Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Story of Us.

Conversation from the beginning of the school year:

Student One: Ms. Dudley, are you married?
Me: No, not yet.
Student Two: Wait, you're a teacher and you're not even married??!

He put a ring on it!

Guess what, Student Two?
Ms. Kristen-Crayon is ENGAGED! 
On Friday, January 27, 2012 my boyfriend, now fiance (so weird!), and longtime best friend got down on one knee in front of the Washington Monument and popped the question. We are notoriously bad about taking pictures, so it was fitting that we didn't take any right after the event. The above is in our apartment, from the morning after. I said yes, if ya couldn't tell :)

Below is a small portion of our shared history, which started in 2003 as high school seniors. There's a break for 2005-2006... the relationship ended ("ended") in 2005 due to long distance complications. But we started talking again in 2007, renewed the friendship, and by 2010 we were back together and sharing a Baltimore apartment!

 Prom time! And Nate's high school graduation party, 2003.

Annapolis, MD, May 2004.

Postcards from Nate's Eastern European adventures on my wall, 2007.

Wrightsville Beach, NC, July 2008.

Chris and Rhia's wedding, May, 2009.

Alaska! July, 2010.

Still smiling in June, 2011.

While I'm pinning away on my newly retitled Pinterest wedding board (went from "One Day" to "Kristen & Nate Gettin' Hitched"), there will not be a wedding in the near future. With only one income (mine), law school half-completed (for him), and near-crippling student loan debt, we're just not in the place we want to be to have a wedding. But I don't see that as a sad thing... I'm so incredibly indecisive, I'm going to need at least two years to plan that shindig!

Here's to the future, here's to us and everyone we love!

And here's another conversation, from yesterday:

Me: We're going to have to get engagement photos taken.
N: What are those?
Me: You know, people take formal photos to use on their save-their-dates, announce the engagement, etc.
N: That is what Facebook is for!
Me: ...
N: I proposed! My work is done!

Oh, Lordy. Help me.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

So, so soft.

A pre-K conversation during group discussion about texture went like this:

Ms. Kristen-Crayon: "Feel your hair. What does it feel like?"
Student: "It feels so, so soft. Like even softer than your hair!"
Ms. Kristen-Crayon: "F., have you ever felt my hair before?"

Student: "No. Can I!??!"

Ms. Kristen-Crayon: "No, no you may not."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sometimes, color changes everything.

"I don't think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains."
There is something so beautiful about seeing this photo in color. Anne, you are not forgotten.

For more, click here.

"Fashion is a passion for the with-it and hip..."

All dressed up and nowhere to go.

I recently discovered of the work of London-based fashion designer Mary Katrantzou when I was thumbing through an old(ish) copy of Vogue. I love the extreme colors and prints in her collections, which she designs in Photoshop and prints digitally onto the fabric. The example above is not so extreme (compared to the rest of her body of work), but the whole inspiration for posting about fashion or Katrantzou at all arose because the above florals remind me of my blog wallpaper, and I thought it would make for a nice juxtaposition :) The look is from her Fall 2011 RTW collection, click on the caption to check it out in its entirety.

And really, I can't get enough:

So while I can't afford Katrantzou or anything else that I see in Vogue, in my new profession I can still have fun with fashion in ways that many people can't get away with. For example, I purchased these about a month ago:

Please just call me "Ms. Frizzle" from now on. No really, I insist.

Could there be a more perfect shoe for an elementary art teacher?

If you know me, you know that I am shoe-obsessed. When these came back in stock at Modcloth, I could not resist. It's a sickness.

 They remind me of a unit I taught to eighth graders during student teaching, called Ordinarily Extraordinary Attire: Transforming Everyday Objects into Outrageous Fashion. I made thirty cards with everyday objects, themes, or products on them: a pair of scissors, a basketball, Reese's Pieces, etc. Students blindly selected a card from the deck and became budding fashion designers. I plan on tweaking the unit for my fifth graders this year.

Prototype: Airmail envelope.
Traffic light.
Stop sign.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Snow-free... the way to be.

Ms. Kristen-Crayon: Why is this snowman so sad?
Student: Because even though he's a snowman, he hates snow!

We've had a very mild winter so far, and for that, in this first year of teaching, I am grateful.

My student teaching started last January, and not only did I have a lot of anxiety about just teaching those first units, but wondering whether or not I would be going in at all or having two-hour delays due to weather did not come as a relief. Sure, everyone loves a day off, but as a newbie on a tight schedule, inclement weather presented itself as an additional stressor. Is it showtime or is it not? I live in a different county than I taught in (and that is still the case this year), and never knew if the weather in both counties was going to match up-- would my school be open a few counties away, but would I have terrible weather in my county to drive through in my ill-equipped vehicle? Or best-case scenario: school is closed. But you almost never know 'til 6am, so you don't get to sleep in because you have to wake up and check on the cancellations, and you still have to prep for the next day because you're not sure if school will even be canceled. To top it off-- I'd actually lose sleep wondering about the verdict!

My fear of driving in snow and ice is disproportionate to the actual danger it presents... so I just hope the fluffy stuff (or sleety, icy, perilous stuff) stays in the clouds this year.

But despite all my feelings on snow... my kinders still made some jolly snowmen. 

Thanks to Deep Space Sparkle for lesson inspiration!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Take what you need.

After seeing something very similar on Pinterest, I decided to post the above sign in the workroom at school as a way to say "happy holidays" to the staff. I put it up during the week before break and then subsequently forgot about it. I was in line waiting for the copier when I was pleasantly surprised that people had interacted with my little message(s). I was going to take it down, but I had second thoughts. I imagine that we still need the things that remain, especially as we enter this new year.

(The ones that have been taken: faith, patience, courage, peace, passion, strength, and motivation.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Obliteration Room.

Yayoi Kusama has always been one of my favorite artists, and this makes me fall in love with her a little more:

Check the article on The Obliteration Room here, they say it better than I can:

So who is gonna buy me a ticket to Australia, hm?


And here's a somewhat similar (low budget, in comparison) piece I made in 2003, using garage sale stickers:

There was a numbered dot for every day of my life, with "special events" in red, yellow, and white. Took thirteen hours to install, three hours to take down, and one sleepless night :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

"It's been a long December..."

...and now it's January?! And winter break is over and I'm teaching tomorrow? And instead of lesson planning for January I am blogging about the past month? Hm, sounds about right. I will type until the crock pot jambalaya is ready. Blog post starts now, GO!


As promised from a few posts ago, here are our Frederick murals! Frederick is a charming little story by Leo Lionni, perfect length and pacing for wiggly kinders. Frederick is a dreamy little mouse who does not appear to help his fellow mice prepare for the winter. But as they're gathering food for the long, cold months ahead, Frederick is gathering words, colors, and imagery. Once the food has run out, his mice brethren turn to him for his contribution to winter prep. At first I was reluctant to teach this unit because I wasn't sure about the "big idea" behind the resulting artwork. While I was doing some research  on the story (one that I am surprised that I didn't read as a kid), I came across pages that tied Frederick to potential age-appropriate philosophical discussions. It was very interesting to hear their take on whether or not Frederick was working as hard as the other mice (we had opinions on both sides of the fence).

We are the unfortunate mice who made the poor decision to live in an active volcano! KABOOM!

Here's the first mural I did with my Tuesday class. Can you tell I was fairly hands-off? So we have exploding mice in a rock storm. The mice live in a stone wall in the story. These mice and stones are anti-gravity. Check out the upside-down mouse in the upper right corner. He's my fave :)

The following murals were a little more teacher-directed...

...with the one immediately above being the most successful. They asked for paper to make a sun, clouds, and flowers!

Here's the description I placed next to each of the murals. It reads:

"In art class we read Frederick, the story of a little mouse that appears to waste the summer away daydreaming, while the other mice gather food and prepare for the harsh winter. When food stores run out, Frederick warms the other mice with his unexpected poetry. Frederick’s words carry them through a difficult time.

After discussing Frederick’s role in mouse society, kindergarteners mixed black, white, and brown paint to make stones for the stone wall the mice live in. Then they created their Fredericks by cutting and gluing construction paper. Look at their hard work! Finally, they worked together to assemble the Frederick mural for your enjoyment!"

Final comments: The kids LOVED working big. They were so proud of this collaborative work, and couldn't wait to show their teachers when they came to pick them up on the day they finished. Their enthusiasm was catching, their teachers seemed to love having their work displayed outside their classrooms, and I'll definitely do this one again next year.

Beautiful Water, Beautiful Boats

In our county we have an integrated curriculum, so when I read that the kindergartners were learning about bodies of water, I decided to do a water-inspired unit (in hopes of utilizing the TONS of donated toilet paper rolls we seem to accumulate). All kinds of discussion resulted from this three-day unit: How many different bodies of water do you know about? Why do you think water looks blue? What does water feel like? What are uses for water? Why is it important to save water? What kinds of boats do you know about? Have you ever been on a boat? What kind of boats are we making? What is the purpose of a sail on a sailboat? And on and on.

The base is a watercolor/crayon resist, and the boats are made from painted cut-up tp rolls. Sails are cut paper triangles, folded along one edge, dipped in glue, and glued down. Lots of opportunities to discuss pattern (we made AB patterns when drawing the waves), 2D vs. 3D, shapes, and painting/gluing 3D surfaces.

A book I came across while teaching this unit is called Atlantic, by G. Brian Karas. Gorgeous, charming illustrations and told from the perspective of the Atlantic Ocean, so if you want to get into narrative voice a little, here's your opportunity. Great find!

Highly recommended.

Spirit Week

School spirit kind of rocks. I spent a lot of energy in high school trying to NOT have school spirit (went to a sports-obsessed school, and future art teachers aren't necessarily known for their sports enthusiasm), but looking back, that was kind of lame. Especially now that I'm a teacher, I definitely support anything (anything) that will make kids excited about attending school, even if it's not related to academics. If that means wearing something ridiculous and potentially uncomfortable for teaching, sign me up! It's my duty!

Spirit week was the week preceding break and it looked like this:

Monday - School Spirit Wear
Tuesday - Twins Day
Wednesday - Wacky Wednesday
Thursday - Crazy Hat Day
Friday - PJ Day

I only documented two days out of five, but hey! For someone who never takes pictures, that's an improvement! These are a little blurry... taken by students, nonetheless!

Why be twins when you can be quadruplets?
Yup, our school is so large and awesome that we have two art teachers and two music teachers, who wore a total of eight flashy Christmas light-up earrings (which the kids were obsessed with). Our closets were not very cohesive, so we weren't too adventurous with black on top, blue on bottom, but we made up the difference with fun, festive jewelry. The students were very impressed with our quadruplet effort, I must say.

Wacky Wednesday or just typical art teacher attire? You be the judge.
And here's my last-minute attempt at "wackiness". I had meant to put something together the night before, but never got around to it. A lot of students actually complimented this look and I honestly couldn't tell if they were complimenting the wackiness or just literally liked the ensemble. My necklace has a weevil in it (purchased from the very cool Evolution in NYC, back when I lived there and strange purchases were good purchases), so I managed to creep out quite a few younger students. Sorry, loves!

A Very Fordley Christmas
"Fordley" is Dudley + Forman = A very good name, indeed.

Nate and I had an excellent Christmas spread throughout Baltimore, Detroit, and Pittsburgh, with just the right mix of presents, food, and both of our families. Am still detoxing and might need a vacation from the vacation, but the return to school is imminent, regardless of how I feel about it, haha.

The tree in our reading nook.

Jonesie is SO tuckered out from wrapping so many presents!

At my first professional hockey game!
We look a little weird. But you get the idea.

In closing...

I leave you with one of those moments that makes your heart swell as a teacher, and as a first year teacher, lets me know that I'm in the right profession. My kindergartners are working on snow scenes with snowmen in them. Day one of the unit is drawing the snowmen and cutting them out. We ran out of time for a thorough clean up, so I told the students to just leave their snowmen at their tables and I would collect them.

We snowmen, we are friends!

Most left them in little piles, or scattered about, but not L., who lined hers up, holding hands. Commence heart swelling... now.