Get Smart with Art is a volunteer-based, in-class art education program that provides students one, hour-long art period per month. The program starts in October and art projects are presented eight times a year. Volunteers lead students in a discussion of art, style and artist history; teach students to critique a print and lead the students in an age-appropriate art project.
Art education is not state or district-funded in the Illinois public elementary school. However, our principal, schoolteachers, staff, and parents recognize art education as an integral element of a student’s elementary education. Several years ago Get Smart with Art was introduced to elementary schools in School District #90. With the construction of Moye Elementary School in November 2003 the Parent/Teacher Organization chose to adopt this program. As a result of strong school staff and PTO support, the program was first offered in February 2004 and has blossomed since.
According to the Illinois State Goals for Fine Arts, students who are introduced to basic artistic concepts during elementary years tend to have better ability to recognize and investigate problems; formulate and propose solutions supported by reason and evidence; express and interpret information and ideas; recognize and apply connections of important information and ideas within and among learning areas.
The students are introduced to artists from the Renaissance to pop art. Following an introduction to the artist as provided by the GSWA volunteer, the students are encouraged to view and formulate opinions about a selected piece of reproduction artwork. The learning period ends with the opportunity to create artwork using different medium, including pencil, colored pencil, watercolor and tempera paint or collage.
The students really enjoy this time of the month. Most know what to expect (presentation, discussion and art project) so it is familiar and they are anxious to get started. Most elementary school age children believe they have artistic talent; studies have shown that at about grade seven social pressures cause students to lose this ideal. The volunteers have a great opportunity to build their self-confidence through this program.
You do not have to have a degree in art to participate; all research and materials are provided. We have files of information on artists and their work and step-by-step instructions and samples of art projects for your use.