michelle andersen second grade art

Students learn perspective and other lessons through art.

Veteran Belgrade teacher Michelle Anderson understands how disruptive the abrupt switch to “distance learning” has been for her pupils this spring, but she is using the opportunity to impart some important life lessons along with the usual second-grade curriculum.

If nothing else, Anderson is modeling versatility as she has figured out a way to incorporate art lessons outside of the regular classroom.

“Learning in the primary grades is hands-on,” said Anderson, who teaches at Ridgeview Elementary. “I’m doing these (lessons) at least once a week, and sometimes two, just so they’re doing something besides the computer.”

Anderson said learning in young children happens in all sorts of way, including through regular play, sculpting Play-Doh, and drawing pictures to solve problems – methods that are enhanced by art education. Recognizing the importance of that, Anderson decided to simplify weekly art lessons so they require only pencils, paper and crayons – supplies that most families already have at home.

Anderson has taken most of the lessons from artprojectsforkids.org. Her students complete the assignments at home and submit them to Google classroom in the form of photos taken by their parents.

Though the lessons are simpler than those offered at school in terms of materials required, all are chosen for deliberate reasons. “How to Draw a Vanishing Landscape” provided a lesson on perspective. To help kids better engage with a video book read-aloud, Anderson directed her pupils to draw the story’s main character, Roz the Robot. Other lessons have corresponded with springs cultural events, including Earth Day and Mothers Day.

Anderson says she reminds her students continually that school is still in session, and they are responsible for their own learning. Every day, she stresses the importance of “growing our brains, building stamina and persevering.” She also urges parents to make sure they are reading and doing math every day with their children during the shutdown.