If we try to think back to the dim and distant past what is it that helps us reconstruct those times, and to picture the lives of those who lived in them? It is their art. It is thanks to the hand, the companion of the mind, that civilization has arisen.
– Maria Montessori
As with all traditional Montessori subject matter, art media and concepts are introduced to children in the Primary years and expanded upon as they continue to move through the elementary program and middle school. At each classroom level, students explore drawing, painting, print making, sculpture and fiber arts. Children not only learn techniques for using particular media to produce desired effects, they also learn and assume more responsibility for the use and care of the materials, their personal work and time management. This process allows the student to grow as a person who is able to see, express, evaluate and solve problems visually and academically.
Goals for WMS's visual arts program include:
- Learning to develop focus and other ways of thinking helpful to working and persevering at art tasks.
- Learning to attend to visual context more closely than ordinary “looking” requires - learning to notice things that otherwise might not be noticed, and learning to see, think, wonder.
- Learning the proper use and function of materials, processes and techniques for developing personal art.
- Encouraging the child to reach beyond their perceived limitations and embrace the opportunity to learn from mistakes and accidents.
- Learning to think and share with others about their work and the processes used.
- Primary (ages 3-6)
- Lower Elementary (ages 6-9)
- Upper Elementary (ages 9-12)
- Middle School (ages 12-14)
The projects that Primary children work on are typically driven by the cultural studies and interests of the individual classroom. Art instruction takes place in the classroom for younger children, while kindergartners venture to the art room for the first time. Primary students explore the full range of materials - drawing, painting, print making, sculpture and fiber arts - in a one-on-one or small group setting with the art teacher.
Lower Elementary students work is influenced by both classroom and school-wide studies as well as specific group pursuits and interests. Children begin to grow their ability to plan and develop their projects through individual sketching, collaborating with their classmates and managing the materials they need to execute a project. They are also introduced to the principles of art composition and how to perform an art critique. Past 6-9 projects include circular weaving, metal embossing, jewelry and clothing design, and self-portrait painting.
Upper Elementary students are assigned four projects - drawing, painting, print making and sculpture/fiber arts - to be completed over the course of the school year. They are responsible for developing each project, including subject matter, medium and materials, and size. Students are encouraged and supported in managing their ideas and time to achieve the assigned number of projects and their individual goals. Each project also receives a peer critique. Past 9-12 projects include mosaic glass and paper mache sculpting, multi-color block printing, tapestry weaving and plaster carving.
Middle-school art is about more than just creating artwork - it’s also about artistic learning, self-expression and the integration of arts into other areas of the curriculum. Areas of study include the creative process, mindful observation of our world, elements of art and principles of design, and the role of art in history, society and everyday life. Through Expeditionary Learning experiences, such as visits to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Henry Mercer Mansion, the students’ studies and artwork are brought into broader perspective as they view and learn more about other’s artistic expressions.
Favorite Montessori Moment: Choosing a favorite or most special "Montessori Moment" is challenging for me. I have been with WMS for more than 20 years and cannot picture myself ever teaching in any other school. From the first day I walked into WMS to this very day, every day is special here, because everyone is respected, everyone is appreciated, everyone is allowed and encouraged to learn and try, and everyone is allowed to be exactly who they are. Can you think of a more wonderful place to learn and teach?
M.A., Art Therapy, Hahnemann University