Powder Springs Elementary School

A semester of art with Kindergarteners at Powder Springs

This is a guest post from Paint Love artist, Dani Frank, about her semester teaching weekly art lessons to kindergarteners at Powder Springs Elementary School. Dani dedicated over 20 hours of her time to serving students in 2017!

Regarding their experience working with Paint Love, the classroom teachers said their students, "learned to persevere during difficulty and that there is not an exact right or wrong way to do an art piece."

This fall, I had the privilege of working with Powder Springs Elementary School as a lead artist with Paint Love. When I was first introduced to Paint Love, I realized that my favorite part about this nonprofit was the way each artist was able to fit a meaning into each projects. These meaningful projects provided ways for the kids to connect to positive messages while exploring their creative side and having fun.

October was all about being a good citizen, emphasizing that good citizenship starts with them, as well as where and how they can be good citizens. Our first two projects, “Tape resistant name art” and “Happy hands,” started with how good things start with them and creating art that was a reflection of each child as an individual. Everyone’s name and hands are special-  with your name being how people interact with you and how your hands are unique to yourself and match no one else’s. To demonstrate this, with the tape resistant name art, we painted over our name created from tape. After we were done painting, we removed the tape and our names shined through!

Our happy hand project created a mosaic in the outline of their hand to represent their unique shape, and the mosaic represented everyone’s unique fingerprints. With our “Where you can be a good citizen wheel,”,we cut out a house and then increasingly larger circles to represent the different parts of our world we can be good citizens starting from our homes all the way to our entire planet! Our final good citizen project was our “Paper portrait with words around”, in which we created self-portraits and surrounded ourselves with positive words that represented ways we are able to be good citizens.

November represented night and day, times of light and darkness from which we can find positivity and exploration in both! Our “Night and day plate” project focused on the technical aspect of shading in addition to creating beautiful skies. When creating the night and day skies, the kids used the same color crayon and practiced shading by pressing down lightly for the day and pressing down with more force for the night sky. When decorating the skies, we used shiny materials for the night to represent the positive light in the darkness and bright yellow for the sun and fluffy white clouds for the day side. This project brought up how big the sky is and how much there is to explore and appreciate about it.

Our other November project was a Sun Catcher where we used colorful pieces of tissue paper to fill a square space. In order to connect the pieces of tissue paper, we overlapped the edges and connected the pieces to a wooden frame made of oversized popsicle sticks. The students were able to place these on the windows so that when the sun shined through, it would illuminate the beautiful variety of colors. This creates a colorful space that helps lighten up a room and keeps a positive and happy environment!

In our final month of December, we focused on two major holidays, Hanukah and Christmas. This topic opened up the floor in order to talk about diversity. Many of the children were familiar with Christmas, but had not heard of Hanukah before. This opened their eyes to the idea that there are people with different backgrounds and beliefs than themselves, and that diversity is a good thing to be celebrated!

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Our project for Hanukah was “Paper plate menorahs."  We cut paper plates in half and decorated them with 8 small candles, one large candle in the middle, and colored them with crayons. This was the first time many of them had ever heard of a menorah, yet alone seen or created one!

For our Christmas project, we created “Yarn Christmas trees." We wound green yarn around triangular shapes made of popsicle sticks until they were covered. After the yarn was secured, we used a variety of supplies to decorate the trees with pom poms, tiny bells, and pipe cleaners to represent ornaments, lights, and the star on top!

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The kids had so much fun with all these projects and it hopefully opened their eyes to their creative sides that they may not have explored previously. Art with a message is also a fun way to have important discussions while keeping the conversation light hearted and relatable to kids. I’m looking forward to working with even more kids in the future and bringing Paint Love to more schools!

2nd grade Charlotte's Web mural at Powder Springs

Julie McKevitt joined the second graders at Powder Springs to create a collaborative, Charlotte's Web-inspired mural! Each student created their own panel and they came together into a piece everyone can be proud of. 

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On Being Authentic: Masks with Kim Stuart and Artfully Made

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Happy New Year! Julie and I are excited to be back at it in 2016. What a beautiful year this is shaping up to be! If you haven’t heard, we made our year end fundraising goal! We have an official Thank You post in the works with all the details, so stay tuned! We are so, so, so thankful! We're so excited to see what incredible projects we have this year with the talented youth of Atlanta!

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I wanted to kick things off this year with a project about authenticity. Kim Stuart led this 2 part project last year with Amy Myers’ Artfully Made group at Powder Springs Elementary. We talked about what it means to be authentic and the masks we sometimes wear. One thing we talked about was the difference between wearing a mask and modeling a specific behavior. One girl gave the example that being studious and calm while working on school work isn’t the same as wearing a mask - wearing a mask is acting like someone you're not. I thought it was awesome that, even at a young age, these ladies recognize that there are so many different sides to ourselves. 

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To start the project, Kim talked about her mask that she made. We all shared examples of times when we weren’t being our most authentic selves. We talked about the reasons why we felt like we needed to wear masks. After our talk, the girls cut out and painted the base layer of their masks. We used cardboard so we could make them BIG!

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We painted and added eyes, ears, mouths, and noses. Then we glued everything together. It was such a fun project, both light hearted and thoughtful at the same time, our favorite kind. We spent two project days working on these. I like that we were able to spend extra time discussing and working on something the girls were really proud of! It has been wonderful to work with this group throughout the year. We are so thankful to know them and looking forward to more projects with them this year! 

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What we decided is that authenticity looks different to everyone because everyone is different.

The best thing we can do is to discover our authentic selves and then share it with the world in a kind and caring way. I hope this is what 2016 holds for us: let us recognize the awesomeness within and be brave enough to share it!

Wishing you an authentic and brave 2016!