by Ashley Lodato
Education Director, Methow Arts Alliance
The third grade animal studies program at Virginia Grainger Elementary School uses Common Core standards to integrate biology, literacy, art, and geography.
Working with third grade teachers Patty Caryl, Nancy Bishop, 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, which they turn into a PowerPoint presentation.
Next, working with Twisp artist Bruce Morrison through Methow Arts’ Artist-in-Residence program, students learn the process of sculpting an armature out of wire, applying a papier mache shell over the armature, and then embellishing the hardened shell with paint, feathers, fur, and whiskers.
When the animals are complete, they are displayed in the school hallways.
Sullivan, who is a National Board Certified teacher, 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, Greg & Mary Hamilton, the Community Foundation of North Central Washington, and ArtsWA.