Kindergarten explore their growth through reflection, materials, and imagination

photo © by A.Reed

photo © by A.Reed

The kindergarten students have been very busy creating a class picture book, individual personal storybooks, and individual sculptures. Our initial central idea in kindergarten this year is that “personal journeys show the way that people change and can lead to new opportunities.” And a recent central idea that we have been addressing is that “materials can be manipulated to suit a purpose”.

photo © by A.Reed

In art class over the past two months, the students have been addressing both of these notions as they express their learning and their desires visually in both two and three dimensions. A big event in the kindergarten class was their trip to a sweet potato farm. And so in art class we created an original book, The Sweet Potato Farm, with color illustrations and narrative words documenting the students’ learning and growth before, during, and after their trip.

photo © by A.Reed

photo © by A.Reed

Later, these young artists progressed in a different direction with their work by exploring, manipulating, and transforming a variety of materials for stated reasons into personally imagined pieces of art. Having visited the Grade 12’s DP Art Exhibition recently, the students became aware of the “artist’s statement” and how artists explain the meaning or purpose or their work and their process. So in the library exhibition of the Kindergarten students’ sculptures, visitors can read each young artist’s statement about their own work.

photos © by M.Swatphakdi

photos © by M.Swatphakdi

We took the time to:

1. to look at, question, enjoy experiencing, discuss the various types of two- and three-dimensional works made by other artists (looking at pictures, watching videos, and examining others’ artworks);

2. to identify the materials and processes other artists use in the creation of their artworks, as well as to look at where these materials come from and how they are manufactured;

3. to realize that our artwork has meaning;

4. to experiment with some different materials that can be used to create 2-D and 3-D artwork, such as those that come from wood, metal, plastic, plants: we’ve explored and used paper, felt, aluminum foil, toothpicks, popsicle sticks, burlap, paper & plastic straws, ribbon, wire, pipe cleaners, foam, spools, cotton, string, uncooked pasta, scissors, glue, tape, staplers, hole punches, colored pencils, paints, markers, and pastels);

5. to explore the various processes that artists can employ with these materials and tools to create what they envision and to discover new ideas.

photo © by A.Reed

photo © by A.Reed

Through this exploration and by making decisions for themselves, the young students have created original storybooks and 3-D artworks. The next time you see a kindergarten student at recess, ask him or her to explain the sculpture that he/she has created in art class. Or ask to to read and see their class pictures book: The Sweet Potato Farm. And don’t forget to visit their library sculpture exhibition!

photo © by A.Reed

photo © by A.Reed

Grade 5’s journey into Aesthetics

The Grade 5 students spent nearly 2 months focusing on AESTHETICS and the central idea that aesthetic expression can be influenced by a culture’s history and values.

Looking at how traditions are related across genres and over time and at how local traditions are similar and different to one’s home culture, the students focused initially on Japan. Concepts such as “wabi-sabi” (beauty in imperfection, hidden & transient beauty) and “ma” (space, such as the space in between sounds) were focal points, as were various Japanese arts which students were able to explore and research according to their interests.

In art class, this How We Express Ourselves unit began and ended with each student defining the word “beauty” for him/herself. On that first day, the students were presented with a pile of trash and discarded stuff and challenged to “make something beautiful”. Here are the results:

In the intervening weeks, students engaged in a variety of activities, culminating in each student’s presentation of an original work of art or design:

  • Explored an interactive PowerPoint experience (“Japanese Arts & Aesthetic Exploration”) to pursue the traditional Japanese arts they wanted to learn more about: calligraphy, ceramics, flower arranging/ikebana, tea ceremony, architecture, dolls, paper folding/origami, painting, gardens, sculpture, printmaking/ukiyo-e.
  • Two engaging visits from the artists Shoichi & Colleen Sakurai, who (1) introduced the students to the concept of “wabi sabi” and kicked-off their Wabi Sabi Project — creating wearable art from found and discarded materials — and (2) returned to assist the students’ in creating their projects.
  • Experimentation with specific Media, Tools, and Processes in art class, to be used in the creation of their Wabi Sabi Art.

Photos of Shoichi & Colleen’s presentation…

…and the children working with Shoichi & Colleen (and their amazing power tools!)

The Aesthetics unit culminated with the children’s presentation of their own wabi-sabi projects. Projects created from random trash and discarded objects included: handbags, a rain-protective bike helmet, picture frames, hats, a dartboard, a dress, a Christmas ornament, a sun-powered lamp, a candlelit lamp, a game, a cooking apron, a baby’s toy, necklaces, an ornamental wall hanging, a ring/jewelry, and a lot more. As the students presented their creations to the audience, a partner read their self-reflection which described their process, their materials, and their inspiration.

Presentation photos (above) credit: Ed Lemery

This unit of study is a one on which nearly all the Grade 5 teachers (homeroom, arts, and Japanese) collaborated. It has been an enlightening and engaging experience for students and teachers alike. We’ll end with some of the students’ recent definitions of ‘beauty’:

  • “Beauty is the thing made by human that made with person’s feeling and time.”
  • “Beauty is something that is pleasing to the eye and makes you feel good.”
  • “Beauty is something that makes you love nature.”
  • “Beauty is something that expresses someone’s opinions through simplicity.”
  • “Beauty is a combination of shapes, lines, and colors which is aesthetically pleasing.”

Grade 2 artists create clay sculptures based on cultural celebrations

Earlier this year, the Grade 2 students focused on the central idea that people can be enriched by their own cultures and the cultures they connect with throughout their lives. In art class we focused on the personal connections the children make through their cultural celebrations.

The Grade 2 art students created clay sculptures: original artifacts of each student’s experience in reflecting on a cultural celebration that he/she experiences with family (and/or friends).  Having chosen a particular person whom the student associates with this cultural celebration, the children moved from the practice (play dough) stage to the final (clay) stage of their sculptures. The students have used these two videos to assist them in their work and to allow them to work at their own pace, accessing the desired instruction as needed. The first video focuses on the basic head, eyes, nose, and mouth forms:

The second video addresses additional details such as the teeth, lips, eyelids/eyelashes/eyebrows:

And — as the human nose seemed to be the most challenging facial feature to model — a third video was created later, as it became apparent that some students needed alternative approaches to sculpting a nose:

Having modeled and carved a head, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hair, and the related details in clay, the students attached the heads to a clay base and engraved the subject’s name. Once bisque-fired, the sculptures were glazed in color and finally glaze-fired.  The artworks were unfortunately not completed in time for display at the Cross Cultural Lunch in October; however, they are now complete and ready to share at the Student-Led Conferences this month.

Here are some images of the students at work in art class:

Grade 4 graphic designers create campaign posters

The Grade 4 students have completed their campaign posters, from a collaborative unit which focused on the central idea that the media can influence thinking and behavior. The students worked in small groups to develop their own media campaign on a subject of their choosing. In art class, the students learned about Contrast, Unity, and Balance as principles of design, and they used these guidelines to help them create a visual display (e.g. a campaign poster) to communicate their goal for their campaign. The students made much progress in learning how to communicate visually using Contrast, Unity, and Balance to create a simple, clear message with text and images.

Have a look at the students at work:

This year our Grade 4 graphic designers relied on both traditional tools (pencil & paper) and contemporary tools (laptops & digital apps) to help them to create their posters. Student had the choice of using their own drawings, photos they took themselves, and/or photos found with Creative Commons or other appropriate search tools. Creating and combining text & imagery with Google Drawing, the students were able to work collaboratively to achieve varied levels of successful visual communication through good contrast, unity, balance, and interesting imagery.

Both the students’ rough draft designs and their final version were shared with their peers globally on the website Creatubbles, where students both at YIS and in other schools worldwide could view and comments on their graphic design work. Our Grade 4 students used some of the constructive feedback to help them improve their visual communication. See the students’ work in these two galleries (you’ll need to join Creatubbles first, but it’s easy and free to do so): Gr.4 Rough Draft Posters and Gr.4 Final Posters.

The students’ final posters have been printed in color and being exhibited in the stairwell display area in the K-1 building. Ultimately, the goals for the Grade 4 art students were for them to provide constructive criticism when responding to an artwork, to recognize that different audiences respond in different ways to artwork, and to show an awareness of the affective power of the visual arts.