August 20


grade 1 clay 29

It has come to my attention that lots of Visual Arts programs/classrooms don’t seem to be doing clay anymore!

grade 1 clay

grade 1 clay 57

I have developed this opinion after discussing it, off the cuff, at school, at network meetings, at our Outer West Visual Art Teachers Network Professional Learning Day, earlier this year, talking to colleagues at last year’s Art Education Victoria Conference, etc, etc, etc.

grade 1 clay 53

grade 1 clay 53

And, as far as I am aware, modelling is still a part of the Visual Arts Curriculum in Victoria.

grade 1 clay 54

grade 1 clay 54

I use clay for most of my modelling sessions. It’s fun. It’s messy! It’s cheap! And my students love it! And I love it!

grade 1 clay 65

grade 1 clay 65

And, let’s face it, the Visual Arts room is the last place in the school where you are not only allowed, but encouraged, to make a mess, while you express yourself!

clay man in boat

grade 1 clay 32

So what is happening out there? Are you still doing clay at your school? Have you got a kiln that is no longer being used? Why not? Do you find it too messy? Seriously? Or is all the kiln firing too time consuming? is it an OH&S matter at your school? Why? Do you use alternative materials to clay for modelling or is it just not part of your Visual Arts curriculum any more???? Do you find it a bit scary – a bit out of your comfort zone? Would it be helpful if more networks or other bodies were offering more professional learning in this area?

grade 1 clay face 22

grade 1 clay face 22

Please reply and comment on my observation as I would really like to know what you think.


PS I have mentioned this to my students and they have been as horrified as I am that there are other students out there who seem to be missing out on such a wonderful material to learn and have fun with in the art room.

grade 1 clay face 27

grade 1 clay face 27

August 16


field of paper poppies April 2015 Georgia

April 25th 2015 was the 100th anniversary of ANZAC Day.

paper poppies field April 2015 2

paper poppies field April 2015 2

I am part of the Special Weeks committee, which organizes all sorts of Special Events as part of the school calendar, at Cambridge Primary School, and we thought that as a whole school we had to do something to commemorate the 100th ANZAC day!

paper poppies field April 2015 16

paper poppies field April 2015 16

So we came up with the very simple idea of each student and staff member making a paper poppy and planting it into the ground to create a field of poppies.

paper poppies field April 2015

paper poppies field April 2015

Each grade was supplied with enough wooden skewers for one for each child but after that it was up to the teachers how they put their poppies together. There were no other rules or instructions to follow as we really didn’t want them to look all exactly the same.

paper poppies field April 2015 3

paper poppies field April 2015 3

paper poppies field April 2015 20 They just all had to be planted by lunch time on the Friday before ANZAC day, in a rather bare patch of ground, near the office, at the front of the school.

paper poppies field April 2015 19

paper poppies field April 2015 19

I started the planting process off in the morning and then was running back and forth from the main art room during the day to take photos as the planting progressed. It was lovely to lift my head up from my work in the main art room and catch a glimpse of all the heads down and bottoms up action as the students and staff planted their poppies and then stood around admiring their work and the work of others. There was even quite a reverent, emotional atmosphere around the poppy field.

paper poppies field April 2015 17

paper poppies field April 2015 17

I did find I had to stand guard when I was on yard duty at snack time though as several Prep children thought it would be a great idea to run through and stomp on all the poppies – so much for being reverent, emotional and caught up in the atmosphere, when you are 5! paper poppies field April 2015 13

My battery died on my Ipad, of course, so I didn’t even get to photograph the complete field of poppies.

paper poppies field April 2015 12

paper poppies field April 2015 12

The photographer arrived from the local paper and took a lovely photo which luckily included my Georgie.(Yay! XXX) I think that is the only local newspaper photo Georgia has ever been in for her school so it was nice she got to be in one during her final year at Cambridge PS! As this photographer was there rather early in the day I don’t think he even saw the whole field of poppies.

field of paper poppies April 2015 Georgia

field of paper poppies April 2015 Georgia

A Bright ANZAC tribute at Cambridge Primary School. “The gardens of Cambridge Primary School were a sea of red last Friday as the school marked Anzac Day. The Hoppers Crossing school wanted to mark the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli with something special, so it created a field of poppies. Assistant principal Nella Cascone said the school’s 935 pupils and 90 staff made the flowers. A planting ceremony was then held last Friday afternoon, giving everyone a chance to pay their respects. Grade 6 pupils Georgia, Ayaan and Shaubing (pictured) were among the children who helped plant the poppies.” – See more at:

paper poppies field April 2015 11

paper poppies field April 2015 11

At the end of the school day there was quite a crowd as plenty of families photographed and admired the poppy field, with all commenting about how it had been a fantastic idea, and some being very moved by it.

paper poppies field April 2015 8

paper poppies field April 2015 8

Susie, my Science teacher colleague, and I, waited until 4.00pm to make our sad, regretful decision. The weather was changing rather drastically, with the wind becoming quite ferocious and a heavy storm predicted for the early evening. We had intended leaving the poppies in the field and collecting them up on Monday morning but the thought of arriving at school to find the poppies shredded by the storm and dumped all over the school yard was just devastating. So regretfully, Susie, Georgie and I, and a few helpers from After School Care, packed up the magnificent field of poppies into boxes before the storm could destroy them.

paper poppies field April 2015 4

paper poppies field April 2015 4

‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.’

paper poppies field April 2015 10

paper poppies field April 2015 10

paper poppies field April 2015 9

paper poppies field April 2015 9

paper poppies field April 2015 6

paper poppies field April 2015 6

Thanks for reading,



December 8



I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought it was so cute I couldn’t resist. Thank you to Welcome to Room 36 for the idea!


They were a big hit at the Art Show – so bright and sunny – and the children put so much effort into the faces. Such great work for Grade 1 children. They were all very proud of their ROY G BIV – and that they had figured out his secret when lots of the Art Show visitors could not!!!

Since the Art Show I have been told there is a fabulous children’s story book called ROY G BIV. I’ll have to find it and add it to my list of resource purchases for 2014!

November 19


These photos are of the hall display I did earlier and the drawings mounted and on display at the Cambridge Primary School Art Show.

I read THE COAT by Julie Hunt to the Grade 1 children as part of celebrating the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book Week in the Art Room. They were mesmerised by the story and the illustrations, by Ron Brooks, are divine. Ron Brooks illustrated The BUNYIP OF BERKLEY”S CREEK as well as lots of other Australian children’s titles. Thhis book went on to deservedlywin Australian Picture Book of the Year 2013!


After immersing themselves in the story and having a great discussion about the fabulous illustrations we talked a bit about how fantastic it would be to fly through the sky in a magical coat. The children then drew their own head and neck onto a coat shape I provided them with. They could decorate the coat in any way they liked and they were so excited to add some sequins to it as well! Such a simple thing but they just thought it was so special! I love the picture below with the flying ponytail!

The next step was to cut their coat drawing out very carefully, ensuring they didn’t hack off the head or the feet, and put it aside to start the background. Drawing from a bird’s eye (or a person flying in a magical coat) point of view is tricky when you are in Grade 1.

 We looked at photos and maps and drawings I found on pinterest and google for inspiration, we talked about what they would see if they flew over their house, or the school, or the MCG (the Melbourne Cricket Ground, an iconic Melbourne institution, where footy and cricket are played, and other events held, in our sports mad Capital city, so it was familiar to most of the children) and most of the children seemed to be able to articulate what they would see and what it would look like when they drew it. I love that you look at the back of his headas he is flying in the drawing below!

 I have to admit, when it came to the execution it was really tricky. Some of them started out with a bird’s eye view but then as they found something tricky to draw they would revert to a straight on aspect. Some of them just drew a picture from a straight on, normal view from the start, even if it was very detailed.

But boy, when they GOT IT, wow, they well and truly GOT IT!!!


I am so proud of all their attempts as nearly all the children said they thought they were the best drawings they had ever done!

October 3



These lovely geometric shape collages were completed by the Grade 1 children earlier this year.

Grade 1 shape collage 2013 25

I had done this sort of activity  several times in the Art Room over the years and I’m always amazed with what the children come up with.

Grade 1 shape collage 2013 46

I purchased the fantastic double sided cardboard mosaic pieces from Zart Art, which I had used before, including the lovely shimmery squares you can see in the butterfly above, and was thrilled to find they also had packs of patterned triangles which were new.

Grade 1 shape collage 2013 54

I was horrified to find the triangles came in sheets which I had to press out myself (as they were a little too delicate for the children to do if I wanted them to stay triangular!) so I spent one lunchtime breaking up the whole packet of sheets. This was quite a zen/bizarre/ almost therapeutic activity I found which wasn’t as time consuming as I thought it would be. Next time I’ll probably get some older helpers to do it for me so I don’t totally lose my mind! It was much better than cutting up triangles myself like I used to do!!!

Grade 1 shape collage 2013 58 

I absolutely love the woolly sheep above! I found the circles and the blue/white squares with rounded corners in a box in the store room! Who knows where they came from but they must have been offcuts from something that were donated from a parents work place?!?!?! And I just love recycling!!!!

Grade 1 shape collage 2013 81

And this elephant was gorgeous – I just wish I had taken a better photo of it!

Grade 1 shape collage 2013 98

self portrait as a minecraft characterI was told that the person above was a self portrait as a MINECRAFT game character!!!

I put away a lot of these for the Art Show coming up at the end of October. I hope they have survived the storage!

Grade 1 shape collage 2013 89

I hope you enjoy this lovely gallery of shape collages by children who were only in their first few weeks of grade 1 at the time of their creation. Please leave a comment below as all bloggers love to know there is somebody out there! Or you could even become a follower!!! Just click on the follow me button in the sidebar.



September 29


This is what happened when I gave the Grade 1 children a tub of wooden clay tools for the first time. Up until this stage they had only been using their hands and fingers as tools. I explained that this was a time to try out and experiment with the tools and see what they could do with them.

It was interesting how some of the children madly textured their work while others incorporated the tools into their finished items. Hey, I didn’t tell them that they couldn’t do that!

Quite a few of the children created a clutch of a few small items rather than make one large piece, and they all knew that none of this work was going to be kept but I would try to photograph their experiments before their session finished.

We certainly had a terrific discussion after everyone had walked aroud and looked at each other’s work.

“How did you do that?”

I wish I had thought of that!”

“I’m going to try to do mine like that next time!”

How did you make that shape?”

“Can we use the clay tools like that?”

“I made my clay flat like a picture but next time I want to make a fat shape that sits up on the table.”

And just in case you were like me who mistakenly assumed this was a nice tree – this is the Tower of Isengard from the Lord of the Rings!!!

September 29


I just love my Ipad.

It makes moments like these, when I have asked the Grade 1 children to make something just before we pack up, easy to keep forever.

The instruction was, “Use your clay skills to make a face in 10 minutes!”

I think they did a great job!


September 15



Lunchtime boss

Thank you to Heidi 2C, Lisha 2NM and Lani 2C who have been the Main Art room LUNCHTIME BOSSES during our lunchtime art sessions on Thursdays over the last few weeks. Thank you for the excellent fulfilment of your duties Heidi, Lisha and Lani, and if you would like a turn being the Main Art Room LUNCHTIME BOSS on Thursday lunchtimes just come and talk to Mrs Menhennet and I will add your name to the list!


We have been enjoying some of the wonderful books shortlisted by the Children’s Book Council of Australia for 2013, in the Art rooms. The Prep children made beautiful sunflowers for PEGGY, by Anna Walker, to follow home! I can’t wait to get them up on display. And just wait until you see the fantastic drawings the grade 1 children have done in response to the Picture Story book of the year – THE COAT by Julie Hunt!

The illustrations by Ron Brooks are wonderful and the children were mesmerised by the fantastic story!

 And do you remember last year, we read the gorgeous book, A FOREST, and made a beautiful forest display in the hallway, and I wondered why such a stunning book had been left off the 2012 Picture Book of the Year shortlist??? That was because it was shortlisted for 2013! It is quite an achievement for Marc Martin to be short listed with his first ever picture fiction book!


Link Link to Children’s Book Council Of Australia Book of the Year shortlists

Link to some interactive literacy activities to do with the shortlisted books!

A SECIAL REPORT BY OUR NEW REPORTER                                             AMARLEA CRAIG  2B

Hi, my name is Amarlea Craig from 2B. On the 23rd of August I went to the “Monet’s Garden” exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. There were lots of people and the gallery was very big. Some of the paintings were big and all of them were magical. My favourite painting was a round painting with water lilies in a golden frame. At the end of the exhibition we sat in a round theatre. It showed footage of Claude Monet’s house and the garden in Giverny from day to night. We saw the different rooms in the house and the garden with lots of trees and plants and the lake with the famous Japanese bridge. It was amazing and very beautiful. There was also a really cool gift shop.

 Here are some new links to websites with information and/or images of/about Claude Monet.

And here are the links I have been using in the classroom over the last few weeks including to the NGV website, information about the exhibition and Claude Monet.


Art room helpers  – If you would like to help out in the Art room just come and see me and we will book a time that suits you. You don’t have to book in for the time that your child is in the Art room and you don’t need any special skills, just a willingness to help out, and some time to do it. It will give you the opportunity to experience one of our specialist programs up close! The grade 3 children are hand stitching on paper and fabric at the moment so some extra hands to help with knots and tangles during these sessions would be most appreciated.

Don’t forget the  BLOG – Have you left a comment on the Back Art Room Blog lately???

DONATIONS – Thank you for all the donations that keep arriving at the main art room.  We love to reuse and recycle! I cut up a pile of mostly yellow printed paper that was donated a while ago and the Prep children used this paper to make their sunflowers.  We still need –

  • Old calendars
  • Paint sample cards
  • Wallpaper offcuts and samples
  • Old CLEAN toothbrushes (they are great for adding slip to clay joins!)

Thank you!

July 22


I created this display with the hands made by the Grade 1’s to get the year started off with a lovely activity and a lovely display!

Hands up for art

Hands up for art 2

The children traced their hands and arms, or asked a classmate to do it for them and then decorated them with patterns using the zoom crayons.

The following week they painted their hand using watercolour cakes(or blocks, whatever you like to call them).  The grade 1’s had not used these before so needed to be taught to wash their brush when they were changing colours so the cake of watercolour did not become muddy.

I also insist that they look after the water pots themselves and if the water is too dirty they just go and empty it and refill the water pots themselves without asking me. This always results in a few water spills at the beginning (big deal, it is just water!) so we then discuss why the spill has occurred (rushing, too much water in the container) and what we do when they occur (put newspaper down immediately to help soak up the water and make the spillage more visible for others in the room and then clean it up as quickly as possible) and the spillages soon stop. It is all worth it in the end as I strive to make the children clean up after themselves. I am always stupefied by the number of children at Grade 1 level that have NO IDEA how to turn on a tap! This is all part of the learning process of being responsible artists!

I did not tell them that the crayon would resist the watercolour but waited until someone noticed it before we discussed it. “What’s happening here? Why isn’t the paint covering that crayon pattern?”

When they were dry cutting them out was the next challenge so I demonstrate how you can turn the paper while you are cutting slowly, a revelation for most grade 1’s, so you don’t just chop off all the fingers!

I ummed and aahed about how to display them and then settled on a circle. I layered them on the display board and tried NOT to staple the hands and fingers so they would move in any breeze that wafted past. I was going to put the sign in the top left corner in the middle but then found the bit of gold corrugated cardboard  in the scrap box, added some cupcake wrappers for eyes (we used to call them patty pans when I was a kid) and it turned into a beaming sun, so appropriate as the start of the year was so very hot!

Thank you for the inspiration from this picture on Pinterest. I absolutely adore Pinterest!

I also saw this one on Pinterest too which has obviously been created by much older children.Thanks for looking and I would love it if you left a comment!


May 1

Grade 1 Torn Tissue Me!

The grade 1’s did a self portrait each, earlier this year, and I think they are exquisite!

 There is something special about the torn tissue that allows the children to add such character to therir portraits. And one grade in poarticular had a fun time – we had been experiencing some particularly hot weather, so without thinking, I  switched the fans on high and the squeals of delight were deafening as about a squillion pieces of torn tissue paper took to the air in a whirling, swirling dancing rainbow!!!