encourage kids to keep their creations and work out until they are completely finished, but make sure it’s in a place that won’t make you crazy hoping someone doesn’t happen to drop by for a visit.

Finally, remember that it’s ok for you as an adult to be creative too! You need creativity in your life. so go belly up to a coloring book, pull out a cookbook and improvise a recipe, go in the garage and build something or take a class to learn something you have always wanted to learn. Rekindle a love for something you did when you were younger or do something you have always wanted to do. Don’t think…. go DO!

Stop using all of your time to plan lessons, look up resources and develop teaching tools. I have this all done for you! Click HERE to get your time back!

Dec 10

Art Teacher Of The Week December 11, 2017

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

Art Teacher Of The Week

This Weeks Art Teacher Of The Week is Kristin Taylor- Clarke. She did a great interview with us. Please join me in welcoming Kristin!

How long have you been an art teacher?

I have been teaching for 10 years and an art teacher for the last 5 years. 

Where are you teaching and what grades are you teaching now?

I work in an elementary school of almost 900 students in Toronto, Canada. I teach Visual Arts to Kindergarten to Grade 4, as well as a special needs class.

When did you know you wanted to be an art teacher?

I have always wanted to be an artist and a teacher. 5 years ago I was given the opportunity to combine both which is a challenge and an inspiration every day!

Who was an inspiration on your path to becoming an art teacher?

I had a few instructors at art school who you were in awe of because of their artistic talent, but at the same time, they gave you the confidence and guidance to make you believe it was attainable for yourself. I hope to be that for my students.

Finish this sentence: I know it’s been a really good day in my art room when…

…the floor is a mess! I did have a 6-year-old boy say recently ‘Ms. Taylor, you’re turning us into artists.’ That was a good day 🙂

Find Kristin’s Chalk Pastel Poppy Lesson Plan Here.

Pastel Chalk Poppy Lesson Plan

To see what else Kristin has been working on at her website at:

Dec 04

Art Teacher Of The Week December 4, 2017

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

This week’s Art Teacher Of The Week is Rebecca Jardin.

The Art Teacher Of The Week For December 4, 2017 is Rebecca Jardin.  I was so excited to interview Rebecca and have her share her very popular watercolor fish painting lesson plan. Without further or due, I am pleased to introduce this week Art Teacher Of The Week, Rebecca Jardin

How long have you been an art teacher? 

I have been teaching art to all ages K- adult for 20 years. I began my career in Adelaide Australia but then discovered the international life. Since then I have worked in London-UK, Al Ain-UAE, Hangzhou-China, Ghana- Africa, and now Ho Chi Minh City-Vietnam.

Where are you teaching and what grades do you teach?

I am currently teaching at Saigon South International School and am the Middle School Art teacher. This is actually the first school where I have only taught grades 6,7,8.

When did you know you wanted to be an art teacher?

Despite studying the art/design teaching diploma, I didn’t actually know that I really wanted to do it until my incredible 4th-year practicum. I was at a state school which had many, many different cultures- it was quite unique at the time. The teacher who was my supervisor was ill, so I was thrown into the deep end, which was a true blessing. I loved how he had the students sharing foods and music from their cultures. The room was relaxed, welcoming and incredibly inspiring.

Who was an inspiration to you along your path to becoming an art teacher?

Other than my mum who physically drove me to the interview when I wasn’t planning on applying. I was also really inspired by one very talented middle school art teacher, who showcased his own art whilst also setting very creative tasks. He created awesome set designs and always encouraged me. Also the teacher I mentioned earlier from my 4th-year practicum he was brilliant, relaxed, incredibly supportive, welcoming, and trusting. He seriously made me want to teach.

I know it’s been a really good day in my room when the students don’t want to leave or even better, they come back with their friends or parents to show them what they did today in art class. There is nothing better than igniting confidence, pride, and passion.

My personal teaching passions are collaborating, “tradigital” teaching, working with the community and showcasing student art. Here is a talk I did for Learning2 Asia, describing how I have connected, collaborated, created and celebrated with my students, . I am always looking for other art teachers to connect and collaborate with.
I also love mixing paint with pixels, in particular working with the iPads in the art room. My personal inquiry into iPads in the art room began in 2012. I have documented my learning and showcased student work on my blog,
I love to share student success through many forms of social media.
You can follow my classes on:
Twitter: @rtjardin
Every year I am growing as a teacher, the learning never stops. I am always trying new challenging units, whilst increasing technology use, connection, collaboration and developing authentic audiences whenever I can. I love my job and am so grateful for my students, classroom and expat life.

The Art Teacher Of The Week December 4, 2017, Lesson Plan

You can find Rebecca’s Watercolor Fish Lesson Plan HERE!
Nov 27

Art Teacher Of The Week November 16, 2017

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

Art Teacher Of The Week: Karen Jo Bailey

Art Teacher Of The Week

This week’s Art Teacher Of The Week is Karen Jo Bailey. Karen joins us from Birmingham, Alabama. Karen has been teaching for 20 years and has her Master’s Degree in Art Education and is certified in Early Childhood Education. She is currently working with students in Pre K through 5th grade.

Karen received her formal education at the University of Alabama where her favorite art professor made a lasting impression on her.

When asked what she likes best about teaching art she said,” My favorite part about teaching is the “freedom” in lesson planning. I have conditioned myself by teaching with picture books from early on. To see the children (no matter what their age) “light” up with excitement and motivation is the best part. I go into teaching a lesson (reading a chosen book) with zest and spunk and then see these traits reflected in my student’s eyes. I know I did a great job if I got everyone to participate!”

Click below to get Karen’s Three Snow Bears Lesson Plan.

Three Snow Bears

Polar Bear Lesson Plan

Oct 18

Differentiating Instruction

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

Differentiated Instruction
A lot of administrators and educators agree that differentiated instruction can dramatically help students to succeed. But let’s face it, it’s not easy and it takes a lot of careful planning. it’s a big job to make sure that all students of different abilities are engaged and it can be challenging for a teacher to have to plan for all of those different needs. So here are some differentiating suggestions for any class type including Art. Read on to get your Differentiated Lesson Checklist.

Ask Questions and Let The Students Take Ownership For Their Learning

I have always felt that art education was a great way to differentiate lessons for kids anyway. But, when you give them open-ended projects that allow for creativity and their own differentiation, it’s a win-win for all people involved. Letting kids have choices and mediums they use subject matters they create on and other things that they choose withheld to engage your students no matter what their ability level. Knowing that they had the choice in what they’re doing also help them take ownership for their own learning.

Surveys Tie Student Interests Into Content

Interest surveys are a great way to first off get to know your kids but also a great tool to use to help find out what students are really interested in. Brain research has shown that relating other subject matter to personal experience how to jumpstart the brain. There will also be an emotional attachment to the subject matter that they’re working on for the projects. This will help keep him engaged.

Engaging Different Types Of Learners

We know that there are different types of learners in every classroom. There are Visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic styles of learning. Incorporating each of these types of learner into all of your lesson and project will engage your students because they are learning in a way that works best for them. With special education students, you may still need to modify some of your lessons and projects even when incorporating as many of the learning styles into your lessons as possible. Using at least two or more styles in a single lesson helps to focus on the “whole child” and not just a single skill type.

Vary Your Assessments

Giving students a choice on how they complete a targeted goal is the name of the game. Each way would hit the essential questions and objectives but scaffolds it in a way that allows students to be assessed on their knowledge in a way that is the best for them. No one wants to do the same assessments day in and day out. It’s like an assorted bag of candy. I want candy. But I think today I’ll have chocolate ad tomorrow something fruity. It’s all candy but a little different flavor.

Do Your Homework

Usually, within the first couple of weeks, we can get a pretty good idea of the prior knowledge that the student has retained from previous years or classes. But it’s our job as teachers to read through student files,  IEPs, and 504 Plans to make sure we are giving our kids what they need to be successful in the classroom. Doing your homework is important!

Individual Feedback

Flexible individualized work plans and feedback can help students to self-monitor their learning. Giving students feedback above and beyond a project rubric helps students to organize for themselves what they need to do and to what level they need to do it. Ask questions such as: What went well? What didn’t go so well? Where do you have questions?
These are great guiding questions for self-reflection and learning.

You’re Probably Already Doing This

You may be thinking,”Good God, I just can’t do one more thing!” The good news is that you probably don’t have to. I’m guessing you are already doing a bunch of differentiation already and sometimes don’t even realize it. Personalizing projects that actor to a student’s interests and passions are already more than halfway there.

Fair Does Not Mean Equal

Reminding our students that fair isn’t equal is a good message to start your classes with. Fair means that every student’s gets
What they need to be successful. Making this concept the message in your classroom will eliminate a competition type of mindset. We are here to help each other. “Comparing your work to another student’s work isn’t going to work in here. “ Send the message that this classroom works like a team or family. We won’t always get along, but we are here to help each other grow and get better.”

Share Your Struggles and Strengths With Students

Many of our students struggle with confidence in themselves and in their artwork. Don’t be afraid to share your own struggles. Kids see the finished products of what we do but usually have no idea how we got to that finished point.  I often let me kids know about my mistakes in life as well. Being HORRIBLE in math as an example. Sharing our struggles shows kids that we are human too.

Mini-Lessons and Review Sessions

Mini-lessons and review sessions are a great way to give certain kids the support and help they need without reteaching an entire lesson. Focus in on where kids are struggling and then move on. Mini-lessons are also a great way to show various techniques that all kids may not use and encourage advanced learners who also need to be challenged and pushed a little further.

Use Lots Of Open-Ended Questions

Using open-ended questions helps all students, no matter what their skill level, to be successful in giving feedback. Answering open-ended questions also give you a better idea of what they know and understand that a multiple choice type test ever will.

The Real Essential Standards and Objectives

You can’t cover everything in great depth. Let’s be real here… it just doesn’t happen due to many factors. Choose the essential standards and objectives you want to cover and go deep into learning and understanding. Ever hear the saying,”If everything is important, nothing is important.” It’s never been truer. Expect proficiency and mastery from all students we need to be realistic in expectations with a student’s ability. This is what differentiation is about. Challenge each student appropriately and engagingly.

Join The Visual Art Academy Community For only $10!

We have a super great group of Art Teachers in our Facebook group –  Art Teachers Teaching Art

Sep 07

The First Week Of School Is Over…. Now What?

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

The First Week Of School is Over… Now What?

New Year

It’s the first week of school. The excitement is high! Classrooms are ready, everyone is wearing their new wardrobe, and breaking out the new school supplies. Some are nervous and some are excited. Oh, and the kids are too. 🙂 But Now the first week of school is over. Now, what do you do?

So you’ve gotten through the first week of ice breakers and it’s time to get to teaching. Now what? Let the real work begin! Lessons, assessments, activities, worksheets, etc. Some of you may have been thrown into new grade levels or maybe have never taught art before. some of you don’t have a classroom and are going from room to room on a cart trying to figure out how to make it all work. Some of you may have a whole new curriculum or be moving to standards based grading. Most of you have a combination! So where do you begin?

So What Do You Do First?

Find out what standards your district uses for Art Classes? Are your standards, objectives, and curriculum listed somewhere for you can get your hands them?  What are the critical objectives you want students to know when they leave your classroom doors?

Lessons, So Many Lessons!

Once you figure out your standards, your next step is to start planning lessons. Ohhhhh, so many lessons. But really options are endless. The “what” isn’t the hard part of the lesson, it’s the “how” that most struggle with.

An Hourish Of Learning

Like to lay out my lesson in a daily agenda first. Just so I know what I will be doing from day to day.

Daily Agenda pg1 Lesson Agenda page 3

The example to the right is from the Art Foundations 2D curriculum in the Visual Art Academy Membership. I first break down the standards used in the unit and lesson. Here you see I use the National Standards. Then I list the objectives. What do I want my students to learn by doing this project, unit, lesson, etc. Then I get into listing the materials and supplies I will need for the day. This helps to organize and to make sure we have all the supplies needed. There is nothing worse than realizing you don’t have all the supplies needed once you begin or get into the middle of a project.

Getting Into The Meat and Potatoes

I go on to create an agenda and then get into Teacher Instruction/Class Discussion. This is the important stuff. Reviewing what was discussed and learned the class before is a great way to begin. Then moving on to the new discussions, demonstrations, Power Point Information, Practice worksheets and more.

Getting To Work

Students usually can’t wait to get to it and start working on projects. This is what I put into the Class Activity section of the Daily Agenda.

Things To Remember

I make a quick list in the ASAP after class for things I will need to remember to do right after I finish teaching a class. Replenish supplies, make copies, get something else ready for the next day. Whatever I deem important to remember.

Hopefully, all of this helps you get started and the wheels turning for new lessons and projects. Don’t forget to sign up to get your Art Teacher Assessment Guide For The Classroom and Beyond. The First Week Of School Is Over

If you like this agenda and want to get all of the Daily Art Agendas,  art lesson plans, power points, practice exercises, assessment and so much more Join The Visual Art Academy Community now. 

Aug 11

The First Day Of School And Instant Student Engagement

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

The First Day Of School And Instant Student Engagement Made Easy

Today Is The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Year. I have made the first day of school and instant student engagement easy. Connecting Our Hopes and Dreams In A Place That Matters With People Who Care is an amazingly powerful statement. So how do we make this happen for our students on the first couple of days a school?

Back To School

Starting a new school year has a lot of mixed emotions for students of course. Teachers go through the roller coaster of emotions too. Every year is a brand new start. We have ideas we want to try, a vision of what our classroom or art making space will look like, and a hope for what our students will leave the year with once the walk out our door. Yes, student learning and curriculum is important. Studies have shown that when students have a good relationship with their teacher, feel safe and not afraid to take risks their learning goes through the roof!

How Do We Know Kids Are Learning?

Yes, the standardized tests scores… blah blah blah blah blah… I have never had a student come back years after I had them to say, “Mrs. Mullard, I just want to thank you for all of the assessments and rubrics you gave us.” Never has that ever happened and it won’t happen in the future. Kids will remember how you made them feel in your classroom. They will remember what stirred passion with in them. They will remember the relationships that started and were nurtured in your classroom. When you know your kids you can ask them questions. When you ask them questions you will get some answers. When you get some answers, you’ll know what they are learning! Kind of sounds a lot like the “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” books doesn’t it?

How Do You Get To Know Your Kids?

The First Day Of School Student Engagement

Of course there are lots of ways to get to know your students but I like to get a jump on it the first couple of days. I fill out my “Get to know ya” worksheet so students can see it in my room. Yup, I have it displayed for the world to see. Give it your worksheet a personal touch and be a little vulnerable. Seriously, it’s ok!

There is a link later in this post so you can download the worksheet too.

See Kids Differently On The First Day

As Art Educators I always feel like we get to see a different side of kids. We get to tap into a creative part of them that not all teachers get to see. Trying to find a student’s passion in an amazing gift to watch. I encourage you to get to know your kids. ALL of your kids. Ask questions, share things about yourself, and be a little vulnerable. Show them you are human.

There’s This Kid…

Remember, the most challenging students are usually the students that need the hug. They need the love. A little more respect. You may be the one and only person in their life that gets to know who they are and see them be human to. Have a great school year friends! Here’s to a successful year with amazing discoveries, new friendships, love, learning and LOTS of laughter! Here’s a resource to help you get to know your students. I use this worksheet the first day or two of class just to get things rolling.

Click here to Print your Happy to meet you Icebreaker worksheet 

Need some support as an art teacher? Looking for people just like YOU?  Come Join Us in The Art Teachers Teaching Art Group

Save Time and Still Teach Like A ROCK STAR! 


Jul 25

A Trip to Orlando is Inspiring

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

Hi, my name is Sheryl Depp and I’m tickled to be a guest blogger. My blog posts can be found at I am an elementary art teacher in Pasco County, Florida and I live about 2 hours away from Orlando. 

On a recent trip to downtown Disney, where there is lots and lots of shopping and places to eat, I found quite a few things that inspired me to start thinking about future lessons for my students.

First off I’m really big on lessons having to do with functional art. Because ART truly is EVERYWHERE! We as art teachers are constantly striving to have the arts recognized as important! It’s up to us to advocate starting with our students.

Most of us wear socks, perhaps not the super cool ones I spotted while shopping, but I think designing socks would be a fun lesson. And let’s not forget about all the cool headbands/hats with mouse ears. A self-portrait lesson with a hat, that the student designs would cover many different standards.

Disney Project Idea

What about designing handbags or backpacks?

Star wars Bag

Let’s not forget about ALL the TOYS out there, that someone is making a lot of money from developing and manufacturing.

Mr. Potato Head

Talk about all the art careers out there! From the people who design store windows to the designers who keep the theme of a place obvious, in even the smallest details.

Railing Design

I love that store window. And check out the stair rail from Splitsville, a bowling alley-can you see the shape of the bowling pin and ball? How much fun would it be to have students design around a theme? Or maybe a party or a restaurant?

How many of us teachers design our classrooms around a theme? I use the colors of the rainbow and assign each grade level a color. And I’ve seen some really great classrooms designed around animals prints, school mascots, stars and characters.

What inspires your lessons or the theme of your classroom?

Do you have a lesson you'd like to share? We would love to see it! Join and send us a message in the Art Teachers Teaching Art Facebook Group

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May 30

The Art Of Design

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

The art of design process is the same every single time. Artists, young and old, go through a process every single time we do a project. Critical thinking and problem-solving are at the heart of what we do every day as art eduacators.

The Art Of Design: From Concept To Assessment Art Of Design

Download your The Art Of Design Poster HERE.

Ideas and Inspiration

The art of design begins with an idea. From projects to products… everything starts with an idea. I love the stories about ideas that start on a napkin. Inspiration hits and you just have to go with it. Sometimes students struggle with idea generation so we give them a little help with themes, media exploration, project assignments, etc. As students figure out what they like and how to find inspiration we as instructors give them less help. When we teach them to research and investigate the creativity can take over and they begin to be problem solvers and makers.

The Great Brain Dump

The Art Of Design

I have my students start out with what I call, “brain dumping”. Just throwing whatever idea comes to mind on paper no matter how good or bad. Just get it out on paper. Some write words, some draw pictures and some do both. In the art of design,  It’s just a quick way to start the ideas and inspiration process.

Design and Plan

Once students have ideas it’s time to take action and come up with a plan or many plans for that matter.

The art of design

In The Art Of Design, this is part of the creative problem-solving process. Thumbnail sketches are an excellent way for students to plan out compositions and artwork. Small sketches that help an artist work out a composition quickly is exactly what thumbnail sketches are meant to do.

Figuring out the type of media to use, the subject matter they will work with, and researching resources to use as a reference while students work is all part of the planning and design process.

Creating and Making

Many time beginner art students try to jump right into the creating and making phase in the Art of Design process. They find out pretty quickly that their projects are not very successful and they struggle with putting their piece together. This is why stressing the first two phases of the Art Of Design is so important. Of course, most students find the creating part the most fun and who wouldn’t want to jump right into that phase? Once students start creating and making they can also begin to ask themselves these questions:

  • Am I following my plan?
  • Is this working?
  • Do I need to change something?
  • Is it finished?
  • What do I need to correct?       

Even during the making process as you are giving formative assessment and feedback, ask students to try new things and experiment to learn things they may not have set out to do in their beginning plan.

Assessment and Presentation

In the Art Of Design ‘roadmap” students will be able to assess themselves, their artwork and if they were successful through the entire process. The three main questions I ask with every project are:

  • What went well in this project?
  • What didn’t go so well in this project? 
  • What did I learn by doing this project?
  • What would I do differently if I did this project again?

By answering these questions students can sum themselves up pretty well and I can get a very good idea of how they feel about the end result of the project they did.

Do you have an “Art of Design” process you follow?  

How do you ensure students take all the steps necessary to be successful in their process? 


May 23

10 Ways To Seriously Jumpstart Your Creativity

By Brenda Mullard | Uncategorized

I’ve been thinking and working on 10 ways to seriously jumpstart your creativity.

Get Creative

So a few weeks ago, we did our first our Art teacher drawing challenge in the Art Teachers Teaching Art Facebook Group. There is another challenge coming SOON! So make sure to watch for it. This is the perfect time to get creative for ourselves. We look for the perfect project to do and we look for the perfect time to actually be able to do it. Well guess what, there is no perfect anything for anyone at anytime. So here are 10 ways to seriously jumpstart your creativity.

1) Stop being a perfectionist!

I will repeat this again, there is no perfect anything. There’s no perfect time, no perfect project, no perfect place to even do any kind of artwork that you really want to do. Just start something. Write down some ideas and just do something. Don’t worry about it being perfect. You may not even have a finalized project in my mind. You don’t need to know what the end will look like. Just try to start SOMETHING. Worrying about things being perfect totally crushes your creativity and it does nothing good for you. Being perfect is way overrated anyway.

2) Go Somewhere and Remember To Take Your Sketchbook With You

Creativity Sketchbook

Go for a walk, or maybe just go to a restaurant and look around. People watch! That’s super fun all in itself! Forget your sketchbook? Grab a napkin and a pen or a pencil and just start drawing what you see going on around you.

3) Surf The Web!

Web Surfing

There’s this amazing thing called Google. There’s another amazing thing called Pinterest both of these places have amazing ideas. Type in the subject or a location that you’re thinking about and boom you’re there. Use these images to inspire you to get ideas on things that you want to draw or paint or sculpt or whatever media that you choose to do work in. Remember copyrights do apply to most images on the web so use them for inspiration and accuracy. Never copy them or use them without permission from the photographer.

4) Listen To Music

Creativity Music

Choose the genre of music that you like the best to start out with. Play it soft, play it loud, do whatever it takes to get the creative juices flowing. There are multiple research activities done on the effects of music on the brain. Music is something that most people can relate to and it helps them to sometimes think more clearly. For me, I throw on a little Dave Matthews Band on and I am off and creating! Thanks Dave and the rest of the crew!

5) Keep A Sketchbook Or A Journal

Always have a sketchbook or a journal at hand at all times of the day for when an idea inspires you. Do some quick little sketches or write down notes to yourself of things that you would like to eventually draw, paint and create. Anything that just jumps out at you that you feel would be an interesting art piece to create later is a good thing to put in your journal for yourself.

6) Jump Out Of Your Comfort Zone

We all tend to stay in places we feel comfortable. It’s safe! But many times we need to push ourselves out of that comfort zone to try something new, try something different. We grow and we learn when we do things we are not used to doing. It’s totally uncomfortable for sure, but we stretch your creativity by doing things that we don’t always know exactly how to do. ‘Get uncomfortable to get comfortable”,  is one of my favorite saying.

7) Experiment And Don’t Be Afraid To Fail

So you try something new and you fail? So what? You’ve actually failed many times thus far in your life. As a baby, you failed multiple times trying to walk trying to talk even potty training. Did that have an effect on the rest of your life? Probably not. You’ve applied for jobs and didn’t get them. You may have failed your drivers test the first time around. Did that stop you from trying again? Most likely not.  So get out some art supplies that you have not used before or go to the craft store and purchase some things that you may not feel super comfortable with or know how to use. Open them up and just start “playing” with them. So you don’t create a masterpiece right away big deal. Try again! Still not successful? Do it again, and again, and again!

8) Take Some Pictures

Grab a Camera or even your phone and start snapping pictures of everything you see that interests you. With cameras at our fingertips at all times we have no excuse to go without some sort of resource or something that inspires us to get creative.

9) Seek Out Other Artists

Seek out of their artist that inspire you. Send them an email let them know that you appreciate their artwork and ask them some questions. I see artwork from various artists that inspires me all the time. I love sending an artist an email telling them how much I appreciate their work and they usually send me an email back telling me, “Thank you” for appreciating their work. I’ve actually built some very good friendships through this process.

10) Stop Comparing Yourself And Your Work To Others

Comparing yourself and your work to others is a complete killer of joy. You are not them and they are not you. You need to be original and do your own thing. Don’t worry about what other people think or what they will say. Because most of the time to be completely honest, people are not going to care that much. We think they will, but in reality they truly don’t.

So with all this being said, get a sketch book or journal,  go somewhere that you really really love with some music inspires you and start drawing and thinking about ideas of your next piece of artwork. Create for you and no one else. It’s time to put your creativity first again. For most of you, this hasn’t happened in a very long time and it’s definitely time to take care of yourself. Enough thinking, now start doing!

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