Whenever I think of an art-related activity to do with my students that isn’t an actual craft project, I always ask myself, “Will they get something out of this or am I doing art work art’s sake?” In case you’re wondering what I mean by art for art’s sake, that means doing an art activity in the name of learning that really has no connection to actual learning. (For instance, and this comes from one of my favorite professors of all-time, Lucy Calkins, grabbing a shoe box and making a diorama when you finish a book isn’t meaningful. What adult makes a diorama when s/he finishes a book? None that I know… they have conversations with another person or a book club about a text they read, they don’t make dioramas!) Therefore, when asked if I came up with a way to present writing territories to my students yet, I said, “Yes, but it’s kind of boring.”
Essentially, I am thinking of handing each student a piece of paper folded into thirds or fifths. Then, I’m going to tell them that each of us has 3 – 5 things we regularly write, (i.e., big topics that are exceedingly important to us) about as writers. I’ll ask them, in as few words as possible, to write those things down in each part of their paper. Finally, I’ll invite them to brainstorm, just like I did, about each of their writing territories. So all of my talk of I-want-this-to-look-cute-so-I-can-hang-these-on-the-wall-just-like-I-did-with-my-former-students’-heart-maps has been thrown out the window. That was art for art’s sake. And for goodness sake, these territories don’t need to be hung on the wall! If they land up there, great, but I don’t think that going into an assignment with the intention of “How can I make this into a bulletin board?” makes for a sound curricular decision. Hence, my apologies for my brief diversion from what really matters earlier this month.
Edited on 7/26 @ 3:00 p.m.: To see some of the art activities I’ve done with my kids, some of which are tied to the curriculum and some of which are done for pure enjoyment, click here, here, here, and here.
Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.