This past spring The Carle was awarded a grant from National Endowment for the Arts for an innovative museum-school partnership in collaboration with the Maurice A Donahue School in Holyoke MA. The year-long project, called Picture This! Bridging Arts and Literacy is designed to use picture books to build bridges between the arts and literacy in 3 second grade classrooms through a variety of activities we’ll post about throughout the year.
At the start of the school year, educators from The Carle trained the 2nd grade teachers and support staff in the approaches we use to help young people make connections between art, books, literacy and to develop methods for integrating the arts into all areas of the curriculum.
Recently I accompanied artist/illustrator Melanie Hope Greenberg to Donahue School in what was the first of three two-day visits to the second grade classes by nationally celebrated artists. On day one Melanie shared two of her books, A City Is and Mermaids on Parade, in support of the school’s English Language Arts curriculum. She also answered questions from eager students in all of the second grade classrooms. During the second day Melanie guided students in an art project designed to be the springboard for a personal narrative. Since Melanie’s visit the students have been writing about their “special places” and why they are important to them.
In the spring, Raul Colon and Jerry Pinkney will be making similar visits to the second graders, but in the meantime, the students will be visiting The Carle on December 7th, and we’ll be working with the teachers to see how the strategies they’re employing are impacting the students.
Throughout the year, the Museum and school are reaching out to the families of the second graders so that the connections with art and books they make in this project will be nurtured in their home life as well.
The culmination of this exciting year is an exhibition of the students’ artwork and a family night here at The Carle in May. All of the involved students, their families, teachers and administration from Donohue will be able to celebrate the year’s achievements and those yet to come in the student’s lives.