As the new school year quickly approaches, I've been thinking back on lessons from the previous year. One of my favorite projects to teach was our fourth grade student philanthropy. I had always wanted to involve students in an art philanthropy project, and was excited for the opportunity as a first year teacher.
Throughout the year, fourth grade students studied art from various Non-Western cultures: India, China and Japan. Last spring, students began to study Islamic art from the Middle East. We looked at photographs of Islamic tiles, many featured radial designs, which students had previously identified in a previous unit, on art from India.
We watched the video clip below of tiles being made in Morocco.
Students began creating their own ceramic tiles by rolling out a slab of clay into a four-inch square. Then students were instructed to incise their design into the slab. Each student was encouraged to create two different tiles. The first tile had to be inspired by the Islamic designs we had studied in class. The second tile could be designed however the student wished.
Last year, fourth grade students focused on the meaning of philanthropy with their classroom teachers. They were the perfect group of students to begin this art philanthropy project. With each class, I asked students to define "philanthropy". As a group, they developed the following definition.
“Philanthropy means donating your time, talents and treasures to the common good of the community.”
Each student donated their:
1.) TIME, working on the project
2.) TALENT, using their art skills to create the project
3.) TREASURE, the finished tile
Students painted and glazed the tiles to be used as drink coasters. Felt pads were added to the bottom to prevent scratching table surfaces. Students sold the tiles at our school's annual Fine Arts Night. One tile from each student was donated to raise money for a local charity. This allowed each student one tile to take home, and one tile to donate.
Fourth graders were also involved in choosing the charity. After each class brainstormed a list of local organizations, a student in my colleague's art class suggested the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) association. 100% of the sale went directly to this association. Fourth graders proudly presented a CASA representative with a check for $258.00!
I was very proud of the students' hard work and enthusiasm throughout this project. Their excitement was contagious and I really enjoyed teaching this lesson. I look forward to continuing this project next year, and in years to come!
Mr. DeWilde's Blog