Tag Archives: kindergarten

Collaborating for Deeper Understanding in the Classroom Lab

Read more about the Kindergarten/2nd Grade Shapes and Boat Residency here.


Artist Educator, Dina Hoeynck, guiding the build phase of the design process with an Orchard kindergartener.

My favorite part of this residency was being able to work in small groups with students and empowering them to use real tools to build from an authentic boat plan.  In most residencies there is only one artist-educator leading the class, so you have to come up with broader activities that engage a classroom of 25-30 students.  However, with this residency for Orchard STEM School’s kindergarten and 2nd graders, I had the opportunity to collaborate and co-instruct with another PAA artist-educator, Dina Hoeynck.  Having a team of two artist-educators allowed us to delve into areas of instruction with younger children that require a more contained learning environment.  Because of this, we were able to work one-on-one with students and transform the classroom into a lab for creating and experimenting. We introduced students to the proper use of tools throughout the various steps of the lab’s design process.  Students were able to develop focused work practices and proper safety procedures.  Through this collaborative work, we saw students gain a new skill set and exercise and refine their  fine motor skills.  The result: Students used their new skills to help measure and cut one-dimensional plastic boards into multiple shapes for the construction of the boat and demonstrated a deeper understanding of how to create a three-dimensional object.


Reading boat plans with students.


Measuring and cutting the coroplast (corrugated plastic) for our boat.



Dina and student Preston assembling boat during the final stage of the design process.


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A Residency of Firsts

This residency had so many firsts for me as an artist-educator. It was my first time teaching a mixed grade level residency, combining Kindergarten and 2nd grade classrooms. It was my first time co-teaching with another artist-educator. And perhaps most significantly, it was my first time learning how to build a boat. Overall, it was a great experience, and I definitely could not have done even half of what we did without the creativity and hard work of my co-instructor, Ainsley Buckner.

We started the project by having students experiment with boats and determine what shape sail would work the best. This reinforced their knowledge of shapes while giving them a real-world context for that knowledge (plus, they got to play with toy boats in a tub of water, which they absolutely loved).


Experimenting with fan-powered model sailboats.

Students learned a great deal about the cultural history of boats during this residency. We looked at Viking long ships, European tall ships, and First Nations canoes for inspiration on how to decorate our boats to reflect our values and culture. Students drew tiles to adhere to the sides of the boats that illustrated their individual interests, and later created letters using geometric shapes and primary colors to spell out the words “Orchard Stem School” on the boats’ sails. They also used cut paper in primary colors to collage double-sided signal flags, demonstrating their mastery of the art concept of symmetry.


Ainsley demonstrates how to decorate the letters using geometric shapes and primary colors.

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Bringing the Seasons Together with Ebooks and Images

Read about the start of this project here.

Malik enjoying his Fall Background!

Malik enjoying his Fall Background!

The green screen residency at Orchard STEM finished up beautifully, with each kindergartener typing and creating their own ebooks about the seasons as displayed in their green screen photos (as seen above). The students typed sentences about each specific season’s weather, such as “Winter is very cold.” The ebooks served as a challenge to the kindergarteners, as very few of them had typed with an iPad before. I also noticed that several of them were confused by the iPad’s font and capitol letters, and those students subsequently had more trouble with the spelling than those who had used iPads or Apple technology more frequently. We were very lucky to have 8th graders come down and assist each team individually with the intricacies of spelling and grammar during the final session.

As this was my very first in- school residency as the instructor as apposed to the assistant, I was nervous to complete the project on time! The addition of a fire drill on the second to last session was a bit nerve-wracking, but the students were exceptionally eager to learn about and create their ebooks using their own images, and the results displayed the focus they gave to this project.


An 8th grader assisting several students with completing their ebooks

I could not have completed this residency without assistance from Stephen Phillips, who saw the project through to the end with myself and the kindergarteners. Also, many thanks to the PAA office for printing all of the images and ebooks for the class. These kindergarteners are bright and thoughtful, and I have learned so much about teaching from them. When I first started the residency, the students had not yet learned their seasons. It was an amazing thing to have students coming up to me in snow boots towards the end of my residency, telling me how it was really winter outside because of the cold and the snow! Orchard STEM School has recently won a grant for each student to receive an iPad, and I am looking forward to seeing how the kindergarteners use this technology in the classroom beyond this project.

Assisting a student with his Ebook.

Assisting a student with his ebook.

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