A Group Project for the First Day of Class

This project was the perfect example of hit the ground running! With no time to do introductions, learn class procedures, exchange astrological signs, or establish clean-up routines, we jumped right into a group project that had to be completed in just four class periods. Panic time!

It all started when I needed an idea for the first week of classes (be careful what you wish for). Voilà… an email landed in my inbox asking for submissions from the community to create an installation for the Huntsville Botanical Gardens Scarecrow Trail. Serendipity! My heart pounded with fear and excitement as I thought about what a great project it would be for the kids, plus all of the great exposure it could bring our small but growing school. It would be great. It would be fun. It would be hard. Serendipity sucks.

This project was huge in scope with multiple problems to be solved. ALL of the K-12 students needed a hand in it (preferably without detaching the hand), and it had to be finished fast (we were only two weeks away from the deadline). And I secretly hoped the administration would say no (they whole-heartedly supported the project – jerks!).

Normally, I like the kids to do all the brain-storming, but I needed to have an actionable plan in place before the first day so we could devote every class to making the scarecrow, decorating the pole, painting the art work, and putting it all together. Even the subsequent therapist visits would have to wait.

Day One

Tape Sculpture

Teams, saran wrap and tape! I had an objective for the first class of the first day: a tape sculpture using the kids as the models. This sculpture ended up taking three class periods to finish. No sweat, right? Actually, it’s the South in August…there was a lot of sweat.

Painting While Forming an Idea

I got the idea to have all the student’s make a small painting to accompany the scarecrow, but we needed a class period to plan and discuss. So the Intermediate class did almost all the priming and stamped the backs with their signatures and handprints.

Day Two

Drilling, painting the primed wood, and making additional parts of tape man. I had several concerned people check on the student whose head we wrapped in plastic. It’s okay! He had a slit to breath through. Most of the time. I did have to re-cut it more than once.

Day Three

More painting, sewing the parts together, getting tape man assembled, and making plastic flowers.

Day Four

Finished the sewing, decorated the pole, attached tape man to the pole, and painted the plastic flowers.

The Results

Two weeks in and I might be suffering burnout from the stress of this project. The kids did great and energetically tackled the many, many, many things that needed to happen. The finished result looks great installed at the Botanical Gardens, and is built to last the two months it’s going to be up.

I’ve also sent DC Comics the idea for a new comic book hero – Tape Man! Seriously, it can’t be a worse name than Green Lantern.

“Arted Up” by Valley Leadership Academy K-12 art classes.