STEAM Art Project

Student balancing a circus performer on a pencil. Get the Free PDF download form Pop Up Art School.

Balancing Circus Performers can be used in a variety of settings and as a complement to lessons in art and science. Use them in your classroom or library to spark discussions about balance, bilateral symmetry and center of gravity.

Start by balancing a completed performer on your finger. Have the kids guess how it’s able to balance and sway on your finger without falling off. You can let one or two kids touch it gently so they can feel the weight of the pennies hidden inside.

Here’s how to make one::

  • Cut carefully around both copies of the performer.
  • Color both sides with markers.
  • Lay one figure face down. Tape a penny onto each hand.
  • Put the second cut out figure on top, so the pennies are hidden.
  • Tape around the sandwiched copies so you don’t have any buckling or big gaps.
  • Test how well your figure balances.

Our favorite part of this project, is when the kids figure out they can balance it on the tip of their nose. Before you know it all of them will have a balancing circus performer on their noses!

Five Dollar Challenge-Take Two.

I challenged myself to put together a lesson for Valentine’s Day. It had to be for a class of 25 and I could only spend five bucks. Last week, I attempted making a Valentine with the same supplies. I was happy with my discovery of printing with floral foam, but the end product was so-so.

Here is take two.

I’m really happy with this week’s results. It’s a Love Bug! I completely transformed the doily by cutting it apart and turning it into wings and legs for my love bug. Here’s how I did it:

Make the texture print like before.

Cut out the body and eyes.

Cut the outside trim off of the doily heart. This will be used for the legs.

Cut out a heart from the center. This will be used for the head.

Use all the pieces to construct an insect with a glue stick. After it’s put together use the red paint to add detail.

Now students can play with the pieces to make the insect unique. The finished bug is glued down on another piece of paper so it looks like it’s standing.

Five Dollar Challenge

Here’s the story of a Valentine’s Day project that didn’t quite come together in the end. The creative process isn’t a straight path that always leads to beautiful results. Keep that in mind as I walk you through my attempt.

I challenged myself to come up with a project for a class of 25 students with only $5. Dollar store–here I come! I wanted to make something that’s not too crafty, so that I could touch on the standards that art teachers need to cover. Nothing says crafty like heart doilies, but I bought them anyway along with black paint and red paint and some florist foam.

I’ve been wanting to experiment with florist foam for awhile. I thought it could work well for printmaking. The store had big blocks of foam so I cut them into 25 pieces with a bread knife. First, I drew designs in the foam with a pencil but it didn’t print well.Then I tried pressing into the foam with the eraser end of the pencil. I painted the foam and used it as a printing block.The result is a polka dot pattern. I liked the results and I figured out how to do printmaking with florist foam! It also touches on a few art teaching standards: printmaking, patterns, positive & negative. Success… but wait, what to do with the heart doily?

First, I drew on it with crayons and painted over it with watered down red paint, But I didn’t like the results. However, it made a nice negative image of the doily on the paper I put behind it to protect the table. Maybe I can do something with that? …Nope! I tried but it just didn’t come together. That gave me the idea to paint and cut out a red heart to put behind the doily for a pop of color. I wrote I ❤ U using two fingerprints to make the heart.

Overall … eh. I’m happy with the printmaking results, but the doily part needs more work.

Stay tuned, the next blog post will show how I resolved the project.

DIY Social Media Photo Booth

Photo booth blog

Here’s a cheap and easy way to make a clean backdrop to photograph artwork during workshops. This is lightweight and can be set up anywhere. No one will know you are photographing Suzy Q’s art on top of an old chair with posters in the background.


You’ll need:


2 pieces of corrugated cardboard 16.25″ x 20.50″ each.

Clear packing tape or duct tape

4 medium binder clips or clothespins

white paper 37 inches long by 21 inches wide

First, you’ll use the two pieces of cardboard. Lay them flat with the long ends together. Tape them together on both sides. The tape creates a hinge, so that you will be able to lift one of the pieces up so that it is perpendicular to the other

For the white sheet of paper I use photo backdrop paper which has a nice weight to it. It won’t easily wrinkle. Lay the paper over the cardboard. Fold 2 inches over the short end of your cardboard and secure with two binder clips. Fold one side of your cardboard up so that it looks like an L. Place it against a wall so that it stays upright and drape your paper so that it curves where the cardboard bends. Secure the other end of your paper with the binder clips. Now that you have this pristine white box what happens if the artwork has wet paint? No problem! Just take a clean piece of paper (we always carry some 8.5 x 11 copy paper) and place it under the wet artwork.

Now that your artwork is ready for its glamour shot set the picture format on your camera phone to square. Make sure that you aren’t making a shadow with your body or your phone. Move your photo booth around until you find the right place in the room. Place the artwork in front of the curved paper and take a few shots at different angles.


Five Reasons We Love Librarians

Five reasons-blog

  1. Librarians work with the public and have seen it all. They are unflappable.


  1. Even though it’s not in their job title they are teachers at the heart. Through experience, they understand the logistics of leading a program.


  1. They just get it. Like teachers they are not getting paid the big bucks but they do value the satisfaction from helping someone and making a difference.


  1.  Librarians work hard to connect to their community. All we have to do is present them with a variety of workshops. Having already done the “market research” they Intuitively know what their patrons will value.


  1. They love books – need I say more?

Sketch Artist Game

Sketch Blog

It’s a teacher’s worst nightmare; the early finisher. You need to give them something to do and you need something fast. Sketch Artist to the rescue! Everything you need for this game fits in a manila envelope, so it’s easy to take it along to workshops. This game has never failed us and we’ve used it with children as young as 6 and as old as 18.

Here’s how it works:

2-3 people play the game, one person is the “witness” and the others are the Sketch Artist(s). The witness has an envelope with a picture of a “suspect”. Without revealing the picture the witness must describe the suspect in great detail. The sketch artist draws what the witness describes. Once the “witness” thinks the drawing is finished they show the photo and everyone sees if it is close. After that they can switch roles and get another envelope.

Something about the game allows the players not to get too hung up on how “good” their drawing is. Because let’s face it, it’s hard to draw someone from a verbal description. Everyone shares a little giggle when the picture of the suspect is revealed. The game teaches observational and verbal skills for the witness, listening and drawing skills for the sketch artist.


What is Pop Up Art School?

Pop up Art School is a mobile art workshop business. Art teachers Janell Scannell & Lisa Walker have been taking the show on the road to public libraries all over Massachusetts for six years. Our workshops for kids and teens are 5 percent art history and 95 percent hands-on art fun!

Our mission is to show others how to create a teaching side gig without the hassle of a brick and mortar studio. You’ll find thoughtful art lessons that encourage personal expression and actionable tips on how to:

  • Create a mailing list
  • Book your first workshop
  • Promote on social media
  • Get referrals
  • Present a lesson to your audience
  • Communicate with the hiring organizer

Follow us on our journey as we grow our business to include adult art workshops & after school enrichment classes. We’ll be developing new curricula and sharing the victories and stumbles as we grow.

The best part is that what we do is FUN! Pop up Art School provides an outlet for students who want extracurricular art experiences. Every student in the room wants to be there and is eager to learn.

If you’ve been looking for an enjoyable side gig to earn more cash – look no further and welcome!





” The Abington Public Library was thrilled to once again partner up with the Pop-Up Art School for a great afternoon of creativity! Every participant left beaming with pride over their creation. The Pop-Up Art School continues to be a hit here at our library!”



Copyright © 2018 Pop Up Art School, Inc.