Young artists from Primary through Middle School have been gathering inspiration from this beautiful season of autumn in many creative ways! We’ve experienced many sunny fall days over the past few weeks, so Art classes have been taken outside, allowing us to have an even closer connection to the changing season around us.
One source of inspiration has been the many colorful leaves that have fallen to the ground. Students in Lower and Upper Elementary as well as Middle School created leaf anatomy drawings in which they studied the shape and color of various leaves. To begin, each young artist gathered three to five leaves that caught their eye. Next, they cut the leaves in half and glued them to a piece of paper. The goal of this project was to practice their observational drawing skills by carefully drawing the other half of the leaf and matching its colors using colored pencil layering techniques.
Autumn also marks the season of bird migration, so Upper Elementary artists studied images of various North American migratory birds for inspiration. In their sketchbooks, students practiced sketching birds by beginning with simple shapes as an “under-sketch” or a guide (such as circles, semi-circles, triangles, etc.) and then moved on to adding detail such as feather patterning.
Young artists in Primary and LE created colorful rainbow corn paintings in thinking of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and to honor Native American heritage month. It is believed that Native Americans bred the first corn crop from wild grasses. After a brief discussion on the origin of the corn crop and its nutritional qualities, we reviewed ways to draw corn using simple shapes like ovals and circles. Each artist carefully drew their corn and filled in each kernel with a range of vibrant colors!
Our middle school students use the iSOMOS! Curriculum, developed by Martina Bex, expert in comprehensible input. Our entire focus is acquiring the language as we explore text and culture in a comprehensible manner. Using high frequency words and cognates, coupled with compelling stories we create as a class, students are engaged and held accountable for their learning.
Recently, middle school students have been exploring LatinX cuisine, celebrations of el Día de los Muertos, and various cultural snippets through short articles and stories embedded in our curriculum. They continue to build vocabulary through the storytelling process in addition to reading from their proficiency based novels each class. “Somos” means “we are”, and it’s a beautiful experience to witness middle schoolers discovering who they are as language learners and as positive members of their community.
The Primary students enjoyed an obstacle course comprised of gymnastics mats, hoops, noodles, an agility ladder, and a balance beam. The obstacle course helped students practice their gross motor skills. They were jumping in and out of hoops, zig-zagging through noodles, performing a forward roll on an inclined mat, walking on a balance beam, crawling under a bridge, and tip-toeing through the agility ladder. We started the classes with a moving train run around the soccer field followed by a 10 minute pumpkin tag warm-up using pool noodles. We cooled down with fitness exercises, yoga, and stretches at the end of each class. Throughout our gymnastics unit, the children are enhancing their social skills, developing strength and coordination, and gaining self-esteem and confidence.
During each class, the children practice learning skills. We practice observing, waiting our turn, and following directions. Improving all of these skill areas is helpful for those children still learning how their bodies move. Our lessons help them become more comfortable and happy with themselves as they continue to grow.
Middle School students created vibrant works of art inspired by life under the microscope! This project encouraged students to realize the many ways in which Science and Art can connect: both artists and scientists closely examine their subjects in an attempt to understand and describe the complex world around us. Artistically, our focus was composition arrangement, pattern making, and color theory.
Each middle school artist began by looking at microscopic plant images and other cellular references for shape and pattern inspiration for their artwork. While planning their composition, we reviewed and discussed Art vocabulary and concepts pertaining to this project, such as organic vs. geometric shapes, balance, contrast, repetition, and space. After sketching out their imagined microscopic world in pencil, they then traced their design with sharpie. Students then chose an analogous color scheme (groups of 3-4 colors that are next to each other on the color wheel) and filled in their composition using various watercolor techniques. Each finished painting is a striking sight of complex organic forms and vibrant color!
The ACTFL World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages includes five goal areas (the 5 C’s) upon which Spanish class is structured: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. Coupled with proficiency guidelines, the goal, according to ACTFL, is to ensure that language learners can apply the skills measured by the standards to bring a global competence to their future and career experiences. All of our Spanish classes incorporate at least two of these goal areas each time we meet.
During Hispanic Heritage Month, Lower and Upper Elementary students have been taking virtual journeys through a few Spanish-speaking countries. We used Google Earth to visit El Caminito in La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina to explore the casas coloridas (colorful houses). In addition, we observed some images of Kuna women of Panama and replicated the mola designs, similar to the staple of their wardrobe. Finally, we explored the feeling of worry, where it comes from, and how we cope with it as we created our own version of Guatemalan worry dolls. Students were engaged in the process of planning and implementing lines and shapes into their casas coloridas, molas, and worry dolls, as they explored these elements of LatinX culture through connection and comparison.
What is paint made of? What is a pigment and where does it come from? When was the first painting made? These are just a few questions our Lower Elementary artists explored on our journey of learning about the history of color in art.
To begin, we looked at images of prehistoric cave paintings created during the Stone Age and discussed the colors and imagery we noticed. Students contemplated what the paint might have been made from and discussed what materials were available to them during this time: stones, bones, plants, wood, clay, and so on. Since early humans during this time were nomads who hunted and gathered their food, their paints were also made from materials they collected from the earth. The majority of the cave paintings are depictions of animals that lived during this time: bison, deer, horses. Students gained an understanding of the importance of learning about the Art of early humans as a way to give us insight into their lifestyle, tools, environment, and creativity.
Students dove deeper into the study of the origin of paint by creating their very own earth paints! We created natural pigments by crushing up red ocher rocks, charcoal, and clay with a mortar and pestle. Then we mixed the pigment powders with water and a dash of honey to create a fluid paint consistency. Not only did these young artists enjoy the process of creating natural paints and painting with them, they also experienced how much time and labor is put into the making of art materials. Children painted so diligently with their handmade paints and expressed appreciation for the hard work each classmate put into the paint making process.
We’ve had a strong start to Spanish classes this year at FWM.
From primary to middle school, all students have returned to Spanish classes eager to continue along their language acquisition journey. Using a comprehensible input approach, students hear and read in the language each class period. We are building vocabulary and practicing using words within target structures for each unit. Our storytelling and role playing offer a compelling experience within the classroom for students to remain engaged and feel the joy of learning. Students new to FWM or to Spanish are already immersing themselves in the experience as we work to acquire the language together.
September 15th kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month, as multiple countries celebrated their independence days. We tie Hispanic culture into our lessons in Spanish regularly. If you’re looking for ways at home to connect with the LatinX community, check out Yale’s Fiesta-Latina, with virtual events in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month between now and 10/15 2020: https://peabody.yale.edu/events/fiesta-latina.
Please remind your child to wear something BLUE on Monday, September 21 to recognize and celebrate the International Day of Peace. Blue is the universal color of peace.