Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Wishes for the World

First graders have been busily printing and sewing during these last couple of weeks, preparing for our upcoming Art Night.

The new year is a great time to reflect on change and ideals, so back in January first graders began our new art unit by reflecting on the things they need and appreciate in their own lives, and from among those, one that they would wish for every person in the world to access.

This is the list they brainstormed from that prompt.

The first step for each student was to draw a small picture on styrofoam of the wish they chose to illustrate. Some students chose to show their wish with only pictures, while others wanted to include text. Text with printmaking is tricky, because the word has to be written backward initially, and is reversed in the printing process.  You can see the mirror image alphabet above and below here, with the example of the word "food."

One thing that is fascinating to me about early literacy is the fact that children are quite excellent at deciphering text in different orientations, so this did not prove to hinder students. Some wrote it both ways, as below.

The printing process is one that first graders have done before in the art room, using materials such as bubble wrap, stamps, sponges, and cups to create prints. This is the first time these students have used brayers, ink, and styrofoam print plates. They rolled out the ink and printed their drawings onto fabric, which they then sewed to a larger background fabric using a sewing machine.

As an aside, children love sewing machines. They also usually enjoy hand sewing, but they find the machine totally thrilling. If you have a student who came home from this project really, really excited about sewing, consider looking around for an inexpensive or used one, or ask a neighbor if there is one collecting dust in their basement. Not yet into it yourself?  Learn it along with your child. It's totally empowering to make a first pillow case or totebag.

Their wishes are so beautiful that it made it hard not to get emotional. The things students wanted for humanity truly reflect what they love and need in their own worlds.
To make their wishes attention-grabbing and cheerful, they included all manner of ribbons, rickrack, and pompoms.
Before you fear that the project is devoid of action, it is actually tied to the year-long theme of community action in the first grade classrooms. Many, many students were interested in the concept of food security, having just come out of both a food drive they ran, concurrent with visits from educators at the Chittenden County Food Shelf.

The school has also just hosted a visit this week from Chittenden Solid Waste District, who came to educate students about keeping our world clean by optimizing and refining our use of school-wide classroom composting, recycling, reuse, and garbage plans.

Be on the lookout for these beautiful flags overhead in our first floor hallway. They will be on display all this month.
One last flag to share. The idea behind it was too beautiful to leave out. The artist explained that dreaming itself is a powerful and important wish, to keep a person's mind open to bigger, loftier aspirations in life. "I love dreaming," he said, "and everyone should get to do it."


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