Graffiti is Art

To read this in Italian, click here.

Our latest project is graffiti.

Graffiti can be seen everywhere. Some consider it decorative and some an ugly nuisance.  In any case, it is a notable art style  and we thought the kids would have fun learning about it and creating something of their own.

We looked at works from various street artists for inspiration – some famous, such as Bansky, although his identity is unknown, his art is not.  He creates pieces that are provoke us to think, like this piece painted on the Palestine side of the West Bank barrier, a satirical view of life on the Israeli side and 2 kids blocked off from reaching it by the wall:

via palestiiinee
via palestiiinee

We also looked at art of Monica Cuoghi, an Italian artist whose work can be seen in many large cities of this country:


Many graffiti artists are anonymous, like the person who created this piece which can be seen on a wall at Stazione Lambrate in Milan:

via paesesera

via paesesera

Sometimes just a name written on a wall can be a beautiful work of art:

via apkhub

via apkhub

The kids in English Through Art had fun creating their own name on the covers of their sketchbooks.

Before rolling up our sleeves and jumping into painting, the kids needed to learn some vocabulary and some painting basics. In order to do this, we played Graffiti Word Scramble.  We took vocabulary words relating to graffiti and written in different graffiti fonts (so the kids could get familiar with different styles) and mixed them up in a bag.  The kids had to separate the different fonts and unscramble the words, like the one below. Can you unscramble it*:The next step was to practice the vocabulary we had learned. Painted the first letter of their name in the style of each vocabulary word:

When they finished, they sketched out their names graffiti style a few times, then chose which sketch they liked best.  Now they are in the process of painting their sketchbook covers.  We’ll post how those turn out.

* The scrambled word is graffiti.

Snow Globes

Snow Globes are great, you can hold a little bit of winter in your hand any time of the year!  One hour wasn’t enough time to let the kids sculpt their own figure to put into the bottle, but we wanted to have the kids make some with their own personal touch.  Each kid drew a winter scene.

To make the pictures water proof, we laminated them (you can also use transparent packing tape). Then kids poured in the water and sprinkled in some glitter (for snow). The last step was to make a snowy lid:And tadah……

Click here if you want to learn how to make your own snow globe.  The lids were made  with a homemade polymer clay, click here for the recipe.

The second workshop finished a little early, so they got to have an indoor snowball fight.

How did we do that?  Sorry, but that’s a post for another day…

Christmas Flip Flop

It’s Gingey Flip Flop! This is a game that is a lot of fun and will get kids talking in English in no time at all!

Preparation:  Print the template 4 times and cut the cards out (there will be 40 cards in total). You will need either a bell (like the desk bell in hotels) or a bean bag.

This game needs 2-4 players.

The object of the game is to win as many pairs of cards as you can by identifying pairs.

Place the bell (or the bean bag in the center of the table).  Shuffle the cards and deal an equal number of cards to each player.  (If there are 3 players, you will need to take out 2 pairs so that there will be 36 cards). Each player keeps their stack of cards in front of them and face down.

Decide who will go first.  One player at a time must flip over a card, eventually forming another stack of cards in front for each player, but with the cards face up. Cards must be turned face out first, so that the other players will see the picture first.

The first player to see two identical gingerbread men face up on the table, must ring the bell (or grab the bean bag) and identify how the pair is the identical same. The similarity can be that they are both happy or sad, they have green or orange buttons, or because the backgrounds are the same (orange, blue or green). If that player answers correctly, she earns that pair of gingerbread men.  If a player flips over a card and the card immediately under it is identical, players may ring the bell (or grab the bean bag) and identify their similarity. Otherwise, once a card is covered up it isn’t used to make pair, until it becomes the top card again.  Once a player has turned over all her cards, she can take the pile of face side up cards and play continues until all the cards are paired.

Be careful….If you ring the bell (or grab the ball) by mistake, or a player does not identify the similarities correctly, she must give a card from her stack to each player. Once all a players cards are gone, she is out of the game.

The winner is the person that collects the most pairs! Good Luck and Have Fun!

Tree Ornament

Per leggere questo post in italiano, cliccate qui.

An ode to Mrs Whitsle and Miss Cathy:  When I was in the third and fourth grade I had 2 really amazing teachers, we did so many fun things in their classes-among them was making a yarn wrapped wreath with our school picture in it as a tree ornament. When I told my mom what project we did, she said she still hangs that ornament on the Christmas tree every year.  Isa and I went through many versions of different projects trying to find just the right one to do and of course we came back to the old tried and true.  So to Mrs. Whistle and Miss Cathy the projects that we did with you so many years ago (I won’t say exactly how many), are really oldies but goodies and I hope you know how your labors of love are still being carried out today (and across time and miles and miles of distance).

This was a great project for all ages for a manual exercise. Many of the kids had a difficult time getting the rhythm of how to pass the ball of yarn through the center hole in the beginning,n without dropping the yarn ball or letting the yarn get too long. Eventually, everyone got the hang of it and finished. Instead of a school picture, the kids drew something Christmas-y to put inside. They did a fantastic job and the decoration came out beautifully.  And of course, they did it all in English!

Brown Bear

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is another great book for ESL kids. All kids love animals, each animal has a color and there is a lot of repetition.  After a few animals, kids get the repetition and will start to chant along with you as you read and they will get used to hearing/saying sentences in the correct order.  For example children in Italy often say the noun and adjective backward in a sentence (bear brown), since that is how the sentence is structured in Italian.

As usual we have a game to go along with the story- It’s Brown Bear Bingo:

We play this game a little differently than regular bingo.  Since animals make different sounds for different countries, try it like this:  Instead of calling out the animal and then covering the space, when you fish out a maker, keep it hidden and make the animals sound.  The first person to raise his hand and say the correct animal’s name and color wins the maker and can cover that space on his board (only one person wins a marker at a time). The exception to this is for mother and children, since these are a bit harder for kids, instead of saying what they are, we just turn the card around and whoever says the correct answer first wins the marker.

The first person to cover the whole board wins.

*Variation-play as we have explained above, but instead of raising the kids raising their hands and shouting the answer, if you have plush toys for each animal (even of the wrong color)-have the players sit in a circle, the animals go in the center, the first person to grab the correct animal and say it’s name wins the marker.  If a player grabs the incorrect animal, he does not get the marker (and its put back into the pile to be fished out again).  If a player grabs the right animal, but says the incorrect name or doesnt know the name, he does not get a marker, the marker goes back into the pile.  If the player grabs the animal and it’s not on his card, he does not get the marker, it goes back into the pile and he loses one of his marker on the board.

Enough with the rules, let’s get playing! Here are the boards:

Markers: Print one of each sheet.  Cut boards in half and cut each marker out.  And you are ready to go.

*variation-take out pairs from the markers and use them for a memory game- two games in one, what a deal!

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.

Per leggere questo post in italiano, cliccate qui.