The Power of Art & The Art of Asia: Part 1

This is part one of a three part series on my Power of Art implementation plan and Asian art unit.


After being fully immersed in club presentations during my tour of the Lab School of Washington, D.C. (through the Power of Art workshop last year), I began thinking about how I could create those kinds of experiential learning scenarios for my students.

I wanted to start with the very next unit I’d be presenting upon my return: Asian art.


To begin, I considered what my implementation plan had been based on:

  • Engaging students through classroom environment
  • Providing students with authentic materials and tools
  • Activating the five senses to make concepts “stick”
  • Expanding my lessons / units to include a variety of enriching activities


This post will focus on Classroom Environment.

First, I took the pop-bottle cherry blossom activity idea from Pinterest (multiple re-pins, original user unknown).  Next, instead of having students work at their tables, I temporarily adhered craft roll paper on the windows.  Then, the students took turns adding their blossom to the tree I pre-painted on the paper.  We discussed how rice paper screens are used as dividers in the home as students viewed examples of traditional and modern day screens.

The Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries have extensive collections of Chinese and Japanese art.  There are fantastic teacher resources at their website:

 84%22+Cherry+Blossom+Shoji+Room+Divider-wayfair  688804307-sears

These are some examples you can find at and

100_1004  100_1031


Just the simple task of taking the paper off of the tables and putting it onto the windows made the concept of painting a faux rice paper screen more realistic.  We showcased these collaborative pieces in the 6th grade hallway.

*Note: When I developed this lesson last year, the timing was off.  This year I ensured that we began this unit as the National Cherry Blossom Festival was occurring in Washington, D.C.  The NCBF website features include: a prezi on the cherry blossom life cycle, a live web cam, and fun coloring / activity pages.  Check it out!


The Power of Art

Last year I became one of forty art teachers, museum educators, cultural partners, and school administrators from across the country selected to participate in the Power of Art workshop.  This professional development workshop is hosted by the Lab School of Washington, D.C. and is generously funded by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation each year.


In it’s celebratory 20th anniversary year, participants toured the school and learned first-hand the amazing things this school does for students with learning differences!  We were treated like Kings and Queens.  As we dined at the finest restaurants, we listened to the most supportive and influential arts-in-education speakers encourage us to continue doing great things in our classrooms.  Shuttles carted us from museum to museum as we were taught about the programs offered by the fantastic Smithsonian Education team.  I never wanted to leave!  It was a jam-packed, career-affirming 4-day weekend that I will never forget!


We were charged with developing a plan for implementation following our experience in Washington, D.C.  The upcoming blog posts you will see have been dramatically influenced by the Power of Art workshop.  I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoyed being there!  Then again, you can always apply for yourself and see exactly what I mean when I say it was the “best professional development ever!”  🙂


To see details of this year’s Power of Art workshop, visit:

To apply for next year’s workshop, you’ll need to check back around January / February 2015.  I hope you do!

Polymer Clay Creatures

I had the great fortune to learn new sculpting techniques from the lovely Patricia Hedegaard of Hedegaard’s Gifts and Collectables this past fall.  Taking what I learned from her classes and using inquiry techniques, I built the framework for skill and allowed the students to make choices regarding the final “look” of their creature.  Once they understood how to use the tools to create facial features, I let them have at it!  Many interesting figurines emerged.  The 7th graders thoroughly enjoyed making their own unique creatures!  Photos of their work follow:





*We used Sculpey III and Premo! 2 oz. bricks,

baked in the oven for 15 minutes at 275 degrees.

The eyes are teardrop shaped glass beads – black (found at Michael’s craft store).