Creating Community with Clay and Compassion
Fourth-grade students brought their neighborhood into the classroom through their study of South Side artists Marva Jolly and John Moutoussamy. Marva's story pots and Moutoussamy's architecture (his buildings can be found in Hyde Park) provided the inspiration for students' own ceramic buildings. From paper prototypes to miniature towns laid out on streets, the children used their experience in the community and their hands-on artistic skills to bring the classroom to life.
In choosing what kind of building to create, the students reflected on important aspects of their community. "Some students thought their buildings were a place for people to come together, other students thought about spaces to help each other. A few students picked houses because family was important. The variety of buildings was exciting, and it made the buildings come together to form this ceramic community!" said their teacher, Allison Beaulieu. These reflections led to further connections about architecture and socioeconomics and historical contexts.
The process and the product show the power of project-based learning. Wondering, discovery, and curiosity intersected with tactile manipulations and unlimited creativity. The result was a miniature city that reflects both the reality of, and the students' aspirations, for their community.
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