Tag Archives: craft

That’s So Beautiful!

A couple of weeks ago, I taught an art class at a local craft store. The class involved step-by-step painting in acrylics on canvas; first I would paint something on my canvas (the sky, the grass, etc.), and each person in the class would paint the same thing on their own. The class consisted of both children and adults.

One student in particular, a fourth or fifth-grader, made quite an impression on me. It wasn’t because of his skill or finished product, but the comments he made throughout the class time. Every so often, I would go around from person to person, look at their work, and see if they needed any help. Every time I came to where he was sitting, he would say, “That’s so beautiful!” Then he would paint something else, and say it again.

His painting didn’t quite follow the one I was doing. I had a bright blue sky; he made his a night sky with yellow dots for starts. Mine had three flowers; his had three flowers of another color and a berry bush. And every time he took a step back to look at it, he would say, “That’s so beautiful!”

A few days later, I told my friend about this student. “Wouldn’t it be neat,” she said, “if we all encouraged ourselves in that way? What if we said, ‘Good job washing those dishes!’ or ‘What a great job you did with the laundry!'” We laughed, but we both agreed — that would certainly change not only the atmosphere in the home, but our attitudes as well.

I’m not sure exactly what the student’s parents did to foster such a sense of accomplishment and appreciation in their son; perhaps it’s just his personality. But one thing’s for sure: he was a joy to teach and have in class. And his painting really was “so beautiful!”

Gumdrops and the Renaissance

candyIn my son Luke’s K-5/First Grade co-op class, we’ve been using the Five In A Row curriculum. Because our co-op meets once a week, we choose a book for the week and center the class activities around it. This week, our book was The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola.

The story takes place in Renaissance Italy, so we talked about the Renaissance and the types of clothing people wore. We discussed Renaissance architecture, such as the buildings and bridges, as recommended in Five In a Row. Children this age really enjoy hands-on activities, though, so I wanted to find a craft they could all work at and have fun with. So we decided on building our own “Renaissance” structures — using just gumdrops and toothpicks!

Here’s how we did it:

Supplies (for 10 children):

  • Gumdrops (we used three small bags from the grocery store)
  • Toothpicks (we used two boxes with 250 toothpicks in each)
  • Sturdy paper plates

To start, we gave each child a paper plate on which to build his or her structure. We then placed the gumdrops on plates and set them in the middle of the table where everyone could reach them. We gave each child a handful of toothpicks to start with. I then showed them how to push a toothpick into a gumdrop and then connect it to another gumdrop by pushing in the other end.

The children caught on quickly, and were soon designing their own structures by forming squares and triangles. One even resembled a pyramid. Some of the children built their structures two- and three-“stories” high; when the buildings began to tip over (still held together with toothpicks), they turned into even more interesting shapes. It was fun to see how many different designs they came up with.

All in all, it was a good day for the Renaissance. I’m sure most (if not all) of the students will forget the word “Renaissance” before the end of the day (it’s a big one, after all), but they won’t soon forget building their gumdrop structures. Especially since they took them home to display. 🙂