Today was step 2 of our 3rd grade folktale project, and it was a big step. We traveled to the High Museum of Art to see the exhibit Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney. Prior to going, we spent time exploring all of Pinkney’s books in our library collection. Mrs. Foretich, the art teacher, also did a lesson on museum etiquette.
On the way to the High, students explored Pinkney’s books some more. As we neared our destination, I asked a few students to think about what they might like to tweet about the books or their excitement for the exhibit. Our plan was to use twitter throughout the trip to document some of the things we saw and the things we learned. We used our school hashtag #barrowbuddies to tag our posts.
After arriving, our groups split in half. Some toured the exhibit, whiles other ate lunch. Then we switched. Some of us were also able to explore some of the permanent collection before our tour began.
The tour of Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney was done by a docent. We received a brief history of the museum before entering the exhibit. Our docent had us sit in front of collections of paintings and told us about the stories that the paintings came from. We saw paintings from historical books such as Minty and Black Cowboy Wild Horses, folktales such as Three Little Kittens, Rikki Tikki Tavi, Little Red Riding Hood, and The Little Match Girl, and biblical stories such as Noah’s Ark. Our docent had the kids work together to retell some of the familiar folktales as she pointed out things in the paintings. We noticed how Pinkney set The Little Match Girl in New York City rather than in Europe where the tale came from. We noticed how Pinkney set Little Red Riding Hood in a wintry woods so that it made sense for her to wear the kind of cloak she was wearing. Along the way, we also learned about Pinkney’s childhood and how he always had access to a pencil and art supplies. As we studied the watercolor paintings, we were reminded of the difficulty of working with this medium and the need to work quickly before the colors run together. At the close of the exhibit, we looked at The Lion and the Mouse. Along with looking at the paintings, students got to do some impromptu storytelling of their own using puppets.
The finale of our visit was getting to hear some of Pinkney’s folktales come to life through the storytelling talents of a rambler from the Wren’s Nest. We heard 2 folktales, and the students were heavily involved in the performance. He had them hanging on every word.
Our field trip allowed us time to do a brief second stop at the Georgia State Capitol rotunda. Although students didn’t get to tour the entire Capitol, they at least got a frame of reference for the Capitol as we study it back at school. We plan to use the Georgia Capitol Tour App on our iPads to do a more in-depth look at this landmark.
Once again on the way home, students took another look at Pinkney’s books with a new appreciation for the artwork that spans the pages of this books. It was truly awesome to stand in a room surrounded by the collective work of Pinkney. We did not have enough time to truly appreciate the years of work that went into this collection, but we will return to our school with a new appreciation of his art.
Our next steps will be to:
- Continue reading folktales and studying their elements
- Identify one folktale for each class to read without seeing the illustrations
- Create the illustrations for the folktale in art
- Put illustrations and text together with our iPads