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Thetford Elementary School

Thetford, Vermont

Welcome to the Art Page and welcome TES students and families!

Hello TES families and students!
I hope you all had a restful summer. To our new families and students: a special welcome to you all. My name is Beth McGee - the kids all call me Beth- and this will be my 6th year as the Art Teacher at TES. Before I was the Art Teacher, I worked at TES as a paraeducator in 1st grade with JoAnn Kruzshak, as a short- and long-term sub, and as a parent while my son was at TES.
As for my own art, I fancy myself an illustrator and painter, and have recently felt most interested in mixed media art that incorporates paint, fabric and pen. In my second job(s), I am a costume designer, which is where my passion for textiles comes in, and have worked as Costumier for Revels North, Parish Players, Thetford Academy, Crossroads Academy, Hanover High School and of course our own Thetford Elementary School.
As you may or may not know, Art at TES is a part-time position; this year I am at TES on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The art room is used for Occupational Therapy on Mondays, and, occasionally, for various activities on Fridays. I check email often and would happily talk or meet with you any time or day I am able.
I welcome parent volunteers for art classes, whether you would like to participate in your child's art class or whether you simply love to help kids make art. Even if art-making is not your strongest skill, I can always use an extra pair of adult hands in the room. I promise you will not need deep art skills to be helpful!
I also keep a wish list of items we could use in the art room and will try to keep that up to date here and on my classroom door.
Here's a short list for starters:
  • glue sticks
  • elmers or school glue
  • hot glue sticks (thick and thin)
  • working glue guns
  • working staplers
  • masking tape
  • working tape dispensers
  • card stock, heavy (80-100 lb), watercolor (90 lb and up) paper
  • feathers (especially turkey and quail feathers)
  • pom-poms
  • pipe cleaners
  • watercolor paint sets (especially metallics)
A few things to note:
Several years ago I started offering "Open Art Studio", which was a supervised, yet unstructured time in the art room for kids to explore and make art without deadlines. This happened during their lunch and/or recess time, and it was a really rich and rewarding time for students and for me. Last year it was tricky to make time for Open Art Studio, and this year my schedule does not allow for it to happen. I still love the idea, so I won't give up on it forever. I hope you all won't either.
In short, we are taking a break from the musical as you have seen it (growing) over the years. As much as we have loved many things about this experience, the production has come to take 10 months of planning and work and rehearsal and lost recess time, and I am unable to sustain this level of production as a part-timer. However...
I very much want to find a creative alternative for those 5th and 6th graders who would like to participate. The National Core Arts (NCAS) include five arts disciplines: Dance, Music, Theater, Visual Arts and Media Arts. I believe children should have the opportunitiy to explore each of those disciplines while they are young, so I am always looking for ways that we at TES can make that possible. Ms. Towne (our new TES Music Teacher) and I are discussing ideas for this year and we will keep you posted. If any of you have ideas, please share them with us.
I hope the first weeks of school have been good for you. Please keep in touch whenever you have questions, concerns, ideas... or dark chocolate.
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Hopkins Center for the Arts

Seeking: Children, aged 9–12, to rehearse and perform in Blind Cinema, Saturday & Sunday, September 29 & 30

What is Blind Cinema?

Follow this link to the registration form - deadline Saturday 9/15:


In the darkness of a cinema space, an audience of adults sits blindfolded. Behind each, a child describes, in a whispering voice heard only by that one adult, a film the child is seeing for the first time. The narration of the film derives purely from the perspective of the children, each with their own way of describing, and thus each audience member experiences and imagines the film in a different way.

In Blind Cinema, the act of watching a film becomes a shared investment: a collaborative and imaginative act between seeing children and blindfolded adults. To prepare children for the performance, artist and filmmaker Britt Hatzius leads a workshop for the children in which she explores with them such questions as “What is it like to be without the sense of sight?” and “What does it mean to create pictures in someone else’s mind?”

About the Artist: Britt Hatzius

Britt Hatzius (DE/UK) works in film, video, sound and performance, exploring ideas around language, interpretation and the potential for discrepancies, ruptures and (mis)communication. Her work has been shown internationally at performance and media arts festivals, institutions and galleries. Recent collaborations include the cinematic installation Micro Events (2012) with Tom Kok, the interactive performance This Is Not My Voice Speaking (2013) with Ant Hampton and the site-specific installation As Never Before, As Never Again (2014), also with Hampton. For more information, see:

Britt has toured worldwide with Blind Cinema, including residencies in Norway, Portugal, Hong Kong, Spain and across the United States. At each venue, she works with children from the local community.

Requirements for youth participants in Blind Cinema Participating children must be:

  • Aged 9–12 years old;

  • Eager to participate as a describer/narrator;

  • Comfortable sitting in a darkened theater without a parent present;

  • Able to clearly see a movie screen from the seats of a theater;

  • Available to attend a 2-hour training on Saturday, Sept 29 at either 10 am–noon, or 2–4 pm (optional 30-minute parent demonstration immediately following the conclusion of each workshop);

  • Available to attend a rehearsal and performance, combined duration of 2.5 hours, on Sunday, September 30, at either 11:30 am–2 pm or 3:30 pm–6 pm (performances are at 1 pm and 5 pm).

    There is no fee for youth to participate in this workshop and performance. Light snacks will be provided, and we ask all children to bring a water bottle. The youth performers are an integral part of the performance, and thus MUST commit to attending both days of the events outlined above in order to participate—no exceptions.

    Enrollment is limited! Deadline for enrollment: Friday, September 15

    For more information contact Katie Kitchel, Hopkins Center Coordinator for Blind Cinema at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . • 603.646.2422 • #HopkinsCenter



Find the Art Supplies Treasure Hunt:

In the coming weeks, primary students will play a treasure hunt game - with partners if that makes them feel more secure - in which they'll be given a card with a picture of something in the art room (pencils, pastels, watercolor paints, a zebra, a giraffe, the recycle bin, the hand-washing sink, tissues...) They will embark on a hunt to find those things. Then we will gather on the Kandinsky rug and share what everyone has found. We will talk about which things they may get by themselves and which things they may get once the teacher asks them to.

Classroom Management Bells:

We have three bells in the art room this year:  two are for getting students' attention, and one is for meto notice those wonderful, sometimes rare, magical moments, when we suddenly realize every student is busily working, sharing supplies, helping each other and not making too much noise... when they hear the Magical Moment chimes, they know they have just earned a SECOND star for that art class!

I have added to my classroom management palette a Puppy Clicker, which I use only when bells and lights off and other efforts have failed to capture the class' attention. If they hear the clicker once, they know they've been given a warning. A second click means I will have to take away one star from the chart outside my room. You should be happy to know that I have only taken away a star twice last year!

The Star Chart:

The rules, as all of the students and I have discussed this week, are pretty much the same as in all of our classrooms at TES. The rules we care most about are those that create a safe and supportive classroom, where kids and adults

  • feel free to try new things,
  • reflect on their own art - or someone else's - with support for whatever that reflection might be, 
  • respect each other and the art materials we're lucky to have at TES, and
  • learn to "color outside the lines" sometimes and turn frustration into trying things a different way. (Students in my art room will learn that if something doesn't look right, they're simply not done yet.) 

At the end of each art class, I ask the students whether they think they've listened respectfully and followed instructions, worked hard, shared and respected (and cleaned up) art supplies. If we all agree that they've done that, they earn a star for the day. 

When they have earned 5 stars, they will earn a "Free Choice art class", during which I'll offer 5 or 6 art activities they can choose to do that period.

At the end of the year, if they've earned at least 30 stars - I see each student for art about 35 times in the year, they will celebrate at the last art class with a strawberry shortcake party! Last year almost every single class earned their strawberry shortcakes! Watch this site to see pictures of what the classes who missed that mark created...

(I welcome strawberry and whipped cream donors, btw. I'll remind you in May.)


Open Studio Art Time:

This is here to share what Open Studio looked like. I'm leaving it here because I hope to offer this again some day. The elementary and high school art rooms of my childhood were a little bit like this, and I want to pay that forward.

Things kids/adults may do during open art studio time:

1. Make art:

- with pencils, crayons, pastels, colored pencils, markers, watercolor paint, acrylic paint

- with building supplies (whatever I have, or whatever they might bring if it fits in a shoebox, or by special request ahead of time)

- with yarn or string… But I can't always promise I'll have time to teach new knitters/crocheters/macramé artists.

- with fabric, sometimes.

- with collage materials and glue.

2. Do homework:

- Remember we usually have music playing in the background.

- Sometimes art materials help you understand things in new ways. I'm partial to math but I'm willing to learn other subjects enough to teach them too.

3. Do jigsaw puzzles.

4. Weave on hula hoops.

5. Fold origami paper.

6. Read a book. I have lots, or bring your own. Sensory Reading Nook and new Thinking Space are both open.

7. Draw on the chalkboard.

8. Dance, sometimes. I even have a new dance playlist. From my era. Kids love "oldies".

9.   Sing along while I play the guitar, occasionally.

10. Art room chores: sharpening pencils, doing dishes (Ask the kids what it means when I say, "You do dishes, I'll dry"), hanging artwork, delivering artwork.

Everyone's classroom rules still apply, but this is a relaxed, mindful, chill, explore time. No one has to start or finish anything in particular. Except for the cleanup. Kindness and sharing and daydreaming are the biggest rules. Food is fine but I do not have a compost bin, on purpose; I'm aiming for a leave no trace kind of establishment.


Gallery of Student Art