Community Helpers

By Lewis, Doris R. | School Arts, March 1989 | Go to article overview

Community Helpers


Lewis, Doris R., School Arts


Community helpers To emphasize the concept of "helping," we introduced a community approach by forming committees within the class.

THIS WAS AN ART PROJECT THAT successfully combined an art learning process with social interaction: a happy combination eagerly sought by classroom teachers. When a second grade teacher asked me to parallel her class study of community helpers (i.e., police, safety patrol, doctor, nurse), I selected the familiar cut-and-paste technique in which the students had already acquired some confidence.

We started by reviewing the elements of art (line, shape, color and texture) and listing the ones which would concern us. One of the concepts we had to deal with was the use of line and its development into shape. I had students observe and draw their own arms and legs and compare them to stick figure limbs which could be destroyed by a snip of the scissors. We discovered it would take two lines to depict the solidity of the human torso and its various parts. What a discovery for a primary student!

I introduced the concept of "emphasis" to students by showing them some magazine advertising pages. We noticed that while a number of small items might fill a page, anything meant to be important was very large. We all agreed that if you made one item very special, the viewer's eye would be attracted to it. The term "focal point" was foreign, but students seemed to understand the concept as they "oohed" and "aahed" over a tube of toothpaste that was ten inches long and an isolated finger holding a wrist watch.

Although design is generally defined as a pleasing arrangement of shapes, lines and colors, I have over the years suggested to children that design is simply a "planned" picture. We were about to plan a large picture. I also explained the term "expressionism" to them. Each student was to try to put together shapes and colors to show how they felt about their chosen community helper. When work is done with great feeling, people look at it with greater interest.

To emphasize the concept of "helping," we introduced a community approach by forming committees within the class. …

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