Art Teacher Travis Chatham asks his Friday afternoon class, “First grade, can anyone tell your classmate what two colors make orange?” “Red and yellow,” several students answer in unison.
As they finish up the first of their paint projects, self-portraits, Mr. Chatham reminds them how to put on their aprons, use their brush, carry their art (without bumping others) to the drying racks, and how to clean up, so the classroom is ready for the next class.
During remote learning last year, first graders did have an opportunity to make self-portraits, but art teachers spared parents from the messier of art mediums and stuck to construction paper for the self-portrait project. The art department loves being back in person because they know making a mess can foster curiosity, imagination and exploration. And it’s fun! ”It has been great to be back and watch kids light up with the joy of making a mess,” says Art Teacher Julie Zemel.
This week, fourth graders will be working with clay while kindergarten and first grade are working with paint, so there may be noticeable signs of creativity this week on their uniforms. While mess-making is sometimes seen as the work of the younger students, much can be gained from having all students - middle schoolers too - create their own beautiful messes. It allows for the opportunity to plan, explore and problem-solve, building self-confidence and self-esteem.