Brewster 5th Graders Paint Pictures with Words

Arts Education Spotlight

Each winter, Brewster 5th graders participate in a 5-week poetry residency, working with Methow Arts teaching poet Kelleigh McMillan. Students become familiar with “painting pictures with words” and with relating their emotions to the natural world. Each week they experiment with a different poetic concept: simile, metaphor, free verse, stanza, etc. Students write poems about their bedrooms, about particular months, about the seasons, and about favorite colors.

“Pink feels like bubble gum in my mouth,” writes one student.

“Red feels like prickly dots,” writes another.

As students explore expressing emotions through poetry, they craft lines like “I know there is a rainbow somewhere in my head” and “I am half of 20 butterflies, fluttering in my stomach as I grow older.”

Some use poetry as a means of expressing sadness, anger, or frustration. Others write poems of love and hope. The final project involves writing a poem collaboratively, based on US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s poet laureate project, La Casa de Colores.

Says Herrera, “this is a house for all voices, [where we] will feed the hearth and heart of our communities with creativity and imagination.” By writing collaboratively, students become a part of each other’s creative families, sharing the challenge and joy of creative expression.

After the poetry is complete, students work with artist Bruce Morrison to draw pictures of their poems using oil pastels, then cover their pictures with a watercolor wash–a “resist” technique, where the oil pastels are impervious to the watercolors and thus “resist” absorbing the watercolors, creating interesting texture and color. The poems are collected and put into small books, and a copy of each book is given to each classroom, with the artwork used as covers.

Season Poem

by Rubi Serrano

Winter lives high in the gray clouds in the sky.

Winter wears snow pants and coats and earwarmers.

Winter remembers the time you fell off your sled.

Winter dreams about having fun with you.

Winter moves like a graceful dancer.

Winter is the color of a brand new white shoe.

Winter’s friend is fall because they both have cold weather.

Winter is fun because snowmen and snow angels are possible.



This residency was created by Methow Arts Alliance and is sponsored by the Community Foundation of North Central WAWebster Furniture, Confluence Health, the Brewster School District, the National Endowment for the Arts, and ArtsWA.

CONTACT: Methow Arts Alliance, 509.997.4004,