• Feb. 2, 2018

    Partnership brings children’s imagination to life

    Rainbow monster When we were little, they lurked in the shadows…..living under our beds and in closets as we hid under the covers. Then Disney’s Monsters Inc. came along and our scary monsters of childhood lore had suddenly been transformed into cuddly, funny characters with big personalities. Somewhere in the middle, lie the new monsters of Upper St. Clair.

    In a unique partnership, members of the fourth grade art club at Streams Elementary teamed up with the 3-D Studio Art students at Upper St. Clair High School. Fourth graders used their wild imaginations to invent their very own monsters – including drawings of what they would look like and written descriptions about their unique characteristics. High school students were tasked with bringing the drawings to life with clay and mixed media materials.

    “At the elementary level, students have wonderful imaginations and creative ideas that are often lost as students move on to middle school. Once in middle school kids start to care about what others think and how they might be judged by classmates,” Erika Valentine, Upper St. Clair High School art teacher, said. “Those days of openly thinking outside of the box disappear in many kids. So by bringing the elementary and high school art programs together for a project, my hope is to allow the high school students to tap into that creative side and explore a part of them that they have forgotten about.”

    The fourth graders worked in small groups of three to four students to develop one monster, its name and specific characteristics. Some of the imaginative details included denim, patched overalls with one strap hanging down; big, pointy troll ears; round feet; spikes on the body; a rainbow-colored horn; pink, fuzzy fur; and the definite need for a disco ball and dance floor.

    “What makes this project so special is the ability to show our students how working as a team in groups can allow for even more imaginative ideas that could not have been created by one mind alone,” Angela Stevenson, Stream Elementary art teacher, said. “This project shows how good problem solving, planning and solid foundation can create a finished product for someone to follow. Not only are the drawings and sculptures cool pieces on their own, but without the solid foundation they could have never been able to create the sculptures in the first place.”

    Ms. Valentine and her high school art students visited Steams Elementary on Monday, Jan. 26 to deliver the 3-D monsters to their fourth grade “owners.”

    The fourth grade team of Isabella Donnelly, Eden Elkoni and MaryEllen Kobeski attribute much of the inspiration for their monster design to trolls. Their monster was green, with pointy ears, one eye, only a little bit of hair and was clad in denim overalls.

    “We wanted something scary but a little bit cute at the same time so that’s where we got the overalls,” Isabella said.

    According to Isabella, Eden and MaryEllen, the high school artists did a great job creating the 3D model and they enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with the older students.

    “We usually only get to work with other fourth graders,” Eden said. “It was cool to actually work with other people outside the school, and kids that are older than us.”

    The art partnership between Upper St. Clair High School and Streams Elementary positively impacted students at both the elementary and high school level.

    “Our high school students benefit from the free and open imaginations of our fourth graders, and our fourth graders witness how their creativity can inspire others, which offers our students who might not feel they shine in other classroom studies the ability to gain that self esteem and belief in themselves,” Mrs. Stevenson said. “They were beside themselves when they knew their artwork was ‘good enough’ for a high school student to take the time to create it in a 3D representation.”