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Rancho Elementary School in Novato

Mentor Artist Sofie Siegmann reports on her residency with second graders at Rancho Elementary

Printmaking and Collage with three 2nd Grade Classes 

Students created a printing plate from paper to the theme of ‘house of loved pets.’ We discussed the many different possibilities of how a house or home could look: tree house, boat house, live in a refrigerator and have penguins as pets (and always food available), but regular houses are good, too. What pets do you have at home/what pets would you like to have? I can’t tell the difference in your art–you can, of course, make up anything you want. That is what art is all about! We make up things and imagine a world.

house 1        house2

Next session, students used frottage technique (frotter=to rub), layering crayons, experimenting with colors and papers. At the end, students looked at all their prints and chose their two best ones to take home. How do you make a choice? (Sometimes you just know, but in case you don’t, you could ask somebody, pick different ones/opposites, count them off, etc.)

texture        texture plates

The third time we met, students watched a short video about texture, which is one of the seven elements in art. They then went outside on a texture hunt, and indeed, there were many texture treasures to be found! Students were encouraged to layer their textures using a pencil sideways on one piece of paper. This created wonderful compositions. Inside the classroom, students created more textures using texture plates and crayons. They really created many wonderful papers; our idea then was to make it for wrapping presents and gifts – how much fun would it be to get a present wrapped in a home-made textured-wrapping-paper?!

Finally, it was time to put the frottage and textures all together in one collage. Four or five students worked together, creating a city, discussing ideas, including everybody from their group, finding compromises. Art is storytelling, but instead of words, we use images. The more ideas you have, the richer your collage will be.

c4        collage        c3

For the fifth time, students finished their collage using rotating stations. As they heard the sound of the bird, each group had to move to the next station, exploring different techniques and materials. We then looked at all the collages and applauded all the hard work that went into making the collages whimsical and wonderful, a little bit chaotic, but lots of fun, too.

c2       c5

We were lucky to squeeze in one last art class! We made monoprints and ghost prints with gelli printing plates, gold, red, orange, blue and turquoise ink and many found objects such as door hinges, rubber bands, string, keys, plastic wrappers, nets, etc. This class was about exploring this particular printmaking medium, getting a hands-on experience with brayer, printing ink and gelli printing plate. A lot to clean up afterwards, but totally worth it!

What Art Teaches Us About Emotions

Mentor Artist Sophie Cooper writes about the culmination of the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Kindergarten Art Program at Venetia Valley Elementary

As the culmination of a 12-week program, K and TK students at Venetia Valley Elementary integrated their newly acquired techniques as visual artists through the creation of unique and expressive self-portraits. To prepare for this final project, students completed a number of activities exploring line, shape, color and pattern. Then it was time to explore emotion. Students were given mirrors and are asked to draw four quick sketches of their own faces with different emotions: happy, sad, surprised and angry. We discussed how the lines of the mouth, eyes and eyebrows changed with each emotional expression.

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Ready to embark upon their final portraits, students began with a pencil drawing using the mirrors and the emotional expression of their choosing. The next step was to trace their lines with oil pastels, then bring their portraits to life using vibrant watercolors. Students were encouraged to use colors to further convey emotions. The final works were astoundingly unique portraits that captured the students’ sense of pride, courage and creative identity.

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Learning to identify and communicate emotions is no small task, no matter how old we are. In addition, when it comes to emotions, words often fall short.  For children in the early stages of developing an awareness of their emotions and relational skills, creative outlets enable students new ways of understanding and expressing themselves and those around them. We all know that emotions give rise to wonderful art, yet what I learned from the young artists at Venetia Valley, is that the art we create can actually teach us about our emotions.

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Thank you to the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Fund and to our Youth in Arts donors for supporting this program.


Persian Dance at Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts

Shahrzad Dance Company performed their beautiful new piece entitled, Rainbow, in two back-to-back performances for the students at Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts on Monday, May 22nd. P1170819 P1170820

Rainbow is comprised of 6 short dances that are connected together through audio narration.  The performance is all about world peace. There is an interactive part of the program at the beginning where the audience had a chance to learn some key Persian Dance movements.

P1170835Shahrzad Khorsandi and her dancers Kim Ganassin and Marta Serra then asked for volunteers from the audience to come up and demonstrate what they’d learned.P1170837

There was wonderful participation from students and teachers alike!  Once the audience was familiarized with the basics of Persian Dance, Sharhzad, Kim and Marta performed Rainbow. At the conclusion of the show, the volunteer students returned to the stage and joined in on the dance.  A fantastic time was had by all!






Fiesta del Sol! Flamenco!

Students and teachers of Laurel Dell Elementary School in San Rafael celebrated the end of the year with their families and community at their annual Fiesta del Sol!

The students were given the spotlight and took the stage to showcase their new flamenco dance skills as the culminating event from their YIA spring arts residency with Bay Area artist Sara Moncada.

TK thru 5th grades shared art, music and dance with all of their communities! It was a great day, thank you Laurel Dell!


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

Glenwood Students Explore Diversity with Alphabet Rockers

Glenwood Elementary School’s K–3rd graders hosted The Alphabet Rockers for two fantastic back-to-back assemblies on Wednesday, May 24th.  Kaitlin McGaw, Tommy Sheperd and DJ Juan Amador performed their newest assembly entitled, The Playground Zone: Diversity for the two lively student audiences.  The show focused on inclusion and raising awareness about diversity in the student community.  The Alphabet Rockers used hip-hop music and dance to engage the kids, while talking to them about the importance of self-identity, and being an ally to fellow students.IMG_1178 IMG_1184IMG_1181 IMG_1182One of the highlights of the performance was when the students were asked to create handshakes with a partner.  Kaitlin and Tommy demonstrated for the students by examining the back of their own hands and coming up with creative names for their skin color.  Tommy called his, “Carne Asada,” and Kaitlin dubbed hers, “Peach Salsa.”  They decided that sounded like a delicious taco, so they devised a “Taco Handshake.”  They challenged the students to do the same, and name their own skin color after a familiar object or thing.  The resulting handshakes were fantastic, and the students’ creativity really shined.

IMG_1186 IMG_1188Another great moment, was when The Alphabet Rockers asked the students what they were going to do to change the world.  Tommy walked around with a microphone and got very thoughtful responses from every student in the audience.


For the finale the Alphabet Rockers had the audience form a giant circle, and invited students and teachers to take turns doing their own unique dance in the center.  What a fun and invigorating morning at Glenwood Elementary!

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