The kindergarten Dragons and Eagles classes in New York and all three kindergarten classes in São Paulo – the Macaws, Hummingirds, and Toucans – have embarked upon an exciting artistic collaboration over the past few months.
In art class, each student first made a small watercolor painting. Students discussed filling the whole paper and explored making different marks, pictures, colors and shapes with their brushes and paint. In New York, this conversation took place in Chinese, while in São Paulo, the conversation took place in English – their immersion language.
Students’ images were then scanned by me and by our art teacher in São Paulo, Ms. Moura, and sent by email to the other campus. Next, the images were printed out as greeting cards and each student chose one watercolor greeting card from a student at the opposite campus. Using Sharpie markers and other various drawing tools in art, the students then added to or embellished the watercolor image on the front of their cards. In New York, the students then took their cards back to the classroom where classroom teacher Ms. Conte and Ms. Gootkin helped the students write short messages to their artistic pen pals. Finally, the cards were sent to the other campus and opened by the original sender who had made the first watercolor images.
This kind of “artistic pen pal” collaboration encourages the students to do several things. First, each child must recognize that the final work was a collaborative effort. Their original watercolors are changed by the marks made by the other student. Second, students can see how art may change over time, especially through somebody else’s interpretation and hand. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it allows some of our youngest students to begin to develop a relationship with students at other campuses, and will hopefully fuel ideas for friendship and collaboration in the future.