Cluster Teacher Updates

Art with Patrice

January 2018

Pre-K and Kindergarten

The Pre-K and Kindergarten students visit the Art room once a week. We begin each class together in the meeting area listening to a story, singing songs and watching a demonstration of the day’s activity before going to the work tables. Each week we explore and experiment with a variety of different art materials and processes. As students work on individual or group projects, they are learning about collaboration and community. Art activities such as working with scissors or clay help build small and gross muscle strength. Projects that include multiple steps help students pace and plan as they move through the activity.

Pre-K and Kindergarten students love to try new things, but also love predictability so there are always familiar, as well as new materials, to explore. Students can choose to work with clay, draw on chalkboards, mix color at the light box, or string beads. There is always a teacher-led craft project that children are welcome to participate in. The teacher-led project might include multiple steps and need more guidance, such as a sewing or printmaking.

One highlight of the semester was the Art and Science collaboration around harvesting the sweet potatoes. Students traced sweet potatoes on colored paper and observed and captured the variations of color and texture using oil pastels. They cut out their drawings and collaged them into group murals, recreating an image of the actual rooftop garden sweet potato patch.

In the spring semester we will continue to work on group projects as well as individual projects and begin to integrate themes from the classroom core curriculum into our artwork.

First and Second Grades

Our first and second grade students work in the Art room twice a week. I am always surprised at how much they have grown and how independent and responsible they have become since leaving Kindergarten. First and second graders are able to follow a sequence of directions, make choices based on their own artistic vision and participate in creating a warm and inclusive classroom community. As an added plus, first and second grade students have not lost their fabulous imaginations and playfulness which they bring to every aspect of their work.

Student’s coordination and motor skills continue to develop and are advanced by projects such as sewing, printing, and using tape and scissors. One of the big projects we took on this fall was making tooth pillows with every class. The project began with a leaf study which included students identifying leaves from local deciduous trees. They made rubbings of the leaves, traced the leaves and made prints from the leaves. As the leaves were falling from the trees we noticed that lots of students were losing their first teeth! We combined the leaf print images with  tooth pillows as a reminder that as in all nature, there is change and growth. The project involved many steps and when we got to the part that i thought would be the most challenging, the sewing, I was surprised to find how well they picked it up.

Recently, we have been stamp printing, a printmaking technique that allows us to work with ideas about  pattern and symmetry. Our next big project will be making

pop up books and later in the spring we will work on projects related to their classroom core curriculum.  

Third Grade

Third grade students in the art room twice a week. We began this year by talking about the artistic process, specifically how artists look at the world around them with fresh eyes and cultivate a sense of curiosity and discovery that inspires them in their work. We read “What to Do With An Idea,” a children’s book that narrates the path towards creativity. We will continue to refer to the book and the concept of “looking with fresh eyes” as we move through the year encouraging students to look deeper and become aware of their own artistic process.

In the third grade, we study color. We begin by cutting swatches of primary and secondary colors from nature magazines and collaging them into a color wheel. Students learned to “read” the color wheel and use it as a tool for mixing primary colors (red, yellow and blue) and for making secondary colors (orange, green and purple). They learn about complementary colors and how to create tints and shades. We also talk about how to use color to create a mood or an atmosphere. 

We just completed a mixed media project related to their classroom curriculum, migration. Students visited The New Victory Theater and saw a dance performance based on paintings made by Jacob Lawrence. We used his art as a jumping off point for our work which involved gesture drawing,painting, collage and writing.

In the coming months, we will continue talking about and exploring the use of color, and will begin looking at the use of pattern and symmetry in art from around the world. Students will look at artwork from other cultures, identify different stylistic characteristics, and incorporate their observations into their own work.

Fourth and Fifth Grades

In fourth and fifth grade, students are encouraged to recognize their own interests and pursue their individual goals as art makers. At this age, some students may lose interest in making art as they become more involved in other subjects. However, the practice of making art promote growth in all aspects of our lives and can set the stage for success in other fields. Making art helps us observe, evaluate, persevere and learn from mistakes. It can also promote seeing things from different points of view and make us better problem solvers.

Our first project of the semester was working with shape. We talked about the nature of two-dimensional shapes: some being geometric and others organic; some already had names others did not. Students invented their own shape and named it. They reproduced their shapes using cardboard and turned them into brightly painted shields or crests. We looked at large scale work by artists Frank Stella and Elizabeth Murray for inspiration.

Weaving is always a favorite activity. We learned three different weaving techniques, weaving on popsicle sticks to make dream catchers, circular weaving on painted paper plates and weaving small containers using paper cups as a basic loom. Some students embarked on larger weaving projects and began weaving on our floor looms. The tactile qualities of the yarn and the other weaving materials and the repetitive nature of the process really helped calm and focus the students who spend a lot of time cooped up during the cold weather.

Fourth and fifth grade students complete self-assessments at the end of each project. These assessments, examples of their work, and a teacher’s assessment are included with the narrative report packets. Please take time to read through the assessments and look at the artwork with your child as you go through the report.


Earth Science with Emmy

Science Curriculum Newsletter
September 2018

Hello families,

Welcome back to school! It is always rough to start with wonky days off, but we are in the full swing of things in these earliest days of school…

PreK/K: We meet once a week. We began with the question: How do we observe our world? We are exploring how our 5 senses help us scientists investigate the world around us. We will continue to do activities that focus on one sense at a time, starting with our eyes.

1st/2nd graders: We meet twice a week and began with the question, What is a scientist? Next we began exploring unit Animal and Plant Defenses. We met Spruce the Sea turtle and are determining how the pasts of her body help her survive. We looked at land turtles as well and explore their body parts so we can compare them. Next we will build models that reflect some of our thinking!

3rd Graders: We started our year with a Paper Design Challenge. Students needed to complete a structure that would span an 8 inch span and using only 6 pieces of paper, create a structure which would hold the most gram pieces. What fun! Next we explored a train that floats instead of rolling on wheels! We are looking at the ways in which this train get is movement and momentum. More exploration to follow…

4th/5th Graders: We also began our school year with a Paper Design Challenge. In our challenge, using only 6 pieces of white paper we needed to  design a “table” which would support the weight of a large dictionary. More than one book is even better! Students really rose to the challenge! Next we began looking at a town that frequently loses power. We are exploring the ways in which a town might get its power, and the alternate ways we can provide more reliable sources of power.

Science Rocks!!!