Okanogan Fourth Graders Integrate Visual Arts, Biology, and Ecology

Winter 2013

Okanogan Students created block prints after learning local biology.

Okanogan Students created block prints after learning local biology.

Methow Arts: Arts Education Report

Fourth graders at Virginia Grainger Elementary School in Okanogan integrated biology and ecology with the traditional art of block printing in a Methow Arts Education Residency that took them from the banks of Salmon Creek to the classroom.

Working with Methow Valley biologists and environmental educators Rob and John Crandall—who are part of Watershed Watchers, a watershed education program hosted by the Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation—students learned about riparian monitoring, aquatic insects, salmon anatomy, riparian planting, riparian plant identification, and salmon life cycles. After an initial classroom session, students traveled to nearby Salmon Creek to plant some trees in the riparian zone as part of larger restoration efforts and then wrote essays about this experience.

Students then examined and sketched images of the birds, insects, fish, and mammals that reside in the local watershed. The final component of the residency included working with Methow Valley printmakers Laura Gunnip and Emily Post to design, carve, and create print using linoleum blocks and carving tools.

In addition to learning about riparian habitat and inhabitants, students developed manual dexterity and an understanding of the basic printmaking process. They explored the use of negative and positive space, developed a graphic image using texture and contrast, and learned to communicate a theme through images. They also increased their confidence with the tools and the vocabulary associated with carving and printmaking, as well as with the creation of art in general. In assessment, one student reported, “I can do anything that my brain tells me to do.”

This is the second year of the Okanogan blockprinting residency. Last year’s student prints were displayed at the Salmon Creek Coffee Company in Okanogan and at the former Main Street Bar and Grill in Omak, as well as at the Okanogan Days celebration and at the Okanogan County Fair — where they won a grand champion prize!


This residency was created by Methow Arts Alliance and sponsored by the Community Foundation of North Central WA, Hamilton Farm Equipment, Okanogan Kiwanis, Okanogan-Omak Rotary, Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation, the Okanogan School District, the National Endowment for the Arts, and ArtsWA.


CONTACT: Methow Arts Alliance, 509.997.4004, info@methowartsalliance.org