Friday, March 14, 2014

SOLSC #14 Our Phillips Artwork

I am posting every day during March as part of the annual "Slice of LifeChallenge for Two Writing Teachers.  Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.


I want to share about our Phillips art project. Our school partners with the Phillips Art Gallery each year, creating an exhibit of our students artwork for their Young Artists Exhibition. This year's theme is storytelling.

Our Ezra Jack Keats focus has dovetailed beautifully. The children created a beautiful process art background and then collaged city buildings on top. Their personal photos were inserted into the windows of the city buildings, adding a whimsical Ezra Jack Keats touch! (And making it impossible for me to share the final artwork here, because I want to respect anonymity of children in this blog.)

Working on one smallish, single panel was a real constraint for us - we have 23 preschoolers to involve in the art process. We sought ways to integrate the art experience into many other aspects of our classroom work - for example, many process art panels were created, although only one chosen. Over several sessions with our art teacher, Brianna, the children painted beautiful "skies." These were created using a variety of colors and "channeling Ezra Jack Keats." (The backgrounds of his collage artwork in his picture books are so beautiful.) One of these bright pieces became the basis of our Phillips panel.

Brianna took the children in small groups to her third floor studio to observe our city neighborhood from this perspective.  Since Brianna typically comes down to our classroom for art, this was an exciting adventure!

From this higher view, the children drew cityscapes.

After creating these observational drawings, several were photocopied and reduced in size to fit the Phillips panel. The children painted these, using sponges, paints, and pastels. A beautiful city skyline was created.

Here's the story that the children wrote to accompany this art panel:

Big Cats in the City

The Big Cats live in the city. We have a train coming down the train track through the tunnel.  An underground tunnel. And there were little houses and tall apartment buildings. And a school. And there is a great, big, giant fire truck going down the road so fast. And they put out a fire in the offices. There is a doctor in the building and there is his office and there are Mommies and Daddies and a Grampa. A baby is born. Shhh! We have to have gentle hands and play gentle music. And then the baby is sick and the doctors are coming. And then she has to go to the hospital and then she will get all better. And then there is a big party and a tea party and cookies. Would you like some pizza, please? And we go on an airplane! The End

Yes, this artwork was tremendous fun!

(A daily share by a preschooler, in their own words)
A Story Collage by Hugh

     The little boy starts with the tiger. And the tiger was fighting the little boy and then the boy grabs the tiger’s tail. The boy dives into the diving board and then he accidently falls into the water with the tiger and then the tiger ate him all up. Actually, he didn’t get eaten up, he escaped! And then the tiger chased him up and he got out of the lion exhibit and the boy climbs up a tree. The tigers don’t get him. The End


  1. I love the interaction of books, art, environment, and writing! Thanks for sharing such a special lesson with us.

  2. "Brianna took the children in small groups to her third floor studio to observe our city neighborhood from this perspective. Since Brianna typically comes down to our classroom for art, this was an exciting adventure!"
    What a fun way to inspire children, I miss this art/literature connection in my current position, and love reading about it here, reminds me where I want to be. . .

  3. Love both these stories, Maureen and the art is precious. I've used cut-outs that students have done and overlaid on a background-worked beautifully for older students too. I like hearing about your partnership.