Art, the stories of artist’s motivations, and the methods employed by the greatest artists-- whether contemporary or historic-- are tightly interwoven in a curriculum that introduces students to the power of self-expression. Composition, line, color, texture, shading, white-space, and cropping are but a few of the tools introduced across grades and media in developmentally potent ways. Students learn art practices and procedures. They explore a wide variety of materials. They develop their motor skills. Perhaps most importantly, students are challenged to express themselves. They become capable technicians, but with thoughts and feelings, they want to share. Student artwork that draws others in and provides inspiration-- synergy among student artists in the classroom studio-- is the norm.
Nursery School, Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten
Nursery school, preschool and pre-k art is all about the process of exploration. During their daily Discovery Time, students are encouraged to create artwork, experiment with new materials, and try something new. Students work primarily with crayons, rather than markers, in order to strengthen their hand muscles and foster the development of proper grip. Other art materials and methods include modeling material, tempera paints, watercolors, careful cutting and pasting, rubbings, and a light table with which students can design and trace new art materials. The Art Teacher visits the classroom once a week to lead crafts that focus on following directions, handling materials safely, and student interpretation of the project.
The kindergarten art curriculum introduces our young students to the art room. Kindergarteners begin the year learning about the room’s layout, class rules, and how to handle art materials. Students enjoy working on art projects inspired by Piet Mondrian’s bold colors, Wassily Kandinsky’s wonderful lines, Jasper Johns’ numerical creativity, and Jamie Wyeth’s pet pig– to name just a few of the artists who shape the class curriculum. In the process, students develop their knowledge of art elements such as line, shape, color, texture, and form. By the end of the year, each student has a beautiful portfolio filled with his or her accomplishments from the year.
The first-grade art curriculum develops our students’ fine motor skills, problem-solving strategies, and basic creative principles. The curriculum appeals to first graders as developing authors and readers by introducing students to children’s picture book illustrators. Students create artwork inspired by classics like Ezra Jack Keats’ Snowy Day, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, and Guy Parker-Rees’ Giraffes Can’t Dance. Later in the year, students develop techniques used by impressionist and post-impressionist painters such as Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, and Paul Cezanne. For these pieces, students work with techniques such as resist painting, pottery, and even painting with a spoon!
The second-grade art curriculum develops students’ art skills by focusing on art history, contemporary culture, and curriculum integration. Second graders explore subject matter such as still life, portraits, and landscape, inspired by artists such as Cezanne, Winslow Homer, and Grant Wood. In the second half of the year, students help create the scenery for the class play by brainstorming ideas and painting the set. Later, students learn all about the craft of weaving. Second graders create yarn for their weaving in Science class, using natural dyes from sources like flowers and walnuts. In Art class, students learn the fundamentals of weaving, from using the loom to planning out a color pattern.
Third-grade art students spend the year developing the range of their creative expression and problem-solving skills. The third-grade curriculum bridges the skill-based lower school Art curriculum and the concept-based upper school curriculum. Students learn about Pop Art by studying and creating art based on Robert Indiana’s “Love” sign, Roy Lichtenstein’s bold paintings, and Wayne Thiebaud’s iconic cupcakes. (This last assignment is a particularly yummy one!) Later in the year, students examine Surrealist artists like Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte. Over the course of the year, students learn to give positive feedback and suggestions to their classmates.
In fourth-grade art, students work on process-oriented, hands-on projects that challenge students’ creativity and problem-solving skills. The year’s most anticipated activity is the Papier-Mache Animal project. Students spend weeks researching native animals of the United States, planning the sculpture process, building the “armature” (or skeleton) of the animal, applying the papier-mache strips, and bringing their animals to life using paints and other details. Fourth graders also explore the process of turning something representational into something abstract, creating prints with hand-made printing blocks, and more!
In fifth grade art, students spend the year forging connections between ancient and contemporary art. Fifth graders begin the year by studying art from cultures past. They examine the historical context and artistic characteristics–patterns, colors, designs– of Greek mosaics, before creating mosaics of their own from brilliantly colored paint chips.
Students continue their journey by learning about ancient Egypt and its striking portrait art, which students reproduce with chalk and glue on black paper. The class then travels south, to central Africa, to study the cultural customs and artistic techniques of African clay masks. Each student builds a mask from a slab of clay, in the process reinforcing her or his knowledge of clay techniques such as symmetry and texture. The year ends with a unit on the work of recent African-American artists like Faith Ringgold, Kimmy Cantrell, and Romare Bearden. Students are encouraged to explore the rich canon of contemporary African-American art and to learn about the personal histories and methodologies of black American artists.
The sixth-grade art curriculum focuses on teaching and developing several elements of visual art. After developing their formal knowledge of these elements, students explore pushing these elements to their limits–and beyond! The class studies value, or the lightness and darkness of a color, by investigating how to create value, manipulate mediums, and create visually striking compositions. Students experiment with watercolors, colored pencils, oil pastels, and more. (One handy tip students discover: different pressures create different values, depending on the materials used.) Next, the class learns all about form by creating three-dimensional shapes in drawing, painting, and sculpture. After learning how to draw a realistic sphere, students get wacky, building experimental sculptures from cardboard, clay, wire — even soap!
Seventh & Eighth Grade
We place seventh and eighth-grade art class in the hands of our capable students. Each semester, students choose from a wide selection of art courses or request a course of their own design. Offered courses focus in depth on a particular art concept, movement, culture, etc.
Courses that have been offered in the past include:
- 2-D Art: Drawing, Painting, and Collage
- 3-D Art: Papier-mache, Wire, and Clay
- Painting: Watercolor, Acrylic, and Tempera
- Bookmaking: Flip, Accordion, Tunnel, and Altered Books
- Printmaking: Foam, Carving and Reduction Prints
- Clay Methods
- Large-scale Papier Mache
- Textiles: Embroidery, Batik, and Weaving
- Pop Art
- Asian Art
- African Art
- Abstract Art
- Functional pottery