Saturday, October 18, 2008

Another Week – Another Painting

Two days ago I spent the afternoon with the students from the Montessori House of Children. This was the second of three classes. I began the workshop by singing my song “The Bricks of Love”

I always tell my students that if we are creating a painting we need to know something about the subject of the painting. Having the students simply relax so that they can enjoy the melody and lyrics of this song is one way to fill their heads with ideas about ‘our home’. To ensure that the students continue to think about ‘our home’ while they are not in the classroom, I hand out simple homework assignments. Here is one of the homework sheets with the student’s answers included:

My Home
Where I Live, Laugh and Learn
Homework Assignment #1A

I want you to think about what life would be like if you lived in a subdivision. Many people think that subdivisions are bad for the environment because a car is needed for almost all activities and cars create too much pollution. Other people may see subdivisions as a good thing because people are employed to build them. Share your thoughts by answering the following questions:

1) Use one word to express a positive thought about subdivisions and explain.

In subdivisions there is more living space in the homes than in the main city.

2) Use one word to express a negative thought about subdivisions and explain.

In order for subdivisions to be built, trees have to be chopped down.

3) Explain one thing that you understand about subdivisions.

Families like to live in subdivisions because the backyards are spacious for children and pets to play in.

4) Explain one thing that you don’t understand about subdivisions.

I don’t understand why so many are being built.

5) Please share any additional thoughts that you have on this subject.

I would like to know we can build subdivisions to be more environmentally friendly.


I don’t want to create homework assignments that take up too much of the students time. I simply want to engage their minds to think about the subject of our painting in simple and uncomplicated ways. I want the students to collect their thoughts around the subject and to focus these thoughts in simple ways.

The rest of the class was filled with painting. The students had a great time and the painting is progressing very well. Next Thursday we will be completing this masterpiece! I’m very excited.

+ + + +

I spent yesterday afternoon with the grade 4/5 class at Victoria Elementary School. This was the final day of the workshop and the students completed ‘Earth & Sun’.

Some of you may be thinking that this painting looks the same as the last painting that I created with the grade 4 students at Kensal Park School, a couple of weeks ago – and you are correct.

The ‘Art For Earth’ workshop is being taught in three different schools. Each month a different subject is taught and a new painting is created. With each subject only one design is created and the class is repeated in each of the three schools. This means that each month three similar paintings are created. If you look closely at the Kensal Park painting ( ) and compare it to the Victoria School painting, you will notice slight variations in the design and colour layout. Although each of the three painting will be similar, I do try to ‘tweak’ the design and colours to make the next painting even better than the one previous.

Today’s class began with the student’s colouring contest. I created a fun homework sheet that allows each student to be uniquely creative. At the top of the sheet there are three different examples of how to draw ‘The Earth, Moon and Sun’ and the bottom portion of the sheet is blank. This is the student’s canvas.

During the recess break, the homeroom teacher and I taped all the student’s drawing on to the blackboard. When the class resumed we had the judging. That is always the hardest part. I begin by complimenting each and every drawing that was created. Each students likes it when I point to their drawing to make a positive comment. I told the students that, “I am sooooo very happy to be in a room with sooooo much creative talent!!! Each of these drawings is a true masterpiece and each one of you should be very proud of your artwork! When I look at these drawings I feel so very warm and happy inside.” Then I crossed the room and sat in a chair and continued, “But now, when I look at these drawings I feel sooo sad… Can anyone tell me why I feel soooo sad?” Immediately five hands were raised. I pointed to one student, “Can you tell my why I feel soooo sad?” and they answered, “Is it because you only have four T-shirts to give away because you want to give all of us a T-shirt?” I smile broadly and say, “You are perfectly correct – I only have four T-shirts to give away when I think that everyone should get one!”

I compliment all the drawings again and then I tell the students that I don’t want anyone feeling disappointed if they don’t get a T-shirt. “You should feel happy for your friends who do win a T-shirt”, and I ask the class to applaud each of the winners so that we can all share in this happy moment. The student’s are always very accepting of this and this makes me feel very happy!

So – here are the winning drawings from this week’s class:

I thought that I’d finish this blog entry with another poem created by these students. This poem has been created by using lines from each of the students – a compilation!

Planet Earth

P eace is what we need
L ove your planet
A nimals need forest to live in
N ot driving cars is good
E nergy comes from the sun
T ry to be kind

E verybody has feelings
A ir is what we breathe
R ecycle as much as you can
T reat the planet with respect
H ome to everyone

Just before I was about to leave, the homeroom teacher asked the class if there was anything that they would like to say to me. “Thank you, Jim” must have been heard throughout the school. “No!”, I said, “Thank you. It has been my pleasure to work with such an intelligent and thoughtful bunch. I am confident that you will all grow up and work together to make this world a better place.” The students cheered. “You do want to make this world better – don’t you?” They cheered again. “Do you want to stop global warming?” Cheers. “Do you want to clean our water?” Cheers. “Do you want to make sure that everyone in poorer countries has enough food to eat every day?” Screams of cheers!!! “Do you want to stop all war?” Hollering screams of cheers. “DO – YOU – WANT – PEACE – ON – EARTH????” Deafening roars of hollering screams of cheers!!!!!!!

Look out to all those who would harm our future… an army of light is being born!



Anonymous said...

It is sooo awesome what you are doing for the future of the planet. My ten year old daughter will be pleased to hear of the steps you are taking to make the planet a healthier place. I think one thing that would be a benefit in the case of subdivisions and all homes would be to landscape so that lawn mowers need not be used.

choose-the-path said...

Hi Jim, I met you last year at the Market and we had a nice talk, my daughters worked on the painting. I wonder where that painting is and where we can see these new ones please? Keep up the inspiring work, Celine gave me your blog url so I came to see it and am also looking forward to hearing you sing. Take care! Shirley