The Goose is Getting Fat

Hard to believe it is just a little over two weeks until Christmas! If you are looking for some visual ways to share this and other winter holidays with your students, check out the resources below:

Scholastic’s Celebrate Winter Holidays: Christmas – interactive site shares history behind Christmas traditions and ways various cultures celebrate the holiday

National Geographic’s The World of Christmas – take a virtual tour to see celebrations in 16 cities around the world’s Christmas Around the World –  infographic depicting Christmas traditions around the world

Online Interactive World Advent Calendar – test your knowledge of Christmas celebrations around the world

Christmas Around the World Art Projects – inspired by the Herbert Hoover Museum Christmas exhibit which honors Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover’s mission of spreading the message of peace and goodwill around the globe


additional resources:


He Gave the World Quite a Fright

With the recent announcement of the 2012 Nobel Laureates and the upcoming award ceremony in December, I thought it was time to pay tribute to a man who has greatly influenced our world.

Alfred Nobel: The Man Behind the Peace Prize by Kathy-Jo Wargin tells the story of Nobel’s life – from his curiosity and love of science to his experiments and inventions and his lasting legacy of the Nobel Prize.

Want to find out more specifics about this award? Visit the official website of the Nobel Prize. This site also offers a variety of interactive games and other educational resources.

Alfred Nobel also had an element (Nobelium: element 102) named in his honor. Learn more about that at the Interactive Periodic Table.

extension activities:

  • Learn about other Nobel Prize winners like Wangari, Martin Luther King Jr., and Marie Curie.
  • After learning about the various Nobel Prize categories, write or draw about a way you would like to change the world. What are you curious about? What type of invention would you like to create? How would this make the world a better place?
  • Create your own Nobel Prize.

Valuing Art Education

Learn more about Arts Advocacy Day and other ways to support the arts here.

Art Resources

I recently came across an article entitled “The Arts as the ‘Basics’ of Education” by Kieran Egan (Childhood Education, 1997). Although 15 years old, the concepts presented are still true today. Egan believes that “we begin as poets, using the techniques that language provides to make sense of our world. The arts, then, are the basics of our educational development. It is through deployment of the tools and skills that are central to early language development – story, metaphor, rhyme and rhythm, binary structuring and mediation, image formation from words, affective abstraction, and so on – that we lay down the true basics of education” (p.345).

While our school days may be full of required curricula and activities, we would be wise as educators to heed Egan’s call. Don’t forget about the power of imagination and creativity to spur learning.

Looking for art inspiration? Try these links:

Visual Literacy in Action: English Language “Arts”

I taught one year of language arts classes at the high school level, and like I always do, I found as many ways as I could to incorporate creative activities into the curriculum.

Reading Peggy Albers’ stories in Finding the Artist Within brought to mind many of these projects. Here are some examples of my students’ visual texts in response to a poetry unit:

And recently, these ideas have caught my eye:

Teacher Girl Blogs: using character masks with Romeo and Juliet

Image as Metaphor (Education at the Getty)

The Inspired Classroom: Norman Rockwell Activity 4 Drawing Conclusions

If you still need some encouragement to begin incorporating art into your language arts lessons, read more about the benefits of this practice here. It’s pretty persuasive if you ask me.

Has your inner artist made an appearance lately?

Finding the artist within: Creating and reading visual texts in the English language arts classroom by Peggy Albers is another text I have read lately in my journey to learn more about visual literacy. She has written this “as an introduction, a guidebook, to support middle and high school English teachers’ learning–raw and untutored perhaps–in designing and creating visual arts and technology-rich texts, as well as reading and interpreting students’ visual texts” (p.xv).

Albers believes “the time has come for ELA educators to commit to classrooms in which languages such as art, technology, music, and written and oral communication are valued for what each contributes to knowledge about students’ learning” (p.xv). And to support teachers on this quest, she provides information, instructions, and examples for both helping ELA educators explore and practice various art techniques as well as learn how to incorporate these into their classrooms to support student learning.

I especially appreciated her section on reading students’ artworks/visual texts. According to Albers, “reading and studying students’ visual texts support three important aspects of learning. First, visual texts show a distinct link between cognition and affect. Students share what they understand about ELA concepts through their visual communication, so effectively reading students’ visual texts offers insight on the relationships students see across a range of texts. Second, as you learn to read visual texts, you can share this tool with students so they, too, better understand and are conscious of  the marks they make on canvas (or paper, or walls, or computer screens). And, third, an ability to read visual texts allows you and your students to understand messages in more complex ways” (p.133).

Throughout her text, Albers’ message is loud and clear. You do not have to be an Artist to draw, or paint, or sculpt. And maybe more importantly, you do not have see yourself as an Artist to successfully incorporate these types of languages into your curriculum and provide your students with additional ways to learn and communicate. We all have an artist within.

Snow Art

Looking for more ways to explore snow crystals?

Try these art projects:

Salty Snow Silhouette (grades 4-12) – by Crayola

Snow Science Art (grades K-8) – by KinderArt


Feeling creative?

Make some block prints of snow scenes like artist Mary Azarian did for her woodcut print illustrations in Snowflake Bentley.


And because spring will soon be here, take some time to explore a few more books about winter and Libbrecht‘s snowflake pictures before your thoughts turn to warmer weather.