On Thursday afternoons, we special subject teachers (Art, Music, PE, Library) meet with an entire grade level while those students’ classroom teachers have time for planning/prep and personal professional development. The Thursday Afternoon Program (TAP) has been in place for almost 20 years and is a time that we can work together as a team to provide different learning experiences for children. This past week, we decided to take the entire 2nd grade outdoors for the afternoon. The entire afternoon! It was a gorgeous almost-summer day, not too hot but warm enough to not need jackets or sweaters. Children played games on the grass, danced and sang on the blacktop and explored the playground structure. I brought out their weaving looms and many chose to weave during part of this time. Several weavings were “born” during TAP, when the completed fiber art is liberated from the cardboard loom holding the warp threads in place. It was a great afternoon for all!
The Studio Habit of Mind (Hetland, et. al., 2007), OBSERVE, is activated whenever artists notice the world around them through their senses. In a recent class conversation students realized that watching (TV and other media) is not the same thing as observing the world carefully. Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching allow the senses to inform the artist about nuance. “What did you observe this week at home?” Students respond that they observed new flowers and leaves, rabbits and birds, clouds, sunsets, rain, cars and other people. The powers of observation enable artists to entertain themselves wherever they are!
We work together to learn. This is the theme of the mural one second grade class painted at the request of their classroom teacher, Robin Moriarty. Robin and I discussed various ways we could organize a class mural and once the theme was determined, we decided to work from photos of her students throughout their school day. The photos were projected onto paper and students traced themselves with chalk. Twenty five students appear in the mural, representing all students at Franklin School.
Each child took a turn painting the figures in the mural, first laying in base colors and later adding details. Those who enjoyed painting the mural had several turns until the mural was complete. Students comments about how they work together to learn appear in the border.
We collaborate and practice writing together.
We help when someone gets stuck.
We share ideas.
We share materials.
We agree on what to do.
We make a little group and read together.
We learn from each other’s work.
We give each other advice.
We remind our classmates of what to do.
We teach each other our math strategies.
We help each other.
We never give up!
Our mural will hang in the school’s main corridor and then move to the district’s Education Center over the summer.
On Friday the Tantalizer made an appearance at Franklin School! The idea for the Tantalizer comes from Mary Olson, a Santa Fe, NM art teacher and friend who introduced “The Tantamount” to her students. The word “tantamount” means “equivalent to.” The Tantamount is a human art machine that duplicates the essence of an object into a complementary art object.
We altered the concept slightly and renamed our art making machine “The Tantalizer,” an art temptation. Adults in our school community were invited to bring a favorite object to the art room to be tantalized. Third grade Tantalizer
Teams worked collaboratively to interpret donated objects through a wide variety of materials. Upon completion, they delivered the objects and artworks back to their lucky owners.
We had tremendous fun with the Tantalizer! Special thanks to Mary Olson and Kathy Douglas, our guests for the day, who assisted Tantalizers in their creative work.
Second graders (and soon third graders) have been working hard on papier-mâché sculptures. Sculpture is different than the work students typically do at our 3D Design Studio. There, students innovate to design functional objects, machines, architectural designs, vehicles, and occasionally fashions.
Sculpture is similar to painting, in which an art idea takes on three-dimensional form with a purely aesthetic purpose in mind. Most of the sculptures created by second graders are creatures of some sort, though often the species is not determined until the artist paints the sculpture. These vibrant beings will be on display in the glass cases on the first floor.
This past week Franklin School celebrated world cultures with a day of dances and an evening of sharing at booths created by families that highlight the unique culture and traditions of their countries of origin. Franklin School has been hosting Multicultural Night for many years and it has become a model for other Newton schools.
We observed world cultures in the Creativity Studio, where a table provided flag imagery, large pieces of color paper and smaller strips and rectangles for replicating world flags or designing new flags. This pop-up studio center was especially popular with children in grades K-2 and will repeat again this week due to many requests to continue creating flags.
This drawing was a lovely surprise on a recent Friday afternoon. A second grade girl was highly engaged in her drawing and when I asked her about it, she replied: “This is the Creative Flower. The Creative Flower contains a special kind of juice inside it which attracts non-creative people. When they smell the juice it makes them creative.” I hope that we can grow many creative flowers in our schools this spring!
Hearts figure big in the artwork of young children. Some critics call “heart art” trivial or kitschy but the heart stands as a symbol for all a child loves and cares about. Watching kindergarteners master drawing a heart or cutting it out of paper shows determination. The hearts featured here, on Valentines Day 2014, have appeared throughout the school year. Each shows a different art medium.
Traditional pueblo potters use a puki as a base to form clay coils into pottery. http://www.artsmia.org/world-ceramics/hopi_seedjar/made.html
After seeing this done in New Mexico last summer, I purchased some small bowls to use in Franklin’s art program. Students line the bowl with a plastic bag and build up the walls of their pottery using coils around the inside of the bowl. When the coils reach the top of the mold, the bag is pulled out and removed. Students carefully separate their clay piece from the plastic and continue working on their pottery to the desired size. After the clay is completely dry, it is fired in our kiln. Then students paint glaze over the surface of their pottery and it is refired, resulting in beautiful functional ceramic artwork.