The kindergarten students have been talking about farms and landscapes. A group of four of them came to the studio at a time to look at landscape photographs and choose one to draw. They drew it as a group, choosing areas to work on, discussing colors and lines. This particular example is of the farm in winter. These will be used as backdrops with the animals in their block area, to inspire story workshop.
The first graders have been talking about symbols, how letters are symbols and reading is simply knowing what the letter symbols mean in that order. They looked at work by Aboriginal artists in Australia and the work of American artist Keith Haring. Using a style inspired by Haring, they created multiple drafts of a symbol for friendship. They shared these with each other for critique and when the design was clear, I showed them how to transfer it onto a large canvas donated to us by a friend of the school, Katherine Vitale. Each student will create a rectangle and in the center we will use a quote about friendship one of the students made during their study of friendship in the classroom.
The theme of pirates is still going strong in second grade. I asked, during story workshop, if there were pirates in Puerto Rico at some point, since most of the children in that class are from Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic. Ms. Lopez told us about Roberto Cofresi, the "Puerto Rican Robin Hood," a pirate who helped the poor and defended the islands around which he lived. I brought this group in to teach me about him, because they had already had the lesson in their homeroom and I didn't have the experiences that they had.
The students taught me all about him and the question came up of whether or not he was a good or bad man. Some students felt he was good because, even though he was breaking the law, he was generous and doing the right thing at a time when the wrong thing was being done by the ruling people. Other students felt that he was wrong because he was stealing and he went to jail. This is going to lead to a compare and contrast about goodness and badness in the homeroom. While they talked, I asked them if they wanted to create a portrait of what they think Roberto looked like, so they looked at photos of a statue erected in his honor in Puerto Rico and photographs and artwork of pirates. Working together, they created this image of him.