SchoolArts Magazine

September 2018

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 35 inspired me to plan a new art activity where students would be encouraged to motivate others to show kindness, generosity, and goodwill. Inspiration from Literacy I teach at a Pre-K through grade three school of about 350 students. Many of my art lessons are based on children's books. I am inspired by the connection The colorful and energetic presentation was a wonderful creative visual reminder for the students to initiate acts of kindness to others. between art and literature and I try to establish this connection with my stu - dents. Subjects, texts, and illustrations evoke ideas for innovative art projects. While viewing the supply of new books in our school library, I was drawn to two books by Linda Kranz: Only One You and You Be You. These books express individuality, diversity, and acceptance and how we all have the ability to make the world a better place. The books contain illustra- tions of adorable "rock fish." I was inspired to borrow the rock fish idea to promote kindness in our students. Students always get excited about painting and to paint on rocks would be an added delight. Discussing Kindness We began the lesson by reading and discussing Kranz's books. Students then discussed the shapes and tex- tures of rocks that I had gathered and how a rock could be painted and transformed into a fish. The fish would become symbols to represent the concept of kindness. This led to a discussion about the importance of kindness and what we as individuals can do to show kindness. Lines, Shapes, and Colors Once the meaning of the lesson was presented, I introduced the art con - cepts that would be used. The focus would be to repeat lines, shapes, and colors to create patterns for the fish's body. The collected rocks I distributed were smooth, 2 x 3" (5 x 8 cm), and oval-shaped. I suggested that students paint the head of the fish in a solid color for contrast and add a side fin over the body using different colors. Creating the Fish I set up one table for painting the fish with acrylics and called several stu - dents at a time to work at the painting table. On the other tables, I provided colored construction paper for students to make cut paper oval fish while they waited or after they had had their turn at the paint table. For the paper fish, students used different colors for the heads and bod- ies. The bodies were approximately 5 x 9" (13 x 23 cm) long and the paper for the head was about 5 x 3" (13 x 8 cm). Students glued the paper for the head directly over the paper for the body and rounded all four corners to produce an oval shape. Once the bod- ies were rounded, they cut colored paper and used some pre-cut paper strips and shapes to design their fish with colors and patterns. Each classroom had its own fish bowl with a little sign that read "Kindness Is Catchy in Room __." When the rock fish were dry, we put them in the fish bowls and the bowls were placed on the windowsill below the lobby windows. There are twenty classrooms in my school, so the fish- bowls spanned the entire wall. A Visual Reminder The paper fish students created were hung above and below the fish bowls covering the wall between the win - dows. Amongst the fish were large paper bubbles with words of kindness printed on them such as compassion, acceptance, helping, and caring. A large underwater mural was created with cut paper the length of the hall - way where the rest of the paper fish were hung. A banner over the hallway read, "Get Hooked on Kindness" and cut paper fish hooks hung down with words of kindness attached to them. The colorful and energetic pre- sentation created by students in our school was a wonderful creative visual reminder for students and faculty to initiate acts of kindness to oth - ers. Students, staff, and guests to the school loved viewing the display and the manifestation of the many acts of kindness was rewarding. Wendy Libby is an elementary art edu- cator at Fruit Street School in Bangor, Maine. wlibby@ bangorschools.net

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