School: Waiʻanae Elementary School
Grade Level: Grade 6
Teacher: Ally Smith
Driving Question: How can we explore different forms of art and craft making in our community while quarantined at home?
What did the students DO?
Due to COVID-19 protocols, the PALS group opted to start the year online instead of missing out altogether. Their kumu, Ms. Ally Smith, decided to explore various types of art over the course of the school year. This posed some challenges related to supplies; however, Ms. Smith was determined to get all materials to her students prior to each virtual meeting so they could create together.
The group began with a painting unit. Each student received a small backpack with an easel, paints, brushes, and six small canvases. The first work of art the students created was a “Name Tag”, which included their name and images to represent what they love. The second piece was a “Mood Painting”, allowing each person to express how they were currently feeling. The third painting was a “Unity Picture” of Hawaiian flowers. Each student chose one of our favorite Hawaiian flowers, and the group had to add them all to their painting. For painting number four, the group explored the street art from the community as well as the POW! WOW! Exhibit downtown. After virtually touring all of this public art, each student created a piece inspired by an image they saw and enjoyed. The last two canvases were used for “Free Paint”. Some of the students chose to make holiday gifts for their family members, and others created artwork for their bedrooms. Each topic required some research and collaboration, which wasnʻt at all hindered by the virtual platform due to strong community building.
For the next unit, the group focused on making holiday ornaments. Students individually planned out their three designs: name, the Grinch, and one to be a globe to hold sand and shells. Ms. Smith used the Cricut machine to cut out the words each student would need for their design, and they quickly found out that adding small, sticky letters was really difficult! But nevertheless, they persisted! In addition to the three bulb ornaments, each student had time to make a seashell snowman, a paper snowman, a tea light snowman, a gingerbread person, and decorated sea stars. Each was so excited to take the new decorations home to their families, who loved them!
During the third quarter, the group shifted their focus again to learn about making jewelry. As an introduction to the process, Martina Nakasako of Nagasako Designs on Maui joined them for a presentation via Google Meets. Additionally, the group watched three online tutorials and took notes on how to make earrings. Using seed beads, charms, wooden beads, rocks, plastic beads, and metal beads they were able to not only make earrings but also bracelets. The team was so proud of their work they decided to try to sell them. To prepare, they cut white cardstock into rectangles, stamped a blue seahorse (their school mascot) onto the paper, and wrote a thank you message. The group sold nearly all of their pieces after posting them on social media.
For their final art project, the group explored making ti leaf haku lei. Hoa ʻĀina O Mākaha, a farm in their community, donated ti leaf and flowers. Several members of the community also donated flowers to the group.
The influx of materials allowed them to practice braiding lei and making wristlets before giving haku lei a try.. To their surprise, their first attempt turned out great!
Place-Based Field Experiences/Connections
Although the group was unable to go on any field experiences due to the COVID-19 restrictions, they were able to meet with a jewelry expert virtually and connect to place with the flower and ti leaf donations from their community. The donations, art inspiration, and conversations with experts all came from people and places within their community. Additionally, the students were able to bring these lessons and projects home with them to share with their ʻohana.