How We Express Ourselves

The Connection Between Culture and Art

As further discussions and curiosities continued to develop around the holiday of Dia De Los Muertos, children wanted to create sugar skulls using a different art medium then previously used. Children were fascinated by the shape, colors and designs that were repeated and represented as part of this holiday celebration. A collective group of Kindergarten students came together to learn how to use the printmaking technique to further create artwork related to this particular holiday.

The Process

First, children traced around a skull template making a deep groove into the styrofoam.

Once the basic shape of the skull was made children began to add details to their sugar skulls.

Next, children were taught how to roll the ink onto the styrofoam.

As children waited for their turn to print they began teaching and assisting one another through the process.

The ink was set and the templates were flipped onto a paper to make a print. Rollers were used to press the ink onto the paper.


Then once the rolling was done the styrofoam was removed from the paper and a print was made.

From this activity much discussion was had about facial structure. Our sugar skull prints turned to self portrait prints. Since the base of our facial features is a skull it was easy to transform our sugar skulls into portraits.

What is Music?

Talking a Listening Walk

As we begin exploration of sounds the questions are asked,  What sounds do you hear? What makes sounds?

At the beginning of the year, EY Arts students took a ‘listening walk’. Children were asked to listen to sounds they heard in their environment. We talked about and recorded the sounds that were heard.

Children courageously walked through the wilds of our neighborhood forest to investigate sounds.

Children stopped along the way to record what they had heard.

As our EY students have been learning more about visual arts and music we begin to ask, What is music? 

“Music, drums, maracas, saxophones, guitar, people singing, the letters (on the piano), notes, rain, wind. They all make music.” -Serhii

“This is music that’s repeating. And piano can make music.” -Petr

“Music is notes.” -Georg

“Waves makes sounds. They go like ‘splash, splash!” Piano makes sounds.  Birds go ‘tweet.’ -Zofia

“Bells make music. Ocean make music when there are a lot of waves, there are sounds. You can hear the ocean in a shell.” -Marina

“It can be singing. It can be notes. It can be musical instruments. Nature because if you’re quiet you can hear birds, wind.” -Yanni

“When we read the notes they make music.” -Aldani

“The music is nice and funny!” -Ana Maria

“Music is sing and music is a little dance.” -Hyeoso

“Music is ocean with big loud waves.” -Sammy

“Music is paino. Water can do sounds like bubbles.” -Yehela

“It is a guitar, a maraca. And this the stick to make sounds with the other stick.” Katya D.

“Music is rain and water.” -Serhii

“This is me playing piano.” -Kayta K.

“Girl and instruments.” -Safia

“Music can be games.” -Ana Maria

“This is me playing violin and brother play guitar. Music is trumpet, paino, maraca. I really like the trumpet.” -Mary

Coming soon, more music and sound explorations.



Making Cultural Connections – Dia De Los Muertos

How We Express Ourselves

One example of expression, through the Arts, is seen and experienced through cultural celebrations. This year, young artists in the EY Arts classes, learned about Dia De Los Muertos, Day of the Dead. This holiday is conveniently celebrated around the same time as Halloween. Sugar skulls and skeletons are part of the artistic signature of this holiday but not to be mistaken for the spooks and fright of Halloween. The Day of the Dead is a celebration of those who have gone before us. This could include both family members, friends and pets. It’s meant to be a time of celebration. The skulls we see are colorful and dressed to impress. This holiday is celebrated in Mexico and many countries in South America. For more information, regarding this holiday, clink on the orange text below.

Dia De Los Muertos

The Kindergarten Open Inquiry group project, below, is a result of the children’s interest and discussions regarding Dia De Los Muertos.

Towards the end of this blog you can find Pre-K and Kindergarten student works. Children made sugar skulls. Some had stories to tell while others remained silent.

This project first began by tracing an image onto a large piece of cardboard during Open Inquiry Time.

Once the image was traced onto the cardboard, gesso was applied to the cardboard to keep the paint from soaking into the cardboard and dulling the colors.

Below you can see students painting our Sugar Skull.

Acrylic paints were used for this project.  Proper use of the paints and brushes were emphasized.

The children decided what colors they wanted to use for the skull’s hair, flowers and designs.

While children were waiting for their turn to paint they helped make issue flowers. These issue flowers can often be seen during times of celebration.

Students helped one another learn how to make the flowers. Layer by layer each petal was lifted with care. This was a very popular activity.

Flowers and jewels were added to the Sugar Skull.

Other students began to string beads for the Sugar Skull’s accessories.

Children sat to have a look at their Sugar Skull and decided it was almost ready to be displayed. Just a bit more to add to the backdrop.

The painted canvas was made by our Pre-K students. You can read about this project in the blog, ‘The Creative Process is Messy!’

Finally, we add the last touches to our project.

Our Sugar Skull is now displayed on our EY ART’s bulletin board in the hallway between the Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms.

Her name is Maria and she is one fancy lady!

In this next section of our blog you will see the Sugar Skull Artwork of both Pre-K and Kindergarten students. Many children had touching stories to tell of people and pets who live on in our hearts. 

Pre-K and Kindergarten Sugar Skulls






Sugar Skull Gallery Below

Students at work


Faces and More

How We Express Ourselves

As Kindergarten students got more deeply involved in their inquiry of faces, our young learners looked at the pictures that were taken of their various facial expressions and began to be more interested in drawing self portraits.

“Look, Ms. Gist, I can make a scared face.” “Look, I can make a silly face.” “I am being silly!” “I am grumpy!”

After our learners had a good time making faces. They would talk about how faces express how they might be feeling or how another person is feeling.

The children began coming into the EY Arts Room, during Open Inquiry time, to draw portraits and the portraits of their peers.

Here is a sample from our portrait gallery

Day after day many of the same inquisitive learners came to the EY Arts room to investigate and learn more about faces. This time the children wanted to know more about drawing and creating eyes.

Here we see Agniya making her own ‘face collage’ as she begins ‘looking’ more closely into how to draw eyes.

Agniya proudly displays the pair of eyes she has drawn using familiar shapes.

After having drawn her eyes Agniya drew a picture making a connection to the function of the eyes.  “I did see a tiger with my own eyes!”

Below you can see the children at work.

The fascination with the shapes, colors, similarities and differences of eyes continued.

The Creative Process is MESSY!

Who We Are

Pre-K open inquiry focus is on Identity as an artist and how Art communicates meaning and is a process that involves exploring and creating.

         The beginning of all learning, in the early years especially, starts with exploring, playing and exposure. For a young artist, learning how to use materials, knowing what they can do, and having the experience and exposure to various medians builds a firm foundation for present and future creativity. As Pre-K and Kindergarten students, alike, began this year there was a consistent theme, Messy! Children were often thrilled, sometimes reluctant and overall perplexed by how messy the learning, creative process can be. Both in the Early Years Arts Classroom and in our Pre-K Open Inquiry time, we learned about tools, how to use them, paints, chalks, stamping, fabric, setting up for work and cleaning up. Let’s be real! Being creative is MESSY and it’s OKAY!

Our learning journey begins with good ole’ splatter painting using primary colors. 

Below, you can see students dropping paint onto the paper. At first they are very reluctant because they don’t want to make a mess.

“Look, it makes dots! And lines too!”

“I am making lollipops and ice cream.”

Once our young artists had the opportunity to create splatter paint artworks we moved onto a spray painting project on canvas. We took advantage of the beautiful sunny days we had left to work outside. 

Day One, using the colors yellow, red and orange we sprayed on canvas fabrics.


“Look at my fingers!” Amir was so proud and happy to show that he was getting messy.

During our first day of spray painting children began to talk more about getting messy. Mary and Stefan discussed  how it was okay to get messy.

“Look, my hands are messy and I have paint on my shoes. Oh, well they can wash. When I was in the forest and my boot got caught in the mud, I got messy! But it was okay. We wash my boots in the tub!” -Mary

The second day of our spray painting project we went for cover! It was a rainy day and we needed to prepare our materials for our second coat of paint. The wind was strong and moving our materials was tricky but we all helped out.

Here we have students helping out. We used rocks and one small log to keep our drop cloth from blowing away.  Great problem solving team!

The second layer of spray goes on. This time we use green, blue and purple paint.


After the canvas is soaked with paint, and so are we, it takes a group effort to carry the canvas inside to dry and there is a big mess to clean up.

Day Two the canvas is sprayed with a second layer of colors and begins to dry.

After having dragged the canvas inside and left dry overnight we added yet another layer of paint the following morning. This time we added mostly pastel colors.


Sponges, rollers, sponge rollers and plastic wrap were used to add texture our canvas.

We prepared 3 canvases in the same way, as shown above. Two canvases we kept as they were. The textures and colors were so well balanced we decided they were finished.

Next, on the third canvas, we decided to add chalk pastels. The chalk pastels added a layer of moving lines. Before marking onto the canvas we practiced on black paper. This way we could see our lines and have a better feel of how the chalk glides when using it.

Next, our young artists added chalk lines onto the canvas.


Here we are, happy and messy! The creative process is a lot of work, it can be messy, and it sure is a lot of fun!

This is one of the two canvases that we added texture through the third layer of paint using sponges, brushes, rollers and bubble wrap. This is the future backdrop to group projects to come.


Movement and Color

How We Express Ourselves

Art communicates meaning and is a process that involves exploring and creating.

As we continue to explore materials, tools and the process of creating art we look to an artist from our hosting country, Kandinsky. Kandinsky approached art in a unique way.  His artworks were thought to be his music compositions as well as visual art pieces. Kandinsky used lines and colors and for him the colors made sounds. 

Below, you can see a photo taken of the children as they were drawing invisible lines. “Show me a happy line. Show me an angry line. Show me a sad line.” Lines in art and lines (melody) in music were connected.

The process:

First, we created lines that would flow to music of our choosing. We learned how to use our brushes as opposed to holding and using a pencil. At the same time, we think about the flow of the music and how the music made us feel.


Children are using ink to create lines. The fluidity of the ink allowed brushes to ‘dance’ across the paper.

Next, students were introduced to chalk pastels. After having learned the various ways of using chalk, children began choosing colors for their compositions.


Blowing chalk off the paper is a must!

Finally, the artwork is sprayed with hairspray (after school) and the artworks are complete.

Have a look at what children have said about their artworks.

“This is the sky. This is the sea. It is the motions.” (The waves are making the motion of the music) – Banu

“I felt that I am happy.”(When looking at her work) “I think of Elza.” -Yehela

“First it was not beautiful and then when I add color it was more beautiful and more beautiful. That music is beautiful. It can be like ‘ta ti-ti ta.” -Aldani “What kind of music could this be?” (Ms. Gist asking Sergii) “Rock and Roll! I thought when I see it! I think about .. (hands drumming a rhythm). -Sergii

“Like piano music because it turns. I was thinking about piano music, Elza. Elza is super long, so lots of lines!” – Augustine

“I swim inside the water and there were dots, sharks. This is shark’s feet and here’s the sun, pink! I made dots because I like.” This is the moon. –Domitille  “What kind of music would this be? How do you feel when you look at this piece?” -Ms. Gist “I think of music, Love Grows!” -Yehela

More Photos of the process

Below are samples of the children’s work. Many children were inspired do more than one artwork. For those who are interested, they will have the opportunity to create in a similar way using a new median as they continue the exploration of color and lines. Several students are also interested in creating a group ‘Kandinsky Inspired’ work of art.

More will be added as they are completed.








Inquiry into Faces

How We Express Ourselves

People use nature as inspiration for creativity and innovation.

During our Kindergarten Open Inquiry, children had the choice to come to EY Arts to explore shapes and facial expressions. Children were given various everyday objects and natural materials to create faces.

Below is one example of a child’s inquiry. Mila came into the EY Arts Room each day during Open Inquiry staying just long enough to recreate a new facial expression each day. A few of the questions she thought about when studying her face were; ‘What shapes do I see in my face?’ and ‘How does my face express how I feel?’ On this particular day Mila looked carefully at her reflection asking these questions.

In this photo we can see Mila experimenting with facial expressions. She looks into the mirror to see what shape her mouth makes when making a sad face.

After Mila had recreated her sad face using natural materials she tries to open her eyes very large to match the size of the shells. “Ha-ha, what big eyes I have!”

Mila takes one last look into the mirror and combines the shell sized eyes with her turned down lips to try and match the face she created.

Mila ends this inquiry by saying, “Hey, Ms. Gist, I know what we can do! Let’s make faces with materials and glue them. We can even make our bodies!”

Below are a few pictures and examples of students engaged in this activity.

Children were interested in the many different features of faces and how these features change in relation to how they feel. In future posts we will see how the children go more deeply into their investigations.

Facial Gallery










Exploration of Lines and Primary Colors

How We Express Ourselves

Art communicates meaning and is a process that involves exploring and creating. 

Back To Basics

The building blocks of art are made up of lines, colors, shapes, tones, patterns, textures and form. Imagine creating a painting, sculpture or design without lines? Think about how important a role Line plays in the creation process. Lines can communicate an idea or express a feeling. Then we think about primary colors. They may be the most basic colors but they are the colors all other colors come from. So, by taking the foundational Line element and foundational Color element we explored several activities and explorations that combine the two.

Below, we see children using primary colored paints when marble painting. Marble painting is a popular activity that allows the children to explore line pathways. As the marbles roll over paint they collect colors that change as they meet with other colors along their path. Children are fascinated by seeing red and yellows leave an orange trail. Blue and yellow create a green line and red and blue leave behind the royal color, purple. While this is an exploration, the results are stunning.

Seeing the changing colors leads us to discover the secondary colors of orange, green and purple.


First, students began by choosing up to 6 marbles. Each marble was dropped into a color and spooned out and dropped onto their paper.

Next step, once one to six marbles had been dropped onto the paper the children began to rock their trays.

“They are scribbles!”

“Oh, look it’s like a rainbow!”

“The colors mix!”

“I see green and purple. Look, there is some orange too.”

Once the masterpiece was complete, marbles were removed with with a spoon.


Gallery of the Process

Sample Art Gallery

Inspiration for Young Artists

How We Express Ourselves

Art communicates meaning and is a process that involves exploring and creating.

Alongside explorations of art materials and medians, children were introduced to the work of Mondrian, a Dutch artist who is an excellent example of an artist who used lines, shapes and primary colors. Lines became shapes in the form of squares and rectangles. As children studied the works introductions to the idea of collage, form, squares, rectangles, lines, abstract art and primary colors we revisited.

Classic works of art are often used to inspire young students. They learn to observe closely, think critically and discuss respectfully what they are seeing. The visual thinking method asks three questions of young students: What’s going on in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can we find?

This approach teaches students how to take the time to observe closely, describe what they see in detail and provide evidence for their observations.

For this particular activity, we used inspiration to inspire our own abstract collages as we continue our journey of exploring materials and the art making process.

Children were excited to create their own inspired abstract work of art.


First, students designed an abstract artwork by laying out various sized squares and rectangles. Children placed the shapes and glued them onto the white paper. They stopped when they felt their piece looked ‘complete’. Collages were set aside to dry.

The second step, children used ink and popsicle sticks to create vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines onto their collage.

When adding the ink lines one student responded by saying, “This is the most exciting artwork I’ve ever done!”

Once the ink had dried and all the artworks were collected, we combined our individual pieces of artwork to created one large artwork. This is now on display  in the Early Years hallway.

Below is a gallery of photos documenting this process.

Samples of our Inspired Artworks

A small sample of what the children’s work looks like displayed altogether

Welcome to Early Years Arts (Visual Arts and Music) 2018-19

 Dear AAS Early Years Families, 

Welcome to a new year at AAS. I hope you all had a great start to the school year. My name is Laura Gist, the children know me as Ms. Gist, and I am the Early Years Visual Arts and Music teacher. This is my second year at AAS and I am fortunate to know many of you already.

Helpful Information:

Please be sure to subscribe to the AAS EY Pre-K and K Arts Blog. By subscribing to the blog, you will receive notifications via email of posts that will help to provide you with insights into the activities and explorations our community of learners are engaged in. It is our hope that these blogs will spark meaningful conversations with your child regarding his/her learning.

Student Art Work: Most of the student artwork is gathered at school and sent home twice a year. It does not come home on a regular basis as this work may be used for assessments, bulletin boards and for reflecting on our work.

SeeSaw: In order to align with the Kindergarten Team, you will receive occasional photo and video postings on Seesaw. Please know that not all of our activities, songs, artworks, and/or explorations will be posted. This is a tool meant to create conversations with your child about what they did in Arts class and to provide documentation on your child’s learning involvement in the Arts. An additional purpose for Seesaw is to provide a digital portfolio of your children’s select artwork and music performances. One to four pictures and/or videos will be uploaded into student’s EY Arts Portfolio, per unit. Each child will also have physical portfolios that they will take home twice within the school year.

In alignment with the Pre-K Team, learning journeys will be posted on the EY Arts blog.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions at

How We Express Ourselves

Art communicates meaning and is a process that involves exploring and creating.

Pre-K and Kindergarten students will continue to explore and create using a variety of materials and tools, throughout the year. Future blogs will keep you informed as to the focus and activities within our EY Arts Classes and Open Inquiry times. For now, you can find samples of students at work from the first few weeks of school, below. Additional photos and children’s artworks will be displayed onto the EY Arts bulletin boards over the coming week. We are looking forward to an exciting year of learning.