Scratchin Out Art

Saturday’s workshop was S-graffiti (in Italian sgaffiare means to scratch + graffiti and you get our made up word- sgraffiti).  The kids made their own scratch boards and etched out their art.

Though it’s easy to make, it takes a little time and patience since the paper needs to be covered with a thick layer of crayon first and then painted over with tempera.

After the paint fully dries, the kids used a shish kabob stick and scratched away.  It was a fun experience to work on a black surface, scratching out a lighter design and thinking backwards for the first time was definitely a challenge for everyone.

The projects were beautiful and the kids enjoyed scratching away.

Keith Haring


 Keith Haring is a fun artist to teach to kids. His style is simple, the colors are solid (and easier for kids to paint) and although the figures are easy to identify, stories about what they are doing can be told in many different ways.

For this lesson, we looked at Keith Haring’s artwork and talked about what the figures were doing in each piece. We made a list of verbs and used them to play pictionary, but with a twist…instead of drawing, we painted and it had to be done in the style of Haring. When the ‘guessers’ guessed, they had to do it saying a whole sentence or it didn’t count. The kids had a great time and didn’t want the game to end.


Out of this lesson the kids learned a new artist, experienced sketching with a paintbrush (an instrument a lot harder to control than a pencil), used their imagination, expanded their vocabulary, used sentences in the present progressive (gerund) form and we’re betting that once again, they didn’t even realize they had learned all of that.

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I know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie

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Happy Thanksgiving!

I know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie is a funny story about a little old lady who overeats on Thanksgiving.  Who hasn’t done that before?  Read the book and see what happens to her as a result!

This is a wonderful ESL book since it introduces many traditional Thanksgiving foods and has a lot of repetition.  If you have been playing our Thanksgiving Bingo, then you will already know the vocabulary since it includes all of the things the little old lady eats.

These are pieces for a story board.:

Print them out on thick paper, laminate them, cut them out and attach magnets (or velcro) to the back.  Using a magnetic board (or a felt board), use the pieces to retell the story.  Kids love to attach the pieces and pretend to eat them or pretend to be grossed out by them-depending on what piece it is.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, this story is a Thanksgiving take on There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, a classic story and song for kids.  There are many versions and variations because it such a fun song and easy to learn.

Handprint Turkey

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A simple activity and good keepsake to make for Thanksgiving is a hand print Turkey.


construction paper: red     yellow     orange     brown
a pencil        googly eyes        scissors        glue

1.  Trace your hand onto the red, yellow and orange paper.  Cut out.

2. On the brown paper cut out a snowman/barbapapa shape for the head.

3. On orange paper, cut out 3 small triangles for the beak and feet. On red paper cut out a drop shape for the red piece on the beak.

4.  In any order, glue the 3 hands one on top of the other. Glue the head/body shape on top of the hands.  Glue on the eyes, nose, and red piece.

5. Tadah-you have finished your turkey! Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble Gobble!

Spinning Colors

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Last Saturday’s workshop was all about mixing colors…with your eyes.  One of the first things kids learn is English are colors, but not everyone knows which primary colors to mix together to make second secondary colors.  This is how we did it:

First, we reviewed the colors just to make sure everyone knows them.  Then we went over what supplies we’d use to make our project (in this case, paint, paint brushes, circles (drawn before hand), glue and bottle caps). Everyone painted 2 primary colors into each of the circles in alternating patterns (red/blue, yellow/red and  blue/yellow).Next, the kids cut out the circles.

They glued plastic bottle caps (which we had already punched a hole into with an awl) onto the backside of the circles (we punched a hole into the center of the circle to align with the hole in the bottle cap) and pushed a shish kabob stick through the hole.

After they finished drying, the tops were ready to go. The kids got to spin their tops and discover which two primary colors make each secondary color.

Pumpkin Pie

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Pumpkin Pie is a traditional Thanksgiving dessert. This recipe is very long so kids will need lots of help from parents!

(This is not an actual picture of pumpkin pie, it’s from the bingo game…yours will look totally different :o)

The Pumpkin Puree (use a 5 to 8-pound pumpkin*):

  1. Cut off the top of the pumpkin and scrape out all the seeds and membrane (a large metal serving spoon works well).
  2. Carefully cut it into sections with a paring knife.
  3. Cut the skin off the flesh. Steam the flesh until tender.
  4. Puree in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Do NOT boil pumpkin – it will soak up the water and make a watery pie.

The Pumpkin Pie:

  • 1 9-inch unbaked pie crust (like a brisee)
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • Sweetened whipped cream as an accompaniment
  1. Preheat oven to 425*F (220*C). Prepare pastry; set aside.
  2. Combine brown sugar, sugar, flour, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt in bowl. Stir in pumpkin puree. Add eggs and heavy cream to the pumpkin mixture; mix well.
  3. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust (see hint). Bake pie in the middle of oven for 15 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 350*F (180*C) and bake for 45 minutes longer, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely. Keep refrigerated.
  4. Serve with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, if desired.

Makes 8 servings.

Hint: To help prevent the pie crust from becoming soggy in a custard-style pie, carefully break one of the recipe’s eggs into unbaked pie crust, swish it around to cover entire surface with egg white and then pour the egg out into your mixing bowl for the filling.

*Small, immature pumpkins provide the most flavor. Pumpkins smaller in size are more tender and less stringy than the larger variety. Select pumpkins anywhere between five to eight pounds.

*Note from Louise: I can’t remember where this recipe is from, I found it on the internet when I first started doing Thanksgiving in Italy.  When (if) I find the original, I will give credit where it is due.