the music department’s concert
entitled “Peace.” We felt that the
Tree of Life at the center of the
mural fulfilled many universal
holiday themes, being the symbol of
family, unity, growth, roots, dependence on each other, and also a
secular version of the symbols of the
Chanukkah menorah, Christmas
tree, and Kwanzaa kinara. Klimt
himself painted an abstract Tree of
Life as one of his last murals.
We divided the learning experience into grade levels. Grade three
focused on the art elements and
design principles. Specifically, they
learned about pattern, repetition,
geometric vs. organic shapes, and
contrast. Grades four and five, having already learned the basics last
year, focused on the cultural and
historical backgrounds of Byzan-tine/medieval and Egyptian art.
We worked on large individual
panels of brown Kraft paper, which
we would later seam together.
Students were divided into small
groups, sitting in a circle around
each panel, working from the center
out to avoid smearing and dripping.
This was the point at which artistry and cooperative learning were
The first step was to place the
figures on each panel. A few kindergarten students served as the
perfectly sized, whimsical models.
The teachers projected their silhouettes onto the panels and carefully