Last school year, Theron Wilcox’s LOVE artwork was chosen for the 2021-22 Family Handbook and Calendar for the month of February. Theron was in Ms. Kelly Glynn’s first grade classroom at Carl Cozier Elementary School at the time she created it. During a visit to Carl Cozier, we captured now second grader Theron holding a copy of the calendar highlighting her art.
We asked Ms. Glynn more about this art lesson and found out that not only was the lesson repeated again this year for her current first graders but that the timing was such that we were able to photograph some of that lesson. In addition to the art lesson, Glynn also shared that there was a social emotional component to the lesson this year as well. See below for a bit of back and forth with teacher Kelly Glynn.
The LOVE block lesson: Is it based on the popular, classic LOVE art of Robert Indiana?
Glynn: This lesson is based on the work of Robert Indiana. I started teaching this lesson several years ago when we transitioned away from celebrating Valentine’s Day. Now, we focus on love, friendship and acts of caring during February (and every month). When he created the original sculpture, Robert Indiana probably had no idea how far his message would reach.
What mediums do you use?
Glynn: We used watercolors and sharpie this year. In the past we have used oil pastels, clay and tempera paint.
You mentioned that your class did some inquiry on the word “love,” what it means to others.
Glynn: As a class we have been building our vocabulary by “owning” words. When you own a word, you fully understand the meaning of the word and can use it when speaking and writing. The children had a difficult time explaining what the word love meant so we began to inquire into the meaning of love. We went on a walk around the school and each child spoke to a few different people, both adults and children in a variety of grades, and asked them what the word love meant to them. The kids came back and shared what they learned. The students then had a chance to talk to each other about how they would define love, if their thoughts/feelings had changed after talking to other people, and if they added any new ideas to what they think love means.
In general, do your first grade art lessons cross disciplines with science, math, history or other subjects?
Glynn: I teach art once a week to my first graders. When I began teaching, I would teach a different famous artist every week. We would learn a little bit about the life of the featured artist, view some of their work, and then practice an art technique that they used to create our own piece. Now that I teach at an IB World School, the art lessons are connected to our units of inquiry and the learner profile attributes. When learning about Robert Indiana’s Love sculpture our class was focusing on the learner profile attribute of being caring. In addition, we were in engaged in our unit of inquiry with the central idea that art expresses ideas and feelings.
Any big takeaways about doing art with your students, especially during the pandemic months?
Glynn: I love teaching art. I believe it is one of the most important subjects in school and often doesn’t receive the recognition and respect it deserves. Art has been a vital part of expression and communication from the beginning of time. Much of what we know about our past would be lost if not for cave drawings and pictures on the walls of tombs and temples. In the Middle Ages when the majority of people were illiterate, teaching was done through the art of beautiful stained-glass windows, murals and mosaics. Mankind has always expressed emotion, knowledge, and fresh ideas creatively using art media. Art is a living history of our world. It is inspiring to see how children interpret their world and express their thoughts and feelings.
Thank you, Theron, for the awesome artwork and thank you, Ms. Glynn, for sharing more about your deep, impactful and colorful teaching.
Kelly Glynn has taught in Bellingham Public Schools since 1999, starting at former Larrabee Elementary School and then moving to Carl Cozier after Larrabee closed.