We are winding down our study of fairy tales (I plan to go out with a bang next week, but you’ll have to wait to find out more about that…) and we finished with Jack and the Beanstalk.  After starting with a physical sculpture activity again using some of the action verbs from the story (‘slithered down’, ‘strings vibrated’, etc.), we delved in.  We read the story and I just loved how each child smiled or nodded when the phrases they’d acted out was read.

As a precursor to our culminating project next week, we designed a beanstalk.  The children created the leaves, the sky, and then posed in various states of ‘climbing’ for the beanstalk.  When discussing our project, one child mentioned we should put a castle up in the sky.  It was their project, so a castle there would be!

I enlisted Calvin, our artist in residence to create the castle in the sky.

Calvin is one of my English Language Learners.  He took a long time to adjust to school and still struggles with some academic subjects.  What he doesn’t have any challenges with is fine motor skills or creativity.  From the first days of kindergarten, I spotted something special about Calvin’s artistic ability.  His pictures had more details, more colors, more life than his peers and he almost seems to go into a ‘zone’ when he’s working on a picture.

In an attempt to bolster his confidence and focus on this strengths, I affectionately started to referring to Calvin as ‘the Artist’, which always makes him smile.

So back to our castle.  I wanted Calvin to own it, so I pretty much gave him complete autonomy over how it would be created.

IMG_3450 - Version 2He wanted gray paper and a pencil.  He got to work.

After he sketched his castle, he wanted a Sharpie.  He got to work.

When he was done, I asked him if he wanted to add some color.  He nodded.

“Calvin, you can use anything you want… crayons, marker, regular paint, water colors, you name it,” I said.

Without hesitation he replied, “Water colors.”

IMG_3457He had been sitting with a group working on the clouds and sky, but I moved him to my desk.

“The Artist needs a special place to work!” I said loudly enough for everyone to hear.

As Calvin worked, I watched. Other kids came over and admired.  You don’t often get to see a true artist at work.

My hope is some quirky, eccentric middle or high school art teacher takes Calvin under her wing and pushes him to continue stretching his artistic wings.  As I tell Calvin all the time, I know someday I will see his work in a museum, as illustrations in a book, or perhaps both.


Some of our beanstalk.

Some of our beanstalk.