Outstanding STEAMwork

EXCEL grant helps bring music and art into curriculum

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Adam Fread, left, and classmate Julian Maben craft turkeys out of paper on Monday in Ann Porter-Brown’s first-grade class at Winton Elementary School.

COEUR d’ALENE — Students at Winton Elementary School made paper turkeys, silhouette portraits and other crafts Monday as part of the school’s efforts to bring more arts into the classroom.

Nancy Mueller, the school’s music teacher, got a grant from the EXCEL Foundation, an organization that funds grants to teachers for innovative classroom projects in the Coeur d’Alene School District.

The “Let’s get STEAMed Up” grant brings arts into focus along with the other STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math.

“We need to bring technology and content into music and arts and we need to bring arts into curriculum,” Mueller said.

The $7,400 grant was used to buy iPads for the art, music and P.E. programs at the school as well as some books focusing on famous composers, artists and lessons learned in sports.

“For so many kids, [music] is a way to process information,” Mueller added. “If something is addressed with a music background, it’s easier to process and remember; like doing math problems to a jingle.”

Although the grant prompted the school to include arts into the classrooms all year, Monday was a dedicated art-project day.

Ann Porter-Brown’s first-grade class made paper turkeys based on the book they created in class, called “The Long-Legged Turkey.”

“I wanted to use this to teach about the traditions and historical aspect of Thanksgiving,” Porter-Brown said. “It has been so much fun to integrate the arts back into daily curriculum.”

She said the students really loved the lesson about the Mayflower.

Upstairs, Magie Kemp’s fourth-grade class was also making turkeys. On the feathers, kids wrote what they were thankful for. Many wrote the names of family members and friends.

At the back of the room lay maps of Idaho the students had constructed using homemade Play-Doh. They constructed mountain ranges, made lakes and illustrated the Snake River.

“We could have read about it, or colored maps, but to do the 3D map, it meant a lot to them,” Kemp said. “With all the standards and testing and the demands of curriculum, it’s nice to hear it’s OK to take time to bring arts into the classroom.”

Winton Elementary first-grade teacher Ann Porter-Brown works with students Savannah Hauser, second from left, and Emma Duran as they create turkeys out of paper on Monday at Winton.

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