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Check out the blog below to get inspired by other teachers and librarians. Use the hashtag #BeautifulOops on social media to help spread the message and email us with your projects, lesson ideas, and pictures.

beautiful oops drawings from japan!

As a preschool teacher in Japan, Glyka noticed that her students felt upset and scared when they made mistakes drawing or when speaking English. No matter how many times she told them that making a mistake is a part of life, they didn’t believe her! That was until she read Beautiful Oops! 

The book encouraged Glyka’s students to not feel ashamed. Now, whenever a mistake is made, they say: “my beautiful oops, teacher” with a bright smile!

For their classroom project, Glyka and her students recycled some papers and drew on them with paint and markers. They used their imaginations and turned their oops into a beautiful poster!

beautiful oops fabric project

At the first gathering of students in Amelia Bacon’s after school fabric arts class, she read the book, Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg.  She told the kids that “oops” was going to happen in our class and one of the rules is that they wouldn’t be throwing projects out and beginning again.  At the time, Amelia doesn’t think her students knew what she  meant.

Their first project involved weaving fabric into cardboard and then mixing their own paint colors to paint the cardboard. They will be adding some painting with gadgets next week but that project just involved some work to figure out weaving and some thinking to mix colors.

The next project was school glue batik.  And the oopses really began to happen. One girl was making scallop-like lines across her fabric and then the lines became less regular and she turned to Amelia and said, “I want to start over.”  Amelia just put her hands up in an “oh well” type of message and said, “Remember I told you we wouldn’t be throwing things out to start over.  Figure out how to make your oops beautiful.” (And she did, here is the final result.)

Another younger student was painting blue stripes carefully over the batik lines and then dipped the sponge brush into water to clean off some of the paint.  He didn’t realize how much water those brushes hold and when he put it down on the fabric, his blue went everywhere.  Amelia could tell he was dismayed as he went and got a load of paper towels to stop the flow.  Shy by nature he wasn’t sure how to express his disappointment or ask for advice. 

“You just encountered an oops,” she said to him.  “I think you’re really going to like how it turns out.”

At the following session Amelia put their dried batiks on the wall and asked who experienced a beautiful oops. Almost everyone could point to something as an oops and tell what they had done or not done about it.  And as they moved on into another hour involving painting on fabric, she heard several say, “oops!”  And one of them added, “but I will make it beautiful!”

For more information, visit Amelia’s site here.

beautiful oops for adults!

Natalie Monterastelli is the founder of the Stars Over the Mountain blog and the director of an early childhood arts center, Bubbles Academy. After reading Beautiful Oops!, she gave copies to the preschool art teachers so that they could keep the book’s message in mind while teaching and in their artistic practice.

Recently, during a staff meeting, Natalie and her colleagues created some Beautiful Oops! art themselves. At a time of transition, they used their staff meeting as a time to reflect on their programming and do the very best they can within the things that they can control. To practice this in a fun, oops way, Natalie invited everyone to create a piece of art that represented them in some way—both individually and as a group. The only parameter was that they only use the materials provided (banner paper that had water spilled on it, scrap paper, dot paint, shaving cream, and finger paint—with no paint brushes or scissors). They all had fun creating a perfectly, imperfect collaborative piece!

Learn more about Natalie’s experience with Beautiful Oops! and what she learned here.

a beautiful oops! computer activity

Throughout the school year, Tara Recor teaches four different thinking types to Kindergarten students through mini lessons that are literature based at Edgewood Elementary School in Harford County, Maryland. Last year, she used Beautiful Oops! to introduce visual/spatial thinking, but this year, she wanted to be able to extend the lesson into the computer lab for Ms. North’s class.

After reading the book and watching the video on YouTube, Kindergarten students from Ms. North’s class used “Mistakes” from the school’s art classroom.

Ms. Muscaro, the art teacher, was kind enough to collect them for this lesson! The students chose one piece of oops art, and they were directed to cut out parts and use parts to create a beautiful oops. Some students found pieces that they could use and cut them out of the discarded art, adding details to make their own piece of work. A circular pattern was cut in half to become angel wings. A pencil-shaded shape was cut out and transformed into a rocket ship. Small pieces of tissue paper were incorporated into a city. Parts of egg drawings became umbrellas and monsters.

After the in-class art time, Ms. North’s students came to the computer lab where images from the Beautiful Oops! Educator’s Guide were on pages in Pixie 3. The Kindergarten students used the paint tools to add to and erase parts of the images to create new pictures. These lessons allowed students to show their creativity with both traditional and electronic art tools. And more importantly, they were fun!

beautiful oops! paper plates

This year, when Donna—an art specialist at Hanscom Primary School— returned to school in September, she found that hundreds of paper plates somehow got soaked in blue watercolor paint over the summer. At first, she thought “Oh no, I have to throw these all out.” But then she remembered that she had bought Barney’s book, Beautiful Oops!, because it fit in with her school’s philosophy: Try, try again, try a new way; mistakes help us learn; and it’s too soon to quit! She had been thinking for a while about what art lesson would work with the book and voila! It was right in front of her. When she saw that Barney was going to be speaking at the Art of Education online Winter Conference 2016, she registered right away. During Barney’s talk, there was mention of entering to win a Skype visit for your school on his website. Imagine her surprise when she found out that Hanscom Primary School was the winner! They arranged the Skype visit for Friday, March 18th. The week before the Skype visit, Donna shared the book with all of her 2nd and 3rd graders. They brainstormed ideas for what they could turn the plates into. Some of the ideas were: oceans, moons, skies, faces with blue hair and more. Then each student turned an Oops plate into a Beautiful Oops! piece of art, which they surprised Barney with during the Skype session! Click here for the full gallery of Beautiful Oops! Paper Plates.

a beautiful oops! shirt

Charlie from Peterborough, England was worried about going dressed as a character from her favorite book for World Book Day at her school; however, a plain top, some fabric pens and pastels, and a copy of Beautiful Oops! was all she needed to celebrate one of her favorite books! Charlie’s mum George, said: “It took her hours and a lot of hard work but she is so pleased with the results! Beautiful Oops! has been a firm favorite in our house since we first bought a copy and it has really helped to diffuse anxiety about when something goes wrong, especially since Charlie started school in 2014, the phrase “beautiful oops!” is used frequently and always brings a grin with it!”

mistakes in music are okay too!

Grace Note Music Studio is located in Wilmington, NC, and the owner Elaine is always looking for ways to motivate her students! When she saw Beautiful Oops! just prior to giving her recital last year, she knew that it would be just the thing to ease any performance anxiety her students had, and would make the recital a happy and fun experience for them. It certainly did the trick—even her 80 year-old adult student performed during the recital. She had been very apprehensive about performing, but she did a super job! Elaine keeps the poster up in her studio and refers to it often during her student’s lesson time. Prior to any performance, Elaine does many Beautiful Oops! activities, so that her students don’t have to worry so much about making mistakes and they can concentrate on having fun playing their pieces! For more on Grace Note Music Studio, click here.

Beautiful Oops! poster in Grace’s music studio.

Elaine and two of her students at the recital.

beautiful oops! school-wide lesson & project

I am a School Counselor in Cherry Hill, NJ and heard about Beautiful Oops! while attending the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Conference this past summer. I wanted to bring the book to my school, and find a way to bring the lesson of “making a mistake and turning it into something good” to all of my students.  I received Beautiful Oops! posters for every room in my schools and stickers for every student. Most teachers had the poster hung before I came in to do my lessons. I did lessons with Kindergarten — fifth grade students. I began my lessons with a discussion about making mistakes, and how everyone makes mistakes sometimes. We discussed the idea that mistakes can be an opportunity to learn and change what we do. I then read the story to the students. After the first page almost every student was hooked—the younger students could not believe that I had purchased a book with a rip in it; I could see the “light bulb” go off for my older students when I turned from the ripped page to the next (there were many “aahs” and gasps).

After reading the story, the students completed an art project to make their own Beautiful Oops! Kindergarten and first grade students were given a torn piece of construction paper and were asked to draw a picture using the tears in the paper (there were many crowns, steps, bridges, and ocean scenes drawn). Second and third grade students were each given a blank piece of paper, and some construction paper. They were told that they needed to make a picture and try to fill their entire page using only the construction paper and glue sticks. I was very impressed with the creativity of my students—creating beautiful ripped paper pictures of animals, outdoor scenes, flags, etc.  The fourth grade students worked in groups to create a collective picture. Groups were each given one piece of paper and coloring supplies and had a set amount of time for each group member to contribute to the drawing.  My fifth grade students worked in pairs to create their own page in a beautiful oops class book. All students received a Beautiful Oops! sticker to show their participation in the project. Once all of the projects were complete, I displayed them on a bulletin board for all students to see. As I was putting up the bulletin boards, many students were eagerly searching for their picture.  This story teaches a valuable lesson for all students—the ability to take a mistake, learn from it, and try to turn it into something good!

middle school students love beautiful oops! too

It’s not every day that middle school students are read a picture book and actually enjoy it! But when Ann—the K-8 Professional School Counselor at the Saint Theresa Catholic School in Des Moines, Iowa—came across Beautiful Oops! she used it to teach her students that mistakes are necessary for learning. Check out the photos below of her students creating their own “beautiful oopses,” using recycled paper, googly eyes, and foam shape stickers. For the full project and more information, click here.

beautiful oops painting

Jen started her blog, Mama. Papa. Budda as a way for her family and friends to keep up with her growing family as they traveled the world. While living in Kuwait, Jen fell in love with Beautiful Oops! and couldn’t wait to get started on her project for the Preschool Book Club.

All you need to create your very own Beautiful Oops Painting is a canvas panel (or paper), acrylic paint, droppers, and paint brushes. The only rule is that you can’t touch the actual canvas while painting—each mark has to be an OOPS! of some sort, whether a spill, a drip, or a drop. In the end, envision your spills, drops, and drops as something beautiful. Jen and her daughter saw their Oops painting as flowers. For more information on this project, visit Mama.Papa.Budda here!

beautiful oops folded paper animal crafts

Sugar Aunts is a blog that was started by three sisters who love crafting with their kids, mixing up concoctions for sensory play, whipping up kid-friendly recipes in the kitchen, and planning creative parties. The oldest sister, Colleen, is an occupational therapist who now stays at home with her four children. In her spare time, she is a member of the Preschool Book Club where she came up with the project, Folded Paper Animal Crafts, based on the folded corner in Beautiful Oops! that becomes a cute penguin. All you need is a big pile of assorted cardstock, a few pairs of scissors, and some glue. Fold the corner of the paper and let your imagination go! Click here for more photos and instructions about this project.

circles and holes art for kids

Jaime is the founder of Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tail where she shares crafting and baking ideas, simple activities, new adventures, and other fun stuff! She also heads up All Things Kids—a blog of like-minded moms who support each other and collaborate on fun projects and activities!

When her Preschool Book Club explored Beautiful Oops! Jaime put together Circle and Holes Art for Kids. Her kids love any excuse to make art, so getting them to the table to work on a new art project was no trouble! Not only did they have fun making it, now Jaime has a piece of artwork to display in their house. She loves the idea of having their art work as part of their home decor—it’s a great keepsake for her as they grow older! Follow the instructions on her blog to make your very own Circle and Holes Art for your home and/or classroom.

torn newspaper shapes as inspiration for painting

Chelsey is the founder of Buggy and Buddy—an extensive resource for parents, homeschoolers, and classroom teachers to find ways to inspire creativity and self-confidence in their children while promoting learning and fun. She is also a creator, writer, former elementary school teacher, avid reader, and lifelong learner.

As part of the Preschool Book Club Team, Chelsey had to come up with a project based on Beautiful Oops! She was particularly inspired by one page in the book—a painting on a torn piece of newspaper. She loved how the shape of the paper after being torn could actually inspire your painting. And as an added bonus, using newspaper in art is always fun and gives your finished products a unique look. For materials and instructions, check out Chelsey’s blog post here!

beautiful oops straw blow painting

Meredith Magee Donnelly, MS, Ed. is a mom of 3, an early childhood educator, and the creator of the blog Homegrown Friends. Along with her Preschool Book Club Team, Meredith explores books through play and chose Beautiful Oops! to focus on last week. After reading the book, she came up with the project: Beautiful Oops Straw Blow Painting. Simply set up a painting station using a long piece of white butcher paper. Add different color paints to different paint containers. Mix in a few drops of water to slightly thin out the paint. Pour small amounts of paint on to the paper. Using a straw blow the paint. It will splatter on the paper creating unique shapes. For more information on this project, visit Meredith’s site here or watch the video here!

the curly librarian

It all started with a Skype visit from Barney Saltzberg, when Marci Johnstone, an elementary school librarian in Hawaii, knew she had to take part in Celebrate Oops! She contacted fellow librarians Matthew Winner and Eileen Gardner and they connected their fourth and first grade classes (via Skype) to Celebrate Oops! together.

The three of them created “oops” papers by splattering paint, gluing feathers and newspapers, spilling glitter and getting coffee stains all over everything. They then had the kids select a piece of paper, one that spoke to them, without telling them what it was for.

Right before the Winter Break, they got their classes together and held their first Skype session, where Matthew and Marci took turns reading Beautiful Oops! and had some of the kids in their classes share why they chose the paper that they did. They then shared with them what they would be doing just as Barney had done, turning their “oops” into something beautiful. Check out the slideshow of their projects here!

little house – taiwan

Little House is a non-profit organization in Taiwan and is dedicated in promoting reading and literacy in Chinese, English, and Japanese. They work closely with local communities and schools, in both the city and remote areas. Barney had the pleasure of kicking off Celebrate Oops! with them in both English and Chinese, via Skype.

The event organizer, Vivian Stichbury, created a friendly and educational event for both the parents and children (ages 3-5), which was inspired by Beautiful Oops! 

Enjoy the photos below, and click here if you’d like to bring Barney to your school, either in person or via Skype.

beautiful oops! lesson # 2

This project was submitted by Lauren Taylor, an art teacher at The Kinkaid School in Houston, TX. Click here to read through her blog for other art projects and lessons!

The third and fourth grade students read Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg. The story is about using “oops” to help us create artwork. The main message in the story is: “When you think you have made a mistake, think of it as an opportunity to make something beautiful.” It is a wonderfully illustrated book and sends a great message about allowing smudges, smears, drips, and drops become a part of what we are creating. The students were allowed to use any media they wished on the projects, with the requirements that they used the whole page and filled most of the area with color. My room was full of creative spirit and energy as they worked to find the hidden images in their oops! Each student came up with a different solution to the challenge and I love the widely varied finished products.

mystery assignment!

This project was submitted by Lauren Taylor, an art teacher at The Kinkaid School in Houston, TX. Check out her blog for more awesome art lessons here!

Students in first grade were given a random construction paper shape with paint drips on top.

They were then asked to turn the shape several different ways, think of three things it could potentially be, and were permitted to use any and all tools in their art cubbies to transform the “oops!” The first graders did a great job of working with a variety of wet and dry media to transform their shape. They even chose to include an environment for their “oops!”

beautiful oops! 3d lesson plan

This project was submitted by Lauren Taylor, an art teacher at The Kinkaid School in Houston, TX. Check out her blog for other great art ideas here!

Third grade students were given a Beautiful Oops! Mystery Assignment. We started out with a lump of air dry clay. Students were shown three maneuvers to alter the form of the clay—pinching, pulling, and squishing. After five minutes of working the clay out of a ball shape, students were asked to FREEZE and trade their clay with someone else. This became the “oops” that they were tasked with transforming into an animal! Students could make a real or imaginary creature and spent extra time adding as many details as possible with clay tools or their hands. We had lots of fun creating these amazing animal sculptures.

creative challenge by 2nd & 3rd graders

This project was submitted by Lauren Taylor, an art teacher at The Kinkaid School in Houston, TX. Check out her blog for other great art ideas here!

This was such a fun lesson on how mistakes can create opportunities in art! 

After reading Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg, I had my students choose an “oops” from an “oops box,” which was full of old scrap paper from previous lessons. I sifted through the scraps ahead of time to ensure a variety of interesting colors and shapes. Students glued the “oops” to a new collage page and could use oil pastels, crayons, markers, and liquid watercolor to turn their scrap into “something beautiful.” It was such an amazing, powerful lesson for the students on allowing mistakes to guide our choices as artists.

Some very original examples:

(I love this fish’s smile!)

Space Bird! by Valeria, 3rd Grade

Alligator by Kylan, 3rd Grade

Sparkly Snail by Gavyn, 3rd Grade

Dino Monster by Perry, 3rd Grade

Skateboard by Aaron, 3rd Grade

Shiny Volcano by Sarah, 3rd Grade

Serpents by Kushal, 3rd Grade

Bird in Nest by Nsikan, 3rd Grade

Golden Bee by Isabel, 3rd Grade

Spaceship by Arlan, 3rd Grade

Wildfire by Ariana, 3rd Grade

Lava Flow by Brooke, 3rd Grade

glue & paint ooze

Two activities in one! Kids love ooze and slime so why not indulge them a bit?

  1. Have the kids squeeze white glue onto a piece of cardboard or a paper plate in any random pattern.
  2. Next, instruct them to stick tissue paper pieces to the glue. (Tissue paper over glue can be layered for neat color combinations). After the glue dries, suggest they of add a face, arms, and legs to their design to create an animal or person.
  3. Squeeze a bit of paint onto another paper plate or piece of cardboard. With a straw, blow on the paint to splatter it around the paper. When the paint is dry, each child can create a picture from the shape.

pass the drawing

This is a great and interactive project to work on with a large group of kids. Not only will they learn that mistakes are beautiful, they will also learn the importance of teamwork!

  1. Have each child scribble a mistake on purpose (a smear, a dot, a scribble) on a piece of paper.
  2. After one minute, have everyone pass his or her drawing to the left.
  3. The next person adds onto the drawing to turn it into something amazing.
  4. Note: Themes may be suggested at first, like Pass the Lion, Pass the Truck, or Pass the Monster, etc.

dancing squiggles

There is no wrong answer when it comes to art. Trees can be purple or square. This is a “freeing” act, not a lesson. Try it out!

  1. Take a large piece of paper and give someone two crayons (one in each hand).
  2. Put on some fun music and have the person move their arms around on the paper as if they are dancing to the music.
  3. At some point, have them stop.
  4. Take the other colors and have them color inside the squiggles. Fish, eyes, faces appear.

the hole challenge

This project was found on Marcia Beckett’s Art Is Basic blog. The first graders in her art class were presented with this fun & creative challenge! Visit her site here to find out more.

1. Let each student choose a piece of colored paper with a pre-made hole in it.

2. The challenge is to let kids figure out how to turn this “oops” piece of paper into a work of art.

3. Some ideas include: fold the paper to make pop-outs; place cellophane behind the hole; color around the hole; make flaps, shapes, and even stickers.