Because I’m the Mess Fairy!

Why do I spend three hours preparing for a batik activity with students?  Why do I haul boxes of art supplies around in my van from one school site to the next?  Why do I find my  hands covered in wheat paste goo? Because I’m the mess fairy!  I get a kick out of seeing kids faces light up with excitement because of the materials I have brought them to explore and experiment with in the art studio.

One of my first teaching jobs after I graduated from college was teaching ceramics to elementary students during a summer school program back in 1980.  And yet somehow I ended up in a regular elementary classroom because that seemed the most expeditious way to get a teaching position and a paycheck.  If I could go back in time, I would have stuck with teaching art.  Time travel not as yet being possible, I sure am glad that I ended up via a somewhat twisty route where I began: in the art room.

On Thursday I demonstrated how to make an armature with tin foil and then cover it with papier mache to my morning kindergarten students.  Usually when I have a special activity, a few kids want to try it, but the rest have their own agenda to pursue in the art studio.  Little did I expect that all 12 students would want to dive into papier mache right off the bat.  I figured what the heck, and got everyone going.  Soon I was like a pin ball careening from one student to the next assisting, answering questions, and redemonstrating techniques. As students finished and moved onto other projects, I breathed a sigh of relief, and yet even when I was being clamored for, I was having fun helping to slather wheat paste goo onto tinfoil snakes, magic wands, people, and animals.  And I think my enthusiasm got a few kids over the “Eww!  It’s cold and wet!” phase and into the papier mache action.

A smarter, wiser Frances limited the papier mache center to no more than six kids at a time in the afternoon.  I could still slather wheat paste goo, demonstrate tin foil techniques, and encourage kids to envision their finished sculptures….but at a more relaxed pace!  Each day I am in the classroom, I am learning from my students, and with my students.  Each day their creations awe and inspire me, and stimulate ideas for my own artistic endeavors. I feel as if I am the luckiest person in the world, because I am with wonderful short people (as my art teacher friend Joyce calls them) that make me happy! Each day I am teaching and playing with materials to create objects that are outward expressions of inner visions, and for me there is nothing more wonderful!


About francifularts

I am an independent art educator. I had my first experience teaching ceramics when I was 24 and worked in the University for Youth program at the University of Denver. As an elementary school teacher I always found myself integrating the arts across the curriculum, which led to me working as an artist in the schools. In May of 2008 I began a master's program with Lesley University in their Creative Arts in Learning Program. It was a truly transformative and incredible experience which led me to decide to devote the rest of my teaching career to teaching art, and through the arts. About the same time that I completed my master's degree in January of 2011 I was hired to teach art in two different programs. I have never been happier in my work as a teacher, and I really appreciate the wonderful professors and cohort of fellow teachers I studied with at Lesley University. I also want to thank all of the wonderful arts educators that I have met online through the TAB/choice list serv for their thoughtful posts and insightful suggestions for teaching art!
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