Friday, June 3, 2011

Intergenerational Crafting

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was recently awarded a small grant to continue the work I have been doing at the senior center. One of the requirements of the grant is that the project must in someway positively impact the community. In my application proposal, I stated that I would arrange to have the work created by the seniors displayed at a local school as fulfillment of my community outreach requirement. After I was given the grant I began to think about how to get a school to turn over some display space for my senior projects. It was then that I realized that the best way to get a school to cooperate was to get its students involved in the crafting. Once there was a vested interest in displaying works created by its own students, I was sure I would be able to get some display space somewhere in a school.

As luck would have it, the universe conspired in my favor. Last year a group of elementary school students had visited the senior center so I contacted that teacher to see if she would once again be interested in having her students interact with the seniors. That's when I hit pay dirt. Not only was she interested but it turned out that her class was preparing to create display materials for a school-wide global studies expo in June. My original idea, which was simply to have seniors and school kids create some flowers together, grew into an interdisciplinary learning experience that directly tied into their global studies curriculum. The class was studying various aspects of Kenya which happens to be a large floral exporter . A little research revealed that chrysanthemums are among the most popular flowers exported from Kenya and, as it turns out, the flowers I had intended for the group to create looked like stylized chrysanthemums. I dug a little deeper and found some more Kenya-related facts that I could build upon for the project. On the day the students arrived, they split up among three areas to create flowers, tropical leaves and needlepoint work that imitated Maasai beadwork. The seniors who worked with the students helped them master the finer points of creating flowers while the other students worked on different projects. Good thing I had them to help out because I was jumping around to three different tables giving directions and taking photographs. The center director, JoAnne Biswakarma, was directing a fourth table of students engaged in the plastic canvas needlepoint.

Above you see a photo of the flowers and leaves the students were able to complete in the short time they were at the center. (Because of their age and to protect their privacy, I can't show you photos of the students themselves showing off their work.) I will soon visit the students in their classroom so they can complete the needlepoint and to work on more elements of the final display that will be on display the week of June 13th. I'll be sure to photograph and post photos of the completed display once it has been mounted.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva
Design team member for About Art Accents

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