Monday, July 21, 2014

Imagination at Work: Creating an Art Classroom

I have been an artist all my life but when I applied for the Peace Corps I really had no idea I would end up teaching art to primary age students even though I have had a lifetime to learn many art mediums and many art techniques. My counterpart (which is PCspeak for the person I work with) recognized right away that she could best use my creative skills as an art teacher since the school's former art teacher had just retired. Before I knew what happened, I was teaching art full time to 170 students grades k through 6th, plus training the teachers how to include art in their lessons.

Since I had zilch experience teaching art to K-3 grades, and only a little bit experience with 4th-6th grades, I realized I had to research how to do this and also reach out to all my friends online who had experience in those areas. I spent the summer researching ideas and developing lesson plans. Pinterest became my friend and mentor in this process, and I invite any of you readers to take a look at my numerous Pinterest boards where I store all my ideas. Just click on this handy link : MY PINTEREST BOARDS, and have fun exploring.

Of course, many good ideas I find online I had to adapt to use in my classroom due to lack of materials. I found myself becoming quite creative --- using re-cycled materials as well as adapting the lessons to what I had available.

I have also been compiling a list of interesting blogs and websites with good ideas and even full lesson plans for art projects with students of all ages. In case any of you want to include teaching visual art in your own classroom, I would like to share these. Some of these websites I found through online research and some my artist friends shared with me :

Deep Space Sparkle : inspiring children one color at a time-- my go-to favorite for ideas and great projects.
This is where you will find a library of art lessons, handy PDF lesson plans and resources to make teaching art to kids a whole lot easier. - See more at:
This is where you will find a library of art lessons, handy PDF lesson plans and resources to make teaching art to kids a whole lot easier. - See more at:

Art Is Basic : is a blog written by an elementary art teacher. Through tutorials and project descriptions, many arts and crafts projects for kids are shared.

Splish, Splash, Spatter : a teacher who creates more messes than she can clean, thinks that glitter makes everything look better, and believes that art can bring people of all cultures together.

Elementary Art Fun : SMART CLASS --an Art teacher's blog with nicely illustrated projects and ideas

The Lost Sock : Teaching and Creating Art with all my Heart --a blog with excellent tutorials

Art Projects for Kids : a website with "classroom tested art projects  for k-5 and beyond."

Teach Kids Art : "Successful Art lessons for Kids" Hundreds of art lessons for kids by a 20 year veteran art teacher.

Panthers Palette : Elementary Art teacher's blog with many creative ideas and photos (no lesson plans).

Think Create Art : a blog by an art teacher with many fun ideas and great photos--sparse lesson plans.

the art class room...

The Kinders were learning about parts of the body---so here I am, along with the grade K teacher, creating full body portraits for the students to label and color....
I always try to link art projects to lesson the teachers are currently teaching or to local culture (like when we all made carnival masks during carnival season). I also quickly realized that I had teach the k through 3rd graders different lessons than the 4th through 6th graders since they had different skill sets. Much of what a certified art teacher would learn in a good US University Program, I am learning by doing--my favorite way to learn!

 I have discovered I love teaching and passing along what I have learned over 40 years of creating my own art. Almost every day I thank the Peace Corps for allowing me the opportunity to share my creativity and art making skills without having to go back to school and obtain an expensive art credential.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The School's New Gift Store is open!!!

One of the projects my counterpart---the school Principle---and I discussed the first time we met was the possibility of me helping the school to open a Gift Store. St. Luke's Primary School already has a Museum, which is visited by tourists during the tourist season, and the addition of a gift store to sell the art & crafts the children create would help with fundraising for the school. Eventually, after over a year of planning, fundraising, and building--the St. Luke's Primary School Gift Shop opened with a wonderful community celebration. My part in the whole endeavor was to mostly act as the catalyst, as we planned how to implement the project, and put our plan into action.

School Principle Sister Anitta adds finishing touches to the decorations for the opening celebration....

the new store....

inside the store....
necklaces with papers made by the students--for sale!

student made bookmarks and pottery for sale....
St. Luke's students sewed these small bags to sell...
Cards for sale in the gift Store....

The Priest blesses the Gift Store....

This student--the 6th grade head boy--- wanted to leave a gift for the school when he graduated to secondary schoolSo his mother, pictured here with him,  raised the funds from the community to construct the Gift Store. The store is dedicated to him with his photo and a plaque.

the 6th grade head girl speaks at the opening....

St. Luke's students sing, drum and dance at the celebration....

And the Gift Store is open for business!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

4th of July crafts at the Library

In 1961, President JFK established the Peace Corps to promote world peace and friendship through three underlying core goals:
Goal 1 To help the people of interested countries meet their needs for trained men and women.
Goal 2 To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
Goal 3 To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

I found myself fulfilling Goal 2 this week as I, along with fellow Peace Corps Volunteer Elsabeth, taught children and adults how to makes a knotted bracelets in red, white, and blue at the Dominica Public Library in Roseau.

The US Embassy for the Eastern Caribbean (which is located on Barbados) maintains an "American Corner" at the Dominica Public Library, and the Embassy also sent the library a big box of supplies for making 4th of July crafts. When the box arrived earlier this week, the children's librarian called the Peace Corps and I volunteered to help teach 4th of July crafts. Of course, I invited another PCV, Elsabeth, to help also.

After looking at the very informative bulletin board the library staff created to highlight our US Independence Day, I discussed the history of the 4th of July with the children, and significance of the red, white and blue colors we were using.  I also shared how my family typically celebrated Indepenence Day as I was growing up.

Then, we all had fun teaching the children and some of the library staff how to create knotted 4th of July bracelets...with a nice small craft kit the Embassy provided.

Everyone was  happy with their results....and now every 4th of July I wear my bracelet I will think of Dominica!