Thanksgiving usually brings around the infamous Hand Turkey. You know the one. With its memorable tubular plumage, teeny tiny stick legs and squiggly “S-Type” wattle (or whatever you call the thing hanging from its neck), the Hand Turkey remains an autumnal icon gracing classroom walls and refrigerators nationwide this time of year. It’ll always have a special place in your kindergarten heart.

For my pre-Thanksgivukkah workshop I decided to deviate from the iconic autumnal fowl and flash forward to Spring Time because, baby, it’s cold outside! The students used a resist technique, layering tempera cake paint OVER oil pastel tracings of their hand. They traced their hand and rotated the paper each time to create a circular pattern of “finger petals.” We took our inspiration from the daisy, a real springtime mascot. 

The ol’ adage that “oil and water don’t mix” is clearly illustrated and kids at this age (4 & 5) are simply mystified with the results. Best of all, they don’t have to worry too much about painting inside the lines. Score! 

Students are encouraged to develop a picture using a very specific mark making tool- a piece of cardboard. Often, they are hesitant. It is difficult to grasp how a simple piece of cardboard can help them paint a picture but soon they are shown how to stamp out basic shapes, such as squares and triangles. Seems simple enough. It doesn’t take very long for them to discover the links between to the shapes. It’s wonderful to watch students explore and develop a unique vocabulary in their drawings using this very simple device and to watch their drawings grow. After they have prepared their drawings, I give them additional tempera paint or crayons to add more color to the mix.  

This is an excellent activity for ages 3 & up. Above are some examples from a recent workshop with 4 year olds. 

Storyteller Masks: Making Faces! 

This workshop examines the cultural significance of masks in ceremonies, festivals and theatre. Students explore the rich history of mask making using common materials such as cardboard, newspaper and school glue. Young storytellers are encouraged to explore connections between cultures and societies to develop their very own Storyteller Mask. It’s amazing to see unique characteristics emerge as students adorn their masks with found objects and tempera paint! 

This 2 day workshop was inspired by the wonderful work of pop artist Claus Oldenburg. His exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art left students wanting to create our very own versions of the larger-than-life soft sculptures.

The works featured here were made using plaster gauze, cardboard, glue and newspaper. Students were encouraged to pay attention to the unique qualities of their favorite food item and to translate those qualities using found objects and painting techniques. 

These prints are the fruits of a free public workshop held on September 6th, 2013 as part of the Fresh Pond Road Street Festival. We set up a small tent on the corner of Woodbine & Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood, Queens and were delighted to find that so many wonderful budding artists stopped by to participate! It was such a delight to see so many faces light up as we peeled back the paper from tempera covered plexi-glass plates to reveal wonderful and unique works of art! 

This public program was made possible by the very talented and dedicated educators at The Nowodworski Foundation and a generous sponsorship from The Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union.