Best. Conference. Ever.

What makes a good conference? Great workshops and networking, of course. Hold it in a drop dead AMAZING setting like San Diego’s New Children’s Museum (NCM) and you have a home run hit! San Diego Art Education Association held its first annual Visual Arts Educators Conference this month at the museum. After introductions by energetic new SDAEA president Ron Jessee and a keynote address, Tomoko Kuta, NCM’s Director of Education & Exhibitions, took us on a tour.

The New Children’s Museum is one of the only children’s museum in the United States dedicated to commissioning artists to create site-specific works for a youth audience.

Staff held a kiddie yoga class under this Layer sculpture the day we visited.

Jason Rogene’s sculpture/light fixture made of styrofoam packaging.

Jason Rogenes’ Megalitransponder includes kiddie climbing wall topped with cardboard installation.

I got to attend three workshops, all tied in to NCM’s current exhibition, TRASH. They were held in the museum’s art education studios.

  • ’30-minute’ collograph printmaking with the museum’s art educator, Maxi Moraga
  • sculpture/drawing project based on the art of Peter Opheim by fellow San Diego elementary art teacher and blogger Don Masse of Zamorano Arts Academy
  • cardboard climbing squares group sculpture based on Charles and Ray Eames’ House of Cards, again by Maxi Moraga

Maxi Moraga leads collograph workshop.

Collograph print. No press required!

Sculpt/draw with Don Masse. I really admired this project when I first read it on his blog. So thrilled to try it out myself!!

Starting point for the house of cards sculpture. We collaged/painted our pieces, then assembled. This would be a great whole class or whole grade project.

As if all this wasn’t enough, we had a fabulous lunch from Urbane Cafe, gift bags with goodies from Blick and Artists and Craftsmen and a raffle with prizes donated by Blick, A&C and area education and arts organizations.  I won tickets to the City Ballet! Thanks also to local arts advocacy group art pulse.

A lot of foks in SDAEA, SD County Office of Education and NCM put together this amazing event. Thanks so much for a perfect day.

Like I said:


 UPDATE: San Diego County art educators: check out our new SDCAEA Facebook page!

Kindergarten Fish Mobiles

I have admired the fabulous yarn-wrapped cardboard fish mobiles shown on a couple of elementary art blogs. I wanted to do the project with kindergarten as part of a whole-school ocean-themed art installation to be hung later this spring….

Kindergarteners created yarn-wrapped cardboard fish. Allow two 40-minute classes.


  • Thin cardboard approx 8″x10″
  • black marker
  • scissors
  • crayons or markers
  • yarn cut in 6 foot lengths, one per student
  • large paper clips (for hanging)
  • hole punch (for hanging)
  • optional: bottlecaps and tacky glue/glue dots for eyes

Part one:

We started with thin cardboard rectangles about 8″x10″. We did a dot-to-dot directed draw of a simple fish shape.

Kinders started with a dot-to-dot directed draw. Don’t make base of tail too narrow or fish may rip.

Then the students cut out the fish shape. Because we used thin cardboard, 95% were able to cut the fish without help.

Now kinders add four dots to the top edge of the fish, and four dots to the bottom. A few kids made their dots too close together….so I’d say 90% did this task independently.

The kids use scissors to cut slits along the edges of the fish, stopping at the dots. 100% were able to do this task independently.

Now color both sides of the fish. We used regular crayons (I wish I had construction paper crayons to brighten the dull gray cardboard…next year!).

Part two:

Students finished coloring both sides of their fish. Each received a six-foot length of yarn (cut by me, lest you think I didn’t have ANY prep on this project…..) and wrapped the yarn around and around and up and down across their fish.

Wrapping the yarn was tricky for some students. I found out kids were more successful with the yarn wrap when I modeled it in front of the room (as opposed to on my document camera). I’d say about 70% could do this independently on their first attempt.

Optional: glue on eyes.

To hang the fish: use a hole punch to make one hole near the top edge and one at the bottom edge.  Open a large paper clip to form a ‘S’ hook.

Open paper clip connects fish for mobile.

Connect your chain. I was able to make a hanging chain of five fish.

Inspiration for this projects comes from this post on the Fem Manuals blog and this post on the Deep Space Sparkle blog.

I believe that a lot of my lesson plans (at all grade levels) could be tweaked to increase student independence.

What do you think of ‘kinderpendence’? 

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