Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Welcome to the Rainforest: My Artist in Residence Experience

I still can't believe my students created this amazing environment and space! Do you have a space in your school that is "SCREAMING" help me I need some color, life, and fun!!!?!?! If so, have you ever thought of hosting an artist in residence program? It is a great opportunity to be inspired not only as a teacher but as a creative artistic person AND it is a great opportunity to get your students working collaboratively with a professional artist. My school has this amazing Greenhouse space but it was not used much and it was totally lacking LIFE! My entire school community collected a TON of recycled materials and we then had students organize the materials by material (newspaper, cardboard, egg cartons, paper towel rolls, etc.). We had students sketch, plan and research the rainforest. 6th grade students were in charge of creating the large animals, 5th grade students worked on various plants and flowers,insects, and birds. 4th grade students create trees, 3rd grade students created lizards, rodents, and turtles, 2nd grade students worked on snakes and bananas, 1st grade created leaves for the trees, flowers, frogs and piranhas, and finally kindergarten worked on butterflies, caterpillars, leaves, and insects. Various students did finger weaving for vines, everyone contributed to the mural of rainforest flowers, and everyone helped install the pieces into the space. 
This is the banana tree it is my favorite!
Hello Toucan bird and Cassowary!
This is our beautiful waterfall we created using transparent rolls of blue plastic paper. Our amazing jaguar that the 6th grade students created. This is such a beauty!This radiator was rusty and brown! We decided to add the beautiful native flowers that grow in the rainforest to add some color and beauty to the yucky old radiator! Our chimpanzee which was originally supposed to be a lemur but we had some change of plans.Our alligator!!! I just can't believe how awesome this turned out. Can you guess which recycled materials were use to create this bad guy!?The wonderful thing about this residency was the collaboration. We had so much supplies to choose from to create that the budget for supplies was mostly spent on paint. It left a great deal of options for students and was inexpensive. The entire school community got involved by donating the materials. Students grades K-6 all worked on the entire space and the pieces. Some started, others added, and more finished each piece. Pieces were added on throughout the grade levels and each piece transformed daily. The end result is remarkable and I invite the school to use the space, not only to grow plants or do science experiments but to come in and read, do a writing assignment, complete a lesson in the colorful environment, be inspired by the animals or do a math lesson based on the angles of the tree limbs! The integration with this installation is endless and it's an experience my students say "They will never forget!"

There are many grant opportunities within local arts councils in your community. Also ask for support from your PTO or PTA. If it was not for my amazing PTO, this project would not have been possible. They funded half of this residency and a grant was given to the program though a local arts council to complete the other half of the expenses.
Here is a link to the article my district website has published online

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