Tales of animals from diverse cultures highlight this program. Picture books like Ashley Bryan’s Beautiful Blackbird, The Gigantic Turnip, and The Mighty Asparagus each bear an important message for children, conveying themes of difference and collaboration. Listening for subtle messages and sharing theories with the group gives kids the chance to develop thinking skills and self-confidence. In pairs children design collagraphs, working through ideas, developing shared concepts, and narrating important stories.
The Art of Story
Interweaving literacy and art, we take stories with social justice themes and focus on the values of difference, standing up for one’s beliefs, and befriending those in need. Tales like How to Heal a Broken Wing and Lennie and Lucy are linked with non-fiction like Brave Girl. Learning about a girl who strikes to protect the rights of her peers empowers young artists to dare to do something bold. With literature as an anchor, small groups create art and stories with like messages. As makers, children gain the confidence to believe in themselves and to become active members of a community.
Self and Place in Art: Mapping the Landscape and Ourselves
Each of us views the natural world through a lens that has meaning for us. Sharing their reflections of the local landscape, students take an imaginative leap and create their own original destinations. They make stamps of elements they want to include and try out an array of printmaking techniques. Self portraits give kids a chance to envision themselves anew, using color, shape, and line. At the heart of the investigation is a belief that in order to fully have a sense of place, one must first come to know oneself.
All children love animals, and many want to become experts. Reading non-fiction, children simultaneously become researchers and printmakers. Class meetings begin with a sharing of little known data from animal habitats to unusual creature behaviors. Kids make connections, point out differences, and learn to apply thinking skills in the context of their studies. Children collaborate on works of art, having chosen an animal that piques their interest. In their journals, they record animal attributes and annotate their illustrations. Kids take pride in the complexity of their prints – hallmarks of true teamwork.
Galvanizing Connections between the Landscape and Ourselves
Investigating the beauty of their local landscape, children build intimate connections with the land while creating expressions of their “home place.” They become keen observers of the “world close by” – designing motifs from their walks in the woods or by the water. They work in journals, make prints, and write poetry, integrating ideas from books like Sail Away and House Held up by Trees. Their final artworks combine images from nature with unique self-portraits. Kids learn that when they are rooted in the natural world, they have the strength to stand firm on issues that they hold dear.