Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Folk Tale Set - 8 feet by 9 feet acrylic on canvas

The completed set!
I work in a wonderful K-12 charter school where we find ways to collaborate between younger and older students on a regular basis. Along with teaching middle school math, I teach 4 hours of project-based learning each week.  My project is naturally an art project, and I have posted before about some of our lessons and activities.  One of the projects in our kindergarten is Folktales, where the students put on plays.  This year, they asked us to create a set for their play.
Three primed panels, ready to go.
We read the play, made a list of anything we thought should be included in the set, measured the wall, then had to sit on our ideas through snow day after snow day until we reconvened in project with only a few days left before the kindergarten's big day.  I love a deadline, and teach a week of theater camp each summer at our local art association so I am accustomed to short time frames.  (By the way, this summer we will be producing "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" during our summer art camp, so check the link above for dates and details).  

However, I have never had seventeen students painting an 8 x 9 foot tarp in the close quarters of my small classroom.  We divided the students into three teams, cut the tarp into three strips, listed the items to be included on the set, and divided them among the teams.  

They agreed that they would make some of the objects cross from one to another for continuity on the set, then they designed their pieces of the set, collaborating with the other teams.  I asked some students to stay after school one day so we could prime the tarps with tinted gesso... then off we went.  As you can see, they painted a house, barn, well, school bus, forest, firewood,  a variety of chickens, and even a teeny, tiny 6-inch chicken coop painted with a teeny tiny brush.  

Teeny Tiny Chicken Coop

I love watching these teams of students work together, figuring out color, placement, and how to dance around my room getting only a little paint on themselves and the floor.  Some students are very cautious, afraid to make a mistake.  I help them break that "surface tension" and they emerge proud and brave.  Some students dive right in, working group to group. Some are super-focused and can paint a teeny tiny chicken coop right in the middle of the panel while everyone else maneuvers around them.  What a blast.  The play was a huge success, and we're going to make our collaboration an annual, if not more frequent, event.  

File under "love my job".  Thanks for looking!


  1. What a great backdrop your students created!! I would have loved being a student for a project just like this one. Great idea to make this an annual event too.

  2. your students are propelled by your love, which is the obvious ingredient in all of your endeavors. I know this.

  3. Mary, I think I love corralling all that teen energy into a joint outcome! It's exhilirating!