Watercolor painting

Cyber Monday Sale: Teachers Pay Teachers

Watercolor painting

It’s that time of year where you can hit the easy button and get no prep lessons at a discount. The Cyber Monday sale is in full swing on Teachers Pay Teachers. My entire shop is 25% off, use the code cyber21 at check out. You are in the home stretch to wrapping up the first semester of the year, give yourself a break and buy classroom-tested, fully prepped lesson plans and activities.

Check out what I have been up to the last couple of months and what new products I have in my shop below.

2022 Teacher Planner


My newest product is my 2022 teacher planner. In August I released an academic year version of this planner, and I have just created a new product with the same design as a 2022 annual planner. This was designed by a teacher, for a teacher with calendar and weekly views, course assignment tracking, inventory, sections for note-taking, and more.

This planner can be used digitally, via Google Slides, using a PDF on an iPad, or printed. Customize it to fit your needs and get organized in 2022.


I recently updated one of my most popular items to include typed versions of the handouts. My 6 shading basics activity sheets will teach your students about general shading, using graphite pencils, hatching, cross-hatching, stippling, and scribbling to shade. Information is on the front and activities are on the back.

Previously these handouts were handwritten, but now you can access both the handwritten and typed versions. If you already own this product download a new copy from your dashboard to access the update.

Elementary Art Projects


Elementary art has been my focus this fall. I have put together a k-5 printmaking bundle, introducing a different printmaking technique in each grade level, as well as a scratch foam only k-5 bundle. In addition, I have created a number of low-supply elementary art projects for those teaching at home, from a distance, or with smaller budgets to work with. Check out my symmetrical butterfly mobile, symmetrical collage, marker print, symmetrical cityscape, and radial design projects.

Interested in more elementary projects? Check out what I have here and follow my shop for regular updates.

Art History Lessons


In addition to elementary art projects, I have also been adding art history lessons to my Teachers Pay Teachers shop. I have lessons created around specific artists, such as Edvard Munch, Alexander Calder, and Edgar Degas. As well as general lessons such as Pop Art and gothic architecture. Check out more art history options here.

Ceramics Semester Long Curriculum


For middle and high school teachers I have put the ceramics projects already in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop into a semester-long bundle. You won’t have to plan a single day of the semester with this bundle. It covers pinching, coiling, slab building, and throwing techniques as well as building texture, relief carving, and more.

Check out more of my art lessons and other highlighted products in the art education section of my blog here.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog, happy sale shopping, and good luck wrapping up the end of the school year! Thanks for stopping by.

Bookbinding & Sketchbooks in the Art Classroom


In twelve years teaching I have had every single class make their own sketchbook. This not only teaches them about bookbinding, but it also saves money from your budget. Sketchbooks are an incredibly valuable part of an art class from kindergarten through college. Their sketchbooks are a place to practice techniques and plan their projects to give them to confidence to start an assignment.

Each semester and year, our very first project is to make a sketchbook. The process of decorating and tailoring a sketchbook to their aesthetic gives students buy in when they start working on their sketches. It also gives me insight into their artistic ability. I allow them full access to supplies in my room when they decorate their cover. They get to pick the subject, materials, and overall look. Right off the bat, I have an idea of what materials they are comfortable with, what their artistic style is, and where potential weakness may lie.

To avoid monotany, I teach a different bookbinding technique in every class. As they move through the art courses, the binding techniques become more complex. Check out the range of styles I have taught below, as well as some tips on implementing a sketchbook in class at the end of the post.


The quickest, cheapest, most basic sketchbook style I teach is the folder to sketchbook. I use this in my introduction to art class because the focus is less on tedious bookbinding techniques and more on decorating.

For this assignment, each student gets a manila folder, they have access to a range of materials from paint to Sharpies to magazine collage material. Students have to completely cover the Manila folder, inside and out, and pick a quote, song lyric, or similar to write on the first page.

Once their folder is decorated, a stack of white printer paper is added and stapled inside the folder.


A very simple sketchbook I recommend for photography classes is a stapled or hole punched booklet with a window cut out out to add a photograph.

For this sketchbook style I recommend using matboard for the front and back. Cut mat board down to 8”x10” pieces. Using an Xacto knife or box cutter, cut a 4”x6” or 5”x7” window from the front cover. Cut down white printer paper to fit between the pieces of mat board. Either staple the matboard and paper together using a heavy duty stapler or hole punch the stack and tie the booklet together.

For this style sketchbook I recommend keeping the design simple, especially for a photography class. Keep the mat board white or paint it black. Tape a photograph to the inside of the front cover to display through the window of the sketchbook. Students use this to add favorite pictures from the course, take notes on lighting, timing, and camera settings.


In my ceramic and sculpture classes I like to teach them the accordion sketchbook technique. Because the paper pulls out of the sketchbook like an accordion or fan, it has a more sculptural feel.

For this book, they decorate sheets of cardboard. The decide if they want their sketchbook horizontal or vertical, then fold a flap on each cover to create a spine. Once they are finished decorating the front and back cover, they overlap the flaps and glue them together using hot glue. To add paper, they fold a flap at the edge of each sheet of paper to glue it to the next sheet of paper. After they have a long line of glued paper, they fold it back and forth like an accordion. The final flap is glued into the spine. The paper sits in a stack between the front and back covers.


One of my favorite styles of sketchbook is the perfect bound sketchbook. It looks like a book you can buy at a store and students are always impressed with the professional looking end product.

To create this sketchbook students are given two sheets of cut down poster board. The students decide if their sketchbook will be vertical or horizontal. Next, they fold a flap on one side of the poster board to overlap to create the spine. They then decorate the poster board inside and out.

Once their sketchbook cover is ready, they overlap the folded flaps and glue them together. Next, they line up a stack of paper, select the side that will be glued into the spine, and coat the edge with glue. Repeat this step 2-3 more times, allowing the layers of glue to dry in between. Once there is a solid layer of glue holding the paper together, a final layer of glue is added. The paper stack is placed inside the cover, with the paper pushed up to the spine. TIP: weigh down the sketchbook to ensure everything stays in place.


I love teaching Coptic style sketchbook because it gives students a good understanding of bookbinding. In addition, the sketchbook lays flat when open and overall it is a sturdy book.

I typically plan for sketchbook making to take the first week of class. However, the Coptic style takes two, possibly three weeks to complete. It’s a more complicated process that involves decorating the front and back cover, folding paper together, hammering holes through each paper stack, and stitching the cover and paper sections together.

Despite the complex process, it’s worth the final result. The stitching makes a beautiful pattern and shows through the center of each paper section. I show demonstration videos, work with students one and one, and pass out how to sheets for them to reference as they work through the steps. You can check out my lesson pack with all the resources here.


The secret Belgian bookbinding technique is similar to the Coptic bookbinding technique. Students decorate the front and back cover, stack and fold sections of paper, hammer holes through each paper stack, and stitch the paper and the cover together.

What I like about this technique is the addition of a decorated spine. This bookbinding technique is also a good way to build off of the Coptic bookbinding techniques because students now have to stitch through the paper and wrap the string around the spine to hold it in place.

Like the Coptic sketchbook, the Belgian technique requires much more hands on assistance with students. I have a lesson pack that includes a demo video, how to handouts, and instructions for students to follow as they create their sketchbook. Check it out here.


In my AP levels classes I like to give them a nice, hardback sketchbook. They have reached the highest level of the art program and they deserve a heavy duty sketchbook.

Since they aren’t making their own sketchbook, they instead decorate the sketchbook I give them. They have the option of decorating directly onto the hardback book or creating a book jacket. To make the book jacket, they take a large sheet of drawing paper and fold it around the book. Flaps are folded inside the cover to keep the cover on the sketchbook. Using scissors, students cut it to fit the sketchbook, leaving the flaps uncut.

Students can use any supply to decorate the cover or book jacket. The only requirement is they have to decorate the front, back, spine, and flap of the book jacket. If they opt for a book jacket design, I take their cover to laminate it to make it more durable.


After teaching students bookbinding techniques it’s time to actually use their sketchbook. Although I primarily use them as a brainstorm space for projects, I also incorporate other activities, especially in beginner level courses.

For a typical project, students are researching an artist, finding inspiration images, and creating thumbnail sketches. In my intro to art or drawing/painting I courses in addition to project prep, they are also learning and practicing techniques in their sketchbooks. From color wheels, to color mixing, to shading techniques, the beginner level art students walk away with a jam packed sketchbook.

Sketchbooks are also an amazing emergency sub plan option. I have a sketchbook prompt pack that includes a variety of prompts to get students inspired to work in their books. If you are in a pinch, have students randomly select a topic from a jar or a list and have them get to work.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! I hope you found inspiration for your classroom or for your own sketchbook. Interested in other ways to engage students in your class? Check out information on visual journals here. Check out more items in my shop here.

A picture of my first day of school and last day of school.

An Art Teacher Journey: My Last Day of School

A picture of my first day of school and last day of school.

I recently made a major life change. Last fall, I decided the 2020-2021 school year would be my last year in the classroom. After kindergarten through senior year of high school, undergrad, graduate school, and twelve years as an art teacher, on May 21, 2021, I reached my last day of school.

Pictures of one of my classrooms

I taught for 12 years, at two schools, in four different classrooms. I taught everything from Introduction to Art to Ceramics & Sculpture to AP Art and so many things in between. I had classes packed in at 35 kids per class and classes with 5. I taught with zero budget and with a dream budget. I may not have loved every minute of it, but I loved most of it. Coming to the decision to quit was not easy and it weighed heavily on me, but looking back I know it was the right choice.

Updating a desk area in my classroom.


After teaching virtually for the second half of the 2020 semester, moving to another classroom over the summer, and adjusting to teaching in a hybrid model, exhausted was an understatement. Last year was the second hardest year of my career (check out my post here on teaching tips for hybrid mode and for a letter to first-year teachers, my hardest year as a teacher). Although I had considered it for a couple of years, a few weeks into the school year, the voice saying it was time for a break had grown to an exigent level.

In September 2020, just six weeks into the school year, I began talking with my close coworkers and department chair about the possibility of me leaving. By October I had officially put in my resignation for the end of the school year. By December my job was posted, by January art teacher candidates were coming in for interviews. By February they had my replacement, an amazing artist and art teacher who I know will take care of my babies.

I cried in 3/4 of my sit-down meetings about my resignation. I loved my job. I loved my school. I loved my coworkers. I loved my students. I loved my classroom. I loved being an art teacher. So why was I choosing to leave it all behind?

For me, what it came down to was an imbalance in my life. For eight years I had been building a small business creating lesson plans, curriculums, handouts, and more for teachers and art teachers. I sold products through Teachers Pay Teachers and my blog. I began spending more evenings developing my products, which lead to working on weekends. I had babies, grew my family, and never faltered from building my business. I never dreamed it could become a full-time gig, but starting a few years ago it had the potential.

Although I could have stopped teaching earlier, I never felt the desire like I did last year. Teaching in a pandemic crushed my teacher’s soul. It sucked the life out of me until I could no longer put in the hours I needed to for my business outside of school. I no longer had the energy to be the best mom or wife I could be. I felt like I was drowning and something had to give. But what would give?

Do I choose the career I worked so hard for, the career I studied for and loved, or do I choose the business I made from the ground up, that was so successful and rewarding?

When it came down to it, the decision was easy, I chose to bet on me.

My home office.


I felt incredibly selfish and guilty quitting my job. I hate quitting. I felt like I owed them so much for all that my job had given me over the years, but the truth was, I didn’t owe them anything. I don’t owe anyone anything. When I imagined my ideal day it involved dropping my kids off at school, drinking coffee on my front porch, quality time with my husband, making art when I wanted to, creating the products I have come to love creating for other art teachers.

So I chose me.

I moved out of my massive art classroom and into my tiny dormer window art nook. I make demo videos shoved in a corner and it’s a hot mess, but I love it. I type lesson plans sitting in my bed, next to my puppies, with Harry Potter and The Office on loop in the background. I have lunch dates with my work-from-home husband. I get to respond to questions and requests from art teachers in a timely manner.

I am fairly sure I have the best job ever. I have graduated to being a support for art teachers and all teachers. I can now help the ones in the job I still love and respect. I can still be an educator from a distance by supporting those still in the trenches. Those who are doing the most important work, inspiring, educating, and connecting with kids.

A picture of me on my 35th birthday.


This month I turned 35. I have never felt better. I have a happy family, a successful business, a recently renovated home. I get to chose what I want to do every day. I am a better parent, wife, and animal mama because I am also taking care of me. I think this year is destined to be one of my happiest, and I can’t wait to see what new opportunities may come in my new career path. I’m all in on myself, and I am confident this is a gamble I will win.

Thanks for coming along on this wild ride with me! If you want to keep up with my day-to-day life, check me out on Instagram. Check out my TPT shop to see the products that have allowed me to quit my day job (and check out my blog shop, which I hope to polish up and add to this year). Thanks for stopping by!

Get your classroom set up for the first day.

7 Art Teacher Tips for Back to School

Get your classroom set up for the first day.

Never has back to school arrived so quickly. Thanks to the pandemic, after a summer that essentially lasted from April to August last year, May to August just doesn’t feel long enough. Even though it doesn’t seem fair, back to school is on the horizon, it’s time to gear up and get back to it (you can do it!). After twelve years of teaching, I wanted to share a few of my art teacher tips that make my back to school run a little more smooth.

The handouts I use for the first day of school syllabus and get to know you.


The most important thing to get ready are your first day of school handouts. I like to get to these early, to put my mind at ease. I only pass out two sheets, my syllabus, and a get to know you sheet. At previous schools, I would also pass out a behavior contract, which is a good addition for schools that may have more disciplinary issues. As an art teacher, I have to remind students how to appropriately use supplies and the potential danger for certain supplies (think Xacto knives). For each class, I select a different color paper to make copies of my syllabus. This helps me to easily keep them organized when they are returned and the bright colors make them easier for students to keep track of. Plus, what art teacher syllabus is complete without fun colors?

I also love passing out a get to know you sheet in every class. I have enough versions to give a different one to each group, so by the time my intro to art students hit advanced level art, they aren’t filling out the same sheet 5 times. This is a great way to use time on the first day and it helps me get to know my students. One of my favorite questions is what their favorite band or song title is. I add all school appropriate music to a school playlist on my Spotify account. I add to this every year and love hearing students say “OMG this is my favorite song!” during class. You can check out my first-day documents here and get to know you sheets here.

I use a U format to set up tables in my classroom.


Once you have the pertinent first day of school documents ready to go, get working on your classroom. For teaching art, I have tested a wide range of table setups. Hands down my favorite is the U or a slightly open O shape. Essentially, tables are set up to have an opening that faces the front of the room, with students sitting on the outside of the tables. This is an amazing setup for two big reasons:

  1. Students are less distracted by people sitting across from them and can easily look up from their work to see a quick demo or hear an announcement. Also, limiting neighbors to one on each side helps students stay on task.
  2. You can utilize the inside of the U to help students one on one. I am not tripping on backpacks or leaning over students to answer questions as I move from students to student on the inside loop.

Class sizes don’t always allow for students to only sit on the outside. In this case, I will have a few on the inside, but I always fill up seats on the outside first. The only con I have found with this setup is students having to walk around the tables to access the central supply table. I often build in small gaps in the U for them to cut through to grab supplies.

Have a supply table set up for easy access to project supplies.


As an art teacher, I am a big fan of students familiarizing themselves with supply locations in the art room so they can get out what they need on their own. Independent art students, especially in middle and high school, is very helpful. However, I also love my central supply table. This is positioned in the middle of my U setup. I have big flat tables where I put supplies every class is using for their current project. I try to keep the supply location consistent with the class, so supplies aren’t mixed between classes.

In all my classes we do visual journal Fridays. It’s essentially a free art day where students can work in their visual journal, a used hardback book they create artwork in, or they catch up on the current project. I keep a lot of my general art supplies, such as magazines, markers, newspapers, and similar that my students use in their visual journals in bins and drawers under my supply table. This gives them easy access to central supplies 5 days a week.

With this system set up, students generally know where to find supplies for their work early on in the year. It’s also easy for me to tidy up between classes with the project supplies centrally located.

Don't forget your art table in your classroom.


As an art teacher, I have realized that I need a desk and a demo table. Your desk is where paperwork and projects to be graded pile up. It’s where your computer and the random bowls of paperclips, rubber bands, and tacks live. I can tell you from experience, this space is not conducive to creativity. You need a dedicated demo space in your room.

Pull a table just in front of the U opening at the front of your room and set it up with supplies you use regularly. If you are a middle or high school teacher, this is a great space to sit down and work alongside your students. It’s important for your students to see you working on art with them. You can work on the project they are doing or an example for another class. Often, I would work on watercolor painting gifts for friends and family or in my visual journal. Your art is a great way to open up a dialogue with your students. I promise they will be curious about what you are working on. That will lead to the materials you are using and the techniques you are practicing. It’s amazing how invested they get in your work just by watching you do it.

For elementary art teachers and upper-level teachers, this is a great demo space. Students can gather around your table or you can set up a camera that will display your hands at work on your SmartBoard. This is also a good spot for important supplies to live, such as Sharpies or Xacto Knives, so you can more easily oversee who is accessing them. I often keep a stack of examples on this table for quick reference while students are working on a project.

Figure out first day of school projects before the first day of school.


Once you have your paperwork ready and your classroom mostly set, start planning out the first day in every class. Keep it simple the first day! Both you and your students need to have a lighter day, day one. Use it to go over your paperwork, remind them of upcoming deadlines, such as when to return their signed syllabus, and have them fill out their get to know you sheet. Once they wrap up the administrative tasks, do a quick and easy first-day activity.

One activity my coworker does every year that I love is the timed drawing assignment. She covers her tables in big sheets of butcher block paper and spreads out markers. She sets a timer for a few minutes and tells them to draw whatever they want. Once the timer goes off, they slid over a seat and add to the drawing their neighbor started. This is repeated until they return to their seat to see what has become of their original creation. You can time this to fill up the remainder of the class period, with a few minutes to spare for clean up. Put out new sheets for every class.

This requires very little setup and clean up and it lets you see how creative your students can get in a short period of time. Don’t forget to float the room and keep an eye out for inappropriate additions to drawings. You want to nip that in the bud on day one.

Plan out your first week then move onto the first month.,


It’s very important to find time to plan ahead, especially as an art teacher. You need to order supplies before projects start and planning your projects in advance is the best way to do this. Get out your planner and sketch out the first week in every class. Keep notes on what supplies you have and what you need to order just to get through week one.

In every class, except AP Art, I have my students make their own sketchbooks. I teach a range of bookbinding techniques from simple stapled folders to coptic sketchbooks. This takes up the entire first week of school. I keep it simple, they get materials to create the front and back cover, they have to fully cover the inside and outside of the covers using whatever material they want. I give them access to scrapbook paper, magazines, Sharpies, paint, and more. Since they are creating their own design on the cover, it is fairly hands-off at the start. I float and help students find supplies and get to know them. Once we start bookbinding, depending on the level of difficulty, it becomes more hands-on at the end of the project. Typically, I have most of the supplies needed for this project already on hand, so it’s a great way to start the year.

After you have the first week ready to go, try to look further ahead. List out what projects you are aiming to complete in each class and how long you estimate each project to take. Using a pencil, write (or type) out your plan in a month or weekly view for every class. This will help you anticipate what is coming up and what supplies you need to check for. I try to order most of my supplies during pre-planning, and fill in as needed. Being able to plan out an entire semester, or even year is key in doing this.

I recently created a teacher planner, check it out here.

Wash your hands, then make art.


Last but not least, stay in tune with yourself as you go through this year. We are all entering another school year in a pandemic that is just as unpredictable as it was last year. Do what you need to do to stay safe and make you feel comfortable at school. Keep yourself mentally healthy by working at school and resting at home. You can always catch up later, but you won’t be able to if you burn out early in the year. Don’t stress, all teachers are right there with you. The first day of school is intimidating regardless of whether this is your first or thirtieth year. Enjoy seeing those sweet faces, even if it’s just their eyes. You are teaching kids, you are their sense of normalcy, you are teaching them to expressive themselves in a scary time, you are doing great things!

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Read tips on how I handled hybrid teaching last year here, check out more information on visual journals here and here, and visit my blog shop here and art teacher products on Teachers Pay Teachers here. Spread the word about my blog by sharing on social media or with friends! Thanks for stopping by.

A picture of the beach in Mexico

Back to School TPT Sale 2021

A picture of the beach in Mexico


Another school year, another summer, and we are back again to back to school. I had a wonderful, relaxing summer (or at least as relaxing summer can be when you have a 5 and 3-year-old). I did have the opportunity to sneak off to Mexico with my high school girlfriends, but we aren’t here to reminisce on the past, we are here to look to what is on the horizon, and I hate to break it to you, but school is starting once again!

Also on the horizon is the annual Teachers Pay Teachers back-to-school sale. My entire shop, including curriculums and bundles, will be marked 25% off on August 3rd and 4th, 2021. Check out some of my latest products below and be sure to shop the sale here starting tomorrow.


Teacher Planner for the 2021-2022 school year.

One of my recent endeavors is designing my own planner. I love to put pen to paper, planning out my year months in advance, and working through my weekly to-do list. This planner is designed for teachers by a teacher, covers the 2021-2022 academic year, and can be used digitally through Google Classroom, a saved PDF, or printed at home. It includes weekly and month overviews, project plans, supply ordering, and more. It includes watercolor designs throughout and is perfect for any art teacher or general ed teacher. Check it out here.


Introduction to Design Curriculum

Last year I had the opportunity to design and teach a brand new course, Introduction to Design. This class teaches students Adobe software through graphic design, industrial design, fashion design, and more. Students learn how to use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Spark, and Microsoft PowerPoint. This curriculum includes everything you need to teach every single day of a semester and is perfect for middle or high school students. Check out the curriculum here.


I have begun dabbling in art history projects over the last year. I have loved creating artist-focused presentations and packs for Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, with Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg coming soon. In addition to artist-focused lessons I have also created art history overviews for prehistoric art, ancient art, Egyptian art, and pop art, with more coming soon. These packs are perfect as a jumping-off point for an art project, history assignment, or for students in distance learning.


Self-portrait printmaking project

I just wrapped up my most recent scratch foam printmaking project, a pop-art self-portrait project perfect for 5th grade through 10th grade, check it out here. This pack includes examples, daily presentations, a demo video, printable handouts, lesson plan, printing instructions, and more. This project is also part of my latest TPT bundle, a kindergarten through 5th-grade scratch foam printmaking pack. See below for details.


K-5th grade printmaking pack

This pack covers everything you need in all 6-grade levels, kindergarten through 5th, for 4 days, or 4 weeks if you see your students once a week. Teach all students about the art of printmaking, but keep it simple by aligning supplies and procedures. A wide range of skills, subject matter, and artist exemplars are introduced as students build on their printmaking knowledge and techniques. Check it out here.


Clip art artist frames

Last but not least, if you want to add a fun element to bulletin boards, handouts, or similar, check out my fancy art frames clip art. Any work of art will feel museum-ready when framed in these illustrated frames. They are available as PDFs and PNGs, with transparent backgrounds that make layering easy. Check out the pack here.

Family picture in Savannah, GA

I hope you had a fun, relaxing, and mentally restful summer. After a crazy, unpredictable school year, we all earned summer like never before. If you missed my social media posts over the last few months, you may have missed the big announcement that I am stepping back from teaching this year. Instead, I am focusing on growing my curriculum development business. I am now here to work for art teachers and all teachers. I plan to spend the next year focusing on elementary products, creating a new high school drawing curriculum, and bringing you an AP Photo curriculum. I have plans to share my Teachers Pay Teachers journey and tips for creating your own shop in the future, so stay tuned.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my latest blog post. Don’t forget to shop the TPT sale tomorrow, 8/3 and 8/4, and give yourself the gift of pre-planned and tested lessons to make your teaching life easier. Good luck with the school year!