Kindergarten: Using Text in Art

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First Grade: “When I’m 100 Years Old” Self Portraits

In celebration of our upcoming 100th day of school, first graders created these portraits of a 100-year-old imagined self. We were inspired by the bittersweet photographic collection by Tom Hussey titled, ReflectionsThe photographs portray elderly individuals looking at a reflection of their younger self in a mirror. If you haven’t seen these photographs, you really need to check them out! My students responded to each image with excitement, sensitivity, empathy and endless curiosity, given the use of photoshopping techniques.

Here are some comments from the first grade artists in response to the question, “How will you have changed by the time you are 100 years old?”:

-“I’ll know everything!”

-“I’ll have grandkids…Wait…I’ll have kids AND grandkids! Oh my God!!!”

-“I’ll have so many wrinkles I’ll probably look like my dog!”

-“I’ll have glasses”

-“My head will be shiny because I’ll probably be bald”

-“I’ll know all about the world”

Thanks for stopping by Dryden Art City! Come back soon!

Third Grade: Alter-Ego Self-Portraits


This project just might be at the top of my favorites list…I know because the pieces shown above were completed at 3:08, and they were hanging up by 4:15 🙂

We looked at work by Pablo Picasso, taking note of the different angles represented in his Cubist work, which led us into a conversation about showing different sides of ourselves. Using complementary colors (colors opposite of each other on the color wheel) third graders began creating alter-egos.

Fast-forward a couple of lessons later, and Jack, my calm and collected artist was creating lightning-bolt hair


Matthew, one of the biggest sweethearts in the world had created this very mysterious and menacing character, complete with a very serious “mustachio”Image

Rebecca, one of my most confident and bubbly artists created this very frightened queen-from-another-world-like character 


Mason, who so incredibly respectful and has such impeccable manners, created this very goofy character who looks like he could stand to grab a tissue or two


Caleb, who barely makes a peep in art, created this screaming character with electric purple hair


Aren’t they just fantastic?! I’m so inspired to write about each of these characters, and I want to know more about each of them…

…but I think I’ll leave that up to them to share 🙂

Second Grade: Royal Portraits

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Second graders just finished these wonderful royal portraits. I knew after witnessing their fascination with castles that we needed to do a project like this! These portraits were the largest artworks we worked on this year, and I was so impressed with their stamina and focus. We looked at portraits of royalty from the Renaissance period, taking note of the techniques used by master artists like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. During the lesson, I projected an image of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel onto our classroom ceiling–not even close to the real thing, but the class was in awe. Kids have such a natural appreciation for art!

The artists used a “double-loading” technique, dipping into metallic tempera, and then immediately into a color of their choice, and letting the paint come together itself right on the paper. They LOVED this part, and so naturally, I did too 🙂

Third Grade Fauvist Self-Portraits

Every year, our school’s PTA hosts a fundraiser through Square 1 Art. Unlike other fundraisers, EVERY kid gets to participate (win!). To top it off, even if a student cannot order a custom item with their artwork, Square 1 sends every artist a custom sheet of stickers of their artwork! It was such a joy to be able to share that exciting bit of news with each of my classes 🙂

Check out some of these third grade Fauvist-inspired self portraits! The challenge for this project was to create a “secret color code.” Each student was given a chart containing a list of colors to which they added meaning.

It was interesting to see some kids assign unconventional ideas to some of their colors. I had one student write “sadness” next to “yellow,” a color that “sunshine” to me. When I inquired about this, he replied, “Yellow reminds me of my grandma who died.”

Even though this particular child has a tragic memory attached to a color, I really cherish the moments when I learn these little bits about my students through art!

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And now, on my way to ship these off!