April 2


For several years now I have been using a scrap book as a Visual Arts Journal for my students from grade 1-6. I know some art teachers prefer a fancier, more expensive, drawing book to use as an art journal but I have found a scrapbook that has almost cartridge quality paper in it for a scrapbook price, so that’s what I use.

I don’t send these Visual Arts journals home at the end of the year unless they are full. I only have my students now for one semester each year and they don’t get enough opportunity to use them and it is just a waste to send them home with only a few pages worked on. The students also like to look over old drafts and artworks and reflect, and giggle, about how much they have improved over time.

So at the start of each school year they work on a journal cover concept that is just for that year level and this makes the 800+ journals I store in the art room easily identifiable so they can be put away in the correct place if they get lost. The journal covers when complete are covered in clear contact (sticky backed plastic) to protect the student’s hard work. As they use the art journals for more than one year they just glue the new year cover on top of the old one.


This is the design brief for my grade 6 journal cover.

  • choose an A5 photocopied artwork (this year I had 20 different artworks to choose from)
  • choose an A4 piece of coloured cover paper for the background of your cover
  • each grade 6 journal cover must include your name and grade. This MUST be easy to read as although you are creating an artistic cover it still has to function as a cover!
  • each grade 6 journal cover must include an easy to read title, eg: Art/Art Journal/Art Book
  • the A5 colour photocopied art work must be altered in some way as part of your overall cover design, eg: cut it, tear it, draw on it, collage with it, etc

Why were there 20 artworks to choose from this year? Every year the choice grows as I add the current artist that we are looking at, this year it was MC Escher, and if any student asks for a particular artwork, I also add that to the list of those available. These were the choices for 2019.

Australian Art

  • Ghost Gums, Central Australia                    Albert Namatjira
  • Slumbering Sea, Mentone  1887                           Tom Roberts
  • Shearing the rams   1890                                       Tom Roberts
  • Angel   1988                                                              Deborah Halpern
  • Ship of fools  2011                                                   Deborah Halpern
  • Wings of life 2014                                                   Dave Behrens
  • Self Portrait    2013                                                 Dave Behrens

International Art

  • Broadway Boogie Woogie  1942-43                       Piet Mondrian
  •   The parakeet and the mermaid 1952                 Matisse
  • Mona Lisa                                                                  Leonardo da Vinci
  • The arrival of Spring in Woldgate 2011                David Hockney
  • Child with a dove   1901                                          Pablo Picasso
  • Weeping Woman   1937                                          Pablo Picasso
  • The Scream              1893                                         Edvard Munch
  • Sinbad the Sailor      1928                                        Paul Klee
  • Castle and sun           1928                                        Paul Klee
  • Sky and water 1          1938                                       MC Escher
  • Miradauro                   1958                                        MC Escher
  • The Starry Night        1889                                       Vincent Van Gogh
  • The Church at Auvers           1890                            Vincent Van Gogh

I am always blown away by the ideas the students come up with.

What do you think of these?

The students finish off with a self assessment rubric. They also assess the cover of a peer using the same rubric. If you would like a copy of this rubric please email me and I will send it to you.

Thanks for looking and a comment would be appreciated.


Shell Menhennet

July 19

Grade 4 Foot Zentangles

Grade 4 footangle 55 2015

As mentioned in my last post, I went a bit crazy with Zentangles at the start of this 2015 school year.

Grade 4 foot zentangle 25 2015

Grade 4 Foot zentangle 25 2015

These are the foot zentagles – and we shortened the name to footangles – that my grade 4 students did.

Grade 4 footangle 26 2015

Grade 4 footangle 26 2015

I had done this activity 20 years ago in the art room, way before Zentangles had even been invented, and it always went well.

Grade 4 footangle 56 2015

Grade 4 footangle 56 2015

The students started with taking off a sock and a shoe and getting a partner to trace around their foot and yes, in between their tickly toes, with a grey lead pencil, on A3 cartridge paper.

Grade 4 foot zentangle 13 2015

Grade 4 foot zentangle 13 2015

They then had to lift their foot and reposition it with their foot overlapping somewhere.

Grade 4 foot zentangle 8 2015

Grade 4 foot zentangleangle 8 2015

The tracing was repeated until their arrangement of traced feet looked balanced and enough. Their decision, not mine.

Grade 4 foot zentangle 11 2015

Grade 4 foot zentangle 11 2015

The partners then reversed positions and did it again so they were both ready to start drawing.

Grade 4 foot zentangle 5 2015

Grade 4 foot zentangle 5 2015

I suggested they do this with a partner so they would get a decent traced shape of their foot with their full weight on it, rather than leaning back and tracing their own. Plus, it was the start of a new school year so what better way to get to know a classmate better than getting up close and personal with their feet!!!

So after a giggly 20 minutes or so everyone was ready to start in on those patterns.

grade 4 foot zentangle drawing 2015

grade 4 foot zentangle drawing 2015

They had looked at patterns and amazing zentangles the week before and filled in at least 5 spaces on their own pattern ideas sheet of 20 squares that had been glued into their art journal, so they were all set to go.

Grade 4 footangle 47 2015

Grade 4 footangle 47 2015

These students were also the only year level I had done Zentangles with in 2014 when they produced a name tangle.

Grade 4 footangle 44 2015

Grade 4 footangle 44 2015

And when they were in Grade 2 we had looked at the brilliant pattern work of Queenland contemporary artist Dave Behrens.

Dave Behrens self portrait

Dave Behrens self portrait


Dave Behrens painting the spoken word

Dave Behrens painting the spoken word

Dave Behrens painting Crossroads

Dave Behrens painting Crossroads

So I was confident that the pattern work they did would be good, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Grade 4 foot zentangle 35 2015

Grade 4 foot zentangle 35 2015

So now it was time to forget they were feet at all but just look at their paper as being covered in random, organic shapes, all of which needed to be retraced with a thick black texta and then filled with a different pattern with a black fineliner.They weren’t allowed to repeat a pattern once it had been used.

Grade 4 foot zentangle 32 2015

Grade 4 foot zentangle 32 2015

When they were finished they then had to fill the background with stripes using warm or cool colours.

Grade 4 foot zentangle 37 2015

Grade 4 foot zentangle 37 2015


  • Students we re so proud of their finished work!
  • stunning pattern work
  • students were so encouraging and enthusiastic when we did our “studio walk” around the classroom to look at everybody else’s work


  • Again I was way too ambitious with what I thought the students would be able to achieve over a few sessions However if they had used A4 paper the completed work wouldn’t have been nearly as impressive as there wouldn’t have been room for as many traced feet so less spaces to fill with pattern?!?!?
  • less children were certain about warm/cool colours than I thought
  • some students struggled to persevere to completion
  • I would definitely get the students to paint the backgrounds next time as coloured pencil or crayon backgrounds just dragged the work out even more. I cannot think why I didn’t get them to do this anyway?!?!?

Thanks for looking and I’m sure the Grade 4 students would love it if you left a comment,


December 5



As mentioned in previous posts, the Grade 2 children were inspired by the work of Queensland artist Dave Behrens. We looked at his website on the projection screen and even watched a video of him in his workshop.


The children were itching to get started after looking at the amazing squiggles, lines and symbols that go together to make Dave Behrens amazing paintings.


We started off small with each child decorating a rectangle to add to a whole grade piece of work.


They then chose a template to trace from a heart, a circle or a person. Some children found looking at the whole empty shape daunting so they used rulers to break the space up into sections to fill.


They were so proud of their work when it was finished and they looked terrific displayed together at the Art Show.

October 3



The Grade 2 children made snakes to celebrate it being the Chinese Year of the Snake!




I was surprised at how much the children whinged and moaned about how rolling the clay hurt their hands! And there were more children than I expected that really struggled to roll a sausage at all. We had a chat and it was interesting that most of them couldn’t remember the last time they had played with playdoh. Most insisted that they had never done this at school and didn’t have it at home because it was TOO MESSY! And these days the amount of children that help to roll  out pastry in the kitchen at home would fit in a thimble. So how are these little people supposed to exercise these fine motor muscles? In the Art room I suppose!



I was thrilled with how much effort the children put into painting their snakes once they were all finally fired. I’m sure this is directly related to the detailed work of Queensland artist Dave Behren’s that we were looking at and working on at the time!


July 24


A friend of mine sent me a message on Facebook during first term telling me that she had found an amazing website that belonged to an Australian Artist and I was going to love it. My friend Sue knows me really well and she was right. It’s a great website and DAVE BEHRENS is an amazing artist. He lives in Queensland.

I sent him an email and told him I was going to do some work with my Grade 2’s and 3’s in the Dave Behren’s style. And in the end we sort of spent the whole term working in Dave Behren’s style and the work the children have produced has been absolutely stunning.

Dave Behren’s paintings are incredibly detailed and the” WOW!!!” factor was certainly there as the children all “oohed”, and “aahed”, while looking through the website together and watching a video interview, which was available on his website, on the projection screen in the classroom.

Viewing the website in the main art room 2013

Looking at the Dave Behrens website on the wall in the back art room.


We started off small. The grade 2 children had to decorate a rectangle of coloured paper. The grade 3’s had to do a star shape. I glued them onto a large sheet of black cover paper so they would look similar to the way Dave Behren’s arranges some of his paintings. There was a lot of discussion about what could be drawn, repeating patterns, shapes within shapes, symbols, etc. I drew up some idea sheets BODIES/SHAPES/LINES and asked everyone to contribute one idea  to at least one sheet. Once they were working though they all took inspiration from each other – “Ooh I like what you did just there. I’m going to try that one.”

Viewing Dave Behrens video interview main art room 2013 

viewing Dave Behrens video in back art room 2013

I have lots more photos to put up of this stunning work so keep looking for future posts.