Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fire Safety Calendar- EES

Every year the Vermont Division of Fire Safety sponsors a contest open to third graders across the state. It's the 25th anniversary this year of the student-illustrated State Fire Prevention Calendar! While I am not a huge fan of art contests, this particular one does get students to think about something that I love, which is how to use art as a visual communication tool.

Just about any graphic designer will tell you that big, bold, high-contrast images gets a viewers eye. A great image alone can say it all, but couple a super picture with brief, memorable text, and you've really got a hold on a person's memory. 

While I did not tell students that they had to enter the contest, we did use the theme of fire safety as the focus of this art lesson. Students did an amazing job brainstorming a variety of scenarios and sayings that could be highlighted.

Being Vermonters, it was unsurprising that forest fires/outdoor burning got the most attention from students.

Some of the students have had personal experience with fire damaging parts of their home, and their somber tales created more buy-in from their classes that I could possibly have generated.

While I did not require that kids enter the contest, many of them decided to do so, and very few declined.  Lots of kids even took their work home to have more time to perfect it. When I went to the post office to send the package of entries, the stack weighed well over a pound.

Most of the kids took the task with a seriousness that I have rarely ever seen, while some took the opportunity to be. well, silly cartoonists. That said, they did still accomplish the task of communicating a message effectively.

Ridiculous, yes, of course. But you'll remember it!
Many of the third graders are motivated by the possibility of going to Montpelier or winning a prize, but really the biggest prize, I think, is that the winners will be published artists!  As third graders. That's pretty cool to imagine!

Good luck everyone!

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