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Opening a Window

May 15, 2020 | Clara Buckley



Back in March, the day before home learning began, I entrusted each student with their art sketchbook to take home. We recently started a time of observational drawing so it seemed wise to continue this online. The only art supplies required were a pencil and sketchbook.

But what to draw?


I set drawing assignments with subjects everyone would have access to: facial expressions, shoes, the view from your window. As children submitted photographs of their drawings on Google Classroom, I got to see more than just their art. I saw their faces staring intently into the camera. I saw the room they were working in. I saw their personalities.



Students, who may be more reserved in class, left comments on their assignments to explain their choices. Conversations developed and connections grew. I wrote to the children, “I am enjoying getting to know you better through these drawings. They give me an insight into your life at home.”



The photos in this post are from an assignment to make three drawings of their favorite object from their room. The first a detailed observational drawing, the second a contour line drawing not lifting pen from paper, the third a blind drawing without looking at the paper.



Now we have live art classes. I see and hear my students each week. But for those first few weeks of home learning, these observational drawings opened a window into their lives and an opportunity to build connections while apart.

Clara Buckley

Preschool Art Specialist; Middle School Art

Clara Buckley’s teaching spans the ages of Mustard Seed School, from the youngest students in the preschool to students in the graduating class. She’s found many similarities between teaching three-year-olds and thirteen-year-olds!

As an art teacher who never enjoyed drawing, Ms Buckley’s hope is that each child she teaches discovers a way to create art that they enjoy, whether it be sculpture, printing, textiles, architectural drawing, or collage.

Ms. Buckley loves living in Jersey City, a place whose diversity and welcome for immigrants reflects her own family experience. When planning future travel destinations, art, food, and time with family are featured items on her list.

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