Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Day for the Cat in the Hat!

It was the Cat's Birthday this year! Did you know he turns 50? On the birthday of his creator, Dr. Seuss, my son Nathan visitted me at school to see the statue his daddy made (with the help of some students!)

Wocket Madness

As you can see, our "Put a Wocket in Your Pocket" station was very popular. People were lined up all the way down the hall, holding on to their socks and waiting for a chance to design a wocket. I grabbed bags of cotton batting and handed it out so that while they waited they could at least stuff their sock!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Students earn their degree in Seuss-ology!

On Friday, March 3 the Lynch-Bustin Elementary School held a Family Fun Night they called the “Seuss-a-Rama”. Students who attended with their parents were able to play educational games, create crafts, enjoy snacks, and do a science experiment. Every activity was somehow related to the books of author and illustrator Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Attendance was huge for the event. Over 715 students or family members filled the halls, and moved from station to station participating in learning activities.

My main purpose in holding the event was to bring attention to the fantastic artwork these students make. Displays of artwork filled every hallway, with at least one work of art for every student in the school. About 800 works of art in all were displayed. The works of Dr. Seuss in some way inspired every project.

Fifth grade students made acrylic paintings on canvas. Using the techniques of impasto, drybrush, pointillism or graded wash they created a reinterpretation of a Seuss character. Fourth grade students made “Poetic Prints” from blocks carved by a material called Safety Cut. Third Graders made “Wubbulous Watercolors”, in which they made pen and ink drawings with pen and ink of Seuss characters which they then painted with watercolor techniques the learned, such as wet on wet, graded wash, drybrush and “the Thirsty Brush”. Other classes created drawings inspired by a Seuss book in some way.

Twenty years ago, art education primarily emphasized teaching about art. We still do that. However, current trends in art education emphasize not just teaching about art but teaching other subjects with art and through art. Art is a powerful ally for students struggling to learn reading, writing and many other subjects. In my opinion, when all subjects work cooperatively rather than in seclusion, learning of all subjects is best facilitated. The theme of Seuss was a great one because he was both a writer and an artist. Seuss was very perceptive in how students learn and what gets their attention. I have a favorite quote by Seuss that I had on display at my desk during this unit of study. Here is that quote:

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It’s a way of looking a life through the wrong end of a telescope – which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” -Dr. Seuss

Seussville Station

Students who stopped by our school's computer lab could show their parents or siblings some of the educational games they've been learning to play at

Save Horton's Who's!

At this station, students threw beanbags at the villains from "Horton Hears a Who".

Snatch the Sneetch!

In the gym, teachers organized games. One of the games was "Snatch the Sneetch". It's played much like "Steel the Bacon", only instead of bacon used a stuffed toy sneetch. The poor guy got quite a beating!

A Photograph to Make you Laugh

One of our stations was a photo opportunity where students could pose as Seuss characters. Some of my fifth graders helped me paint these.

Pink Ink to Drink and Fish on a Dish

The snack at the Seuss-a-Rama was pink lemonade, goldfish crackers, and Swedish fish. I know, it sounds gross -- which is probably why the kids loved it.

The Cat's Casino

For the night we converted our library into "The Cat's Casino". Here students could play educational games based on Seuss stories. Those who won games could enter their names in a drawing to win that game for their classroom.

Make Your Own Oobleck!

One of the stations at the Seuss-a-Rama was called "Make Your Own Oobleck". This activity was based on the Seuss book, "Bartholomew and the Oobleck and was a science lesson. Below are the directions on how to make it.

Make your own Oobleck!
Ahead of time: Mix 29 ml of Borax into one cup of water. Then…
1. Fill the plastic cup with about ½ inch of glue.
2. Add 29 ml of water to the glue and stir.
3. Add a few drops of green tempera paint and stir again.
4. Add 29 ml of the Borax solution and stir well.
5. Lift the oobleck out and place it on paper.
6. Let it sit for about 30 seconds and then play with it.
7. Put it in a baggy to take home.
Background: The term "Oobleck" is derived from the book Bartholomew and the Oobleck, by Dr. Seuss. Experimenting with Oobleck is much more than having fun with a weird substance. As students participate in this activity, they will develop important skills in scientific observation. Scientists at Jefferson Lab use a similar process to investigate quarks in the nucleus of the atom. Explanation: The borax is acting as the crosslinking agent or "connector" for the glue (polyvinyl acetate) molecules. Once the glue molecules join together to form even larger molecules called polymers, you get a thickened gel very similar to slime.

Put a Wocket in Your Pocket

At the Seuss-a-Rama, parents and their children lined up by the hundreds for a chance to "put a wocket in their pocket". They were told to bring their own sock, which they stuffed with cotton batting and decorated with yarn, craft supplies, etc.

Students and Teachers Make the Best Educational Use of Seuss

I just finished organizing a Family Fun Night (at the school where I teach art )that we called the Seuss-a-Rama. These nights are kind of like a carnival/curriculum fair/art show. We try to provide hands-on fun learning activities that children can do with their parents and siblings. We had 715 turn out!

All of the activities were based on a Dr. Seuss book. Some of the activities included:

1. Make your own oobleck. A science experiment involving green slime.
2. Put a wocket in your pocket. Using a sock, cotton batting and craft accessories to make a "friend" to take home.
3. The Cat's Casino. In the library, we had Seuss board games and card games. Winners names were entered in a drawing in which they could win these games for their classroom.
4. Pink Ink to Drink and Fish in a dish. The snack was pink lemonade, goldfish crackers and swedish fish.
5. A Photograph to Make you Laugh. We made large paintings of Seuss characters with the heads cut out so students could stand behind it and pose as Sam I Am, the Cat, etc.
6. Snatch the Sneetch. This is a game similar to "steal the bacon" only we used a stuffed sneetch.
7. Copy the Cat. A teacher dressed in a Cat in the Hat costume led students in a game similar to "Simon Says".
8. Save Horton's Who. A beanbag toss game.
9. Seussville Station. In the computer lab, students could play an educational game at

The event was also an art show. I have 600 students and each one had a work of art on display that was inspired by Seuss. 5th graders did acrylic paintings, 4th graders did block prints, 3rd graders did pen and ink and wtarcolors, etc. The biggest piece was a seven foot statue of the cat in the hat made of plaster of paris.