Chalk Rubbing with a Guide – 5th grade art students

This morning the fifth grade students were treated to chalk rubbing on black paper using a template as a guide.

I introduced the lesson by having the students practice adding chalk to a guide/template of torn paper and rubbing it off onto a black sheet.  I encouraged the students to layer the chalk, before rubbing, and not moving the guide.  They Added more white chalk over the colored chalk, while holding down the torn paper guide.

Once they felt confident in the newly found technique, I gave out large sheets of black construction paper, and we discussed the Northern Lights.

Images of northern lights were shown to the class as their source of inspiration for this project.  We talked about the colors in the sky, foreground images, and background colors.

Each student received one half of a file folder to create a guide. 

Rubbing the chalk on to the manila folder first, then rubbing with a finger in one direction transfered the chalk to the black paper.

  Hills, clouds and northern lights were created quickly. Students were asked to create in the middle of the sheet, allowing for fingers, chalk and dust to collect on the near the edges.  (these will be trimmed off).  Here as a few of the completed artworks.



Booklet Binding for Art Journal – beginning pages

Booklet Binding for Art Journal

I followed the instructions found at two sites: Sketchbooks and from James Darrow.  Here is my binding: 

 Not a big book, but enough to show the students an example, and a good starting point.  


I will take rubber cement and block out areas, randomly, to perserve the white space.  Then wash over the background with yellow, and any other color left in the water color mixing tray.  Heavy wash areas receive sea salt.  Allow it to dry and rewash the background with a browns and reds.

Rubber cement wash over areas of two pages to retain white areas

watercolor wash in yellow

highlights of red over pages

Drawing and collage elements up next.

Corn Starch Clay Holiday Decorations

I was not too thrilled about my salt dough decorations of the other day and thought I would try the corn starch clay method.  I found this mixture through a link on Pinterest, I have made changes based on my experience. Clay Christmas Decorations 

print pdf Clay Christmas Decorations

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 cup baking soda

3/4 cup water

Warm Clay from the stove into a plastic tub to cool

In a medium sized pot combine the cornstarch, baking soda, and water. With an adults help the kids can stir this mixture over medium-low heat. After a couple of minutes, the mixture will begin to thicken.  You must stir the pot and never leave it, or this mixture will setup. When it looks like smooth, mashed potatoes, remove the pot from the heat. Coating the spoon with cornstarch will help the spoon get the clay out of the pot.  Spoon the ball of dough into a bowl and cover it with a damp cloth until its cool.  I placed it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to cool. When it’s cool, knead it on a smooth surface, adding a little more cornstarch if it feels sticky. You will need to have cornstarch on the surface and on your hands to knead the clay.

Rolling, cutting, and baking

Cool clay resting after having been worked by hand with extra corn starch

Preheat oven to 175 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.   Roll out clay to 1/4 inch thick on a surface lightly dusted with cornstarch. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Transfer shapes to the prepared baking sheet.

 Use chopsticks or pencil to poke a hole in the center top of each decoration,.

Rolling between chop sticks

Place them in the oven at 175 degrees for about an hour, turning them over halfway through cooking.

Then … Increase the temp to 200 degrees, for one additional hour, turning over after 30 minutes.  Allow to completely cool in the oven.  Cool = cold.  Taking the harden clay out too soon will cause them to crack.   


After baking, resting, two broke. Cause was thermal shock.

I like the bone white appearance of the “fired” clay. 

Two broke upon taking them out the of the oven, yet I was able to glue them.  These resemble fired bone white clay.