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917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
(415) 457-4878
yia@youthinarts.org

Laurel Dell Celebrates Artists and Architects

Why do the arts matter? Look no further than Laurel Dell School.

Principal Pepe Gonzalez and Administrative Assistant Anabella Reyes

The San Rafael elementary school recently celebrated its reopening with a joyful ribbon-cutting ceremony that drew dozens of students, staff and members of the community. Youth in Arts was there to celebrate its Architects in Schools program and to showcase the amazing work made during residencies last Fall while the school was being rebuilt.

Youth in Arts’ Visual Arts Director Suzanne Joyal presented Principal Pepe Gonzalez with the this year’s Pamela Levine award for his outstanding support of arts education. It was evident how much he is loved by the thick book Suzanne made that was filled with hundreds of cards and drawings from students, teachers and specialists. There were so many cards from well wishers that the book couldn’t hold them all.

Although Suzanne has never seen Pepe draw a picture, dance or sing, she considers him a kindred spirit who thinks like an artist.

“He enjoys the success that comes from solving problems as much as I do,” she said. “Mr. Gonzalez understand that the arts are about so much more than the pretty object we draw. The arts offer students a safe space to explore their world, to stand up to speak out and to believe in themselves.”

The day included visits to a special exhibition of work made with Youth in Arts’ architects Shirl Buss and Janine Lovejoy Wilford, and Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman. Visitors were encouraged to look closely at how Youth in Arts teaches a sequential program in which skills are built upon from one year to the next. The lines and curves in a kindergarteners’ self portraits, for example, leads to a third graders’ colorful model of what Fourth Street in San Rafael could look like. That model gives fifth graders the skills they need to design spaces for the city’s future library.

Pairs of students from each class served as docents, giving tours, answering questions and explaining their work. Practicing speaking in public supports one of Youth in Arts’ goals: that students reflect upon making art and can speak confidently about their work. Third graders who worked with Shirl (creative director at UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN) will present their design and policy proposals for downtown San Rafael the city’s 2040 general plan steering committee on March 11.

The daylong celebration ended with a Family Art Night with Youth in Arts. Children in after school care, as well as families and friends, stopped by to make tiny bridges for crossing the canal. It required them to find a place where they thought a bridge was needed, then to measure the spot to make sure the bridge was long enough. They used buttons, embroidery hoops, clay, bumpy paper and wood scraps to bring their models to life.

Family Art Nights are a great way to involve families in the art their children are making and are usually a part of all Youth in Arts’
Artists in Schools residencies. For more information about art nights and Youth in Arts’ residencies, please contact Program Director Kelsey Rieger at (415) 457-4878 ext 110.

Kindergarteners Build Playgrounds of the Future

What do we need to play? How can we make it? How can we work together? Kindergarteners at Laurel Dell Elementary School in San Rafael spent a wonderful day building imaginary playgrounds.

Using large pieces of black foam core board at each table, students applied skills they had previously learned about shaping paper. Twisting long strips around pencils made spirals; making feet with folds allowed them to make swings. Folding accordion style made the stairs they needed to climb to a slide.

 

The young artists also explored pattern but using paper with patterns and creating their own patterns on plain paper with pastels. Working with Youth in Arts Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman, we talked about other patterns we saw in the classroom and what connections we could make. How could we work together? How could we connect our ideas to make one playground?

The project offered rich opportunities for Social Emotional Learning through collaboration and sharing. When one little boy wanted shiny paper, several of his classmates offered him some. In another class, a student happily translated the instructions for her table mate, an English Language Learner. Teacher Alejandra Vazquez helped students connect the project to their real world experience by pointing to the blacktop outside their temporary classroom. If you could design the playground of your dreams, she asked, what would it look like? If you needed shade from the hot sun, how would you find it?

At Youth in Arts, we work hard to scaffold projects, building each week on skills learned earlier in the residency. The project was the second time students created playgrounds. Two weeks earlier. they made smaller, individual playgrounds; the following week they drew their own and a friend’s playground on paper,  figuring out how they could connect them.

At the end of class, students went on a gallery walk with their hands behind their back to look at each other’s art. We had a rich discussion about similarities we saw in color, shape and line and all the ways we can make connections.

The program is part of the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Fund created by Youth in Arts and the Rezaian family and generously supported by the Rezaians. It celebrates Walker’s life and love of the arts and is built around friendship and social emotional learning. How do we make and keep friends? What happens if we both want to build a slide in the same place? It gives children a chance to explore those and other questions in a safe, artistic place.

 

 

 

Kindergarteners and First Graders Play With Clay

For our final project at Laurel Dell Elementary School, kindergarteners and first graders played with clay. Working with Sculpey builds strong fine motor skills, since the hard clay has to be softened by warm hands. Students used a maquette, a small model made of pipe cleaners as a structure, then built their clay creatures around it. We then tested beads for size, choosing the ones that fit to slide onto arms and legs. It was a challenge to squeeze the clay tightly around the form. Many students got quite creative with their people! We baked the clay to make it hard and more permanent.CAClogo_stackedRGB

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Kindergarteners and First Graders Make Self Portraits

What do we look like? What do you see? These are some of the questions that kindergarteners and first graders pondered at Laurel Dell Elementary School.

Looking into mirrors, we touched our faces. Where are our eyes, noses and ears? What color is our skin? How do we show emotion with our expressions? Students started with a sketch, encouraged to draw themselves big enough to use the whole page. We drew faces, necks and the tops of shoulders. Once the sketches were done, students copied their best lines in Sharpie markers. At the following class, we added watercolor. It was important to know when to stop and how to use watercolors carefully so we didn’t make mud! Kindergarteners then decorated cardboard frames, using black and white pastels. First graders used white pencils on black frames. We told a story in the pictures and words we used. The results were wonderful. The portraits will be part of a spring show at the YIA gallery. Stay tuned!

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Art Encourages New Readers at Laurel Dell

Families of kindergarten and first grade students joined together for an evening of literacy fun! Teachers Alejandra Vazquez and Krista Wallinger worked with reading specialist Maggie Stevens to share tools for new readers with students and their families. Participants received books to take home, and grown-ups practiced techniques for encouraging new readers.

Youth in Arts’ own Suzanne Joyal and Cathy Bowman (who is teaching the Walker Rezaian Creative Hearts Program with these students) designed a very special book for each child to make and utilize at home. It features the first letters that students learn, and each page is made from an envelope. Students drew a letter on each page, illustrated that page with words and pictures that start with the letter, then scrambled around the room searching for words that would go in each envelope.

Instructions in the book encourage parents to help their children find more words to add to the envelope pages, and then to take the words out to practice reading and writing. Since the binding of the book is just two holes, a rubber band and a popsicle stick, parents and students can continue to add pages as new letters are added to their word wall!

We are also working on refining the Letter Dance: combining sounds and shapes and movements which we can choreograph with words–stay tuned…

Thank you to our supporters~

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Daisy Come Home: First Grade Storytelling with Laurel Dell First Graders

Students practiced sequencing (before and after), and also reflected on all of our recent work with observational drawing, imaginative monster drawing, horizon lines, landscapes, and color mixing as they worked in teams of 2 or 3 to imagine the adventure a horse might have in Daisy Come Home. We put all of the images together in a book for the classroom, and now they can practice writing to add words to their part of the story. These students participated in the Walker Rezaian Creative Hearts project last year, and we are able to build on all of their prior knowledge.

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Admiring Finished Paintings

Daisy Come Home, By Ms. Nunez’ first graders and Suzanne Joyal (A mostly true story).

A long time ago, before there were cars and lights and motors, my great-grandparents Josie and Buggy lived with their horse Daisy on a farm near the ocean. Every day when the weather was good, Buggie would load his tools onto his wagon, harness Daisy to the front, and ride to the dock at the edge of the ocean. He would load his tools onto his rowboat. Before he got in his boat to row to an island, he would pat Daisy on the rump, and say “Daisy Go Home!”

And every day, Daisy would go straight home to Josie. At the end of the day, Josie would pat Daisy on the rump again, and send her back to the dock to bring Buggie home.

Until the day she didn’t come straight home, and went on an adventure all by herself! No one knows what she did. Where would YOU go if you were Daisy?

Following are a few of the imaginings of Ms. Nunez’ students. Daisy changed colors, went to the mountains, ate some apples and blueberries, made some friends, walked through a snow storm, went to Chuckie Cheese’s, got lost in a rainforest, and even met some dinosaurs!

Thank you for your support, California Arts Council!

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Celebrating with Laurel Dell

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Celebrating Laurel Dell young artists at Youth in Arts

 

On Thursday, April 27, Laurel Dell teachers, students, staff and families came together at Youth in Arts to celebrate artwork on exhibit created by Laurel Dell kindergarteners in the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Kindergarten Art Program.

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Parents and kids create art together through the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts program

 

Created by Youth in Arts and Walker’s family to celebrate Walker’s life and love for the arts, the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Kindergarten Arts Program combines visual arts classes led by professional artist and educators with “Family Art Nights” that bring the school community together.

We learn to be artists and to be great friends!

We learn to be artists and to be great friends!

 

All Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts activities center on a theme of friendship–this is both a celebration of Walker, who was gregarious and loved making new friends, and a perfect developmental link for kindergarteners who are learning to be a part of a school community.

Celebrating student artists creates a sense of pride and gives children a voice

Celebrating student artists creates a sense of pride and gives children a voice

 

The culmination of the project is the annual “Imagining Friendship” gallery exhibit of student work on view at YIA Gallery in downtown San Rafael through May.

Children learn observational drawing skills and other art techniques

The exhibit includes hands-on activities for all ages

 

The exhibit also includes work from kindergarteners at Venetia Valley, who will celebrate together this week on May 4, and hands-on art activities for visitors. We are open to the public weekdays 11-4, as well as this weekend May 6-7 from noon to 4 pm for Marin Open Studios and on Friday, May 12 from 5 to 8 pm for 2nd Fridays Art Walk Downtown.

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The box house is fun to explore!

 

Colorful self-portraits created by the students are displayed alongside artist-created cardboard play spaces that show children you can create “something from nothing”.

A beautiful gift from Laurel Dell for Naomi Tamura and the Creative HeArts Fund

A beautiful gift from Laurel Dell for Naomi Tamura and the Creative HeArts Fund

 

Laurel Dell staff, teachers and families created a beautiful tote for Naomi Tamura and Ali Rezaian who started the Creative HeArts Fund to honor their son, Walker, and who helped Youth in Arts design the program to have a lasting impact on children. Naomi has since also become Youth in Arts Board President, leading the organization in reaching more Marin children with our creative programs.

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The party atmosphere included food provided by the school for all the kindergarten families attending.

 

To learn more about Creative HeArts, check out our video below. For more about the gallery exhibit, click here. To donate to support this opportunity for young artists, visit our online donation page.

 

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Youth in Arts thanks the Creative HeArts Fund and the Tamura and Rezaian families for their ongoing support for this program.

This activity is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency.

Kindergarteners Explore Shapes and Textures

In our second week at Laurel Dell Elementary, working with TK and Kindergarten classes through the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Kindergarten Arts Program,  we explored shapes and textures as we created beautiful wall hangings using contact paper, construction paper, lots of different shapes and textures, and magic gold!

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Magic Gold makes the shapes and drawings come alive.

Kindergarteners are learning about comparisons, shapes and textures.

Kindergarteners are learning about comparisons, shapes and textures.

The project was inspired by work that was already happening in the classroom.

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Youth in Arts thanks the Creative HeArts Fund and the Tamura and Rezaian families for their ongoing support for this program.

This activity is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency.

Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Kindergarten Arts

Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Kindergarten Arts

WRLogoForBLOGVisual Arts Learning, Celebration and Friendship for Marin Kindergarteners and their Families

At Youth in Arts, our goal is to build creativity, confidence and compassion in all learners, and we do that with impactful and exciting projects like The Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts program. Designed as a visual arts residency for kindergarten and first grade students, it builds fine motor, literacy and social emotional skills while giving children the chance to explore a variety of tools and materials. More importantly, children learn how to make and keep friends when they explore ideas like sharing and empathy. 

The program was created in 2013 by Youth in Arts and the Rezaian family to celebrate their son Walker’s life and his love for the arts. Walker also knew how to be a good friend. The Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts program builds important social emotional skills through innovative art lessons. Each class begins with a movement warmup and ends with reflection time so students can practice observing and discussing what they see: they learn how to show us and tell us more about themselves through their pictures.

In her first year teaching the program at Loma Verde, Suzanne Joyal described the process as joyful: “I was delighted by how willing the children were to take a risk and to express themselves in their own way. After lessons, teachers would sometimes express that a child was having difficulty and the only way they could share their emotions was through the artistic process. I couldn’t tell which child it was since they all responded so positively to the art.”

Studies have shown this program helps children succeed academically as they continue to the next grade. We love working with students who have completed the program as it provides an important foundation for Youth in Arts residencies in older grades.

The 12-week residency also includes professional development workshops for teachers, a family art night, a gallery exhibition of student art and a community event celebrating  the young artists.

See our blog for stories and photos from past recipient schools!

Walker Rezaian

Walker Rezaian

  • 3+ months of visual arts residencies in kindergarten classrooms  (length of program depends on number of classrooms)
  • Teacher Professional Development Workshop in Visual Arts Exploration
  • Parent Arts Partner Training Workshop
  • Art Exhibit with interactive Community Open House at YIA’s Gallery in Downtown San Rafael

See our blog for stories and photos from past recipient schools!

Loma Verde Elementary (2013-14)
Bahia Vista Elementary (2014-15)
Venetia Valley Elementary (2016-17)
Laurel Dell & Short Elementary (2015-20)

Support Kindergarten Arts through the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Program: DONATE NOW and mark your gift is In Honor of Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts.

Kindergarteners Celebrate their Art in the YIA Gallery

 

WalkerHeaderMs. Vazquez’ kindergarteners walked to Youth in Arts today to admire their very own artworks featured in the Walker Rezaian Creative Hearts Fund/Laurel Dell Gallery exhibit. They looked closely at their work and that of their friends’. Working with Jen Daly, groups of students played in the cardboard weather world: the Sun House with bright yellow spots and a rainbow gate, the Rain House with grey clouds, rainsticks and noisemakers, and the Cloud House with its soft squishy floor and whitish sky. They paddled together in the cardboard canoe, and even made leaves for the Seasons Tree.

Students also practiced what we shared at the Family Art Nights and began their very own Guatemalan-styled kite. Working with Suzanne Joyal, Naomi Tamura, Ms. Vazquez, and some very helpful parents, students also made the parts of their very own class Kite, to be flown at Fiesta de Sol in June. Working with mirrors, Sharpies, colored pencils, and oil pastels, students created self portrait diamonds which will be glued together into one beautiful kite.

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Family art night: Families working together to sew their kite.

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Miko Lee demonstrating how to sew to families

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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