Tag Archives: school

Junior High in France

French students in what are essentially 8th and 9th grades do a one-week shadowing internship, observing someone doing what they think they want to do for a living. This year, Theo’s 8th grade year, he is in a small private French school, so he was expected to do this “stage d’observation.” And what Theo is interested in doing as a career, is sustainable farming, imagining his own restaurant and maybe using this knowledge and platform in developing countries. Our part of France is amazing for family farms and sustainable farming. I don’t think we have ever passed a field of more than 20, 25 cows. The local produce is preferred, and it’s amazing. Unfortunately, his stage was scheduled at the end of February. Farms aren’t really all that busy in February, and so we were having some trouble finding a farm willing to take on this American kid no one knew.

At the last minute, an acquaintance of another parent at the school who is a farmer, who happens to also have a church and food pantry and bread ministry on his farm, agreed to take on Theo. It was a match made in heaven! He spent four days working hard in an all-Francophone environment, and instead of finishing the day weary and near-silent as usual, I would pick him up, energized and talking constantly of all he had done! And he did a lot.

Farmer Ted. Note the amazing view from the farm!

Farmer Ted. Note the amazing view from the farm!

He helped build a pen for the new little chicks coming in, and helped them settle the next day. He accompanied the tractor mowing the grass around the bees’ hives, helped build parts of the electric fencing, and sautered and painted a cow pen. He also ate lunch with the family each day, a nice French farmer lunch!

Where they grind the wheat they grow into flour, which they then bake into loaves they use for food aid.

Where they grind the wheat they grow into flour, which they then bake into loaves they use for food aid.

Only one loaf left! The oven is the whole wall in the back.

Only one loaf left! The oven is the whole wall in the back.

The sheep are getting to know Theo.

The sheep are getting to know Theo.

Another view from the farm.

Another view from the farm.

He spent the next week preparing the report of his stage, and he is more convinced than ever that this is what he wants to do.






























































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Odds and Endings

I have been too busy to post faithfully each art project, so I thought I would do a wrap-up with a few from several projects. Kindergarten was introduced to impressionism through Monet, and used oil pastel and water color to create their own simplistic Monet bridge.

First and second grades designed their own birds. Like they did with fish in kindergarten, we discussed the parts of birds and the different shapes they come in. Some students spent a lot of time detailing their bird. Others had time to incorporate backgrounds. And a few even had time to glue in tail feathers. The whole project had to be completed in a single, 40-minute session.

This second grade student has truly grasped the concept of filling the space.

First grade is still working on that concept.

first grade

second grade

A second grader who had artist’s block at first, but whose finished bird is just lovely and unique. I hope she painted in a background at home.

It seems that’s all I have pictures of. It’s been a fun year, and I learned a lot. I hope the kids did, too!

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Filed under Art, First/Second Grade, Kindergarten, Teaching

Wishing for a Do-Over

At the end of the year, my school third through sixth graders made pendants to give a mom or grandmom. I showed examples of pendants. We talked about the variety of shapes pendants come in, and designs that would be pleasing to moms. Then I took them in to their ball of clay and let them create a pendant.

Some of my younger students invested thought and creativity, and got some cool results. Most of my older students did, too. Some of my photos didn’t turn out so well, unfortunately.

amanda in third grade

third grader julia (the camera glare keeps the detail and the texture of the flower from showing, unfortunately)

a fourth grade girl’s, but I didn’t mark which one.

sixth grade erica’s

fifth grader dresden

fifth grade carter’s leaf

These were the good ones. The rest pretty much had words scratched into them. If it hadn’t been so late in the year, I could have sent them back for a do-over right then, but we had a deadline to make: Mother’s Day Tea. So if I do this lesson again, I won’t leave it so open-ended. These creative offerings don’t quite make up for the others. I would probably require a flower, show some techniques that could be used in creating a flower, and then let them form their pendant within those parameters. Sometimes kids NEED more structure to help them rise to the level of their capability, and this was apparently one of those occasions.

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Filed under Art, Fifth/Sixth Grade, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

My Baby is a Youth

Theo graduated from sixth grade yesterday. He seems so grown up!

From a graduating class of two (in really low lighting), with his teacher. Classes at this school are made of two grades.

His sisters seem kind of proud of him!

It’s a wrap!

Those who know him best, give him books. Note the little slideshow in back showing Theo with his “Littlest Fisher” award from Georgia.

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Filed under celebration, Education

The Winners’ Circle

Not that all my little artists aren’t winners; they ARE. But here is the full collection of the select few that were submitted to The Gathering of the Talents.

The two ceramic plates aren’t shown here, one of which received an Excellent, and the other a Superior. The seahorses on the right have a purple ribbon, though a blue dot.

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Often The Fine Arts Need an Audience

We are encouraged and blessed when others receive what we communicate as artists. Someone “gets” us. And so our school’s fine arts program every year is well supported and received. We begin with a musical program, which this year’s music teachers really outdid theirselves on. It was all worship music, and it was just extraordinary to hear the children lifting up praise for twenty minutes. What an awesome job they did! My own son is the tall one in back.

Choirs, with art gallery behind.

Theo singing LOW.

The kids’ art lined the gym: China, Japan, the ocean and Concordia winners. The kids who wished to, made a takehome of Cherry Tree blossoms, drawing a branch with oil pastels and stamping 5-petaled blossoms of pink and white tempera with the bottom of a 20-ounce water bottle. Good times!

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Japanese Teacups and Teabowls

After viewing a Japanese tea ceremony, Kindergarten made tea bowls formed on their knees, and first and second grades made cups from pinch pots. These were glazed using earth tones.

a second grader


a first grader


a first grader's cup

and a kindergarten bowl.

Notice from this kinder's bowl that they spattered a little blue or white glaze inside their bowls.



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Filed under Art, First/Second Grade, Kindergarten, Teaching

Teaching as an Avenue for Continuing Education

I don’t know about other art teachers, but sometimes, I am learning something new right along with my students. Lino printing (most printing, really) qualifies as new for me. I always try to warn my students when we are learning something new together, but rarely do I get through a new lesson feeling like I need a lot more work on that. Feeling like, “Hey, can I get a do-over?” Not that our lessons always turn out spectacularly, because I am often surprised in the midst of a lesson, or take note of something I will do differently with the next group, or the next time I teach this lesson. But I don’t often feel unsatisfied myself, feeling like I am missing some things about this. Printing does that to me, though. Yet, I felt like printing was the best, coolest introduction to Japanese art that I could offer my older students.

So I will call these our first passes at lino printing. And I probably won’t try this in a class that includes third graders again.

a turtle, by a 5th grade student

this sixth grade student learned there is no erasing a lino cut, but awesome cross

a flying heart by a fourth grader

a fourth graders tulip in honor of tulip days

a third grader's baseball

a third grader inspired by Mount Fuji

I definitely see me spending more time working on this over the summer. Until it’s easy for me, it can’t become easy for my students.

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Filed under Art, Fifth/Sixth Grade, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

How to Really Freak Out Your Art Students

and truly, I did not anticipate the reaction our gyotaku would get from the fifth and sixth graders. I started out reminding them that in Japanese culture almost EVERYthing can be an art. And printing in Japan was a long-established art, as we had already experience with our lino block prints. Japan is surrounded by ocean, so it has a serious fisherman tradition also. So is it surprising that something that began as a way to record your great catch long before the Kodak became a beautiful fine art? I thought not.

So when I pulled out our whole semi-frozen tilapia, why were the kids shocked? Did they think I would practice fish printing with potatoes? (And let me add that the difficulty of acquiring that fish in the midst of the heartland of America was a surprise to me). We watched a video of someone printing a fish, and they were totally grossed out. Ewwwww!

Excuse me?! I picked this art because this class 80% male! Do you not fish, boy students? What do boys do nowadays?!

When we daubed ink over our fish, pulling out the fins, the female part of the class was cool as cucumbers. A couple of boys weren’t touching my fish. It was certainly memorable!! This was my first time printing a fish, and I would have loved more time and paper to perfect our technique. Our prints show just gloppy ink in places, and we seriously should have had a Qtip to clean the eye of ink, rather than tissue. Sometimes making do doesn’t work. We will go over our fish prints with Sharpie to make a live eye before I mount these for the art show, but I wanted to to share now.

fish print by 6th grade girl


fish print by 6th grade boy


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Filed under Art, Fifth/Sixth Grade, Teaching

Show Time!

April is a month of reckoning for elementary artists. This is when their artworks are put up for all the world to see. For us, it began with the district art show, and included both school students and homeschool students. Selected pieces are hanging on the walls of the city library, along with other schools in the disctrict. This one gets the kids excited because everyone can easily see their art on display, and they get to see it with the art of lots of other kids.

The outside two artworks are my students'.

And again, the outside two are my students'.

And I just returned from the big regional art competition Concordia University hosts for young art students at their associate schools in a five-state area. Our students showed very well, with one outstanding purple ribbon, and four out of every five artworks a blue ribbon.

The Cubist Mantis wins a blue!

To be terribly honest, with today’s gas prices, this was painfully expensive to participate in. I don’t see it as a given in the future.

And this week I am mounting (and finishing) art projects for our school’s fine arts show, to be held next Thursday. What a month! Maybe a little TOO intense. But it’s worth it for the kids, right?

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