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Looking at the Lines We Made

WRLogo-Online200px-RedThe Walker Rezaian Creative Hearts program allows kindergartens to develop a deep understanding of lines, shapes, colors, and friendship. In this early class, we work on fine motor control as we design sculptures of 3D lines complete with colorful bead patterns.

Students gain their first experience with observational drawing, which is a fundamental component of the program. They learn to look closely and document their work with their drawings.

This year, the Walker Rezaian project has expended to two sites! Thank you to our generous donors.


Students practice perseverance and fine motor control as they find beads for their sculpture

Students practice perseverance and fine motor control as they find beads for their sculpture


Lots of choices


Lines move off the page and into 3D


teachers have fun too.

The first step in observational drawing.

The first step in observational drawing.

Observational drawing of a sculpture

Observational drawing of a sculpture


Thinking about choices



Making sure the sticky "feet" stuck!

Making sure the sticky “feet” stuck!

Students had to pay close attention to use some of the tiny beads.

Students had to pay close attention to use some of the tiny beads.

Teachable moments were embraced: how do you share one bucket with a group of friends? What happens when two people want the same shiny bead?

Teachable moments were embraced: how do you share one bucket with a group of friends? What happens when two people want the same shiny bead?

Learning to look: we ask students to look closely as they make drawings of their sculptures.

Learning to look: we ask students to look closely as they make drawings of their sculptures.

Tetrahedrons and Community Mapping

Fifth grade students at Laurel Dell learned how to make a flimsy piece of paper strong by rolling it, then turned their “sticks” to triangles and into Tetrahedrons. They also learned about Vetruvius, one of our earliest known architects. Next week they build with their tetrahedrons.

Meanwhile in fourth grade, students took a close look at their school to discuss what they love, what doesn’t work, and what they want to change about their schools!

Funded in part by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation.

Power Building

Students at Laurel Dell are exploring architecture and the world around them. Mentor artists Rich Storek & Shirl Buss are working with 4th and 5th graders to investigate the community, learn about architecture and design their own projects. Rich’s classroom was working on building tetrahedrons and learning about how to make structures solid.  Shirl’s students were building individual Tower of Power structures and then creating bridges to link with a classmate. Shirl worked with teacher Mr. G to help students pick out words that represent who they are in the world. They then created the Tower of Power to help share their story. When they link with a classmate they begin the process of collaboration. Mr. G is part of an engineering collaborative of the Marin County Office of Education, he said the work they are doing with Shirl will carry over and connect with other aspects of the classroom curriculum.

Funded in part by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation.


Family Fun at Laurel Dell

boy handsLast night, sounds of laughter, music and stories filled the auditorium on the campus of Laurel Dell Elementary School as Youth in Arts conducted the second Family Art Night as part of the Walker Rezaian Creative HeARTS Fund.

Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal led the intergenerational crowd in making a book entitled, “With Our Hands.” Caregivers and their children outlined their hands on recycled maps and then decided what their hands could do together. The book will go on display in the “Imagining Friendship” Gallery Exhibit opening at YIA Gallery on April 8.

Meanwhile Executive Director Miko Lee led families in an old fashioned quilting bee, sewing diamond shapes onto a 12′ Guatemalan kite. The kite pieces were designed at the enthusiastic Family Art Night in February. There were so many diamond shapes designed that Youth in Arts will create an additional kite.

Suzanne will be headed back to the school to make sure as many students as possible are included in this additional finished kite. The kites were designed to celebrate community and be mobile. The finished kites will be unveiled at the YIA Gallery and then will move to the temporary school site while Laurel Dell is under construction.  The collaborative artwork will travel with the community.

Thanks to our amazing volunteers: Stephanie Daly for ironing the diamonds onto the kite and recreating the centerpiece, and to youth volunteers Lena and Haley for helping out on the Family Nights. And a great thanks to all the parents, caregivers, teachers and children that came out to make art with us. We know you have so many things to do and we are thrilled when you join us to create, collaborate, and build friendships. As Principal Pepe Gonzalez summed up, “Another great night with Youth in Arts!”

Thanks to the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Fund and the California Arts Council for making this possible.



Animal Habitats: Making Green

WalkerHeader(By Paris Dowd, intern. This was her first attempt at designing an art lesson for the classrooms. It was a huge success!)

“This week we introduced the TK and kindergarteners at Laurel Dell to oil pastels. The kids worked together in groups, sharing the paper and the materials (including the pastels, baby oil and sponges for blending and sticks for scratching a drawing on the surface of the color). The goal was to color the large pieces of paper covering the tables while learning to blend and experiment using the new medium. Students were given shades of green, yellow, blue and white pastels to work with and asked to create as many new colors as possible.

After working in this way with the pastels, I observed a few of the kids switching to using colored pencils to draw and scribble with overlapping lines in their personal art journals.  It seemed that the kids were excited to continue exploring blending techniques across a range of mediums.”

(Paris is an intern working with the students at Laurel Dell to create process books using the Making Learning Visible (MLV) technique out of Harvard School of Education’s Project Zero. Each week Paris shows students pictures of themselves at work, and asks them to reflect on their art: what they learned, how they helped others, what was challenging, and more. MLV makes reflecting, writing, speaking, and collaborating so easy for even the youngest learners.)


Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Kindergarten Art

WalkerHeaderWe’re off to a strong start in the T-K and Kindergarten classrooms at Laurel Dell Elementary school, 2015-2016 recipients of the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Award.

Students have been working with Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal, learning to use drawing pencils, black china markers, colored pencils, and even Sharpies. They have been working on showing and telling more about themselves through their pictures, and on customizing their Beautiful New Art Journals. Thank you RileyStreet yet again for your help in getting the best supplies to our kids.


Kindergarten Art: Line Study

In Kindergarten Art, our work will build on Art Fundamentals for kindergarteners. We start with LINES. Students practiced vocabulary like:

  • Straight
  • Zig Zag
  • Curved
  • Wiggly
  • Diagonal
  • Horizontal
  • Vertical

Practicing SHARING with Paints: keep the colors clean for your friends. If you want to mix, please do it on the paper.


Brainstorming with friends: what OTHER lines can we make?


Students used black grease pencils to make the darkest lines. The longer shape allowed for more control, and the dark line showed up more than a crayon.


Lines can be made up of shapes and letters. Assessment: It can be a challenge to make a straight line of shapes! This is something that is easy to practice.

How many different LINES can you draw?

How many different LINES can you draw?

First Graders Create Beautiful Animals and Their Habitats

In only six weeks, First graders at San Ramon School worked with Mentor Artist Julia James to create very personal masterpieces.

PLAYGROUND  DESIGN: Magical play spaces

Students were given the opportunity to design and build a model of a new playground for the first grade. Students began with sharing ideas about what is important for a playground.



Students researched any animal and its habitat. They collaborated by sharing ideas, supplies, tools and art. The final habitats were amazing!

Fooling the King! And many more at Harding Elementary

By YIA Mentor Artist Thomas Arndt


IMG_7511“I’m BORED.  BORED, BORED, BORED!!!” exclaimed the king, slouched in his throne with his chin on his fist.  And what a grumpy face he had!  The other actors worked very hard to fool him, and finally it was the little girl who saved the day!  ”Fooling the King” was one of many new short plays that my two Harding classes worked with for the past several weeks, and they did a wonderful job.

In the first weeks, we built trust and basic acting skills – especially focusing on using strong, clear voices and using one’s body to express emotion.  We also declared our classes a “Judgment-Free Zone” and had some great discussions about what is so scary in 6th Grade about performing in front of others.  Once we had that discussion, we were able to check in every day with how the class was doing at supporting each other.  We had a great day with “Building a Machine,” in which we eventually built a machine full of noise and movement using every single person in the room.  In this case, no one had to worry about being watched because they were all busy acting.IMG_7507

My goal for each class is always to have each student grow in some way at their own level.  Especially in the last 3 weeks while we worked on our short plays, I saw each kid finding more strength in their voice and more expression in their character.  One student had the most stage fright I’ve ever seen.  We got him to take small steps.  First, he decided to be the Stage Manager.  Then, he rehearsed but didn’t perform.  And finally, he performed off stage, using a microphone as the Narrator.  I think it was a huge success.  I also saw many students who struggled with reading growing stronger as they did the same short play 3 weeks in a row- once they knew their lines, they really opened up!

And overall, we just had a great time performing Fooling the King, My Teacher Ate My Homework, Wayne the Stegosaurus, Sometimes Arthur Is Choosy, Hershele Gets a Meal, and I Call First!

Live Music… in History Class!

This month, 7th graders at Davidson Middle School had very unusual History class! Professional musicians Shira Kammen, Michelle Levy, and Jim Oakden played an assortment of medieval instruments for them (including vielles, harps, bagpipes, drums, recorders, and voice) as students learned about life and culture in Medieval Europe.

IMG_0048 The artists made a special effort to make the 1000-year old music relevant and interesting to Middle School kids. “If you ever want to make music for movies and video games,” Levy explained,  ”you need to learn an instrument, and you need to know about Medieval Music.”

The artists showed a powerpoint presentation which illustrated concept art and music for movies like “The Hobbit” and video games such as “The Legend of Zelda” and “Braid”, and described how this media is influenced by Medieval art, music, and mythology. “To create a realistic instruments for an imaginary time that takes place long ago,” Levy explained, “artist John Howe drew Medieval and Renaissance instruments for Dwalin & Bofur to play in The Hobbit.” Students saw actual medieval illuminations of people playing instruments from important  Medieval manuscripts such as the Codex Manesse (Germany) and the Cantigas de Santa Maria (Galicia), followed by live demonstrations of those IMG_0054same instruments.

Through this multi-media demonstration, focusing on the main social structures in Europe during the Middle Ages and their impact on music and everyday life, students learned to identify where a piece might have been played in Europe and what role it served in the community, and they developed critical thinking skills and vocabulary while experiencing the music of the time on historical instruments. It was a history class they will never forget!

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