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Art School

McCall Arts & Humanities Council

From January through May of 2016, 3rd and 5th grade students in McCall, Donnelly, and New Meadows participated in Art School, a program that brings professional artists into the classroom to share their knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for art. Third graders worked around the theme of performing arts with artists Sara Walker, Bonnie Johnson, Kay MacDonald, and Catrina Baum during a two-day Art School intensive held at Barbara R. Morgan Elementary in McCall. Students from 3 schools were mixed into four teams. Throughout each day, teams rotated through visits to active learning stations in musical theater, shadow acting and puppetry, storytelling through mime, and learning about theater.
Fifth graders worked from January through April on visual and tactile arts. During this time, professional artists Kristin Eames (painter), Melissa Shelby (photographer), Alan Giltzow (ceramicist), and Louise Gilbert (jewelry-maker) visited each classroom twice to teach art techniques and help students complete projects. The 5th grade program culminated in a 3-week long gallery show in May at Idaho First Bank in McCall.
The mission of the McCall Arts and Humanities Council is to nurture a community rich in culture and creativity by encouraging people of all ages to “flex their imaginations.”

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

3rd & 5th Graders Worked with Different Essential Questions

Our Essential Questions Were:

For 3rd Grade: “As a team, how can we tell a story to others using performing arts?”

For 5th Grade: “How can I use what I know about pattern, composition, perspective, and balance across a variety of media (painting, photography, jewelry-making, ceramics) to create meaningful pieces of art?”

Anchor Standards that our work addressed:

Grade Three, program focus: Performance Arts (movement, dance, theater)
• Anchor Standard 2, Creating: organize and develop artistic ideas and work
• Anchor Standard 6, Performing: convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work
• Anchor Standard 11, Connecting: relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and
historical context to deepen understanding

Grade Five, program focus: Visual Arts
• Anchor Standard 2, Creating: organize and develop artistic ideas and work
• Anchor Standard 3, Creating: refine and complete artistic work
• Anchor Standard 11, Connecting: relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and
historical context to deepen understanding

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

From 5th Grade:

“I used perspective in my painting and drawing so the person who looks at it thinks they’re looking through bushes at a middle ground and a background.”

“I used leading lines to help the viewers look at what I took pictures of so the lines were leading to the main thing.”

“You kind of needed a pattern in all of the art work we did. In painting, we had to have a pattern for coloring. In photographing, we had to find a good pattern. In jewelry, our pattern was the beads. In ceramics, our design was how to decorate our clay.”

“I used the rule of thirds in my photo by having my main subject on the second line.”

“We got to imagine things and bring them to life.”

From 3rd Grade:

“. . . with facial expressions and body movement.”

“. . . by dancing to music.”

“. . . by creating a character with costumes and maybe puppets.”

“. . . acting, miming, and tableau.”

“. . . by using lots of body movement, using lots of hand gestures.”

“. . . acting out feelings like happy, excited, sad, or mad.”

“. . . by doing your part well and also using your whole body. The lights help and so does the music.”


Our goal with Art School, as with all of our programs, is to nurture the use of imagination by providing opportunities for creative involvement and expression. Since there are no school-wide arts education programs in place in any of the schools with which we work, many students experience art for the first time through their Art School experiences. The powerful impact the program makes on the students can be gleaned from their comments and from their finished work. Art School gives students the tools, techniques, guidance, and freedom they need to create and to engage their imaginations in new ways. By introducing art, we open doors for students into new ways of viewing the world, themselves, and their community. They come away with greater confidence, practical skills they can continue to use, new vocabulary, empowerment through personal expression, stronger communication skills, and stronger imaginations.


Art School provides significant and equal access to the power of creativity to ALL 3rd and 5th grade students in our area. While we did not have sufficient funding to add 4th grade into the program this year as planned, we hope to do so in the near future. In 2016, the Art School program was especially successful with two major changes. First, we compressed the third-grade program into a shorter calendar time-frame while also deepening experiential learning and maintaining quality contact-time. We did this by establishing a 2-day intensive in May where all students could come together in the same location to experience performing arts learning all day, each day. We encouraged learning across the curriculum by focusing all of the performing arts activities around the story, Stone Soup, which is used in the existing social studies curriculum. This allowed opportunities for extensions in the classroom about storytelling, variation among cultures, folklore, history, the concept of “period,” and how things change over time.

Secondly, we added an “artists’ gallery opening” to the community display of 5th grade art at McCall’s Idaho First Bank. The opening event invited the community to view student work and provided refreshments, opportunities to meet artists and students, and information on the Art School program. This opening was particularly impactful on students, artists, and families who were moved by the “professional” sharing of student work in this way and its reception by the community.

It becomes clear through their work and feedback that students are hungry for creative opportunity. So much of their day-to-day learning is proscribed and predictable. Creativity through art allows a unique freedom in thinking, expression, perspective, and exploration. Art is an important 21st century skill that our students need to become people with strong imaginations, ready to meet the future.