DES students learning about watershed in fun way

Shareen Strauss
At Dunsmuir Elementary School Watershed Art Program, Kindergarten and 1st graders stand around a table of their art work of painted flowers in Rami White's class that will be put together in a mural and on display at the Siskiyou Arts Museum starting May 11.

Dunsmuir Elementary School Watershed Art Program is working with connecting young students with nature through art in a positive way.

Rami White, an art teacher interested in sustainability education has her students from kindergarten through third grade, focus on art integration with the environment with plans to also make a garden and incorporate a ceramic studio. They also work with wood and cardboard, a 3-D printer and a vinyl cutter to design three dimensional shapes along with outdoor opportunities in the after-school SAFE program as well.

Retired superintendent Cindy Rinne says, “The after-school SAFE program is a place where children choose to be. It is free and offers snacks and creative art.”

“We are exploring aspects of nature and artists that are inspired by nature such as Van Gough, Georgia O’Keefe and Gustav Klint,” says White. “I want our students to be better stewards of the earth, environmental education and gardening.”

This Watershed Art Program works with drawing, painting, collage, exploring different art media while learning about nature and having fun says, White.

White’s instructional aide, Becky Bianco, says that White works with the other teachers to tie art into the curriculum.

On the wall in the room is a Marker Space poster says, “Thinkers, explorers, scientists, engineers, tinkerers, thinks creators, makers," which is what White tries to bring out in these young students.

“The students learn to solve problems and design things that are open ended. They create things like an arcade game out of cardboard with their imagination leading the way using scraps and duct tape,” says White.

Starting a class with an introduction story about pollination to explain the process for understanding what they will be painting and piecing together for a mural and then later, planting in the garden, White reads from a children’s book to the students sitting around a table. The children then adorn aprons and sit in the craft room to paint flowers on cutouts of honeycombs to piece together for a mural.

Students like kindergartner Allison Sanders express their opinions about the program best, “We get to do really good art and we learn about the soil and plants and how they grow and then we paint it.”

First grader Mya Cottini says, “I like painting best. I would like to see a flower like I painted growing outside.”

Arlee Bell says that she is a “real fan of this and I’ve learned lots of things, even about scorpions. I like best painting flowers. They are so pretty outside when they grow.”

Siskiyou Arts Museum will have an exhibit of the all the Dunsmuir student's artwork. The exhibit will open on May 11th. This exhibition will showcase a collection of students’ artworks from throughout the school year. Their art will be for sale on donation bases and the money goes back into the Dunsmuir Elementary School Watershed Art Program for supplies.