917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
Laurel Dell fourth graders embarked on a 12-week journey exploring bridges to make connections between art and architecture. The course ended with tiny bridges that were built in a box. This project was another approach to a self portrait. Where are we now? Where to we want to go in our lives? The goal of this project was to bridge our current and future selves and dreams.
We began with a discussion of symbols and what images we would use to show our present and future selves. We sketched a design in our sketchbooks to work out what our bridges would look like. This was a crucial step in working out the details. Then we used watercolor to paint the backgrounds, carefully adding details with colored pencils. It was hard to wait for the paintings to dry! The paper was pre-cut so it would fit into 6 by 6-inch wooden boxes.
The final class was devoted to building tiny bridges made from thick white paper, string, buttons and glue. We used Q-tips to carefully apply the glue to small places. It was challenging to work small, but good practice using scissors and hole punches. Some students used traditional bridge designs while others got quite creative! One student built a lily pad bridge using clay. Several students said this was their favorite project.
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!
Master Architect Shirl Buss has been working with Laurel Dell Elementary students on their vision for the San Rafael 2040 Plan. Students presented their projects (sea level rise, their 2018-2040 Portfolios and their proposals for Gateways to San Rafael) to Kate Powers, environmental advocate who is on the San Rafael 2040 general plan steering committee. Kate served as a great audience for the students to practice their public speaking skills and shared information about the San Rafael 2040 General Plan and the work of the Steering Committee.
Architect Shirl Buss describes our model program at Laurel Dell for this school year:
Laurel Dell’s 5th grade students have been invited to participate in the 2040 San Rafael General Plan planning process. The General Plan expresses the community’s vision of how and where our city will grow and change in the future. It’s an official document and covers topics such as housing, transportation, open space, arts and culture, natural resources, community design, public services, and safety. The intent of the General Plan is to envision how growth will be managed to protect the quality of life and make San Rafael more accessible, equitable, and vibrant for residents, businesses, and visitors.
The Plan is an opportunity for residents and leaders to think about and speak out about what we wish to preserve and what we wish to change. We will be adding youth voices to this process. The Plan will address issues that impact us all—including traffic, jobs, housing affordability, environmental quality, resilience, disaster preparedness, sea level rise, and public services. Once the General Plan is adopted, City Council, local commissions, and city staff use it to make day-to-day decisions about our future.
For the “Real World Challenge” portion of their architectural residency, students will work collaboratively in hands-on in-class studios with architects and planners from Youth in Arts and UC Berkeley’s Y-PLAN. We will build upon the work we did last year for the Resilient by Design Challenge. We will research and make proposals about San Rafael’s future—from a youthful, but informed perspective, with a special focus on selected areas of the city (downtown, canals, open space, etc.) We will incorporate the academic focus on earth systems and apply this research to our recommendations. The students will have an opportunity to present to the General Plan committee members.
Mentor Artist Stephanie Bastos worked with every student at Laurel Dell Elementary School this Spring. Here are her thoughts:
I believe every child deserves quality arts education and schools like Laurel Dell Elementary strive to make it happen. My instruction there included Movement arts focusing on Brazilian Music and Dance that provided a rich experience for a community of mostly immigrant families. As a trilingual teaching artist having spent a lot of time in Brazil and throughout South America, I related to the kids and families by simply sharing my culture. I also have a disability that I do a presentation about for the learners so that they can see that every body can move and create.
The learners experienced a traditional dance class that includes a warm- up, skill building, and performance/ improvisation in small groups or individually. They also got to play drums and sing songs in Portuguese.
Laurel Dell celebrates their community every Spring with the Fiesta Del Sol: families and friends meet for a fun and music-filled day of dance and food. For the culminating event, students presented Samba Reggae choreography, Maculelé folklore- a traditional warrior dance and the beloved Capoeira- a game of movement, acrobatics, and song. I had the honor of entering a community full of love and simplicity that taught me a lot about the possibilities of what quality education looks like for all!
Thanks to the generosity of the Laurel Dell PTA, and the California Arts Council, Stephanie will be returning to Laurel Dell this year.
At Laurel Dell Suzanne Joyal continues with our Visual Arts program reaching the entire school. Our first graders use their imagination and artistry to create imaginary monsters and practice color mixing.
Creations were so unique, as students answered the same questions: How will it move? Does it need arms, legs, wings? How many? How will it see? How many eyes will it have? (More was pretty common!) Where does it live? What does it eat? Who are its friends?
What colors will you use? How will you make orange, purple, green? Can you make brown also?
We began the lesson by looking at the sky: what happens where the sky meets the land? Filling the white space between them was a big success.
Thank you to the California Arts Council for supporting this work.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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, the California Arts Council and the California Wellness Foundation for their generous contributions to the Arts at Laurel Dell Elementary School.
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!
Magic Gold makes the shapes and drawings come alive.
Kindergarteners are learning about comparisons, shapes and textures.
The project was inspired by work that was already happening in the classroom.
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.