January 31 – This year in social studies, second graders have been learning about immigration. They began by interviewing their parents to find out which countries their families emigrated from. They researched and took notes about their family origins using nonfiction books and online resources.
The students studied Brazil, Greece, Ireland, Italy, and the Philippines. Using their research, students wrote “Can You Guess My Country?” poems. They also learned about similes and included them in their poems. In music, students learned traditional songs and dances from each country. In art, they designed family emblems using a variety of materials such as family photos, decorative paper, and fabric to represent their heritage. Second graders also came up with a family motto and artist statement for their emblems.
The immigration unit culminated with a performance for families that included traditional Irish step dancing, a Filipino lullaby, an exhibit of the family emblems, and a cultural feast of family favorites and cultural dishes.
More about the Family Emblem Collages
When the second grade team met to develop an integrated art project for the immigration unit, they decided to have students create a student-centered piece reflecting their heritage.
“I first explored the idea of family crests and coats of arms,” Lower School art teacher Geri Heinrich said. “I liked the idea that these traditional emblems, while often displaying family names and mottos, also feature a great deal of symbolic meaning in the shapes and colors used. With this in mind, I designed a second grade project that incorporates family history in the form of collage. These collages convey each child’s family stories, treasures, and traditions in an age-appropriate way.
“To further prepare and promote the idea that collage is often a layering of many things, the second graders also spent a joyful art class creating decorated papers they could layer in their collages. On each of our four art tables was big paper and a different material with which to just make abstract art. The artists rotated so that each could work with every medium and add to the previous decoration of the paper. They worked with crayon and watercolor, pen and ink, ink daubers, watercolor markers, and more to produce these stunning and colorful papers, which many students incorporated into their works. In the end, the works came from a wide collaboration of efforts but are certainly both figuratively and literally student-centered.”
Rippowam Cisqua School is a PreK-Grade 9 independent day school in Westchester County, New York. RCS offers challenging academics built on innovation, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, wellness, leadership, service learning, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.