Our new school year in the Arts & Smarts Program is off to a great start!
We’ve had a great group of kids in attendance who are ready to have fun, learn, and make new friends. They include our Junior Leaders in grades 6-8 and our High School Volunteers in grades 9-12, who make up our Leadership Team as they learn to be good leaders and role models. They also include younger kids in grades 1-5, who are our core group of participants.
Every day, the group starts with unstructured time during which they can play games or work on a project of their choice. Then there may be time for an organized group project followed by a healthy snack created by students in the USI Nutrition department, and then one more project to end the day.
A few weeks ago, the big project was making buttons that featured collaged images from magazines and calendars, drawings, and words that the kids selected to describe themselves. It was so much fun that no one could stop at just one button, and many of the kids ended up proudly displaying entire collections pinned to their shirts.
Last week we did origami. We started with fun folded animals and then we made origami paper airplanes. Someone suggested a contest to see whose airplane would fly the farthest, and the kids all eagerly lined up for a turn launching their creations. Some soared long distances, smoothly and gracefully. Some did trick climbs and descents. Some didn’t go far at all, but all were cheered and everyone was enthusiastic. Not all the airplanes followed their expected flight path, and one has temporarily been added to the witnesses in Jane Vickers’ artwork So Great a Cloud of Witnesses. Of the things kids have accidentally gotten stuck high up over the years at Patchwork, it’s one of the more charming ones.
This week, the kids created fall décor by cutting repeating paper shapes using the folded paper doll chain technique. They created their own pumpkins, bats, black cats, and other autumn-themed images and cut them from folded paper to make long chains. Then they connected all of their chains together to make a 65-foot chain to celebrate fall.
They’ve also spent time in the ceramics studio building their ceramics skills by creating luminaries. Several of our participants are relatively new to ceramics, so we’re working to help them learn how to handle clay and how to make projects with good structural integrity. Once they understand the basics, they can start working on more complex projects like Nativity sets for their families.
Mixed into all of this was time to work on homework and time just getting to know one another. It’s these relationships, built as we make buttons or airplanes or paper cats or ceramics that have a lasting impact on our participants. Combined, it’s what makes Patchwork, Patchwork.