Summary Newsletter:

Lesson 1: Time Travel Hats and Licenses

In order for the students to begin the time travel process, students required a device to start off their travels: hats. Students were taught mixed media techniques using collage and paint to create time travel hats. The students created hats that were unique to each of their personalities, and they included painted stories, self-portraits, portraits of family members, favorite colors, and other things on their hats so that people from other lands would be able to know who they were and what they were like just by looking at their hats. Students also included an assortment of buttons and knobs on their hats that when pushed or turned would take them on their journeys through time. Once students had made their hats which would allow them to time travel, students had one more requirement to fulfill before they could officially time travel; the students made licenses to time travel so that they could legally travel from one time to another. Students learned about the importance of self-portraits, and they learned about the proportions of the face for which they applied by painting their own faces.

  • 21st Century Skills:
    • Creativity – Students used creativity to design their hats.
    • Communication – Students refined their communication skills by using visual messages to express themselves.

Lesson 2: Ancient Japan

Stop number one in the time travel adventures took the students to ancient Japan where they learned about the printmaking technique of engraving. Students learned about Japanese gardens and how they were built as places for relaxation and meditation. Students also learned about the stone guardians that protect the gardens, and students used the process of engraving to make their own guardians and Japanese gardens.

  • 21st Century Skills:
    • Technology Literacy – Students learned skills necessary to utilize new tools in printmaking such as brayers and ink.
    • Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving – Students learned to problem solve by addressing issues of negative space versus positive space while carving their Styrofoam plates.

Lesson 3: Medieval Time Period

The next stop in the time travel adventures took the students to the medieval time period where kings and queens ruled the land. Students learned about the structure and function of castles and compared and contrasted this information with modern homes. Students also learned about the technique of assemblage, and used a variety of craft materials to create two-dimensional castles.

  • 21st Century Skills
    • Technology Literacy – Students used materials and tools such as scissors, cardboard, paper, etc. to explore the technique of assemblage.
    • Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving – Students solved design issues through the use of three-dimensional materials.

Lesson 4: The Future

On this day, students traveled far in time to visit the future. The students were introduced to robots, and they learned that robots are used to help human beings perform chores. Students compared and contrasted robots of today, like washing machines, printers, and blenders, with their versions of what robots would be like in the future. Students then created their own robots using the ideas that they had brainstormed by employing the technique of wax resist on paper.

  • 21st Century Skills
    • Technology Literacy – Students used oil pastels and watercolor paints to explore the technique of wax resist.
    • Innovation – Students used their imagination to design and create robots with specific functions.

Lesson 5: Dinosaurs

Traveling farther in the past than ever before, the students found themselves visiting the land of the dinosaurs. Students learned about different dinosaurs, like tyrannosaurus-rexes and stegosauruses, and the characteristics that make them different. Students were then taught the clay technique of “pinch and pull,” which they used to create their own dinosaurs. Upon firing the dinosaurs in the kiln, the students were able to paint their dinosaurs using color mixing properties that had been taught in previous art classes. The students also created homes for their dinosaurs using assemblage techniques that had been learned earlier in the semester.

  • 21st Century Skills:
    • Technology Literacy – Students used clay and various texture tools to explore a new three-dimensional art medium.
    • Creativity – Students used their imaginations to construct dinosaurs with unique forms.

Colorado State Standards





Lesson 1: Time Travel Hats and Licenses X X X
Lesson 2: Ancient Japan X X
Lesson 3: The Medieval Time Period X X
Lesson 4: The Future X X X X
Lesson 5: Dinosaurs X X X

Art made by Denise's class and displayed in the art show.

Self-portrait paintings and robot drawings from the art show

Time travel hats and clay dinosaurs from the art show.

Students observing and talking about an artwork from another class.

Students talking about artwork from other classes with Madeline.

Merry asking students what they think about plaster masks made in another class.

Stephanie and students talking about a collaborative work from another class.

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Clay Dinosaurs: Color

On the final day of pretending to time travel back to the time of the dinosaurs, Merry introduced the students to  color mixing and color theory. Students in this class already had background knowledge of primary colors – red, blue yellow – but secondary colors – green, purple, orange – were still a mystery to some. Merry demonstrated this combination of colors to clear the confusion and then introduced the class to some paintings with all kinds of color combinations.

Merry asks students why colors could be important to works of art and asks students to identify color patterns in three sample works of art.

Merry then asked students to come up to the board one at a time to point out color combinations that they saw within the works of art.

One student points out that one of the artists used secondary colors in their work.

After looking at different artworks and ways in which to combine colors to create things like pattern, rhythm, and texture the students explored color mixing. Each student was given a bag filled with two primary colors for which they were to squish together to make a new color. Students with blue and yellow proclaimed, “I made green!” Other students with the same primary colors in their bags compared the colors they made and found out that different amounts of paint made the same color but it could sometimes be a lighter or darker version. After discovering how colors could be mixed to create new colors, students transferred this knowledge and used it to paint their dinosaurs.

Students squish bags filled with primary colors to practice color mixing.

When presented with their fired clay dinosaurs some students proclaimed, “what happened to their color?” and others asked, “why are they white? They used to be grey.” Merry explained that in the kiln, the clay dries out and the color changes, to which students replied, “coooool!”

One student cut open his bag of mixed green and began piping it onto his dinosaur to create a "ripple effect"

The same student then showed his table mate how to cut the bag so that she could get the same paint effect on her dinosaur.

Another student picked up a toothbrush and experimented with how to create texture in the paint on her dinosaur.

This student decided to experiment mixing colors on her paper plate before painting her dinosaur. She called these colors "tan" and "tan green" and used them to outline her pterodactyl's wings.

This student created a new color called "grimlock's green," and he periodically stood up, walked around, and moved his piece so that he could "make sure that he covered every inch of the dino with color."

This student mixed together all three primary colors to create neutral colors for "camoflauge." His dinosaur uses its camoflauge colors to "hide from cobras and protect its babies."

"This is Abstracto!" the student announced, when asked what he called his dinosaur. "It's abstract because the colors are spotted everywhere, and so I call him Abstracto."

Color mixing proved to be a challenging but fun activity for the class, and it was also very messy. At the end of class everyone pitched in to help with cleanup, and whenever a job was completed students were allowed to sit on the rug to draw pictures with markers.

One student drew a spider web that many students thought was really "awesome." When asked by his peers how he made it, he taught everyone else how to make one, too.

Just like the great meteor and the ice age marked the end for the dinosaurs in real life, painting marked the end for the students’ clay dinosaurs, but stay tuned next time for another new and exciting time travel adventure.

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Week 8: Clay Dinosaurs and their Habitats

Pretending to time travel back to the time when dinosaurs roamed the land, the students continued learning about dinosaurs by discussing the types of homes, or habitats, the dinosaurs might have occupied. Taking a lesson from Michael Recycle, the students reused shoe boxes by transforming them into dinosaur homes using an assortment of assemblage materials like cotton balls, colored paper, and plastic wrap. Students were also given the opportunity to add any finishing touches to the dinosaurs they had created from the previous class.


This student decided to give his dinosaur the ability to carry his entire family on its back. His dinosaur has rooms and compartments that house his family and each person has their very own slide. The student’s room is “at the front of the dinosaur near the head so that he can tell it where to go and what to do.” In order to supply power to the different rooms, the dinosaur also carries a power source on its back.


This student's dinosaur has compartments and private rooms for her entire family, and it also has a swimming pool that it carries on its back. The student commented, "the textures on my dinosaur are places for me and my brother to play in."



Students that were finished making their dinosaurs worked diligently on making a home for their dinosaurs.

Students working on creating homes for their dinosaurs using shoe boxes and the technique of assemblage.

"My dinosaur can go anywhere. You imagine where you want to go and you push a button on the dinosaur, and you're there," this student proclaimed. To show that her dinosaur could go anywhere, she built a habitat with a lot of different spaces for the dinosaur to travel to like school, her grandparents, the Squinky store, and many others.

This student's habitat has many luxuries available for his dinosaur. There is a television set and a chair made out of paper for the dinosaur to enjoy movies and shows, and there is a blanket made of moss to keep his dinosaur warm.

The same student noted that his dinosaur's moss blanket fell apart easily and created a mess, so he constructed a colorful broom for the dinosaur to use "to get the dirt out."

"My dinosaur lives in a park with a pond. It likes to swim when it's warm out. My dinosaur also has a bed made out of feathers." When asked why she chose feathers, she said, "because it's soft and my dino likes feathers." The pond in her dinosaur's park also has a special feature: it has "colored fish that the dinosaur can step on to get in and out of the pond, but it doesn't hurt the fish, because the dino doesn't weigh that much."

After the hustle and bustle of clean-up, Merry brought the students together to talk about their work. Merry asked the students to describe one thing they liked about their dinosaurs and then to say one thing they also liked about their dinosaur’s habitat.

Students sharing what they like about their dinosaur and its habitat.

Today concluded another successful day of time traveling back to the time of the dinosaurs. Stay tuned for next week’s installment where the students will have the opportunity to paint their dinosaurs.

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Week 7: Clay Dinosaurs

Today the students pretended to time travel back into the past to visit a time where dinosaurs roamed the land. From a Tyrannosaurus Rex to a Stegosaurus, Merry introduced the students to a variety of dinosaurs and had the students brainstorm about what each dinosaur looked like and how it might have acted. The students talked about how some dinosaurs had sharp teeth and claws and could run super fast, while others had long necks and big feet. The students also pointed out that some dinosaurs had scaly skin while others appeared to be smoother.

Merry showed the students images of dinosaurs and made a brainstorm list of their characteristics.

Students using tools and natural objects to experiment creating textures.

While making textures, one student remarked, "I used this pointy tool to stab the clay. I dragged it to push the clay down to make shapes with volume."

Another student used dowels and ribbon tools to create patterned textures.

Once the students had experimented creating textures, Merry demonstrated how to use the technique of “pinch and pull” to create the bodies for their dinosaurs. After the demonstration, the students excitedly started on creating their very own dinosaurs with the clay.

One student described his dinosaur by saying, "Cody is a Defasaurus. My dinosaur has a bunch of scratches, because it got into a fight with a T-Rex and won."

Later the student explained that he added spines on his dinosaur so that it could protect itself. Also, since the Defasaurus had been in a fight with a T-Rex, "it only has one eye, becaues the T-Rex tore it off." When asked how the dinosaur might feel about that, he responded, "It doesn't mind, because it can see better with just one."

Another student used the "pinch and pull" technique to give his dinosaur a long neck and tail.

Another student used the "pinch and pull" technique to give his dinosaur a long neck and tail.

The same student used the pinching technique to give his dinosaur fins for swimming. He explained, "it's a water dinosaur, and it uses the plates on its back to attack its prey."

This student first rolled out a long coil to make a dinosaur with a long neck. "Practice, practice, practice rolling," he proclaimed when asked how he was able to get the neck so long.

This student then used the "pinch and pull" technique to make the neck of his dinosaur even longer.

This student's dinosaur had many characteristics. Her dinosaur is able to tell when a T-Rex is attacking it so "it uses its horn to smack it! Then it plays dead and hides from the T-Rex."

When it was time for clean-up, Merry explained to the students that it was important to wrap their clay dinosaurs in saran wrap so that it wouldn’t dry out, and they could keep working on it during the next class period if they wished. Merry then ended class by having a small circle-up discussion about the dinosaurs that the students created. She had them share one characteristic about their dinosaurs while the other students listened.

The students then returned safely from the time of the dinosaurs back into present day just in time for recess. Tune in next time for part two of the trip to the time of the dinosaurs.

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Week 6: Wax Resist Robots

Today the students pretended to time travel to the future! Stephanie began the class by asking the students what types of objects they have in their homes that help them cook, clean, or are used just for fun. The students immediately thought of vacuum’s, refrigerators, and pets among several other household objects. Stephanie than showed the students several examples of the wax resist technique used in several drawings of futuristic robots.

Examples of robot drawings done by Stephanie to show the students the wax resist technique.

Stephanie showed the students how to first draw using the oil pastels and how the pastels will work as a wax resist when water is applied.

The students were instructed to draw their own robots using the wax resist technique. Each robot had to have a specific function and each student came up with their own unique qualities for each robot.

One student explained the specific names and functions for his robots."Notebox is the cooking droid, TX20 prints money, and Mousetoid goes around on wheels and carries things on his back like a mouse."

This students discribed her robot as a robot that feeds her. "He feeds me because one hand is a fork and his other hand is a spoon."

One student worked diligently on his dragon robot and as he began to use the red oil pastel crayon stated, "Red is a very powerful color."

Some students chose to work on black paper which they came to realize changed the appearance of the oil pastels.

The student who named his robots continued to work and create more robots, this time adding "robot flying bugs that hunt like drones. They eat the city and bring back the pieces to me so I can build my own city."

One students describes how his robot has "a gourmet restaurant and a hot tub in his hair." He also explained that "with just a dabble of green it looks great!"

Using the wax resist technique, this student realized how the water skipped over the parts where she had drawn with the oil pastel. "Its mouth is weird because it is a screen that scans so it can talk. It can walk my dog and feed my fish. Her name is tennis ball head because she can take off her hand and bounce it! She also has invisible arms and legs!"

This student colored his dragon robot first with the oil pastels and then added a background using watercolors and the wax resist technique.

When the students finished their robot drawings they could experiment with different colored paper and draw more robots or they could try to build their robots using wooden blocks.

One student works on building his robot out of wooden blocks.

One student discovered a block with a camera drawn on one side. She proceeded to take pictures of the other students in the classroom acting as a photographer.

Stephanie ended the class with a short discussion circle where she had the students say one thing about their robot and it’s main function. The students then returned safely from their time travel journey to the future just in time for recess in the present day. Tune in next time to see where the students time travel with Mary as their teacher!

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Week 5: Castles and Assemblage

Today, the students pretended to time travel to the Middle Ages with kings, queens, princes and princesses’. The students were taught the technique of “assemblage” or as the students pronounced it, “assem-ba-logee”. Using this technique and their imaginations, the students glued materials like foam, jewels and fabrics onto a piece of cardboard to build their own castles.

Stephanie shows the students pictures of castles.

Stephanie shows the students an example of the castle she made using assemblage.

Some students began by cutting out the initial shape of their castle while others glued textured paper to their cardboard.

Each student took a different approach to building his or her castle. The biggest challenge for the students was using only the assemblage materials provided. This encouraged the students to work more three-dimensionally. (Two-dimensional work would be considered collage, which the students applied in an earlier lesson.) Without the ability to simply draw a castle, the students had to critically think about how they would construct a castle and then apply the technique to their piece.

A student glues jewels to her castle. When asked about her castle, the student replied, "It is a diamond kingdom and it's raining diamonds. They all celebrate one special diamond, the red star."

When asked about her castle, this students replied, "I'm just making it wacky so people say, 'I don't want to go in that! It looks weird and wacky!' And then the castle will be safe."

This student described his castle saying, "The jewels represent the relatives and the red star represents the king. Everybody loves the king so they made him a castle. Since the king is on the top with the yellow, he is the best of all."

Whether they were making a “diamond kingdom” or a “wacky castle”, the students were engaged with the variety of materials and the new technique.

Stephanie helps one students draw a knight to guard her diamond kingdom.

This student explained to those at her table that,"Castles aren't very safe because people can see the princess."

In reaction to her table-mates advice that castles aren't safe if you can see the princess, this student's "Diamond Kingdom" castle "has a secret passageway that is a tunnel that no one else can see and a knight in the boat to guard the castle."

When students finished their castles, they were challenged to build their castle using wooden blocks. Many of the students decided to build castles together and combine aspects of their individual assemblage castles.

After all the materials were put away and the classroom was clean, Stephanie gathered all the students on the rug for a discussion and reflection about they day’s work. Each student took a turn talking about one “cool thing” about their castle.

One students tells the others about her castle and aspects that make it unique to her. One student stated, "I wrote my name on my castle so people know I'm the king!"

Another day of successful time travel took the students to medieval times! Where will they travel next?

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Week 4: Ink Prints

“Come and go with me! What do you hear? What do you see?”

So sang the students of art class today as they time traveled to ancient Japan, learning the secrets of ink printing from “Stephanie-san”.

Stephanie-san leads the students in singing the "Time Travel Song".

Stephanie-san showed the students some artifacts from her culture, such as tea cups without handles, a fan and an umbrella. Students were interested in the objects and seemed inspired to learn about the Japanese culture.

Stephanie-san shows the artifacts in her time travel suitcase brought back from "ancient Japan".

Students observe the tea cup made by Stephanie-san.

Stephanie-san then showed the students how to make an ink print. Using an example of a dragon she had previously made, Stephanie-san explained to the students that they would be making their own Japanese “guardian” figure using the ink printing technique. First, the students draw a sketch of their guardian, then carve the drawing into a piece of styrofoam. Once the students carve their guardian into the styrofoam, they roll the ink onto the styrofoam. The ink drawing is then placed face down on a piece of paper, pressed, and then lifted to reveal the ink print of the guardian.

Stephanie-san doing the demonstration on how to make an ink print.

Students began sketching their guardian figures. The figures ranged from cats and dogs to dragons and magical unicorns.

Students then began carving their drawings into the pieces of styrofoam. This process was a challenge for many of the students because the lines needed to be carved thick enough to show up in the final print. They quickly learned to problem solve and carve the lines in a way that would print their drawings clearly into the ink.

As many of the students had never worked with ink before, it became a new and exciting process to work with a brayer instead of paint and a paintbrush. The idea of using only one color for an ink print, instead of many colors as in painting or drawing, was an experiment for students and one that allowed them to try new processes.

A student rolls red ink onto her styrofoam carving.

The student then peels off the styrofoam to reveal her first ink print.

Every student’s final print spoke about their personal interests and imagination. Some students chose to paint gardens where the guardians could live.

A student draws a garden for her guardian figure. She created "a unicorn with rainbow fur and wings to fly around the garden".

A students shows the final print of his guardian, a self portrait which is what "he likes drawing best".

One student's print of a guardian dog.

When student’s finished their prints, they were able to experiment with modeling clay.

A student rolls out several coils in multiple colors to make "a very long snake!"

One student began constructing their guardian figure three-dimensionally, starting by molding the head and the body.

Overall, it was a successful day of time travel to ancient Japan learning about ink printing and Japanese guardian figures.

…Stay tuned to find out where the students time travel next Friday!

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Day 3: Self Portraits!

Today Madeline taught the students how to make a self-portrait for their “license to time travel.” During morning “circle up” at the front of the classroom, the students each had an opportunity to share with the class where they would go if they could time travel to any place in time or space. They had some very creative answers- one student said “South Africa,” another said Egypt and a few students expressed a desire to go back in time to when they were born. After the circle up, Madeline introduced the concept of a “self-portrait” and demonstrated techniques to use when drawing or painting a human face. Pointing to the top of her oval-shape, she would ask “does my nose go…here?” Answered with a resounding “NO!” Madeline would then describe how to map out different facial features: the ends of the mouth line up with the center of the eyes, etc.

Some students still had work to do on thier Time Travel Hats and began working on those right away. There was a table designated for hat making and the students all did a great job sharing space and materials.


Other students began immediately working on their Self Portaits. This student chose to draw her portrait first with pencil, later mixing and applying paint to add color.

This student also chose to draw with pencil first, explaining her reasoning when she said “I can make mistakes with pencil and just erase them. If I used markers I wouldnt be able to fix it.”

This student is using a technique Madeline taught the class earlier, using line to map out features on her face. Here she is connecting her two oval-shaped eyes with a straight line.


Other students chose to dive right into the project using paint. This student was very excited about color mixing, helping the others at her table create a “tan” color to use for the face.

This student used line to mimick text at the bottom of his picture. He explained that he had seen a license before and there were words underneath the picture. Drawing in words at the bottom would make his license more “realistic.”

A few students chose to use stencils to decorate their drawings. This student would trace a shape and later add details of his own.


This student first used blue marker to add color to his hat. He did not like the way it looked, it was “too light,” so he came up with a solution to the problem: using blue paint instead. Satisfied with his results, he continued using paint for the rest of the drawing as well.

After the students were finished working on their Self Portraits, they focused on a new task: some built creative objects with plastic connecting peices while others used modeling clay to create three dimensional forms. Below is an example of one student using her imagination to create little creatures with her pink modeling clay. She also formed representational objects such as bowls with spoons, a bed and a cradle with a baby. Another student formed a nest, later adding smooth, round eggs to place inside.

The students had a lot of fun today painting their Self Portraits and exploring some new materials!

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Day 2: Collage!

Today at the Lab school, the students continued working on their “Time Travel Hats.”

To begin the lesson, Madeline had the students bring their learning logs to the morning “circle up,” a time during which each student has the opportunity to share how they are feeling and tell something about themselves. Today the students shared their drawings and ideas for their time travel hats with their classmates.

Madeline then introduced a new technique for art-making called “collage,” using her own time-travel hat in her demonstration. The students were given an assortment of materials with which to practice this new technique and add sculptural elements to their time travel hats. Fabric, paint, buttons, cotton balls and string were available at each table for the students to use.

A few students kept their learning logs nearby and used the sketches as reference while building their collage. Others dove right in with the materials, not concerning themselves with the original plans for their hats. This student kept her learning log open to view her sketch as she added to her hat.

Below is an example of a student who chose to focus on the materials rather than following the original drawings. This particular student was fairly methodical in the application of materials, choosing to add all of the cotton balls before adding fabric, then finally adding string.

This student cut out shapes described as”random” with her fabric. She explained that she did not want the shapes to represent anything specific, she simply liked the way they looked. When asked what her hat said about her, she replied “I am very different and so is my hat!”

Other students chose to cut shapes to represent specific forms. This image shows a student using a marker to draw out a shape onto the fabric before cutting it out. The newsprint layed out on each table was a great tool for some to practice drawing out their forms.

This student described his hat, noting the purpose of each element he chose to add. “This string will tell people what time period I am from when we time travel.”

Below is an example of a student’s use of “stamping.” This student used his thumb to transfer paint onto his hat, a technique he called “thumbprinting.”

Much of the content regarding design was centered around the self. These hats are intended to say something about the creator. Many students chose to include a depiction of themselves.

This student chose to represent each member of her family with the geometric shapes shown below.

When the students were finished with their hats and it was time to clean up, Madeline taught them how to use the drying rack to safely store their artwork.

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Day 1: Time Travel Hats!

Madeline began the lesson today by dressing up in a variety of different hats. With each hat was a prompt for the students to address: what does this hat say about me? The hat pictured above inspired tales of cowboys and cowgirls and long days in the sun.

 The last hat was a very special one. This hat was made by Madeline and includes images and decorative items that represent her. Not only can this hat tell others about Madeline, it also has the extraordinary ability to take her on adventures through time!!!

The students would have the opportunity today to create their very own time travel hats. First, Madeline demonstrated techniques to use when painting the hats. Then, each student used his or her learning log notebook to brainstorm ideas for their hats. Madeline explained that we would be using these hats every friday to journey through time and learn more about the world around us.



Some students were very focused on thier sketching.

 Madeline went around the room to look at all of the sketches.

When the students had finished brainstorming, they lined up to be fitted with a hat.

Here one of the students is painting a puzzle peice to represent one of her favorite things to do.  

Everyone had a great time creating their hats and making the ideas in their learning logs come to life!


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