Art at Fort River

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Welcome to Art at Fort River Elementary!

Please use the pages to the left to navigate around the site. This site is still under construction, but there will be more photos and lessons as time allows. Read on for the most recent news from the art room!

News from the Art Room: September 2017
Happy New School Year! 
Fort River’s young artists have hit the ground running and are already starting their first big projects. Kindergarten and First graders have started the year with painting, using watercolor and tempera sticks. Second and third grades are creating imaginative drawings which we will later color using a variety of media. Fourth graders are building their own sketchbooks, and we will use them throughout the year for drawing. Fifth graders have begun their Mind Map projects in which students share “what’s on their mind” – the results are always fascinating and fabulous! Sixth graders have started the year with modular sculptures, using recycled objects and glue guns to assemble a form. All students are doing very well and I look forward to displaying their work in the hallways in time for Open House on Wednesday, October 11th. 
This year, we are trying a new Specials schedule that allows students in 4th, 5th, and 6th grades to delve deeply into each project over the course of several days instead of having to wait a week between art class times. The four-week cycle allows one class from each grade to come in to art for 3 consecutive days during one of the weeks, and rotate through other Specials classes during the other weeks. Each class will still get an equal number of art sessions, but the sessions will be clustered so that students can begin and finish a project within a week. Students in grades K-3 will have art once a week as usual, and all grades will still have PE and Library once per week as well. If you have questions about the new Specials schedule, please ask your child’s teacher or email me at See you at Open House!Ms. Singer

Art Room News: March 2016

News from the Art RoomWe have been enjoying several new projects brought to us by Ms. Hanson, our terrific student teacher from Hampshire and Mount Holyoke college. We have just finished paper weaving with kindergarten and first grade. First graders also joined second graders to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday by making Truffula Trees using yarn and other mixed-media. Second graders then moved on to printmaking. Meanwhile, the third graders are finishing up several weeks’ worth of hard work on their animal dioramas – Keep an eye out for upcoming information about our animal research presentations in late April! Fourth graders are studying text art and illuminated manuscripts, creating their own decorative letters using drawing, collage, and mosaic techniques. Fifth graders finished a very successful BioInspire unit, and are now beginning to paint watercolor landscapes. Sixth graders are wrapping up a long-term printmaking project and a collaborative Arts Immersion Mural. Sixth graders will soon go on a field trip to the Mead Art Museum and the Beneski Science Museum at Amherst College on Tuesday, April 12th! We are having a busy and fun-filled time in the art room! Please keep an eye out for work coming home via backpacks, and for more information about trips and other events. Happy Spring from Ms. Singer and Ms. Hanson

Art Room News: February 2016

There is lots of good news coming from our busy art studio! Last week we were in the Daily Hampshire Gazette in an article highlighting our 5th grade BioInspire! Unit, in which 5th graders work with scientists from UMass to design inventions based on animal adaptations. They are finishing their designs in the next week, and are taking turns sharing their ideas with the class. Meanwhile, our sixth graders have embarked on two new projects: linoleum printmaking and mural painting. Students are having a great time exploring new media and practicing how to use linoleum carving tools safely and carefully. Third graders are also starting a new diorama making project based on their animal research in class and in the library with Ms. Ludington. Our student teacher, Willow Hanson, has done a wonderful job leading students in lots of fun lessons, including sponge painting with Kindergarten, landscape collages with 4th grade, and mixed-media Truffula Trees with 1st and 2nd grades. Keep an eye out for lots of new art going up on the walls in the next month, and new clay projects in the display cabinets outside the art room. 
Art Room News: December 2015

We have explored so many new media in the last couple of months! Sixth graders are finishing their multi-media sculptures, and will soon be working with fabrics and dyes. Sixth graders in the Arts Immersion class are also working on a Crankie, a scrolling story picture, to accompany the chorus in the winter concert. Fifth graders have already started using fabric and dye in their Shibori pillows, which they are also sewing. Third and fourth graders are hard at work on their first plaster projects, in which we are looking at sculptures by Louise Bourgeois and Alberto Giacometti and making armatures before adding plaster and paint. Second graders are using papier-mache paste to create their own light catchers based on lanterns from around the world. Kindergarten and first grade are working on their first clay projects, which will go in our newly-functional kiln for firing! 

Art Room News: November 23, 2015We are wrapping up many big projects this month, and starting with several new media as well. Sixth grade is finishing sculptures that represent the people in their lives who support them. Fifth grade just began a unit on Japanese Shibori dye techniques, and we will soon be turning our fabric into pillows. Fourth graders began a figure sculpture unit based on the work of Giacometti, and we will soon be using plaster to reinforce our wire armatures. Third graders are finishing shadow puppets in preparation for their performance with Ms. White, and we are also working on illustrations of social gatherings based on the work of Carmen Lomas Garza. Second graders are now experts at pastels and color families (look out – the color gets everywhere!), and first graders have become experts at patterns. Kindergarteners are working on collages based on Eric Carle’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I look forward to displaying these works in the coming weeks!

Art Room News: October 27, 2015Fort River’s artists are in full creative mode. Sixth graders are working on sculptures that represent their social support systems. Fifth graders are learning to use precise cutting tools as we study Papel Picado in time for Dia de los Muertos. Fourth graders are developing their observational drawing skills and preparing for a self-portrait sculpture project. Third graders have learned about shadow theater in music class, and are now making their own moveable shadow puppets in art. Prompted by their trip to Puffer’s Pond, second graders are learning to draw and color leaves using pastel and other media while we learn about warm and cool color families. First graders are studying pattern and line in our next painting project. Kindergarteners are learning to draw and paint with big shapes as we make our own finger-painted owls.  In the next several months, we will slowly begin introducing new materials and projects. I am now preparing clay and batik lessons, which all students will be able to try as the year goes on. Please encourage students to wear very washable clothing on their Art days (or clothing that can tolerate some extra color!). While we do wear aprons at times, things like sleeves and shoes can be particularly susceptible to spills and smudges. As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or excitement to share, please email me at
 Art Room News: April 13, 2015 Our sixth graders are working on some beautiful murals in the sixth gradequad bathrooms based on Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawings from Mass MoCA. Soon, we willlaunch into a new mixed-media sculpture project. Sixth grade also hada jam-packed and fun-filled day at Amherst College visiting the Mead Art Museum,the Beneski Science Museum, and the Planetarium. Fifth graders have beensculpting clay gargoyles. We studied how gargoyles are both decorative andfunctional – they help keep water off of the sides of stone buildings when raincomes or when snow melts. Fifth graders are also taking breaks fro sculpting tocontinue working on their short stop-motion animation projects. Fourth gradershave been doing a series of projects around symmetry and positive and negativespace, and we hope to soon go outside for more outdoor sketching. Third gradersare presenting their dioramas later this week and have worked hard to create thehabitat and models of the animals that they have been researching in class.Second grade finished some very creative pinch pot creatures that will soon gohome. Note that if any pieces break, they can be repaired with super glue, tackyglue, a glue gun, or even white Elmer’s glue if you make sure to hold it inplace for long enough! First grade is working on some beautiful prints based onthe Japanese prints that we saw on our field trip to the Mead Art Museum atAmherst college. Kindergarteners are now mixing colors deliberately andcarefully to make colorful fish inspired by Dr. Seuss’s “One Fish, TwoFish”…it’s only illustrated using primary colors, so we decided to make ourown fish using secondary colors and beyond. Additionally, kindergarteners willsoon share their paper bag puppets (from last month) at an assembly with Ms.White.  Thank you to all of the parents who joined us as chaperones on our trips tothe Mead Art Museum, the Beneski Science Museum, and the Planetarium at AmherstCollege! Our 6th and 1st graders had a wonderful time and we hope you did too. Happy spring!

Art Room News: February 13, 2015 Congratulations to our 6th graders who put on a fantastic AncientCivilizations Immersion Day! Sixth graders acted as tour guides to share theirart with one another and with younger students. We turned a bathroom into a cavefull of paleolithic cave art from 6th grade and Kindergarten, and we also postedthe beautiful Egyptian-style wall paintings by our 6th grade Arts Immersionstudents. The movement and music immersion students did a great job with theirpresentations too. I am so proud of all of you!! In our weekly art classes, sixth graders are working on slit-tapestry styleweaving projects, a complex variation of weaving skills that they learned asyounger students where they can now weave shapes with each color of yarn. Fifthand fourth grades are exploring figure drawing and sculpture inspired by AlbertoGiacometti, and we have also been playing Figure Drawing Freeze Dance forinspiration and poses! Third graders will soon begin working dioramas. Inaddition to researching animals and their habitats, we will also be hearingabout the professional field of diorama building and restoration for museums.Recently, the Museum of Natural History in New York City restored its famousdioramas, so we will be watching some short footage of the artists at workpainting, sculpting, and dressing the spaces for the museum. Second graders havejust completed their Light Catchers to celebrate lantern festivals and festivalsof light around the world, and are beginning to work on Matisse-style cutoutcollages. First grade is finishing up a paper weaving project and will soon moveinto three-dimensional media and printmaking. Kindergarteners have been gettinga fine motor workout as we investigate wall art of various kinds, includingpaleolithic art and murals, where the students have had the opportunity to drawon the inside of paper “caves” and on “ceilings” on the underside of thetables! Exciting things coming up on the Art calendar:Friday March 13: First Grade Field Trip to see Japanese prints at the MeadArt Museum (Amherst College) – more details to come! Tuesday April 7th: Sixth Grade Field Trip to the Mead Art Museum. BeneskiScience Museum and Planetarium – again, more details coming soon! Thank you again to all of the families who brought in supplies, and thanksto all of our students for continuing to work hard and have a wonderful time inart!

Art Room News: January 14, 2015 This month, many classes are starting art projects that build on students’prior knowledge, adding new techniques to help students expand their skill set.For example, Kindergarteners are weaving with paper (many for the first time),while first graders are creating larger and more complex paper weavings, andsixth graders are beginning larger tapestry-style weavings with yarn oncardboard looms where they can weave pictures into their fabric. Second gradersare finishing their Footprint Paintings, in which we are turning shoe printsinto lots of different animals, while fourth graders (and soon, fifth graderstoo) are turning lines and ovals into figures as we learn to draw people. Thirdgraders are continuing their study of Wampanoag dwellings, and each student isworking on a model of a wetu – the multimedia skills learned here will servethem well in our upcoming diorama project too.  THANK YOU to everyone who has brought in – or sent with a student -supplies from the Art Room Wish List! I am excited to use all of these greatmaterials with the students. They have lots of different uses in our artprojects, and they will also help me start positive conversations with studentsabout recycling, reducing waste, and using creativity and imagination to buildart out of everyday things. Thank you for your support!

Art Room News; December 2014/January 2015 At this time of year, our artists are synthesizing the basic skills,techniques, and procedures that we have learned at the beginning of the year andare beginning to apply them to more complex projects. 6th graders are eachworking on a series of linoleum-cut prints that involve printing one color overanother with lots of carving in between. Fifth grade is midway through awatercolor landscapes unit, and fourth grade is just starting an extended figureand gesture drawing study (some of which involves dancing in the art room!).Third grade classes are learning about the Wampanoag with their teachers, and inart class we are studying the structures and materials of Wampanoag longhouses.Second grade continues our study of imaginative art, this time by turningeveryday objects into animals, fantastical creatures, and even other objects.First graders just finished our first paper sculptures, and we are now studyingDale Chihuly’s glass flowers, making our own out of coffee filters (thank youagain for those donations!). In conjunction with their trip to the Eric CarleMuseum of Picture Book Art, Kindergarteners are painting their own paper to usefor collages in the next several classes.  Thank you so much to those families who have sent pliers, shoe boxes, papertowels, cereal boxes, and other supplies from the art room wish list! Pleasecontinue to send materials in, we can always use them here! I am particularlylooking for more shoe boxes, needle-nose pliers/wire cutters, and aluminum foil,if you have extra around the house. The full art room wish list can be found at of these supplies are things that you might have extra around the house ormight otherwise discard. If you have any of these items, we would love to makeart with them!  Wishing you a restful and fun-filled winter vacation and happy newyear!

Art Room News: November 5, 2014 This month, I’d like to put the spotlight on the 6th grade immersionprojects. Sixth graders are studying ancient civilizations in their socialstudies classes with Mr. Austin. Here in the art room we examined paleolithicart – the earliest known drawings and paintings – and then made our own. We havebeen using pastels and inks, similar to the earthy pigments and juices thatmight have been the best paints thousands of years ago, to create both large-and small-scale cave drawings. Later in the year, we will be turning the artroom storage closet into a cave to show off our work! As the students movetowards studying Mesopotamia and Egypt, we will be doing a comparative study ofpower in art. How did ancient artists show that someone was powerful? What doesit mean to be powerful in ancient societies and in today’s society? How do weshow this power (or different power relationships) in art work? We will becreating our own images that depict our students as powerful people, borrowingthe visual techniques and symbolic strategies from ancient artists.  Students in all grades are making great progress in their work. We havedeveloped a strong foundation for art room routines and expectations, and wehave worked in many media in all classes already. Keep up the good work,artists! Additionally, I want to send a big thank you to families for yourpatience as we try to rotate finished projects into the displays and then backinto the hands of students to take home. Students are doing excellent work hereand I will always send it home after the displays get taken down, even if ittakes some time!

Art Room News: October 16, 2014 Art Integration In The Works! We have some exciting new projects coming up.This year, elementary schools across the district are creating and implementingcross-curricular units. These projects will combine movement, music, or visualart with the subjects usually taught in the classroom, allowing students tolearn about big ideas in different modalities. Specials teachers and classroomteachers have been collaborating in meetings to share curricula and co-teachprojects. With fifth grade, we have been making our own Math Mosaics. Theproject involves students using construction paper as tiles in large-scalecollaborative mosaics, but with a hitch: the students must engage inmathematical thinking to get their tiles! Each group starts with a large sheetof paper representing 1000 tiles, and must then trade their papers in forsmaller units of 100s, 10s, or 1s. With support from teachers at our “colorbank,” students exchange their tiles only when they can describe and combinetheir units correctly. This will help students gain a more thoroughunderstanding of place value, which will help support their subtraction (andlater, division) skills. In the next several newsletters, I will write moreabout integration projects taking place in other grades. In the meantime, enjoythe fall colors – though the weather is cooler, the colors get warmer!
Welcome Back to Art: September 19, 2014 We are off to a great start in Art this year! Students have alreadycompleted their first projects, which will soon be on display around the school.The 4th through 6th grades have started their first in-depth work, while Kthrough 3 have been working on several shorter-term projects in a variety ofmedia. Please check out the Fort River Art Website forinformation about the art room, art room news, donations, and volunteering. Iwill soon begin to update the website further with lesson plans and pictures, astime allows. In the meantime, I can be reached by email at .  I look forward to meetingyou at Open House!
Art Room News: May 30, 2014

Fort River’s young artists have been working on a wide variety ofimaginative projects. Students in K, 1, 3, and 6 have paired up inpartners for a May Monster Swap. Students are learning to draw monsters thatbuild on our previous discussions of line, shape, and proportion while allowingstudents to get creative with these techniques and ideas in their creations. Thethird and sixth graders are drawing monsters for the kindergarten and firstgraders to color, while the younger students are drawing monsters for the olderstudents to bring to life in an illustration and shading unit. For inspiration,we looked at the work of Dave DeVries and the Monster Engine. Meanwhile, fourthgraders just finished a unit on stylization and symbolism in Haida-style animalcrests and will soon investigate tessellations and the work of M.C.Escher. Fifth grade is midway through creating gargoyles out of clay. Secondgraders printed a LOT of robot prints and exchanged them with classmates, and weare now creating covers and binding for our robot print books. Keep an eye outfor lots of great student work coming home in the next few weeks!
Art Room News: April 17, 2014 FortRiver’s artists have worked very hard throughout the long month of March! Sixthgrade has been producing all kinds of creative modular sculptures out ofrecycled materials such as toilet paper rolls, marker caps, cans, and more. Wehave also begun to install our collaborative sculpture on the walls here at FortRiver – it had been on display at the Mount Holyoke College Art museum! Fifthgraders have continued our study of texture with an intricate scratchboardproject. We discussed how to use texture to show shape and how to look closelyat our subjects (in this case, animals from nature magazines). Soon, fifthgraders will also be learning about the process of installing work for display;they will be in charge of the display board for this project! Fourth grade hasembarked on an interdisciplinary unit on Haida art and culture in collaborationwith Ms. Terzakis, the intern in Mr. Sheehan’s class. Third graders have eachbeen researching an animal in their classrooms, and we are building dioramasof each animal’s habitat in art. The second graders are now expert printmakers,and we are working towards compiling a “print exchange” book so that we can eachtake home a sampling of prints from our classmates. Kindergarten and first gradeare practicing their cutting, weaving, and gluing techniques while learning somenew weaving vocabulary.  Art Room News: March 14, 2014 In the past months, the artists of Fort River have wrapped up excellentwork on long-term projects and have begun to move into new work. Fourth grade isnearly finished with their weaving projects (they are putting lots of effort andtime into this detailed work – nice work, fourth grade!). Grades 3, 5, and 6 areworking with acrylic paint, and are beginning sculpture units. 6th grade will beworking on modular sculptures based on the work of El Anatsui, whose work we sawon our field trip to the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. Students in 2nd gradeare about to begin a printmaking project that incorporates their knowledge ofpolygons, and kindergarten and 1st grade have been exploring primary andsecondary colors by mixing tempera paints.  I am still looking for a few volunteers to help with the displays in thehallways. Please join me if you can! Friday mornings between 8:30 and 10:30 aregenerally a good time, but I am happy to work out other times if you would liketo volunteer on another day. Big thanks to those who have volunteeredalready!
Art Room News: February 11, 2014 Despitethe snow days, students have gotten a lot of great work done in art in the lastfew weeks. Students in kindergarten and first grade experimented with primaryand secondary colors using layered cellophane, making our own “stained glass”pieces. Second and third graders looked at pictures from lantern and lightfestivals around the world, then made their own light-catchers. Fourth gradersare learning a slit-tapestry weaving technique to put shapes into fabric, andfifth graders are beginning a unit on embossed metal. Most of these projects arestill in progress. Sixth-graders will soon go on field trip to view thesculpture of El Anatsui at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum! The trip isscheduled for Friday, February 28th. Information and permission slips for thetrip have been sent home with students.  Art Room News: January 23, 2014 Happy New Year! We’re starting to get extra messy in Art. Students inKindergarten, first, second, third, and sixth grades are all working with apaper-mache-like paste to create 3D and stained-glass projects with paper. Thepaste is washable from clothing, but students might want to leave jewelry athome in the next few weeks. Fourth and fifth graders are working on projectswith rather different media: weaving and embossed metals, respectively. I havebeen impressed with students’ attention to detail in their work! They arechallenging themselves with their designs, and the projects are progressingquite nicely.
I would like to express my thanks to the parents who have come in tovolunteer. Thanks to you, our halls are full of beautiful student artwork andthe supply areas in the art room are well-organized. Thank you so much! If youwould still like to volunteer, please contact me at
Art Room News: December 18, 2013 

We have had a very busy few weeks! Fifth and sixth grades have completed their Mind Maps and are now working on watercolor landscape paintings using wet- and dry-paper techniques. Fourth grade finished a challenging contour drawing unit (including both sculptures and drawings based on their sketches) and have just started a weaving project. Third grade has finished illustrating scenes of our favorite people and our favorites foods, and second grade is almost done with their self-portrait collages. In first grade, we learned how to make drawings by starting with the big shapes first, looking at houses from around the world and finding the biggest shapes in them to start our pictures. After reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the Kindergarten classes made their own paper and collages in the style of Eric Carle. Keep an eye out for your students’ art as they bring their work home, and look for their work on the walls at Fort River too!

Art Room News: November 20, 2013

Fort River’s young artists are finishing up a lot of excellent work just in time to take it home for Thanksgiving break. Keep an eye out for work that students are bringing home in the next few weeks. The students have many ideas and stories to share about their work! Please ask your student(s) about how they made their art work and why they chose to do it the way they did. Students in grades four through six have the choice of bringing home their sketchbooks or keeping them in the art room to use throughout the year, so you might not see those for a while if your student chooses to leave the sketchbook in the art room. I hope you will enjoy seeing and talking about your student’s work as much as we enjoyed creating it! Feel free to contact me by email at if you would like to speak further about your student’s work and experience in the art class. 

Art Room News: October 30, 2013

It was a pleasure to meet families and share students’ art work at Open House. The art classes are working hard on new projects in a variety of media ranging from crayons to collage to coffee filters and many others. We’re going to get messier in the coming weeks. On art days, please send your student to school with clothing that is easily washable (just in case!). Check back at the Galleries section for photos, coming soon!

Art Room News: October 15, 2013

Thank you to the families, staff, and students who have been collecting and bringing in items from the Art Room Wish List! We’re looking forward to making art with them. I will post again to let you know when we have enough of an item, but for now, please continue to bring these items to the art room or send them with a student.

There is lots of good news coming from our busy art studio! Last week we were in the Daily Hampshire Gazette in an article highlighting our 5th grade BioInspire! Unit, in which 5th graders work with scientists from UMass to design inventions based on animal adaptations. They are finishing their designs in the next week, and are taking turns sharing their ideas with the class. Meanwhile, our sixth graders have embarked on two new projects: linoleum printmaking and mural painting. Students are having a great time exploring new media and practicing how to use linoleum carving tools safely and carefully. Third graders are also starting a new diorama making project based on their animal research in class and in the library with Ms. Ludington. Our student teacher, Willow Hanson, has done a wonderful job leading students in lots of fun lessons, including sponge painting with Kindergarten, landscape collages with 4th grade, and mixed-media Truffula Trees with 1st and 2nd grades. Keep an eye out for lots of new art going up on the walls in the next month, and new clay projects in the display cabinets outside the art room!