Arts Renaissance in Tuscaloosa Schools

Bringing the arts to Tuscaloosa-area schools.


February 2020

Oh The Places You’ll Go

Constructing paper airplanes was an adventure for local fifth graders. On February 13, 2020 we traveled to Matthews Elementary School to construct paper airplanes. Each leader had an idea of how they would begin their lesson, but once we got in the classroom and met the students our lesson was tweaked to better fit the kids. We realized most of the students have never made paper airplanes or have never folded a piece of paper before. Therefore, tweaking our lesson plan was needed. A few of the leaders decided to go table by table instructing the students how to make each fold. Many students were correct but not confident in themselves. If that was the case we would lift them up with a positive attitude and state they were correct. 

Each leader started with a brief powerpoint regarding information about the airplanes. The powerpoint will teach students about the dynamics of flight, the Wright brothers, and the four forces of flight. 

After the powerpoint the building and designing of the airplane begins. Students were encouraged to make the airplane we were showing them to make but if they knew how to make a different airplane they were able to make it. After the airplane was constructed the students were able to color and design their airplane however they wanted to. 

After their airplanes were constructed the students went out in the hallway to throw their paper airplanes. Of course it was a contest and prizes would be given to the plane that went the farthest. 

Each leader had a few extra New College bling to hand out as a prize. A few leaders picked the plane that was unique. A few leaders noticed how patient and how hard a certain student worked and would give the prize to them. 

This activity was a lot of fun! Students enjoyed making the airplanes and of course throwing them to win fun prizes. Students also enjoyed learning about airplanes. Our leaders were a little anxious working on this project because when we did the trial run our airplanes needed a little help. Some students could tell that their friends needed help constructing the airplanes and they would help each other. 

We are always looking for volunteers. Be on the lookout for the next project.

Paper Airplane Workshop

This week we will travel to Matthews Elementary School to introduce an art workshop making paper airplanes. We will teach the students about the dynamics of flight. Each student will design their own airplane using crayons and markers. They will also experiment with assorted weights to test the effects and learn about gravity and speed.

After creating their own paper airplanes, the students will have a contest to see whose plane goes the farthest. The semifinalists will compete and winners will receive Alabama bling!

We are so excited to work with these 5th-grade students. Volunteers are welcome! If anyone would like to volunteer, contact one of us!


Reflecting on the Many Faces of Matthews Elementary

This past week, we had the privilege of visiting Matthews Elementary to conduct an arts workshop for local fifth graders. Although everyone involved did have a lot of fun, each volunteer ended up learning so much more than any of us had expected. Through interacting with the kids, we realized just how much of an impact art can have on not only a child’s ability to express him or herself, but also how much of an impact it can have on a child’s overall wellbeing.

Coming in, the children were anxious to see what they would be doing. They were all excited to be out of their formal classroom setting, and eager to find out what their next activity would be. As Dr. Galbraith explained the history behind face jugs, some of the kids began to get excited while others were much more tentative and judgmental of the project, based off of the pictures that were shown. However, as soon as they were handed their own clay to make their jugs, the atmosphere and their outlooks changed immediately.

The children began as incredibly lively, but as soon as their fingers started molding the clay, the room grew to be much quieter. They were concentrating and working diligently to make their jugs. It was so intriguing to watch as a plain jug transformed into a face that had originally been trapped inside of their imagination. Slowly but surely, their ideas came to fruition. There were so many different elements between the jugs, and each element was representative of their cultural norms. The kids were able to express themselves and pieces of what made them who they are through art, specifically pottery.

While it was incredibly insightful to see them able to express themselves in a different way than they would if they were in a “normal” classroom setting, what really was striking about the workshop was how the wellbeing of so many children changed. None of the kids coming in were outright angry, however some of the children weren’t the happiest campers. But through this activity and the students being in an uplifting, positive environment without the pressure of doing well in a specified subject, the kids were able to walk out of the cafeteria in an even better mood and headspace than when they came to the workshop.

Overall, the workshop was very enjoyable for everyone involved. Getting to see firsthand how children communicate their thoughts and themselves through their art is so rewarding, and we are eager to return to Matthews Elementary School for future workshops.

Completed face jugs of fifth grade students. Photograph taken by Mackenzie Manns.

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