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This week we worked off Nikki McClure’s, Apple. Her wonderful paper cuts are bold and graphic and her single word storytelling format allows for children to fill in the blanks and use their observation and imagination to tell the rest of the story.
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We warmed up our senses by doing apple spice play dough. I used Mary Anne Kohl’s play clay recipe and substituted the water with Celestial Seasoning’s apple spice tea. I used 7 tea bags for five cups of water and I simmered the tea bags for about a half hour.
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Starting with open-ended projects is always a success because it means students can come in and get started right away. There is no waiting and for late arrivals there is no catch up. Since there are no directions to follow there is total freedom and deep exploration every time. For students interested in a challenge I taught how to roll a play dough ball and make an apple with real sticks and leaves.
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Other’s were content to squish, cut, stack, smooth, roll, and press. We used stamps and rollers to make impressions, cookie cutters to explore shape making and imaginary play, we practiced with scissors and let our creativity fly.
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As a transitional piece and to introduce the theme, colors, and intent of our art project I read Nikki McClure’s book, Apple. Or rather I had students help me read the book since each page only has a single word prompt.
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We used only three colors: black, white, and red, just as Nikki did in her book. Our first step was to glue a piece of 8.5 x 11 in. white cardstock on to a 9 x 12 in. black construction paper. I love Elmer’s purple glue sticks because students can track where they already spread glue.
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Next we drew and cut leaves and stems out of small rectangles of black construction paper. For students who are just learning to work with scissors we free  shapes. This allowed them to focus on the mechanics of the scissors and not get hung up on drawing or cutting along a line. We then used all the little scraps as leaves and stems. For students ready and interested in line drawing and who wanted the challenge of following a line we drew leaves with a white oil pastel and carefully cut them out.
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Each student was given a half apple on a corn cob holder, a flat paint brush, and a small amount of red tempera paint. We brushed on paint and then pressed the apple down on our background.
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I encouraged students to stand to get maximum pressure and a more solid apple print.
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Every student applied leaves and stems as they saw fit. 

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I love the pride that shows clearly through the smiles of students when they finish their art.
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Here are a few other examples of finished pieces.
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