In the toddler stage of a child’s life, art is all about process rather than the final product. Children at this age love to scribble or make marks at random just for the joy of doing it. They switch from crayons to markers to paint and back again — anything to keep the work fresh and new. Once comfortable in their classroom, different materials like sponges, brushes, paper, watercolors, thinned tempera paint, and glue are introduced. For many of the children, tearing paper is a new experience, so that is where our first lesson starts. They take the torn tissue paper and glue it onto construction paper. They also glue tissue paper onto wax paper to make sun catchers. Later, the children will do print making with kitchen utensils, bottle caps and sponges. They do mono-prints by painting on cookie sheets and pressing their paper on top of it. The lessons are taught in a progression that reinforces and builds on previous skills learned. It is all a continuing process to let the child master basic skills through repetition. Art is exploratory and is often a whole body experience at this age.


Children’s House stamp art with kitchen utensils.

Children’s House age children still use shape and line designs of earlier works to draw more realistic forms. They are not trying to draw likenesses; they simply want to see balance and design. This is why an animal may be drawn with 6 or 8 legs or a car may be drawn with wheels on top and bottom. Things are placed on the paper in a way that looks pleasing to the child. In Children’s House Extended Day art, the children meet one hour a week for a formal lesson. They are presented with many new and different materials and allowed a lot of practice to become proficient with their new skills. The children are beginning to stretch their artistic boundaries and being gently challenged to learn about all types of art: lines, shapes, color, weaving, paper making, print making, water colors, sculpture, and the lives and styles of many current and past artists. The lessons follow a specific progression so that each project builds on the proceeding one. Process is still very important, but for the first time, product starts to become important to the child too. Given the right tools and instruction, they can accomplish wonderful things. They take great pride in being able to say, “I’m an artist!”

The Elementary visual arts program is very unique. Student artists learn techniques and build skills as they explore the many connections that art has within the school day and in the world beyond. Every child has the opportunity to work individually with the Art Resource teacher, as well as receive small and large group instruction. They explore different 2D and 3D media, including, drawing, painting, collage, fiber arts, ceramics, sculpture, printmaking, photography and digital art. Art is also used in the classrooms to enhance lessons in math, science, history, social studies, and language. While learning about current and past artists, MSR students acquire the skills and confidence to express themselves through their art.


MS recycled fish art project.

Visual arts are a vibrant component of the Middle School program, and support the development of adolescents in their third plane, as they seek to establish personal and community identity. Promoting their creative tendencies, our arts program lets students roll up their sleeves to paint, mosaic, graphically design, collage, sew, photograph, mural and sketch themselves and their view of the world.
Through their artworks, student artists are encouraged to seek valorization by entering local art contests, leaving pieces of work for the community, and creating student galleries at both campuses. They also explore the state of arts today, marketing/business of the arts, and career options available to them in many related fields.
Students take visual art as a class each year, reinforcing and building on foundational art elements and principles of design. Middle Schoolers can also explore a wide variety of visual arts during Intersessions (week long intensive courses) and Occupations (weekly enrichment options. Past offerings have included: Digital Photography, Public Art, Documentary Film Making, Mural Painting, Fiber Arts, Batik Painting, Grafitti/Street Art, Theater Set Design, Fair Trade Arts, Art for Social Change, and Jewelry Making.
In every interdisciplinary Middle School classroom, students engage in visual arts as well. Spanish students create cut paper collage works in the style of Picasso. Geometry students take on architectural drafting and construct their dream homes. Science labs and investigations tap into their sketching skills. English projects offer visual art options at every turn. And Humanities relies heavily on visual arts to convey the human condition from ancient to present, from cave painting to political cartooning.
Even as they come in unsure and self-critical, middle schoolers will leave their distinctive mark in the studio, while the arts will leave a permanent mark on them.