Spring has come and gone in Michigan and the hot summer days are upon us. My boys finished school and my oldest is moving on to middle school. Where have the years gone? For three solid weeks over May/June I worked on yet another PTO volunteer project; creating the PowerPoint video presentation for the 5th grade promotion. It was truly a labor of love as I compiled, organized, and edited hundreds of photos of the graduates as babies, toddlers, and students taken throughout their six years together. I added several heart-tugging songs about growing up and threw in a few slides in the end about transitioning to the middle school. It turned out really nice. I received an enormous round of applause from the kids and several compliments from the parents. Each child was given a DVD of the presentation in their memory book to have forever. It was a great way to end the school year and bring closure to this chapter in our lives.
Each September my boys’ elementary school puts on the annual Fun Run. It’s our only school fundraiser where the kids collect pledges for laps run around the school parking loop tracks. At the beginning of the event, the entire school comes together for the kick-off. Along with music and announcements, the fifth graders have the honor of running behind the PACE car for one lap. This signifies the official start of the event. It’s quite an affair and takes many volunteers to coordinate the day. Last year I signed up for class picture taker. This year I was asked to contribute to the decoration committee as well. Right up my alley! Specifically I would be decorating the PACE truck in our theme: the Wild West.
Of course, things never go as planned, and this was no exception! To start with, I had only one week to come up with a design, purchase materials, and complete the project. That should be ample time for anyone to knock out some simple signs or decorations, but I pride myself on being an “artist” and wanted to come up with something unique and creative. I was told that we would have a Jeep Cherokee for our vehicle. So, I came up with a pretty elaborate concept to “dress up” the jeep as a Wild West Chuck Wagon.
Three days before the event, a truck still hadn’t been secured and so I switched my design to something more versatile and simple that should work with any truck: a Cowboy hat and mustache for the top and front grill of the truck, a “Chuck Wagon” sign to hang off the back, and “Wanted” and “Sheriff” posters for the sides. A few days before the big event, a parent graciously volunteered a beautiful antique Ford pick-up truck. Finally, it was coming together!
I used black foam core as the base for the mustache and hat, scoured the internet for images of cowboy hats and western-style mustaches, then drew and painted the pieces. I used our school’s logo as an ornamental piece on the hat and for a couple of the posters. The posters were created from plain white poster board. I painted the backgrounds to look like wood and then lettered the signs using a western-style font.
Of course, not being an engineer, I didn’t account for the wind blowing by the truck as it circled the pavement. My signs would not stay in place 😦 We decided to scrap using the decorations on the vehicle and used them for classroom picture props instead. Yippee- Kio!
In January, I was the appointed chairperson for our local elementary school’s Art Night. I had volunteered back in September before all the hoopla of the school year not knowing full well what this endeavor would consist of – still it was art and it is my children’s school – what better way to combine my passions?
I began preparations back in November with a handful of volunteers – the original long list of hopeful volunteers had substantially whittled away after my first communication. Since this was a brand new endeavor for me and our school (it had been done three years prior, but little documentation was left and what was left, did not appeal to me) I set out to reinvent the proverbial wheel.
Being the consummate perfectionist, I dove into research with abandon – which is one of my other passions – so it was a good fit. I scoured Pinterest for creative educational ideas for elementary students. After my initial research was complete, I met with our part-time Art teacher Andrea, who, by the way, was due with twins in February! Together we finalized the ideas and I got busy putting together the plans.
The first thing I did was figure out how the artistic activities would flow and fit into a pattern. I settled on three main components for our event; the Student Art Show, “Art Through the Ages”, and Recycled and Fiber Arts. I wanted the participants to have a program/brochure that would be both useful for the evening and an educational take-away. Below is the result.
By the time event day finally arrived, I was exhausted, anxious, nervous and excited! We had our share of drama – but once the clock struck 6 p.m., the doors opened and there was no turning back.
Student Art Show
The student art show was housed in the cafeteria. We used the cafe tables, folded in half, to display most of the kid’s artwork. We also had on hand three large grey display panels and purchased two large black matting boards. In the middle of the room was a “Pee-Wee Picasso’s Coloring Table” for the little ones.
Recycled & Fiber Arts
The second component to the event was composed of two stations: Ugly Dolls and Recycled Robots. These two were the hit of the event! For Ugly Dolls, the kids created a unique design on paper and then with the help of a volunteer sewed a lovable monster to take home. The recycled robots were made from tin cans, disc magnets, small hardware, and craft pieces like pom-pons and pipe cleaners. With the aid of volunteers and lots of hot glue, the kids created adorable robots.
Art Through The Ages
In the gymnasium, we housed the Art History portion of the event. The stations were spread around the gym in a circular fashion , showcasing the various art forms throughout history.
We began with Prehistoric Cave Painting where the kids could go inside a refrigerator box and color the walls. At the Roman Mosaic table kids made pictures using paint chips for tiles and glue. For the Renaissance period, kids placed their hands and face through cutouts of the Mona Lisa and posed for pictures.
After the Renaissance came the Still-Life station where kids used oil pastels to draw a picture of flowers. At the “Seurat-The-Dot” station kids painted pictures using q-tips. The Expressionism Movement was represented by another fun PhotoOp, Edvard Munch’s, “The Scream.
We introduced two types of Contemporary art: Abstract Expressionism and Geometric Abstraction. The kids had a blast watching their colorful designs come to life with Marble Painting. The boys enjoyed working on Crumpled Paper Designs. Everyone joined in the fun for collaborative Circle Painting.