Do you ever get those ideas that come outta no where (usually while you are in the middle of doing something totally unrelated like cleaning the cat's liter box or brushing your teeth. Not at the same time, of course, as that'd be all kinds of nasty). You know, a thought that's like a big ole slap in the face and think to yourself: OMG, that's, like, a decent idea! I might actually be able to do this!
Well, that's pretty much how the idea of creating a Gallery of Gratitude came to me. This past weekend. Which means we busted out this bad boy in a week. Also which is totes a record for me as I currently hold the title of Slowest Art Teacher in the Universe. Not that I'm braggin' or anything, just statin' the facts, ma'am. And mans.
Since we are currently doing a Be Nice campaign at our school (we started last week by writing kind notes about each other's artwork. You can read more about that here.), I've decided to have the kids "give nice a try" with a new task each week. This week, I thought it would be great for the kids to show gratitude (which was also our word of the week, see how I did that?) to the folks that help them each and every day. I decided that my third and fourth grade students would draw portraits and write messages of gratitude (as they have an hour and could bust them out); my second grade would also write messages and decorate the frames (they've only got 30 minutes of art time); first grade would create oil pastel hearts and send their heart out to someone special; and kindergarten would create a handprint to give someone in the school a high five.
With all that in my shockingly small brain, I went to the bookkeeper (one of my fave people, hi, Julie!) Monday morning and asked for a list of everyone that works in the school. I was thinking, eh, this should be easy for the kids. I mean, there's prolly only 45 folks that work in the building. WRONG, y'all! There are 71 super awesome people that teach, administer, parol, clean, cook, nurse and help my students. I realized then that this was gonna be a bigger undertaking then I'd imagined.
But the kids jumped right in. For my older students, we talked about gratitude and all the folks that help us at school. Then we chatted about how to draw a portrait. Each student was given a 4" X 6 1/2" piece of paper, a Sharpie and allowed to chose the name of the person they'd like to draw.
At their tables, I had placed copies of last year's yearbooks (this was a big help, y'all) and a head tracing template. I decided to offer the template to the kids (it was optional) so that they'd feel confident with the head shape and be ready to jump right in to drawing.
Once the pencil drawing was complete, the kids traced their lines with a thin Sharpie and added color with colored pencils. For most, this took an hour. For some, they had time to also write their message of gratitude.
Many message of gratitude and picture frames were created by my second grade students. They had only one session of art this week due to our art museum field trip. Again, these kids were allowed to pick a name for whom they'd like to write.
While I was gone on my field trip to the local art museum with my second grade students, one of the assistant teachers at my school was my sub. I left her directions on having the first grade classes create these radiating hearts.
The following art class, I had glued their hearts to a frame and had them write who their heart would go out to. This was great as it only took them 5 minutes and then we could return to our regularly scheduled art-making program.
On Monday, I had a couple of my kindergarten classes. As they wrapped up their landscape paintings, they came to me for a hand print. As I printed their hand, we chatted about gratitude and I asked just who they'd like to give a high five to. After printing their hands, I jotted down on their paper "High five to Officer Graham for keeping our school safe". Those kindergarteners really had some sweet high fives to give.
I'm happy to say that we were able to get the gallery (almost) complete and hung today! There are just a couple more messages of gratitude to be written but as it stands, everyone has a portrait on the Gallery of Gratitude wall. Or, walls, I should say. There's actually another wall across from the one above that is full of portraits, high fives and hearts.
I knew the kids would be excited to see their drawings and share their notes. What I wasn't expecting was the overwhelming response from those that I work with. Each was thrilled to see their portrait and read the children's comments. Several snapped photos of their portraits on their phones and have requested to take their portrait home. I do believe the kids accomplished our goal of showing gratitude to everyone on our school. Just in time for Thanks-Giving!