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San Rafael, California 94901
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Connecting through Dance

Mentor Artist Cynthia Pepper taught dance in Mimi Schalich’s Special Day class at Edna McGuire Elementary School. She brought fun, energetic music and tons of cool stuff to her classes.

“We prepared for our performance date by practicing using scarves respectfully, we danced on the dots in all sorts of ways, we did helicopter, we did hand holding dances, we created shapes, we hopped and moved our legs in new ways. We did stretching and sort of a yoga thing! Parents joined us on our final day, and danced with their children. My work with this population has been an experience that I will forever hold dear in my life.”

Family Art Night

Thursday night brought Laurel Dell families from every grade together for an inspired evening of creativity. Fourth and fifth graders began the evening by sharing their visions for their new school with their friends and family. Students worked with architects Shirl Buss and Rich Storek to practice design thinking strategies as they explored ideas and created solutions for their new school.

Kindergarteners showed friends and family just a little of what they have learned as they added creatures and people to their imaginary world. As recipients of the Walker Rezaian Creative Hearts grant, students in TK and K learned about strategies for being a good friend as they also discovered lines and shapes and colors and tools in their three-month visual arts residency with Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal.

We wish to make a special thank you to the Laurel Dell PTA, the Walker Rezaian Creative Hearts Fund, and the California Wellness Foundation for their generous contributions to the Arts at Laurel Dell Elementary School.


Award Winning Storyteller at Edna Maguire Elementary

The wonderfully bright and attentive students at Edna Maguire Elementary School welcomed Diane Ferlatte and Erik Peterson for two back-to-back African American Storytelling assemblies on March 10th.  The audience was immediately captivated by Diane’s strong, warm presence as she told stories and sang songs steeped in African-American history.  She touched on a variety of subjects including the Jim Crow Laws, Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, Claudette Colvin and the Civil Right Movement, and even included a wonderful folktale about mischievous, Brer Rabbit. Erik’s expert banjo and guitar playing, culled with Diane’s delightful character voices, truly brought the stories alive!  Many of Diane’s stories were told from the first person, which made them even more powerful.  Several of the adults in the audience were visibly moved listening to her sweet, heartbreaking tales.Diane & Erik on stage

The students were able to join in with all kinds of call and response, which kept the large audience of over 300 K–5th grade students engaged.  Diane was masterful in getting full participation from the entire audience, children and adults alike.  Thank you Diane and Erik for a fantastic morning!

Audience at Edna Maguire









Kindergarteners Make Portraits and Explore Emotions

Kindergarenters have spent weeks learning about lines and observational drawing, and now it’s time to show what we know. Students were given mirrors and asked to make faces: what does happy look like? Sad? Angry? Surprised? We then talked about our friends faces and what we can do to keep them smiling. Children had the opportunity to experiment with mirrors.

Next, we made emotions faces: four quick sketches showing our faces with different emotions. Students added color with their colored pencils. Regular practice has made them pros with color.

In our third week of portraits, we went big on beautiful heavy watercolor paper (thank you RileyStreet for making sure we have the best supplies). Once students had practiced drawing a big oval with just their finger on the paper, they were given pencils then sharpies. Don’t forget the details (hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, ears, etc).

And then comes color! In oil pastels then liquid watercolors. I’m glad to have the super strong watercolor paper.

And finally, tell me a story with your picture frame. What do you love? What have you learned? What do you want people to know about you?

You can see all of the beautiful Kindergarten Art in our Gallery at Youth in Arts April 14-May 26. Thank you Walker Rezaian Creative Hearts fund! WRLogo-Online200px-Red



Observational Drawing with Kindergarteners

As an art teacher, Observational Drawing has become my favorite project. I have dozens of plastic animals that I have painted black to help artists focus on the lines and textures more than the “creature”. Plastic animals are a familiar toy, they are safe and fun to draw. Students learn to look closely, and let their eye tell their hand what to draw. They practice drawing what they see, not what they remember. After several weeks practicing lines in 2D and 3D, that are ready to go.

One class of animals is just not enough, so in our second day with them, we considered habitats, both real and imaginary. Mostly imaginary. Using an old map of the area, we drew more animals, colored them and cut them out, then worked together to create a habitat where everyone can live together in peace and color.

Thank you Walker Rezaian Creative Hearts Fund! Your generosity brings learning to life for so many each year.WRLogo-Online200px-Red