Art in the Context of Learning

Creating abstract expressionist art.

The latter half of the third term has been rich with opportunities to learn and explore through the arts. Artistic expression – whether visual, literary, musical or dramatic – is a key way by which to engage the active imaginations of elementary-age children, and is an effective tool for integrating knowledge and skills from different subject areas.

Sharing a beautiful wall-hanging from Zimbabwe.

Our Cultural study of the continent of Africa has revolved around the vast continent’s rich artistic and cultural tapestry. Students explored and applied concepts of lateral and radial symmetry to create shields inspired by those of the Maasai people of Kenya, the Zulus as well as the people of Sudan. Inspired by the beautiful wall hanging from Zimbabwe that was graciously brought in by Seane’s family, we are now exploring the patterns, origins, materials and methods of African textile weaving and printing.

Visual representation and the use of symbols and imagery to communicate have been significant in our African studies. It was a delight to have children noticing independently that shields figured prominently on some African countries’ flags, and this prompted discussions on the significance of tribal heritage to various African nations. Students are currently working on persuasive posters that express the urgency of protecting endangered African animals, using impactful visual images and powerful statements supported by facts and research, and are visualizing and creating biome backdrops for various African animals.

Exploring the artwork of Bendel Hydes.

Responses to art, images and media have also been areas of focus throughout this third term. Both Lower Elementary classes had the pleasure of visiting the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands.

Creating abstract masterpieces.

The Students deeply enjoyed the experience of viewing, interpreting and responding to the abstract works of Caymanian artist Bendel Hydes. The children immersed themselves into the creative process, creating their own abstract expressionist masterpieces focused on communicating an emotion or memory. Later on in the week, the Lower Elementary classes exchanged classrooms to view and share responses to the displayed, vibrant artwork from the trip.

Bendel Hydes shares his response to a student’s artwork.

We were very fortunate to have been invited by the Gallery to return for an evening event graced by the presence of the artist himself. Several children and their families attended this special evening meeting, and the children had the very special chance to share their artwork with the one whose works inspired them! Mr. Hydes was generous in his attention to each child, and took the time to sign every child’s artwork. The children have come away from this trip and experience with a far richer understanding of the value of art in the local community. We thank Mme. Paschalides of the National Gallery for extending the invitation to MBTS to attend this event, and also thank all of the families who took the time and made the effort to attend.

This term also brought the challenge of performing choral speech pieces in the National Children’s Festival of the Arts (NCFA). Grade 1 students performed “Deaf Donald” by Shel Silverstein, Grade 2 students performed “I’m Absolutely Full Tonight” by Ken Nesbitt, and Grade 3 students performed “Waffles Give Me Sniffles” by Jack Prelutsky. Not only did this opportunity for group performance cultivate discipline, teamwork, public speaking skills and dramatic expression, but also opened doorways to learning about various forms of poetry, poetic elements such as rhyme and meter, and descriptive, evocative writing. Students relished using their keen senses and their knowledge of syllabication to craft descriptive haikus about the seaside and enjoyed applying their grammatical knowledge to create acrostic poems about their favourite nouns.

Responding to the artwork of the LED classroom.

Through the creative and experiential nature of art, the children are able to make strong connections to what they are learning. Art is powerfully connective and naturally integrative, and is a seamless and joyful way to weave academic disciplines and critical life skills into our daily life at school.


REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW The third term, while abundant with integrative Cultural content such as our Africa studies, also offers the entire class the opportunity to thoroughly review learned concepts and skills. As a class, we are making an effort to focus on practicing essential skills and lessons, revisiting concepts, and completing unfinished work. As such, the third term’s themes focus heavily on review topics. CLICK HERE for the third-term review guide.

VISIT OUR GALLERY The artwork from our field trip to the National Gallery is proudly displayed along the walls of the front stairwell in the LEU classroom. The work will be displayed for a few more days, so please visit the LEU classroom before or after school to view the artwork collectively. Come and enjoy the children’s vibrant art!

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