I think I’ve mentioned it on the blog before, but one of the things I love most about being an art teacher is that I don’t always have to be just an art teacher. This week, for example, I was far more of a world geography teacher, and temporarily speaking, I enjoyed that role just fine.
I hope you don’t find this creepy, but I have a much better idea of where many of your parents (and my student’s grandparents) live now. After visualizing the 7 continents on our 3D globe and 2D wall map, I took a poll of where folks’ grandparents lived. Students were able to tell me whether or not they needed a passport to visit them based on if they lived inside or outside of the United States. Our conversation went a little something like this:
“Do you need a passport to visit your grandparents in Baltimore? Nah. Pennsylvania? Not even. California? Nope. Are you sure? It’s so far away? No, Ms. Bomba. It’s still in our country. Somalia? Now we’re talking! Alaska? No, even though Canada separates it from the rest of the lower 48. Taiwan? Passport needed! Switzerland? Pack it! Colombia? Si, Senora!” Maury is one diverse place. I’m a bit jealous of some of the trips my students get to take around the world to visit their families. Northern Virginia is about as exotic as it got for me as a kid.
In order to get a further grasp on the diversity of our planet, we watched a festive video about a guy named Matt who travels the world learning the dances of different cultures. We all really got into the sights and sounds of Matt’s journey and brainstormed a list of what we already know about people from other cultures and countries, and what we wanted to learn more about. We practiced showing respect for those who are different from us and politely asking questions in order to learn more, instead of just assuming things based on appearances. Check it out for yourself here and please ignore the silly title of the video. Rest assured that students were not able to see the title while I played the video.
Next it was on to passport construction. In prepping students for our “journey,” I may have broken a few hearts at the same time. Your kids may come home telling you that I am taking them on a trip around the world. I’ve tried my best to clarify that we are only taking a metaphorical trip together through the art world, but some still think an airplane is flying us South of the border come Monday. Even if we stay put in the art studio, we still need a passport of our own to mark our journey.
Maybe I’m not such a great world geography teacher after all, because much of Central America, which is technically North America, will be explored during our Latin American/South American journey. For example, early childhood has already begun learning all about one exciting craft tradition from Oaxaca, Mexico. They are creating Alebrijes! Alebrijes are fantastical creatures that morph various different animals into one. Originating from a feverish dream of artist Pedro Linares, these surreal creatures are fun for anyone with an imagination to create. Although traditionally, alebrijes are carved from the soft wood of the Copal tree, we are expressing ourselves with malleable clay. Below are a few traditional examples of the local Oaxacan art form.
Here’s a quick glance at what your Maury artist will be exploring during our Latin American unit of study:
Early childhood: Oaxacan Alebrijes from Mexico
1st Grade: Guatemalan Worry Dolls
2nd Grade: Panamanian Molas from the Kuna people
3rd Grade: Huichol Yarn Paintings from Mexico
4th/5th Grade: Jose Posada inspired lino cuts
Stay tuned and feel free to volunteer or contact me if you happen to be an expert in any of the above art traditions.