South School 2020: “Life in Trees”
Fifth graders used bark as a launch pad for their study of trees and birds. Observation skills came into play as they made their first drawings and identified the attributes of the bark piece they’d chosen. “I was surprised that you could make a really good drawing by just looking,” one student said. One insight led to another as students generated ideas about why birds need trees and trees benefit from birds. Young artists created two kinds of prints, linking their understanding of interdependence in nature to their original composition of birds in trees.
“It was cool that even from a flat piece of styrofoam you can make a print!”
Cushing Community School 2020: “The Power of Small”
Insects inspire children to realize the impact of “small.” They’ve felt their sting, and they know about pollination. Choosing one insect to investigate is a jumping off point for kids to go deeper. Children observe their creature, draw, design collagraphs and make multiple prints. In the process they realize that all living things depend upon insects. We are all interconnected. With literature as an anchor, children recognize that regardless of their size, they can act boldly. As deep thinkers and printmakers, children gain the confidence to believe in themselves and have the power to make change both locally and in world at large.
“LEAPS taught me to open my mind to art and nature.”
Thomaston Grammar School and Cushing Community School 2019: “Working Across Communities”
LEAPS’ artists brough 2 groups of students in 2 communities together to experience 1 common theme: connectivity. Children from each school explored Wheeler Bay Wildlife Sanctuary to forge a personal connection to the Maine landscape and initiate a study of insects. Each child chose a creature to research and designed an elaborate print. Participants from both schools kept journals and offered feedback to a student partner in the cooperating school. In their final week of LEAPS the 2 schools came together, and partners made a collaborative print. If students learn, at a young age, to work across communities through art, they’ll be courageous enough to collaborate and communicate beyond boundaries as adults.
Thomaston Grammar School: “We are all Explorers: The Art of Exploration”
Imagine what it means to be an explorer. In an expedition to Wheeler Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, children investigated the landscape. With journals in hand, they documented local plant life, found evidence of animals, and recorded the beauty of their natural surroundings. Ultimately, back in the classroom, kids created original prints inspired by their observations. They examined accounts of historic biologists, inventors, and local artists. One child said, “Hey! We’re learning history, but it’s a fun way of learning history!” Like the individuals they studied, kids realized the value of keeping detailed journals of their own, tracking their insights and LEAPS’ experiences, and becoming skilled printmakers.
St. George School: “Galvanizing Connections between the Landscape and Ourselves”
Investigating the beauty of their local landscape, children connected with the land while creating expressions of their “home place.” They become keen observers of the “world close by,” designing motifs inspired by walks in the woods or by the water on the St. George Peninsula. They wrote in journals, made prints, and invented poems, integrating ideas from literature. Their final works of art combined images from nature with mono-type self-portraits. Young people learned that like deeply rooted trees they can stand firm and become change makers in a changing world.