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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Second Grader's Visual Literacy Trip to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art

In late January and early February all the second graders were able to visit and experience the amazing gem of an art museum on Bowdoin College campus.  The tour guides in this case were Mrs. Higgison ( me) and Ms. Charlotte Agell, Literacy Specialist.   Our goal was to introduce students to fine art in a museum setting as well as to engage them in activities that allowed for visual literacy, both looking, interpreting, forming opinions and sharing them. 
Bowdoin College Museum of Art has a world class collection and the setting is informal enough that we felt comfortable to sit on the floor, look, draw, pretend to walk into a painting with our senses and in general experience the art in powerful and memorable ways.   Here are some photos of some of the groups. 
If you are reading this and are curious about the BCMA,  know that it is free and open to the public and well worth the half hour trip to Brunswick.











Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Hand-work takes over the YES Art Studio

For the better part of December third and fourth graders were engaged in an intense unit of handwork; straw weaving for third graders and sewing for fourth graders. I have been teaching straw weaving for nearly 20 years and only just ( last year) introduced hand-stitching. The hand-stitching revolved around making mini-balsam fir scented pillows, a tie in to their Maine studies unit. For weaving, the straw looms can produce anything from a simple two straw bracelet to a 16 straw scarf and anything inbetween.

In both cases, kids became actively engaged not only in working on practical process that ended in a useful product, but they all were challenged to use their hands in ways that many of them never had.
I have been teaching straw weaving for nearly 20 years and only just ( last year) introduced hand-stitching. Originally I saw my handwork unit as a mini-respite from traditional art lessons but now, in time I have come to believe that handwork ( weaving and sewing) and the craftsmanship associated with it are an important part of a strong visual arts program. There are so many skill sets addressed in these two units from 3D spatial visualization and problem solving, to manual dexterity, and continual problem solving, in addition to envisioning and craftsmanship. Plus, much evidence has been written about the calming and centering nature of traditional handwork, and giving your child the opportunity to have such an outlet here at school I believe is a huge positive.
Its the middle of January as I finally write this an 3rd graders continue to come in during their quiet time to get more yarn and start more looms. It sounds corny but it warms my heart to see this unit of handwork have such strong legs of its own.
Here are some photos of weavers and sewers:























Chaké Higgison: Art Teacher Yarmouth Elementary School






We are now in the middle of January and the straw weaving seems to have struck a chord with students who continue to come to the art studio every day during quiet time to collect yarns and straws. Here are some photos of their products.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Observational Fish Drawings: Artists as Scientists with 4th Graders

 We began a lesson in observational drawing, being sci/artists.  We looked at a slide show of the Swiss 16th century artist/ scientist/ scholar/ physican/ naturalist,  Conrad Gesner.  We learned that he wrote and published a 4,500 page book of the animals of the world that included both mythical creatures, actual creatures and creatures that were described by sea captains but perhaps never documented in any other way.  He was considered the father of modern zoology.

We used wood cuts of his fish as inspiration for our fish drawings on view below are fish by Mrs. Winton's 4th graders who totally rocked this lesson on day one.



  We began a lesson in observational drawing, being sci/artists.  We looked at a slide show of the Swiss 16th century artist/ scientist/ scholar/ physican/ naturalist,  Conrad Gesner.  We learned that he wrote and published a 4,500 page book of the animals of the world that included both mythical creatures, actual creatures and creatures that were described by sea captains but perhaps never documented in any other way.  He was considered the father of modern zoology.

We used wood cuts of his fish as inspiration for our fish drawings.