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Art Expo Appreciation

June 1, 2022 | Nathan Johnson

At this time two weeks ago we had just enjoyed

the Second and Third Grade’s


The children were overjoyed to welcome you all to their gallery of research, information, art, and expertise.


There were so many elements of the Expo and much to celebrate, and in this blog we will take a look at the elements of the expo that were created in the Shared Space art studio…

The expertly sculpted and brightly painted wildlife:

The beautiful ripped-paper collage mosaics representing various elements of each country’s culture:

And these incredible, wish-they-were-edible international cuisine models:

Each of these projects took roughly one week,

with each child completing one sculpture model and one mosaic.


But the third item took them more than three weeks of research and work.

Their MAP! 

Here is a brief bullet-point list describing their entire process…

Part One: Map Exploration

Each Artist…

  1. Studied maps, considering the question — What does every map have?
  2. Made a list. They observed that every map had:
    • Natural elements—
      • Land formations, elevation, natural landmarks
    • Human-made elements:
      • Cities, roads, human-made landmarks, directionality, key, scale, labels
  3. Designed their own imaginary nation maps, using their own rubric for what every map needs
  4. (Back in the classroom) Started to select and study real nations around the world
  5. Studied the map of their real country, and drew the first draft

Part Two: Starting a Three-Dimensional Map from scratch

Each artist…

  1. Made their own play-dough from scratch 
  2. Selected their own reclaimed wood or plasterboard from the school’s leftover board scraps
  3. Sanded the boards down
  4. Coated the board with window-screen using duct tape (so that the playdough would have something to cling to)

Part Three: Natural Elements

Using the rubric they created for What All Maps Need, artists…

  1. Sculpted a three-dimensional base for their map using borders and elevation
  2. Painted the play-dough according to elevation and natural elements
  3. Added natural details like rivers and painted the flat area surrounding their country according to the geography of the area

Part Four: Human-made elements

The artist then added paper details indicating…

  1. The capital city
  2. A landmark created out of three-dimensional paper construction
  3. The scale
  4. The name of the country
  5. And just for fun – a mini flag! 


This was an incredible amount of work for Second and Third grade artists —

Not only creating a piece of multi-media art,

And not just representing an immense amount of synthesized ideas and research,

But to construct it from materials they gathered, refined, and created themselves.

They are very proud.

Thanks for taking a look back at the World Expo!

It is wonderful to work with your children.

— Nathan Johnson


Nathan Johnson

Early Childhood & Lower School Visual Art Teacher

Nathan Johnson graduated in 2004 from Lenoir-Rhyne University with a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts (focusing on Illustration, Art History, and Puppetry), Theatre, and Elementary Education, followed by further time in Europe studying Art, and in Nova Scotia working with adults with developmental differences.

Happily back at his Alma mater (MSS class of 1995) Nathan has passionately committed his career to preserving the dignity and wonder of childhood. As children are more and more burdened with technology and privilege, he believes that in order for children to learn and grow, they must be given freedom within structure, choices with guidance, allowed to play, struggle, get dirty, and above all, to be taught that they are a beloved child of God.

When not in the classroom, Nathan can be found kayaking, camping, hosting a game night, wandering around New York City, making friends with strangers, and spending time with his 11 nieces and nephews.

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