Students in levels 1 through 4 have a 50-minute art class each week. Students use a variety of media and techniques. The art teachers, save many pieces of student work for display around the school building, for the annual Spring Exhibit which is held in April, and for an annual exhibit at the municipal building.
The art curriculum at levels 1-4 features a sequence of objectives that facilitates the development of perceiving, responding, creating and understanding behaviors in elementary age children. Further, the curriculum seeks to establish a repertoire of developing skills in drawing, painting, constructing, modeling/carving and using textiles as artistic expressions. The following are some illustrations of the various behaviors and skills and examples of ways they are developed as children progress through the elementary art curriculum.
Perceiving - at a very basic level this means that first level youngsters begin to be able to identify tactile textures, name basic and secondary colors or identify a 3-D art form. By fourth level perceiving skills are advanced sufficiently that students might create a weaving that emphasizes various textures, mix shades and tints of monochromatic color, or build a model using wire and clay. Responding - in the earliest grade levels might be exemplified when students act out or illustrate various emotions. At the upper grade levels they might create a mask or collage to express a certain emotion, or compose a group mural with a specific emotion as its theme.
Creating - begins in the primary grade levels with activities that increase fine motor skills and attempts to combine two or more materials to create a certain effect. By the end of their elementary experience students are expected to be more facile with the use of multiple media and be able to create an art work to answer a specific need.
Understanding - starting with an awareness of aspects of a work such as color, light and dark, texture or space, students progress at the upper grade levels to be able to identify and simulate the various artistic techniques employed in the works of various artists. In their skill development, students progress to increasingly sophisticated levels as they move through the art curriculum. Their drawings advance from simple depictions of basic shapes and forms to sketches from life (still life, models, etc.).
Painting techniques, which begin with lessons aimed at proper manipulation of tools and materials become sufficiently refined, that fourth level students are able to create compositions using watercolors or acrylics.
Constructing takes increasingly complex forms as students assemble materials such as cut paper, felt, and burlap to create two-dimensional and three-dimensional projects.
Students modeling and carving techniques - which begin at the early grades with the creation of a free standing three dimensional work- progress to the creation of sculptures which demonstrate their manipulations of materials by adding, subtracting, pinching, piercing and cutting.
Finally, working with textiles, begun in the early grades with simple stitchery projects, becomes an ability to create a simple cardboard loom and weave various fibers into cloth.
We are fortunate that our elementary art teachers - in addition to being skilled at presenting their curriculum and facilitating the development of students’ artistic skills - are eager to correlate art projects with classroom topics in the content areas.
Thus a constructing project at second level becomes the Conestoga wagons, which children create as they study the Pioneers, or a painting activity, which may be executed at fourth level, is a zoo mural in connection with the Zooconomy Unit. Such curriculum connections provide authentic means for students to utilize their content knowledge and also enhance their awareness of the interrelationship among their various areas of study.