Coyotes and Koalas and Cheetahs, Oh My!

Spring 2014

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In search of a snow leopard?

The third grade animal studies program at Virginia Grainger Elementary School uses Common Core standards to integrate biology, literacy, art, and geography.

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Researching adaptations, heredity, traits, and ecosystems

Working with third grade teachers Patty Caryl, Nicole Kuchenbuch, and Amy Sullivan, students begin the process by selecting an animal and using the internet and various texts to research interesting facts about their animal. Next, they create a color-differentiated pictorial of their animal that contains a sketch with labels with information they have researched about the animal’s classification, diet, habitat, physical adaptations, and behavioral adaptations. They then move through the process of pre-writing, drafting, revising/editing, and publishing a research paper.

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Classroom menagerie

Next, working with Riverside artist Jody Olson through Methow Arts’ Artist-in-Residence program, students sketch and color a 2-dimensional visual representation of their animal, using pictures from their research materials. They then learn the process of sculpting an armature out of clay, applying a papier mache shell over the armature, and then embellishing the hardened shell with paint, feathers, fur, and whiskers.

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Biomes of the World

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Third grade teacher Amy Sullivan

When papers are written and masks are complete, all are displayed on a hallway bulletin board featuring “The Biomes of the World,” with the animal masks corresponding to the continents to which the animals are native.

Sullivan, who is a National Board Certified teacher in her fifteenth year of teaching, says “We want to maximize our students’ opportunities to integrate art with other subjects and we look at this project as a model of such integration.” Caryl adds, “Our students learned that they can do things that are a challenge and finish a project with a wonderful something they are proud of.”

One student said simply, “I knew that I love animals and art, but I never knew I loved them this much.”


Methow Arts Alliance’s Artist-in-Residence program serves 5200 students in the Brewster, Bridgeport, Methow Valley, Okanogan, Omak, and Pateros School Districts as well as the Paschal Sherman Indian School on the Colville Reservation. The residency in Okanogan was supported by Okanogan Kiwanis, Okanogan-Omak Rotary, Hamilton Farm Equipment, the Community Foundation of North Central Washington, and ArtsWA.


Contact: Methow Arts Alliance, ArtsEducation@MethowArtsAlliance.org or 509.997.4004