Art and Music
Our arts and music programs are unique to MVCS. Unlike traditional public schools, we do not have "specials" added on to our curriculum. Instead, art and music are integrated into our daily activities at MVCS; all of our classes focus on igniting creativity in a child. This year, students are participating in yoga, meditation, multi-media graphic arts, sewing, basket making, journaling and creative writing.
In Lower Elementary, students are immersed in the studies of the natural world and their artwork reflects that focus. They are encouraged to explore nature-derived art materials for their compositions, collecting colorful leaves, fallen pinecones or twigs for their multi-media projects. In addition to more formal art activities, students' nature journals are often filled with sketches or drawings of their surroundings- spontaneous inspiration from the natural world!
In Upper Elementary, art is integrated into many aspects of our studies. Students use nature journals to sketch and draw their observations during science explorations and nature connection practices. Teachers guide students in using a variety of journaling techniques and students often choose to journal during the work morning.
Art and art history also provide meaningful and engaging avenues to explore curriculum topics in greater depth. For example, as part of their study of NH history, upper elementary students explored traditional arts. They read excerpts from Robin Kimmerer's "Braiding Sweetgrass" to learn about the history of Abenaki basket making. Then they practiced their own basket making skills with recycled plastic bags: cutting them into strips, braiding the strips, and sewing them into baskets. In preparation for our annual Winter Solstice celebration, students studied the colonial craft of tinsmithing. They collected cans, created designs, and used hammers and nails to punch out beautiful tin can lanterns. They have also learned the basics of the local craft of quilt-making. Community members donated their time and skills to teach Upper El students how to fashion quilt squares from discarded fabrics, using a sewing machine. Students created their own log cabin style squares and sewed them together using hand sewing and sewing machines.
With the support of community and parent volunteers students are learning first hand what it was like to live when you used your hands and recycled resources to create clothing, blankets, and other necessities.
We are currently working to establish a partnership with PSU to create a more in-depth integrated nature-arts program for both the Upper and Lower Elementary classes.
The Lower Elementary music program has run the gamut from ukulele instruction to informal dance parties and singing. We are in the early stages of developing a formalized program in conjunction with PSU, so we can have more regular musical offerings for our younger students. We often let nature guide our musical choices, as students learned the traditional folksongs that invoke the natural world, such as "I Love the Mountains," for our annual Winter Solstice Performance.
Upper Elementary students participate in Link Up through a partnership with Plymouth State University and the New Hampshire Music Festival. LinkUp is a music program from Carnegie Hall that exposes students to music in a participatory way. Upper Elementary students study written music, learn how to play the recorder, and sing a variety of contemporary and classical pieces. Each spring they perform with the New Hampshire Music Festival orchestra at Plymouth State University Silver Center, along with students from a number of other area schools. This year’s favorite musical pieces included "Blue Danube" by Johann Strauss II on the recorders, and singing, "Cidade Maravilhosa," a march by Andre Filho and Silva Sobreira, written in celebration of Rio de Janeiro's carnival!