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Ohio Northern's SMArts is Creative Education

Oct 17, 2006

Students from two area elementary schools are participating in Ohio Northern University’s SMArts (Saturday Morning Art) enrichment program, learning art and more. Each Saturday in October, 19 ONU teacher candidates are leading 50 students from Ada and Bath schools through an innovative and multi-leveled program of art and learning.

Linda Lehman, visiting assistant to the director of the Center for Teacher Education, explains that the class is designed to prepare classroom teachers to meet Ohio’s five standards of art education. Because fewer schools can afford full time art instructors, many classroom teachers see art requirements added to their long list of duties.

Divided by age levels, the Saturday morning students learn about art production, art criticism, art history, aesthetics and connect those areas back to academic subjects, all while reveling in visual and tactile fun.

Kindergarten and first grade students are making paper. Then they dye pulp and learn a process called pulp painting. This process is used in Denise Fleming’s children’s books, which introduce the children to language arts. In the end, the children create their own stories through art.

For second and third graders the medium is sculpture and the message is creating art and art criticism. After viewing the sculptures on ONU’s campus and discussing them, the students design and create their own sculptures, again using their work to tell their story.

Fourth, fifth and sixth graders use photography to experience art history, criticism and aesthetics. After an introduction to Ansel Adams’ photographs, they discuss how and when photography can be considered art. They then use 35mm cameras to photograph and create their own stories.

“This kind of art instruction,” says Lehman, “combines art and academics.” Children who may not enjoy reading or math can find a reason to use those skills while creating their art. “It’s wonderful to see children excited about quality visual images,” she says.

The SMArts program is funded by a grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation. Transportation for the program is funded by Procter and Gamble. To learn more, contact Linda Lehman at (419) 228-2057.