Youth In Arts San Rafael logo

917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
(415) 457-4878

STEAM Summer Learning at Lu Sutton


Exploring the local creek and designing their own natural playgrounds, creating songs about protecting the world, discovering the details in individual leaves and creating posters, learning vocabulary through dance games, using sculptures to explore science. These are some of the new experiences that teachers led summer school students through at the University Prep Summer School.

Teachers attended the Marin County Office of Education and Youth in Arts’ recent STEAM workshop and put their learning into practice to make their own art-infused program at Lu Sutton Elementary School in Novato.

Earlier this month, Youth in Arts joined the Marin County Office of Education and a team of educators and experts to conduct a workshop on STEAM learning.  K-12 teachers were asked to rethink how they could teach the California Environmental Principles and Concepts.

Lisa Heslip, principal of the summer school program at Lu Sutton,  said students were happy, well behaved and engaged. Students made a giant “Making Learning Visible” paper wall documenting their learning that was posted in the courtyard of the school. The 1st through 5th grade students focused on the environment, looking at everything from how animals and people interact to their own carbon footprint.

Among other things, students considered the eyeball of a cow, putting the contents in a plastic bag, labeling the optic nerve, cornea and other parts, and taping the ball to the wall. “I wonder where tears come from?” pondered a student. Lower grade levels looked at creating sustainable playgrounds.

Heslip took photos and posted them on the wall, and students added their own drawings and Post It notes with questions and observations.

“They stop at it all the time,” Heslip said. “It represents them. It’s not teacher created at all.”

Summer schools teachers also had intensive coaching by members of Agency By Design Oakland, who helped them with curriculum planning and were present during classroom teaching, Heslip said.

“When you think of English Language (Learners), it’s getting them to talk and express their ideas … giving them the opportunity to use academic language,” Heslip said. “What better way to do it than with a hands on activity?”

Preliminary research shows an increase in student summer school attendance (100% this year!) Teachers say they felt “inspired” and “reinvigorated” to go back into the classroom with these new tools.


Thank you to the California Department of Education’s Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant, Marin County Office of Education and Marin Community Foundation for helping to make this work possible.


Real Old-Timey Photography at Marinwood

On Wednesday, 8/7/13, I brought my camera-less photography workshop to the Marinwood summer camp program. We made cyanotypes, also known as sun prints, using specially coated photo paper. First, we made prints by laying found objects directly on the photo paper. The prints are exposed directly to the sun, and then developed in a bath of plain water. As the prints develop, the negative space around where the objects were placed gradually turns a lovely cyan blue. Next, we cut shapes out of heavy paper, and made prints with these shapes. Our young artists then combined the techniques they had learned to make a unique final print. Some of the artists drew on or cut out their prints to make even more unique artworks!

Monsters Spotted at Marinwood!

We had a great time at my 8/1 Furry, Scaly Monsters workshop at Marinwood summer camps. Our young artists started with a texture drawing exercise, in which they practiced their feathers, fur, and scales. Next, they turned their texture blob sketches into monsters by adding facial features, limbs, and monstrous horns, claws, fangs, etc. The final step was to transfer one of these monsters (or create an entirely new one!) to scratchboard to make a fun, textural subtractive drawing. Some artists chose to add real googly eyes as a final touch!

Four Wild Weeks of Marinwood Summer Camp

The first four weeks of break-out sessions with Marinwood Summer Camp have been tons of fun! Here are some of the projects we have enjoyed so far:
Read more…

Cave Dwelling Artists at Marinwood Summer Camp

Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal joined Marinwood camper artists again for another Thursday full of art-making. This time, we focused on early cave dwellers, and asked the questions: What would an early Cave Dweller Paint? What would they use for tools? and How would they make their own Paint?

We created our own small caves as we searched for the answers to these questions. Artists used paints made from food (tea, coffee, and cherries), and from the earth (ochre, sienne, charcoal, and gold). Our tools were simple: sticks, flowers, feathers, and our hands. And we made pictures of what we SEE and what an early cave dweller would see (animals, plants, friends and family).
Read more…

Marinwood Campers Making Books

Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal worked with young artists at Marinwood summer camp to make a series of wonderful mini-books. We started by making hard covers: we learned the book making technique of covering a piece of stiff mat board with paper (plain and fancy). Artists could then learn a variety of techniques to build the inside of their books. Read more…