As I cannot speak without going into horrific spasms of coughing, I chose an art lesson for today that required minimum involvement from Teacher. No cutting, no gluing, no “Teacherrrrrr, help-puh me!!!”, no paint, no clay, no mess. Just straightforward old drawing with pencils, crayons, and sketchbooks.
And what always amazes me in situations like this is how much more entertained the kids are by what seem – to me – to be the least interesting projects. The three back-to-back art classes were a breeze, with only a brief 10-minute discussion at the start and then lots of time for me to sit back and sip herbal tea remedies while the room was filled with the giggles and excited exclamations of tiny 6-year-old artists.
I had decided to introduce the work of Giuseppe Arcimboldo to my classroom – that is to say, portraits created using fruits and vegetables instead of various facial parts. You can tell within the first minute of any art lesson whether it’s going to be a success or a failure, and the captivated “oooohhhhhh!”s and delighted laughter as I drew an example portrait on the board were music to my ears. I didn’t feel guilty about keeping quiet for most of the class, since they got to revise all their fruit ‘n’ veg and body parts vocabulary at the start, making it an educationally valid lesson rather than a shut-up-and-leave-Teacher-alone exercise (I confess – I’ve done those on occasion!). The earnest concentration was simply an added bonus.
And the portraits my little artists created! Arcimboldo himself would be impressed.