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INSPIRES ART www.gae.org | 15 BY ASHLEY KEEGAN The day’s lesson revolves around a short film on artist Leo Lionni, whose career included illustrating children’s books. The film displays Lionni’s technique of tearing paper to create the shape of a mouse within his book, Nicolas, Where Have You Been?. The film is paused briefly as Joel Gargano asks the class what skill the artist is using to create his art and the kids respond decisively - “fine motor skills!” After watching Lionni on screen, the children are instructed to find their respective tables and trace the shape of a mouse with a crayon. The next step bewildered some – the students should tear the paper in the shape of the mouse, rather than use scissors. Each student had a unique approach to the project. Some worked independently and concentrated intensely on the tearing; others preferred to consult their classmates on the best methods for tearing the paper to achieve the shape. A couple of students are more interested in the organization of it all – confirming if their fellow classmates had all of the materials required and planning the clean-up process that will be needed post-project. The lesson is simple, but the skills acquired throughout the class are important outside of simply creating a construction-paper mouse. They are learning organization, the ability to work through issues independently and as a group, and yes – “fine motor skills!” Mr. Gargano is in his fourth year as an art educator, and is currently teaching at Boyd Elementary School, located in northwest Atlanta. His students, who range from Pre-K to Photo by Amnda R. Hall


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