You are here: Home Programs Art

Thetford Elementary School

Thetford, Vermont


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

I am Beth McGee, your Art Teacher. This year we are fortunate to have Karl Neubauer - "Mr. K"-  in the Art Room on Mondays and Wednesdays. Mr. K is an Art Teaching Intern with UVEI and he is also a sculptor, a talent we hope he will share with us, and we are lucky to have him join us.

Art classes happen on Monday afternoons, Tuesdays and Wednesdays all day, and Thursday mornings, so those are our usual hours at TES. Our second week at school is now over and I have yet to meet the Monday artists, but look forward to seeing them next week!

In all of the art classes so far, students have worked on getting-to-know-you and getting-to-know-the-artroom activities, in accordance with our Responsive Classroom approach to establishing classroom expectations and establishing relationships with each other. 

COMMUNITY MURAL (in the art room)

This year I will invite the upper wing students to help in designing and painting our annual community mural, which will be "a magical forest where anything is possible". In light of the feeling some of us have - that kindness and manners and collaboration are NOT in the news often enough, our mural will be a place where kids can imagine that they have a voice in changing that.

In keeping with the tradition of the community mural (which was started by Kelly Lewis, the art teacher before me), everyone in the school - kids and adults - will decorate and write their names on a small "mirror", which will hang on the branches of trees in our magic forest. Instead of Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, each person will write a short, uplifting note to his or her reflection (in the spirit of "You is kind, you is smart, you is important.") (From the movie, The Help.) (I just loved how the nanny encouraged that little girl. Shouldn't we all do that for each other?)

Some classes have begun to decorate small mirrors with messages like, "You are a good friend," "You are kind," "You run really fast,"  "You are a good artist." Students are thinking about the idea that all good things begin with taking care of yourself. And also the idea that in the art room we can imagine  - and create - all kinds of things.


Some classes have done "gallery walks" (around tables covered with art and magazine images - homemade Chiji Cards). After looking carefully at the images, they each chose two images which best reflect how they are feeling about school at this moment. Students write their thoughts on bits of paper and share - or just listen to other people sharing - their thoughts in our new Thinking Space. In being asked to choose two "cards", students often come up with two conflicting feelings about the start of school. 

What is Chiji?
Chiji is a Chinese word meaning important moment or significant opportunity. Whether this moment leads to positive or negative paths depends upon the actions of the individual. 

Find the Art Supplies Treasure Hunt:

Primary students played a treasure hunt game - with partners if that made them feel more secure - in which they were 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...) and then went on a hunt to find those things. Then we all gathered on the Kandinsky rug at the Thinking Space and shared what everyone found. We talked 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 me or Mr. K to 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!

The Star Chart:

The rules, as all of the students and Mr. K 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, we 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 6 Free Choice times (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 every single class earned their strawberry shortcakes! 

(I welcome strawberry and whipped cream donors, btw.)


Open Studio Art Time:

Back by popular demand, I am once again offering Open Art Studio time during TES lunch and recess times when I am not on duty elsewhere in the building. Because I only get to teach your children once a week, I decided (and they begged me) to add more art room possibilities to their schedules.


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