Submitted by: Jan Johnson, elementary art teacher from Fairfax County Public Schools.
Product Title: Toobers & Zots
Grade Levels: Kindergarten & up
Product Review: Intended as creative building tools for open ended play, Toobers & Zots are made out of the same material as swimming pool “noodles.” The large tube pieces, called toobers, are of varying lengths from a couple of feet to over a yard. Toobers have wire inside which allows them to maintain whatever shape they are twisted into. They can be curled, bent, folded, and zigzagged into three dimensional forms. The other pieces, called skinnies and zots, can be attached to the toobers and other skinnies and zots. They add a decorative element to the work. There are over a hundred dots, short tubes, star bursts, circles, crowns, and other shapes. Watch the video of my Kindergartners using this product below.
Can’t see YouTube video above? click here.
This medium allows my students to work in a scale that is larger than they normally get to experience. Because of the abundance of material in each kit, several students can easily work cooperatively on one sculpture. I would suggest that you allow 1-3 students per box. Although my students do not get to keep their work when they are done, I take a photo of each student with their work and print a copy of it for them.
The forms come in a small box in which they fit tightly. Once they are put to use, it is near impossible to get them back in their cardboard box. I put each set in a plastic box about the size of two shoe boxes. The long tube pieces I keep separately in a large plastic bin. Storage is an issue for these currently, as I have limited storage space in my classroom.
The person in my county who introduced us to Toobers & Zot said that they are durable. She had been using her sets for over eight years.
When I priced them online, they seemed to be expensive. Amazon is selling them for around $24 a set. I did see several other sites offering them and the price was comparable. There were sets on eBay, new and used, for considerably less. Our county ordered so many thousands of sets of these, they were able to work out a much better deal with the company.
Though these were purchased for a specific lesson in my kindergarten curriculum, my older students have begged me to let them try them out as well. The kindergarteners thoroughly enjoyed using them and were slow to put them away.
Bucket Rating (5 out of 5 – Love! Need it! Gotta have it now!):
If you’re interested in being a Teaching Palette contributor and submitting a review, please click here to learn more.
Since the launch of the iTunes App Store in July 2008, over 1 billion apps have been downloaded for use on the iTouch and iPhone. Currently, the App Store has 63,000 apps to choose from and it is no surprise that many of the iPhone/iTouch applications have educational value. Over the last few weeks, we sorted through our favorites to create The Teaching Palette’s Best Apps for Art Teachers, along with some tips and suggested uses.
- Love Art-Natl Gallery London This is an absolutely beautiful museum app that integrates audio and video presentations based on the collections in the museum. A great learning tool containing snapshots of a wide range of art history.
- Brushes Familiar with the New Yorker Cover that was created using an iPhone app? It was created with the Brushes painting app and tops our list. Easy to use beginning with the very young. Watch a speed portrait here.
- TypeDrawing Draw with text. This fun app uses a single letter or phrase as the drawing tool. A completely new way of drawing (and thinking about drawing). See some examples in this Flickr pool.
- TanZen Familiar with Tangrams? This app combines math and art concepts together. Move, rotate, and flip shapes to form a larger image. Great for improving spatial intelligence.
- Art (Lite version) This art history game features five famous artists. Can you identify which artist created each work of art? Master this app, then upgrade to the paid version of Art. Another nice feature of this app is the option to load images into your photo gallery for use in other applications.
- Art2Go This app is an engaging and useful presentation of 19th and early 20th century artists and their work using audio commentary. Useful for all grade levels and art backgrounds.
- Color Splash This is an extremely simple app to use with some amazing effects. Teach the principle of emphasis by isolating a single image in color while the remainder of the photograph stands in black and white. See how easy this app is to use in this video tutorial.
- Animoto Near identical to the traditional web-based version, Animoto coordinates your images to the beat of music. Great for artist presentations or student portfolios. Completed presentations can be downloaded or emailed.
- FlipBook (Lite version) This is one of the best animation apps available. Features allow for replication of images and transparency effects to see previous slide. Click here for a guided tour of the app.
- PixPop Art – This is a challenging and very fun detail detective game. Utilizing fine art, detail images line the right side of the screen while you search for the match. Work in competition mode timing yourself or work at your own pace in Zen mode.
- 3D gallery Be a curator of your own museum. Enter this 3-D room and rearrange the paintings or choose your own images from photo gallery. This would be a great tool to display artwork created throughout the year or to focus on an art time period or genre. Note: There is currently no “save” feature, but if you click your on/off button at the same time as the menu button, you can create a screenshot that saves in photos on the camera roll.
- Comic Touch (Lite version) Add some humor to art historical images or commentary to student artwork with this single pane comic creator. Save to photo library or email. Upgrade to the paid version of Comic Touch and get interesting special effects and fonts. Watch an intro video here.
- Life Strips This is a great tool for creating comic strips. Utilizes a wide variety of comic strip templates and speech bubbles. Add photos and utilize filters to for adding special effects. Even add a Google map!
- Light Painting Have you ever created a photographic light painting? While standard flashlights and LED lights work fine, this app offers additional light features otherwise hard to replicate. Use these tips and tricks to get started.
- Open Culture - Find a nice group of audio and video podcasts from well known art museums in the “ideas and culture” category. The same category also contains animated New Yorker cartoons.
- AP Mobile Create a search for “Art” and get the latest news articles from around the world. Useful app for older students to reflect on culture and current events.
- Jazz Sculptor Utilize a wide variety of virtual materials and textures to carve a sculpture from a variety of forms. Rotate image to view at a 360 degree angle. Nice exercise to understand the subtractive carving process. See the Jazz Sculptor gallery for inspiration.
- ScuptMaster3D Create three-dimensional art using a variety of colors with this virtual material that appears inspired by Henry Moore. Great way to introduce and reinforce positive and negative space concepts. View this video tutorial for an overview.
- Architect Envi Deluxe – This app organizes architecture by building name, architect, or century created. It is presented in a slide-show format with the option to learn more about the building and save in the camera roll for use/manipulation in other applications. Yet, the best feature of this app is the option to view each architectural structure in Google Maps.
- Color Sudoku Forget the numbers – this is Sudoku in color! Game has a different levels of difficulty and color schemes.
- Eyetricks This app has a nice collection of optical illusions. Good for early finishers or as intro to an OP Art unit.
- Color Wheel -This color wheel uses advanced color theory concepts to reinforce color understanding. Useful interactive app for older students.
- Brooklyn Museum Tour the collection of art at the Brooklyn Museum. ”Randomize” is a nice feature to view artwork you might otherwise miss.
- Symmetry Useful tool for teaching symmetry to younger students. Watch this video for a quick demo.
- MovieMaker This is a great tool for creating stop-motion animations and time-lapse movies. Since it requires the camera on an iPhone, this app is perhaps most useful as an extension for students who have access to iPhone technology.
- PotteryWheel While this is certainly not a a replacement for the hands-on wheel throwing experience, this pottery wheel gives the basic idea of the cause and effect.
- Artist’s Touch This app requires little artistic talent but is useful when teaching about abstract art. Non-objective to representational- reveal your image using a variety of textures and paint tools. Be sure to watch video tutorial to get started.
- Google Earth This is a great app to integrate geographic locations of artists or cultures. Watch this video tutorial to get started.
- Gallery of Painters Contains a large collection of artists that can be searched alphabetically, by century, or nationality. View basic information or link directly to Wikipedia for detail information. Useful for research.
- Juxtaposer and Juxtaposer Lite This is a fun tool for teaching about Surrealism. Reinforce juxtaposition by taking a photo of your classroom and a selecting objects from a second photo to create a Magritte-like composition. Watch this video review to see what this app can do.
Ok . . so now what? Here are some additional tips and considerations to start using the apps:
- Not all the apps are free, but once purchased, an app can be used on multiple iTouch’s with no additional charge.
- Most schools do not have access to multiple iTouch’s (yet). But even just one iTouch can be used as an extension for an early finisher or projected on a screen for the entire class to view using a document camera.
- Some students may have access to a personal iTouch or even a parent’s iPhone. Create a recommended app list for these students to try out at home. You could even tie it into an extra credit option.
- Use it yourself to create your own art or brush up on art history.
- Find useful tips, reviews, and connect with other educators using apps in education at IEAR.org
What are your favorite apps for art education?
One way to address Earth Day this week and integrate environmental science into your art curriculum is through the interactive website Phototropism. This website allows you to create your own virtual sculptures using futuristic materials that react to environmental conditions.
Upon entering the industrial art studio, you are presented with a brief video introduction explaining phototropism in plant life. At this point you are placed among many futuristic materials to build your own sculptural plant for virtual installation (nothing is actually downloaded to your computer) . At the outdoor environment, additional sculptures can be added and repositioned to various depths along the landscape. Several random weather systems can be run that demonstrate the changes to the materials and sculptures.
Conversation with students on this topic can be taken in many directions:
- Physical advantages or limitations of art materials.
- Partership between the art and science community to design eco-friendly products.
- Responsibility of artists to use environmentally friendly products or reuse/repurpose materials.
- Discussion of Claude Monet and the impact that weather conditions and time of day had on his artwork. Take Monet into the 21st century -what would he do with these new materials?