Arts Bridge Scholar: Deanna Nielson at Brookhaven Elementary

My name is Deanna Nielson. I am an Art Education major, and I will be completing my student teaching next semester and plan to graduate in April 2021. This is my third semester being involved in Arts Bridge, and I love this program. I have really enjoyed teaching, having fun with the students, and learning from the teachers I have worked with. I believe that visual art is an extremely beneficial aspect of education, so I am so grateful to have the opportunity to help elementary teachers integrate art into their classrooms!

Sixth Grade

Mrs. Sweeney’s class has been learning about Strand 6.1 in the Utah Science and Engineering Education (SEEd) standards, so I created three lessons based on these standards.

In our first lesson, based on Standard 6.1.1, I incorporated art into learning about space. The students knew about how the earth orbits the sun, so I taught them how the earth’s axis tilts as it orbits the sun to create the seasons. I also shared tips for using watercolors well. To merge space and art, the students made watercolor models of the earth orbiting the sun! In the model, both the earth and sun can be turned to show their rotation. Some students decided to add the moon to their model as well, which was wonderful! I really enjoyed seeing the students testing out the watercolor tips and asking questions about it. Their models turned out really well. Mrs. Sweeney loved the model and plans to use it in the future!

In our second lesson, based on Standard 6.1.2, I decided to show how gravity can be used to create art! We discussed three artists who work(ed) with gravity: Jackson Pollock, Markus Reugels, and Amy Shackleton. The students thought these artists were so cool and loved watching Amy Shackleton paint without brushes! After looking at some examples of these artists’ works, we got watercolors out. The students played with different ways to use gravity to move the paint around the paper, including holding the paper at an angle so the paint drips down and splattering the paint onto the paper. I loved watching them test out ideas, as playing is an important part of creativity! This lesson was process-based, so the focus was on exploring painting using gravity, not on creating a finished artwork. Regardless, their paintings were really beautiful!

Our third lesson was based on Standard 6.1.3. Since the students have been learning about the other planets in the solar system, I thought it would be fun for them to use that knowledge to create a drawing imagining what it would be like to live on a different planet! While the other planets are not currently habitable, both art and science benefit from imagining what could be possible. Before they started drawing, we spent some time discussing what the other planets are like. The students added information and asked questions as we talked, which was great! We also watched a short video describing how NASA develops space food, to show the level of thinking and creativity that goes into space exploration. After that, the students got started on their drawings! I had to leave before they were able to completely finish their drawings, but I enjoyed talking to them about what they were working on.

Overall, this was a wonderful experience! I learned valuable lessons through these experiences, like time management, and Mrs. Sweeney was so fun to work with. I really enjoyed working with these students and seeing them have fun creating art. I am so glad for this program, as I believe all students should have opportunities to make art.

6th grade SEEd: https://www.uen.org/core/core.do?courseNum=3860

Fifth Grade

Mrs. Thomas’s fifth grade class has been learning about Strand 5.3 in the Utah Science and Engineering Education (SEEd) standards, so I created three lessons based on these standards.

Our first lesson was based on the overall theme of Strand 5.3, the cycling of matter in ecosystems. Since the students had been learning about ecosystems, I thought it would be wonderful for the students to create 3-dimensional miniature biomes to help them retain what they learned. After reviewing information about biomes, I showed the students how to make a pyramid-shaped diorama out of a piece of paper and how to add pop-up elements to their biome. After that, each student selected a biome to focus on and added drawings of plants, animals, and weather systems from that biome to their diorama. It was fun to see what they came up with! My favorite part was during the review, when students shared information they learned. 

In our second lesson, based on Standard 5.3.3, the students made comic strips showing a food chain relationship. Their audience was younger students who had not learned about the food chain yet, to encourage the fifth-graders to really draw upon what they knew. When I got to the classroom, we realized the internet was down. Sadly, my example was on the slides I prepared (lesson learned), so we improvised. I shared some information from memory, and we walked around showing pictures of the example on our phones. Thankfully this gave the students plenty of time to work! They each made a sketch, then made a colorful final version. It turns out one of the students has been making comics for a long time, so it was fun drawing upon his expertise! I also enjoyed walking around and talking to each student individually about their comic strip. Some of their ideas were quite funny, and all of their comic strips turned out really cute!

Our third lesson was based on Standard 5.3.4. The students have been learning about conserving Earth’s environments and resources. I love nature and am passionate about sustainability, so this got me excited! I started by sharing artists who use art to advocate for the environment, specifically Ansel Adams, Rufai Zakari, and Andy Goldsworthy. One student excitedly said he would look up more information about Andy Goldsworthy when he got home, which was fantastic! I also introduced traditional mandalas and nature mandalas. One way to practice conservation while making art is to make ephemeral (transitory or temporary) art out of natural materials! Since the school is in a suburb, I gathered rocks, leaves, branches, and other materials to bring in for the students to use. We passed out the materials, and the students made earth art and nature mandala inspired art! I loved this project, and I thought their artworks rocked!

I had such a great experience teaching these students! I loved seeing how much they know about animals and the environment. I hope they enjoyed these lessons as much as I did!

5th grade SEEd: https://www.uen.org/core/core.do?courseNum=3051

Comments (2)
  • WOW! I was not able to see the nature art that you did with the students so I am so glad you posted pictures. I love using natural materials as a medium for creating art because of all the texture, the color and the amazing natural symmetry found all around us. Great work! These students were fortunate to have you as their teacher and integrator! Keep on creating!

  • As a should-have-been-a-visual-artist, I really loved looking at the pictures of what Deanna’s students created. I feel inspired by the thoughtful ways Deanna used art to teach scientific principles and processes. And, the end results are gorgeous and unique, just like the students that made them! Great work, Deanna! I can tell you prepared thoroughly.

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