Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Day of the Tree

It looked like a total loss!   Leading up to Thursday, our next-to-last day with the children, we had talked about giving at least some of the children paints.  Madeline had brought drawing pads and watercolor sets (15) and she had talked about doing an art class, but I think she had Sarah in mind to teach it.   Sarah had already started preparing a mural in the library and expected to be busy into Friday.  Wednesday evening Madeline made it clear that she wasn't about to teach an art class and no one else was stepping up.  Just when it seemed like it wouldn't happen and we'd brought all these materials for nothing, our 25-year teacher, Joyce, boldly stepped up and then developed an entire lesson plan, recruiting Teacher's Aides along the way (Cathy and Kathy among others).

Next morning we brought 5th and 6th graders into one room and Joyce began with the story "The Giving Tree" -- a story by Shel Silverstein about the relationship between a boy and a self-sacrificing tree that loves him.  Then Joyce and her TAs helped the children with the basic shape of a tree and turned them loose with watercolors for their very first time.  It was a delightful experience for them all.

Meanwhile, in the new library, the walls had been primed and with help from teachers and students and Lizzy, Sarah painted a large tree between the 2 windows on the back wall.  Then we proceeded to bring each of the students into the library, one class at a time.  We talked to them about this being their tree, the Tree of Achungo, and that we were going to make them a part of the tree forever.  

Then each child had his hand painted green and they pressed their hands onto different parts of the tree on the wall to create leaves of their hand prints.  We even brought in the preschoolers and all of the teachers.  The tree filled out with the green prints of the hands of all of Achungo school and is now a permanent part of the school library.

During art class, the younger classes had a time with playdough and 3rd and 4th worked with geometric puzzles (they have to fit a variety of plastic pieces into a given shape).  We had everyone involved in fun, new educational experiences that morning!  And there were many types of trees left for all to enjoy.

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