Visual art is integral to the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP). It is a powerful mode of communication through which students explore and construct a sense of self and develop an understanding of the world around them. Elementary art classes provide students with a wide range of opportunities and means to respond to their experiences and engage with historical, social and cultural perspectives. The students are stimulated to think and to articulate their thoughts in new ways, focusing their attention on the creative process rather than the final product. (IBO)

The ES Visual Arts Program at AAS is created through the National Core Arts Standards, and within the IB PYP Framework.

Fifth Grade PYPX & Art

This week marks the end of Fifth Grade’s scheduled art time. The last six weeks have been exciting and productive. During the last couple of lessons students have been provided the opportunity to explore art forms of their choice. Some have chosen to paint, some to draw, and some to construct with safe use of glue guns. Now, as PYPX has been officially launched, students are working together in their classrooms to define questions and their upcoming weeks of research.

Today, during the Village Meeting, Fifth Grade was presented with information regarding how they can apply their learning from art class, to their final PYPX. The following points have been outlined:

  • Using art, as part of their final exhibition is a choice, not compulsory
  • Groups will work collaboratively, share ideas and establish roles
  • It may be that only one or two students from a group will choose to use art
  • Students who choose to use art, must submit a proposal to me, after 26 March (around the time of ‘going further, and taking action’)
  • Upon teacher/student agreement, they may start
  • Students will negotiate time to use the PYP Action Station (outside the art room) with their HR teachers
  • Students will be supported in their independent work at the PYP Action Station
  • Students will demonstrate that they can be caring, respectful and responsible with art materials, tools and workspace

Wishing students all the best with their upcoming learning journey. Below, some photos of students working on their ‘free choice’ exploration of art forms this week.

First Grade: Connecting

Welcome back First Grade Parents! It has been a while. As you know, First Grade students meet just once a week, so some units may take some time before an update is newsworthy. Herewith, an update of learning which has been taking place in the First Grade Art class since the start of December. In order to avoid an overwhelmingly long blog post, part one only, will be posted here for now. Part two and three to come in the next week or so! Enjoy!

Connecting: ‘Connecting’ is one of the NAEA curriculum standards that we work towards, at AAS, and corresponds with the PYP Phase 2 ‘Responding’. It is the study of art in relation to past times, cultures, people, and our personal response to these.

Part One: Connecting with artists from past times – Australian aboriginal Art

Images: (http://www.australiangeographic.com.au) (http://archeoastrology.com)(https://imgur.com)

Australian Aboriginal Cave Art and Interpretation

This short, stand alone unit (Who We Are), focused mainly on the power that can art hold in storytelling and ability to connect us with past times and people. In First Grade, the observation and critiquing of art works, particularly these aboriginal cave paintings, is less about finding correct answers and more about appealing to curiosity, questioning, and learning to understand and respect the variety of interpretations among us. Simply the nature of a first grade mind, makes these lessons all the more interesting. Some interpretations are very literal, some extremely imaginative,  and some make strong connections with real life experiences. All of these are precisely what is encouraged. There have been discussions based around aliens (so many stories!), anatomy, and possible messages from the people of the past. And then there are moments of great simplicity. After quite in depth class discussion on handprints, and questions about who the hands belonged to, what might their life have been like, what might they have eaten that day, who were their family, how did they make those hands on the wall, why did they make those hands on the wall, one student concluded the lesson with “Hey! Maybe they just wanted to say hi to us!”

Developing Skills: To follow with the notion that artists are inspired by the world around them, students briefly worked on some drawings of indigenous australian animals before being provided the opportunity to explore earthy colors in soft pastel. They worked to smudge colors to create a cave like, stone effect in which to recreate their own imagery in a similar style.

In addition to this, Australian aboriginal dot paintings were briefly discussed with some recognition and identification of symbolism with in them. Brief dot style activities followed, working on fine motor control and color groupings, while listening to the sounds of the didgeridoo.

Part Two: Connecting with artists who show resilience and perseverance with disabilities – Coming soon.

Fifth Grade: Responding, Reflection, Evaluation

In order to view/listen to Seesaw Items posted here, it may be necessary to do so from a laptop or PC.

Creating & Responding

As important as the generation of ideas, exploration of materials, and creation of an artwork, is the process of responding to artworks (our own and that of others) and using peer feedback and discussion to reflect upon the learning to date, and how one might move forward. This week Fifth Grade has taken a step back, to reflect upon the various art forms they have experienced. When speaking or writing about their work. They are expected to make good use of art vocabulary, consider challenges met, and identify strategies to overcome these. Many are starting to make a strong connection between our recent art classes and their upcoming PYPX. They have also been learning the value of collaborative work. Some examples of Seesaw Portfolio posts, can be viewed/listened to here.

Ivanna (Click Here)

Matt C (Click Here)

Mayuel (Click Here)







Fourth Grade: PYP Who We Are

(This post contains a link to a Student Seesaw Post. In order to listen to/watch the post, it may be better to view from a PC or Laptop)

Welcome back! We hope you are well rested after the holiday. It is time for a quick catch up on Fourth Grade Art. Before the holiday, students completed the first half of this trimester’s art rotation. This means we have three more weeks to go (6 lessons).

For the second time this year, Fourth Grade are involved in a Transdisciplinary Unit. This means that in art we are addressing the same theme and concept, which they have previously (with the exception of 4PM, who are due to start) investigated in their regular classroom. The PYP Unit of Inquiry was, and is in Art now, ‘Who We Are’. The PYP Transdisciplinary Theme of Who We Are addresses questions about culture, beliefs and values. Following on from their home classroom UOI, students are continuing to develop an understanding of the Central Idea: Beliefs and Values contribute to identity and an understanding of diversity, with the key concept of Perspective (What are the points of view? Different ways of looking, interpretation and understanding).

In art class, we are approaching our own Line of Inquiry: People of all cultures use creativity to tell stories about their beliefs and values. 

Tuning in to a Mask Making Unit

(Image borrowed from mapio.net)

There is nothing better than a primary source to spur curiosity and generate questions. Students have tuned into the central idea, concepts and line of inquiry by observing two masks originating from the island of Bali, Indonesia, and using a secondary source (Youtube) to gain a sense of the masks in action, and the sounds of Gamelan and environment surrounding them. With much excitement, many questions arose, around who they are, where they are from, what are they for, how were they made? Students have been exposed to the story of Barong and Rangda at a very basic level (as to some they may appear frightening!), concluding that they portray the Hindu belief/value in balance. With the knowledge that one character is good, and one evil, students practiced their Thinking Skills by observing and describing the visual characteristics of the mask, paying close attention to the craftsmanship, and point of view as an artist: “how did the artist use the elements of art and principles of design to express the character of these mythical creatures?” All students should have uploaded their thoughts to Seesaw. A great example is that of Ariel’s (4MA). Well done to Ariel.

For Ariel’s (Class 4MA) Observations & Thoughts, Click Here

The Creative Process – Developing Skills & Create

Usually, we would spend time, planning for a mask of our own (designing), and one which may express our own values/beliefs However, as this was a focus of our last unit (many lessons were spent generating ideas for a painting) this trimester we have skipped directly to developing skills and creating, as we do need the extra time for ‘making’. So, this time, having also viewed some images of masks from other cultures, students are diving in! This is  spontaneous creativity! Most have ideas in their minds, but have not been required to share this yet (Reflection/Evaluation to come later). During this part of the process, students are developing skills by changing the shape and building on a basic form by use of cut out cardboard pieces, and the creation of 3D shapes, to add to the original form (This is not easy). Having created a strong foundation, they have been learning to use paper and paste to form one piece. This, as you might imagine, is more than fun, for all.

So here we are, ready to embark on our fourth week. For more news, watch this space!





Fifth Grade: Art and the PYP Exhibition (PYPX)

Central Idea: Collaborative Inquiry is a journey which empowers students to demonstrate life-long skills and dispositions which lead to action.

Line of Inquiry: Artists use creativity to raise awareness of matters that are important to them.

Fifth Grade Parents,

(Videos in this post may be easier to view from a laptop or PC)

Welcome back! This is going to be a long blog post. My aim is to enlighten you, as best possible regards this year’s strong integration of art and the upcoming Grade 5 PYP Exhibition (PYPX). As you may know, during the latter part of this school year, students will be involved in in a personal investigation of their choice. Groups will be organised according to interest and students will involve themselves in a collaborative process of inquiry, and be required to present their learning to the whole school community in May. This is the culminating learning experience of your child’s elementary school experience and very exciting! Please do not contact home room teachers regards this, at this moment in time. You will be introduced to specific details at the scheduled time, after February break. However, as the Fifth Grade art rotation began last week, and shall continue until Mid-March, art class is currently helping students to ‘tune in’ to the idea of investigating a transdisciplinary theme, and our art class line of inquiry ‘Artists use creativity to express matters that are important to them’.

Identifying Transdisciplinary Themes and PYP Concepts

Our first week of art class, students have had the opportunity to really clarify the definitions of the PYP Transdisciplinary Themes and Concepts.

Considering that art is often a form of taking action ie. raising awareness, students have been exposed to the work or artists who clearly have something to say. Completely open to personal interpretation, students have worked in pairs to question what they see, seek meaning, and identify the Transdisciplinary Theme and PYP Concepts in well known artworks. Many have been enthusiastic to share their thinking with the class.

Inspired by Kusama, Fifth Grade are working on an Obliteration Room of their own.

Exposure to a variety of art making forms

During week two and three, students are being reminded that art comes in a variety of forms, such as painting, drawing, construction, collage, and photography. The intention here is to open their minds to the various media which they could use, if they choose to, as a means of expression during their upcoming personal learning journey. It has been a busy and exciting time, as students have rotated through teacher directed, art stations. They are reminded to constantly keep in mind, the question “How can I use creativity to express a matter which is important to me?”

Example: Transdisciplinary Theme: How the World Works, PYP Concept: Change, Line of Inquiry: The Earth’s Cycles influence the activities of living things. Art Form: Painting, Task: Collaboratively create an abstract expression of the four seasons on four large canvases.

PYP Attitudes/Attributes (Learner Profile)

Incorporated into all, is consideration of the PYP Learner Profile. A shared painting can be a challenge and cause great frustration when a partner removes, changes, or transforms an area of a work with which you held a moment of great pride. A strong sense of perseverance, and acceptance is required  and students are being encouraged to be responsible and caring in their approach to all. I am pleased to report, that to date, a large percentage of students are demonstrating high levels of positivity in this regard. In fact, as the week has progressed, excited students have returned to art class before or after school, or during recess, simply to observe the new development that has occured during their time away.

Gallery of Students Working at Stations, and our work so far


In the above photos you will notice students standing on tables. This is not an act of artistic rebellion! With permission, they are safely standing at a height to view their work from above. Similarly, students can be found at the opposite side of the room at times, as they allow distance to provide a new perspective on the progression of their work. They are constantly self and peer evaluating, providing each other feedback, and making collaborative decisions regards their next steps with the work.

Next Steps

The entire Fifth Grade are working rapidly. It has been amazing to see! Two weeks of planned work is well under way, in just three days and students are requesting more! Together, we are making decision regards the introduction of new stations. And together, we shall decide, later in the year, which of our collaborative works we agree to being ‘presentable’.

When working groups have been established for the PYP Exhibition (after February break), and as students begin to form a clear idea for their group line of inquiry, they will have the option (please note, not compulsory) to incorporate artistic creativity into their work. With a clear submitted proposal, groups/individuals will be supported in achieving their goals. After February break, those who chose to, may use art class time for this personal study. More to come, in a few weeks.

For now, I share with you a moment of joyful observation from today ( permission for this post, happily granted by student!)


Second Grade: Portraits

Since December, Second Grade Students have continued to explore the Transdisciplinary Theme of How We Express Ourselves and the PYP Central Idea that ‘Artists use creativity to express ideas and feelings’. This time, we have focused on the Key Concept of Perspective, and Related Concept: Identity.

Tuning in and Investigation: Students tuned into the concepts by observing and discussing portraits and self portraits of well known artists or historical characters. These were specifically selected for the variety in artistic style and pose, leading to the questions about how others see us, how we see ourselves, and how we would like to be seen, in particular character traits, and how we might express these. Students enjoyed drawing these in their Process Journal and some explained their choices to the class.

As a creative approach to composition, students have had great fun dressing up in various costumes and accessories borrowed from our theatre department. They have taken selfies with iPads, considering composition and learned to save and name in Google Drive. Some of these selfies will be exhibited in the glass cabinets outside the ES office soon. (Clay Tiles will be returned to Home Room teachers)

Developing Skills and Create: With a selection of creative ideas for a self portrait stored in our art class google drive, students selected one, as a focal point for a painting. They have become aware of some simple facts about facial proportions and attempted to incorporate this into their work. They have practised sketching out their ideas lightly, and applying block tempera paint in a sequential manner.

Reflecting/Evaluating/Refining: Our time has run out! This week is the last for this art rotation. Those who managed to complete the painting moved on to the next step of refining with pencil and adding texture rubbings to their background. Final works shall be posted here soon. We have not yet had the opportunity to gather feedback, evaluate or reflect this current work. However, this could be touched upon with parent help at home. Talk to your child about the portrait unit. How did he/she feel about it? Was it enjoyable? Or not? Which part was the most enjoyable? (Observing portraits? Taking Selfies? Sketching out the facial proportions? Applying the paint?) How did he/she choose to present an image of him/herself? How does it express his/her personal character? What was easy to do? Or challenging to do? How successful did the child feel his/her work was? Does he/she still need time to finish it? (we shall find time later in the year).

A presentation of some final products will be posted here in the next week.


Fifth Grade: Discuss and Present

Today’s post contains a slide show of Gr 5 final products with music. If you are viewing from a smartphone or tablet, please go directly to the AAS blog site by clicking here, in order receive the full version. Please also be aware that the sound starts on the fifth slide, and your volume may need adjusting.

Art time for Fifth Grade students has come to an end for now. It has been a pleasure to observe all work through the process of investigation and creative exploration of materials. As mentioned in previous posts, the final requirement was for students to be able to write or speak about their work on Seesaw, using art specific vocabulary, and to be able to reflect upon feedback from peers and their teacher, and how this may have have influenced their decision making over time. All parents should have received Seesaw notification of their child’s entry by the end of this weekend. For now, we are proud to present some of our final products. Next Friday 8 December a few students will present in Assembly. Thank you in advance to Andrew, Victoria, Alexia, Lisa, and Zian, who are planning to present on behalf of the entire Fifth Grade. Student art work will be displayed around school in the new year.


Fourth Grade: Refine, present and evaluate: Am I a good communicator?

Fourth Grade’s art time has come to an end for now. During the last few lessons it was a pleasure to observe students excited to come to art, independently setting up materials and eager to continue their painting, complete with plan in front of them. Though our art time has ended for now, they know that they will have one more opportunity when they return, to refine these works. This means ‘tidying it up’, and adding textures and details to make it truly complete. Then shall come the real test “Am I a good communicator?” We plan to exhibit these works, finished or not finished. It will be an interactive exhibition in that we will ask our audience (parents, teachers, students) to guess the mood of the work. With this, students will tally up results and should be able to gain a sense of their success in communicating a mood through subject matter or color. To give you a taste of some final products, we are proud to present to you, a small gallery of unfinished art works to date. Can you guess the mood of these paintings? Happy? Excited? Peaceful? Romantic? Scared? Angry? Thank you for following the Grade Four art blog these past few weeks. We look forward to Fourth Grade’s return to the art room in the new year.