The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus – Creating Visual Feasts

Hats off to teachers…it’s time for Mid-Week Focus!

Mid-Week Focus is all about quick and easy ways to approach teaching to keep kids on task in any instructional setting.

What's under the magic hat today?

What’s under the magic hat today?

Let’s share insight and practical ideas. Let’s blend fun with function, and LET’S CREATE “VISUAL FEASTS” TO ADD “PIZZAZZ” TO OUR DAILY SCHOOL SCHEDULES. 

“Visual Feasts” are under the magic hat today.

I still laugh every time I think about my fifth grade teacher; the one who gently “burst our young bubbles,explaining in class on the day before spring break that “kids think that vacations are for them. Well they are, and I hope you have fun on break, but I got news…teachers need vacations too!”

It’s no news that we can’t be out of school as much as we might like, but we can enjoy mini-vacations – or call them little celebrations – that sustain us through “same old” routines by creating visual “feasts.”

Browse below for ways to jazz up your educational corner of the world, catching kids’ attention in the process.

SEIZE YOUR FAVORITE SEASON – Love the fall of the year?

Watch kids' eyes grow big when you throw a pile of fall leaves in the air!

Watch kids’ eyes grow big when you throw a pile of fall leaves in the air!

Start a school day by “throwing caution to the wind.”

Grab hold of a pile of colorful real or silk leaves, like you see in my blog pic here.

If fall isn’t coming soon for you, tell your class that you know it’s _________________ (current season), but you just can’t wait for fall!

Surprise! Surprise! Throw the leaves in the air and offer this quick rhyme as they drop to the floor…

Falling leaves float by,

Orange, red, yellow, green,

Falling leaves in autumn,

What a lovely scene!

Depending on how much time you have to wrap up this attentionology trick, you can…

  • ask for volunteers to “hand-rake up” the leaves, keeping count of each pile, reporting the number when the cleanup is complete.
  • quickly sweep the leaves to the side of the room so that no one will slip on them.
  • read another nature poem from a book or online resource using a SmartBoard. (Google “poems about ___________ (the season)”

LOOK WHAT POPPED UP IN CLASS! – Masterpiece paintings are “visual feasts.” Can’t get to museums or galleries as much as you’d like?

Georgia O’Keefe, A Sunflower from Maggie, 1937, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 in., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Alfred Stieglitz Collection-Bequest of Georgia O’Keefe, © 2007 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Photograph © 2012 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Alfred Steiglitz Collection - Bequest of Georgia O'Keefe, C 2007, Photograph C, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Georgia O’Keefe, A Sunflower from Maggie, 1937, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 in., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Alfred Stieglitz Collection-Bequest of Georgia O’Keefe, © 2007 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Photograph © 2012 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Bring the art in and brighten up your day!

Find an easel to keep in your classroom.

One afternoon, after students leave for the day, set up the easel in a prominent place and display a print on it of an eye-catching painting, like the one in my blog pic here.

(This painting and other masterpieces are featured in my 12/03/12 post.)

Select a print that appeals to you and opens up learning opportunities for your students. You can…

  • ask the class as you prepare to take attendance if they notice anything that’s popped up in class since yesterday, then feign surprise when they point to the print.
  • begin the day walking to the easel, announcing your mini-museum. Build observation skills by advising students to “be on the lookout” for new art, coming soon. 
  • use the title of the print to spark creative thinking. For example, the sunflower in the painting above is “from Maggie.” “Who might Maggie be?” you ask, then, “why do you think that?”
  • invite kids to write a story based on what they see in the painting.
  • take the class on an age-appropriate virtual tour of the museum that has the painting you’re displaying in its collection.
  • allow time for students to draw and color their own “fun flowers,” (a “take-off” on sunflowers) if the art work is of flowers.

IT’S MAKE A WISH DAY! – Valentine’s Day will be celebrated tomorrow in many parts of the world, but the balloon in my blog pic

"It's Make A Wish Day!"

“It’s Make A Wish Day!”

here has a heart for turning any day into Make A Wish Day! 

Set a colorful balloon like this one on your desk. You can…

  • tell students that “today is Make A Wish Day” and ask what they wish for (“No homework tonight!”)
  • tie in the Make a Wish balloon to a charity event currently on in your school or community, like raising funds for The Make A Wish Foundation (US) that sends children with serious illnesses on vacations or to special events.
  • use the Make A Wish balloon as a “friendly reminder” if your class needs to focus better during study time or improve test scores, etc. Present the balloon as your way of saying, “I wish that you would ___________________________.”
  • celebrate a birthday. For example, you might bring a Make A Wish balloon to class on March 4, birthday of Dr. Seuss, beloved American children’s author. After the class sings “Happy Birthday” to Dr. Seuss, ask who wishes to hear one of his stories.

“Visual feasts” are fun and filling, like the edible kind, but without the calories! All you need: a few clever ideas; a little money and some minutes to create eye-catchers that will brighten any day.

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥  The Lovable Poet

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