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On The Day Before Thanksgiving We Traced Our Hands

And made peacocks from the outline. Wait, you were expecting turkeys?

Anyway, we had abbreviated classes on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving – too short to accomplish much, but long enough to accomplish a peacock. We used construction paper crayon on a nice black cover stock and they came out fantastic! Here are a few to hold you over until you can visit the Hand Peacock gallery on Artsonia:


Allison M


Anna F.


Megan R.


Ashlyn S.


Reed D.


Sophia W.


Ari R.

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Initial Animals Are Up On Artsonia!

What started out as a one-shot-deal, easy 5th grade lesson for a substitute teacher while I was at the EdTechTeacher Innovation Summit for two days ended up evolving into so much more. The activity was to take the first initial of one’s first name and morph it with animal features and characteristics until it became the animal. When I came back and saw what the kids had done with construction paper crayon, they were a little lacking in enthusiasm and creativity and I knew they had more in them. I kept the initial animals around until the kids were finishing up their family portraits so the early finishers had something to work on while waiting for the others.


Ashlyn S.

Amazing things happen when you give kids choices and tell them to experiment, explore, have fun and make their art look like a finished piece. I put out watercolor pencils, metallic and colored sharpies, construction paper crayons and pattern scissors like a little art supply buffet, and the students helped themselves to the tools.


Danielle C.

I’m so thrilled with the personality each of the initial animals has, thanks to the artists.


Sabrina L.

This is a great example of imagination at work.


Andrew H.


Phoebe, the bird lover, jumped at the chance to turn her P into a bird.


Phoebe B.

Check out the rest of the initial animals on Artsonia in the Initial Animal gallery. Enjoy!

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Fifth Grade Family Portraits On Artsonia

Just in the St. Nick of time, fifth grade family portraits have been uploaded to Artsonia for your viewing pleasure! Whether gathered around a menorah, holiday table, Christmas tree, or on the beach, students have portrayed their families in warm, welcoming environments. To begin this unit, which addresses many objectives including perspective, space, figure drawing, color, and art history, we spent an entire class looking at and analyzing 18th century family portraits while considering what life was like in the late 1700s when the portraits were painted. We had lively discussions about clothing, customs, the need for the extended family, and the props the families included in their portraits including Memento Mori and “cardboard babies” (stiff looking children who appear to be miniature adults as in this painting by Robert Feke). Try as I might to convey a little bit of societal perspective around the Age of Enlightenment, my students steadfastly refer to this child as the “demon child”. Very sorry Mr. Feke. Anyway, 5th Grade Family Portraits have been uploaded to Artsonia and can be seen here.

Ashlyn S.

Ashlyn S.

Aidan C.

Aidan C.

It was also a great time to take a look at the 2 dimensional picture plane and to define space with a simple horizontal line denoting the place where the floor meets the wall. As well, we looked at one point perspective before drawing the table. Paintings were created with watercolor pencils, which I just love for fifth grade on a finely detailed project like this. It affords the control they need to make the picture realize their vision.

Kelsey F.

Kelsey F.

Libby F.

Libby F.

This is just a smattering of the artwork on Artsonia. Students have posted about one hundred pieces. Of those, some students are missing parent permissions, so they are not viewable. If you need help setting that up, please contact me. Also, students who have been absent for illness or music lessons are still trying to finish.


Lisa W.

Megan R.

Megan R.

Please know that if you choose to order items with your child’s artwork on it from Artsonia, our classroom receives $20 of the cost. I use this money to replenish our supplies throughout the year. For instance, it came to my attention that we had used all the blue and yellow colored pencils and I was able to stock up on those very popular colors. I mean, can you even imagine a drawing of an idyllic day without a blue sky and a sun?

Phoebe B.

Phoebe B.

Tomas M.

Tomas M.

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Who Should Be President?

My fifth and sixth grade students responded to the following bell ringer today, a quick writing assignment:

“Give me your best argument (in writing) for who should be President and why”

Here are twelve responses that I think you’ll enjoy – some are silly, some are most sincere and kind (click on the first and it will start a slide show:

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Parent/Teacher Conferences

Are taking place next week and I’ll be happy to meet with you! I’ll be in the art room from 12:00 – 2:30 on Wednesday, November 9. If you want to set up an appointment to meet with me during that time or another time, email me at agentili@mursd.org. Looking forward to seeing you!



Great Question: Why Are We Designing Games In Art?

As he entered the classroom yesterday, one of my sixth grade art students asked, “Mrs. Gentili, why are we designing games in art?”

“That’s a great question, ” I replied, “Let’s talk about it with the class once everyone settles.” And we did.

We have been engaged in a project-based-learning unit on Game Design for the past few classes. Students are working in cooperative groups to learn about board games (Explore), design board games and 3D printed game pieces (Create), and develop marketing materials for the game (Share). Guardians of my students can follow along by accessing Google Classroom summaries. The driving question for the unit is: Can we design a board game with 3D printed game pieces that is fun to play?

To start the discussion, I asked the class, “So, why do you think we are designing games in art class?” My students had terrific responses including the need for color and attractive game boards and using one’s imagination to develop games, which were all excellent springboards to talk about the role of designers in product design today. Too often we talk about STEM in education, but as I explained to my students, the most brilliant automotive engineer could design the most brilliantly engineered vehicle, but without style and comfort, it will not sell. Style = Design and that’s where we come in. And that is why STEM has officially been changed to STEAM (A for Art). Including art in the product design process incorporates aesthetics and empathy for the user experience.

Last Saturday I attended my 40th high school reunion (would you believe I graduated at 10?). When I graduated from high school, jobs for those with a degree in art were limited to teaching, layout and design, interior design, plus a few more. Keep in mind that specialized Masters degrees were not sought routinely as they are today. My parents groaned when I decided to go to art school, telling me I would never find a job and that I should go into education instead. I stuck to my guns, went to art school and entered the printing industry while in school. I didn’t go into education until twenty years after graduating from college, after twenty years in the printing industry.


Most Artistic

Now, forty years later, due to the advent of technology, there are infinite career choices for art students, and one of them is product design and development. This is why we are designing games in art class. Artists have been using the Design Process in their studios as long as there have been artists in studios. Applying the Design Process to collaborative game design, as we are doing in class, not only meets the visual art standards, but also meets the standards for technology and engineering. In addition, the 21st Century skills of collaboration, communication, and creativity are fostered and students apply their social and emotional learning strategies while working in groups. Please see the end of this post for the standards.

The Design Process

The Design Process – Source: http://discoverdesign.org


I wrote the Game Design unit over the summer. This class of sixth grade students are piloting it for me. After this trial run, I will tweak the unit as needed (design, test, revise) and share the unit with my 3D art education professional learning network. Energy is high as my students work together on this unit. Games and game piece design are fun, after all. Much more fun than designing door stop wedges, which is the other unit I wrote last summer…not even kidding.

MA Frameworks Visual Arts

2.10  For shape, form, and pattern, use and be able to identify an expanding and increasingly sophisticated array of shapes and forms, such as organic, geometric, positive and negative, or varieties of symmetry/Create complex patterns, for example, reversed shapes and tessellation

4.4    Produce work that shows an understanding of the concept of craftsmanship

4.9    Demonstrate the ability to conceptualize, organize, and complete long-term projects, alone and in group settings

•       Conceptualize: plan, generate ideas, make preliminary sketches, participate in discussions, imagine outcomes, and set goals;

•       Organize: choose materials and techniques to attain the desired look and feel; maintain work space and personal schedule; review progress of work with others; and revise work appropriately;

•       Complete: prepare work for presentation or exhibition

4.10  Demonstrate the ability to develop an idea through multiple stages, responding to criticism and self-assessment

ISTE Standards for Students (2016)

3.d       build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.

4.d    exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.

7.b    use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.

7.c    contribute constructively to project teams, assuming various roles and responsibilities to work effectively toward a common goal.


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October Is Here – It Must Be Google Classroom Time

October means many things in the art room, the first of which is getting all of my classes on Google Classroom (GC). I will be using GC to send out assignments and collect finished work. In the art room, students take photos of her/his artwork at varying stages and post the photos to GC for me to see. Students will also write artist statements to reflect on their work. My students and I have found GC to be super helpful over the past couple of years with the centralized instruction and efficient sharing of resources it offers.

You may sign in to receive summaries of our activity. You may not actually participate in the class, but instead observe what we are doing. For information on just how to do that, visit the Guidelines for Guardians. Please know if you ever have questions about your child’s class, you can always email me at agentili@mursd.org.


These codes have been altered and won’t allow access to classes…muahahahaha!

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