Evart high schoolers turn younger kids' drawings into 3D art

Art teacher: 'We gifted them to the students and put them in a gift bag, which was cute'

EVART — Helping students in all grades maintain connections is a big part of early education, and one Evart Public Schools art teacher recently created a project for her high school students to connect with their younger counterparts through unique handmade ceramic pieces. 

Andrea Mason-Schneider, a high school and middle school art teacher at Evart, had a goal of creating a fun activity for her ceramics class that would allow the students to intermingle. 

“Being a mom and working with the school, I was trying to get to do something with my own kid, but also with my students in high school,” Mason said. “I've seen things on Facebook and elsewhere where you can send in your kids drawing, and they turn it into like a stuffed animal or different things like that. I thought, how cool would it be to have the kindergartners draw something and then have the high school students create it in a three-dimensional form out of clay.” 

Schneider worked with elementary teacher Deanna Salisbury to have her students draw creatures or animals for the high school class to work from. 

She said both student groups were able to get creative with the project. 

“My students chose a drawing from each kindergartner and made it turned it into a sculpture,” Schneider said. “Then we gifted them to the students and put them in a gift bag, which was cute.”

The high school art students took the gift bags down to their elementary students, and they were able to spend some time talking about what they had created and connected with the younger children. 

The project has been a culmination of work for Schneider over two semesters. 

“I started this before Christmas, and we had a problem with the firing of some of the projects,” Schneider said. “We had some projects that didn't make it out of the kiln, and so it took two semesters to get every student’s piece completed. I didn't want any kindergartners to be not given one, that would break my heart. It was really difficult to make sure each student had a finished piece.

“We have talked about doing this yearly and making it a thing that we continue,” she added. “I think now that I've kind of got it figured out a little bit better, we could.” 

Moving forward, Schneider hopes to do more projects that allow her to bring more students together both in and out of the classroom.

“We have elementary, middle, and high school and there is kind of a disconnect between the schools, as far as what they are doing and what we are doing,” Schneider said. “I think building a sense of community is important. Even seeing the high schoolers in the elementary, some of them haven't been there since they were in elementary school."

She explained that the project was beneficial for both groups. 

"With giving something away, there’s something to be said about that," she said. "Some students had a hard time with that they wanted to keep their projects. But at the end of the day, the kids were excited, and you're doing something nice for somebody else. I just think there's a lot of good things that can be learned and to come from that.

“A lot of them have little brothers and sisters, or cousins," she added. "When you get to be a big kid, you forget what it was like to be little. It was a good thing all the way around, and I was pretty proud of them for finishing and going and giving them to those kids. It was a good experience.”