During the month of October, the Dorado classroom celebrated Hispanic Heritage month. This is a celebration we like to emphasize because we are a pre-K Spanish immersion classroom. For us it was critical to teach our children about Hispanic heritage in a way they could relate to and understand. We noticed that our students were very interested in paintings and art in general, so we concluded the best way to approach it was through art.
The Goldfish and Starfish embarked on a study of Frida Kahlo. They learned about her artistic life, where she was from and about her love for making self-portraits. Our pre-K curriculum already incorporates self-portraits, so this was the perfect way to connect the study of Frida Kahlo to a familiar theme. The reasoning behind making self-portraits is not only to give each child the opportunity to express themselves, but also to teach other topics such as body parts, colors, forms, shapes and lines, among others. It is a very special activity where the children get to learn new words, express themselves and simply draw how they see themselves. Each time they use different techniques and materials while expressing their artistic side. At the end of the year we will be able to appreciate their progress through their drawings from the beginning of the year to the last day of school.
To begin the study of Frida Kahlo, I prepared a short, age-appropriate PowerPoint presentation. At this age – 4.5 to 5 years old – children are very visual learners, so in the classroom we use technology to help bring to life what we are trying to teach. We used the PowerPoint to explain who Frida Kahlo was, show her most important paintings and discuss how her life and upbringing influenced her work. During various discussions, the children expressed interest in her self-portraits and as a group we decided to make our own versions that incorporated elements of Frida Kahlo’s paintings. We talked about including elements like bright colors, imagination and other details. Every Starfish and Goldfish had the opportunity to draw themselves taking Frida Kahlo’s artistic work into account.
We used various materials for this project. The only teacher-made step was to create an outline of the face (an oval-shaped head and two lines for the neck). The first task was to make a sketch of the face and using only pencils and black markers. Then, students added watercolor paint. Everyone took their time to develop their unique artistic creations. The children used bright colors and accentuated thick, dark eyebrows in honor of Kahlo, but they also added personal touches to their works.
Another fun activity related to the study of Frida Kahlo was the making of a “Frida Kahlo dress.” The children were very interested in her detailed costumes and the beautiful dresses portrayed in her paintings. They wanted to create their own dress to wear and to play with in the dramatic play area of the classroom. The Goldfish and Starfish started making a dress using different materials such as colorful pieces of cloth with distinctive textures, glue, foam pieces, Cray-Pas and lots of imagination. They also found lovely flowers to wear with the dress and a piece of black tape to simulate Frida’s unique, thick eyebrows. They made a beautiful, artistic costume that everyone is eager to use and play with during our play center time. What’s more important to us is not the final product, but the process and how we get there. It makes every single activity or art project very meaningful to students.
In the end, art projects like the ones mentioned above are a great example of ways we can ensure our students learn about important celebrations of different countries around the world no matter their age or ethnicity. I believe that if we focus on our students’ interests and make every learning experience appealing and pertinent to their everyday lives, children can learn about anything.
- Early Learning Center