My K-5 students are truly a diverse bunch from a neighborhood in inner southeast Portland, Oregon. We are a Title I school with 60% of students receiving free breakfast and lunch. They are all unique learners who come from a diverse array of cultures and backgrounds. We have some amazing students who are multilingual learners, some facing tremendous personal, family, or learning challenges, and other historically underserved populations. During this challenging time of Covid-19, reckoning with deep and painful racial issues, and related social and economic impacts, many of our families face obstacles to support distance learning, provide safe childcare, and face food and financial insecurity.
The healing and unifying powers of the arts and schools have been evident during this time.
We've seen this play out with sidewalk chalk art and moving murals in communities, porch performances, and virtual dance parties. My art students are voraciously creative even in distance art learning from home. They thrive from connecting socially and creatively online with their teachers and their classmates. They love hands-on projects and enjoy exploring different materials and techniques from their homes.
Oil pastels are a K-5 artist's best friend. They paint bold lines and fill solid areas of color on nearly any kind of paper. During distance learning, it is best to consider materials that work with all textures, colors, and thicknesses of papers, cardboard, paper bags, and other surfaces that families may have around the house.
We have to choose art tools very wisely for at-home art!
We consider toxicity, potential mess, and a variety of applications. Young artists can blend and overlap colors as they would with paint. They are bright and stand out on even dark backgrounds. They can be used to resist watercolor and other waterbased paints. Students will be able to do more with oil pastels than they can with crayons and will have some excitement in having a material they might not have ever had at their house before. There is so much learning we can do with oil pastels!
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