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3D Paper Exploration with First Graders at San Ramon School

Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal worked with First Graders to answer the question posed by their teachers: How can we use paper for more than writing and drawing?

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We began the exploration by creating our own individual “Paper Playgrounds”. Children reflected on the work of local artist Ruth Asawa, and how as she developed her craft as an artist. Children discusssed how her flat paper drawings turned into enormous concrete structures. Children then experimented with using colorful paper strips to make slides, steps, rollercoasters, bridges and tunnels for their tiny clay creature’s playground.

In our next project we looked at masks made from a variety of materials and from Africa, Asia and Mexico. We discussed how they were made, the colors used, and why people make masks.

In our first version of masks we used paper, oil pastels and paint to make colorful flat masks. When cut out and stapled in key spots, they suddenly “jumped” off the page.

In our next project we used only paper that we cut to create vibrant masks with layers of color, as well as ears, horns, hair and more.

Our final project meshed with classroom work, building on the student’s study of wind and weather in science, and symmetry in math.

We looked at the beautiful round barrillette (kites) of Guatemala. Exploring the concept of radial symmetry, we used Japanese rice paper, sticks from the garden, oil pastels and liquid watercolors to create spectacular kites of our own.

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