This year’s recipient of the Keefauver Arts In Education Grant Award was the Martha B. Day School in Bloomingdale, New Jersey. This grant provided funding for a 1st grade artist residency program with teaching artists, Carol Hendrickson and Marco Giammetti, also known as Spiritree. The artists and teachers developed a theme for the residency that integrated with the first grade curriculum and tapped into the power of art-making to engage student creativity. With “life on a farm” as their theme, students created four paintings representing the obvious and more subtle changes of spring, summer, fall, and winter. So this aspect of the project not only was an art project, but also a science lesson on the varying seasons and the resultant climate changes. The first graders made papier-mâché figures including a life size cow puppet which they learned to navigate and parade through the classroom. They also created a tree by connecting and covering cylindrical-shaped oatmeal boxes. By creating the different farm creatures and objects, the students were getting a math lesson by putting together geometric shapes. “This was such an interesting experience for them. It was something they could really sink their teeth into. Not everyone learns in the same way and this gave them a different way to learn,” said first grade teacher Deborah Jordan. “When students love something, they become engaged.”All of these creations were used in the culminating event – a play entitled E-I-E-I-Ooops about a cow who is taught how to moo by all of the animals in the barnyard.
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