created more ceramic sea creatures,
including starfish and crabs. In addition, they made paper mosaics of other
sea creatures, including a mermaid, a
dolphin, and objects like the Yellow
Submarine and a treasure chest. These
images were later enlarged and made
into designs for the murals. Students
also learned the Beatles’ song, “
Octopus’s Garden” in the music room.
In one weekend
the design of the
octopus—the overseer of the garden—
came to life with
the help of teachers,
members with painted tiles, pieces of
pottery, and broken mirrors. The children’s clay sea-creatures joined the
octopus in his watery world.
The words integrity, curiosity,
cooperation, creativity, and compas-
sion that appear on the octopus and
other creatures are part of the goals of
the International Baccalaureate Pri-
mary Years Program, since McKinley is
an International Baccalaureate school.
Enjoying the Octopus’s Garden
One sunny day I visited the garden
with two second graders, Tristan and
Maria, and one third grader, Andrea,
as my guides. They told me how proud
they were of their plots, and that they
ate carrots from the earlier crop (the
school kitchen pre-
pared the vegetables).
They were especially taken with the
animals in the garden. Tristan said he
saw bunnies twice!
pointed to some wiggly things in the
dirt. “Are those worms or slugs?” she
“They are slugs and they will eat the
plants!” replied Tristan. In an instant
he picked both up and threw them to
the corner of the garden. And then, as if
on cue, a butterfly flitted through.
A ladybug landed on Tristan and
There is always
reluctance to leave this
special magical place, this
for the body and spirit.
accompanied us as we explored the
colorful mural designs. All three
children inspected the murals close
up and pointed out which colors and
shapes they liked and which textures
felt good to their exploring fingers.
There is always reluctance to leave
this special magical place, this oasis—
this nourishment for the body and
This garden is food for the soul, and
it will provide life and learning for
many years to come.
Karen Kenyon is the author of Sunshower
(iUniverse, 2011) and The Brontë Family:
Passionate Literary Geniuses (Lerner Publications, 2002). email@example.com
Students make connections between
visual arts and other disciplines.