Rocks and Soil (2nd grade) session 1/Observing the landscape at school

Arts Integration Residency with Montalvo Arts Center in Campbell, CA.

I met the first class of 2nd graders students in a class which is, amazingly, not used right now at school and can be our “Art Room”. Today is the beginning of a 10 week adventure with Montalvo Arts Center Teaching Artist program. 6 classes of second graders, with a project linked with their science curriculum, the occasion to implement the new common core standards: the “Rocks and Soil” unit.


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First I show to the students a short power point presentation. Why I like landscapes and how they inspire me.


I show them 3 photos of the important landscapes that exist where we live, in the Bay Area: a Pacific Coast view at Muir Beach, the Wetlands in Sunnyvale, the mountains in Castle Rock State Park.


Then I showed them a satellite photo of the Bay area. I asked the students if they could show us where is the Pacific Ocean, the Bay itself, the wetlands, San Jose, Oakland, the Santa Cruz Mountains and finally Campbell, where the school is situated.

I proposed to the students to start our journey right here at school. Each of the students make a “viewfinder” with some recycled cardboard I gave to them. Once the viewfinder was done, each student grabbed a clipboard and we went outside. We looked at the landscape from the blacktop.


We could see the Santa Cruz Mountains in the background, a series of trees and some constructions in the school including the playground in the middle ground and finally the foreground is an empty space.

We used our viewfinder, looking for a nice frame.

The students made a drawing (pencil on plain white paper), just to get the idea of what it is to try to draw what one sees in front of him or her.

Then it was time to go back to the class and to end the first session. I prepared the clipboards/white paper/pencils and recycled cardboard for the next class.