The brick wall outside the K1 classroom has exploded into a colorful mural inspired by Black history that celebrates the feelings that inspire and bind us together.
The Kindergartners in Alexandra Wittner and Lynne Banta’s class have been reading about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The class discussed the power of Dr. King’s words and message and watched a portion of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech from 1963.
“We talked about how so many people help to carry on Dr. King’s message today,” says Alexandra. One of those messengers is the poet Amanda Gorman, who delivered her now-famous poem “The Hill We Climb” at Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The Kindergartners read the picture book “Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem” that was written by Gorman and illustrated by Loren Long. Sensing an opportunity for authentic, student-directed learning, Alexandra had each student choose a word from the book that gave them big feelings or felt powerful to them. Then, each student created a mini-poster using abstract watercolor art as the background to represent how their word made them feel.
The children loved the murals depicted in “Change Sings” so they decided they wanted to design a mural to represent K1 outside their classroom. They drew a chalk rainbow and adorned the wall with hearts, butterflies and peace signs. As a final step, the children added their big-emotion words to the mural to reflect the illustrations in the book.
The project was entirely student-directed, Alexandra says, and grew out of the children’s interest in learning about Dr. King and Amanda Gorman, and about how the children can be messengers for unity and change.
“I wasn’t sure how the project was going to go,” says Alexandra, “but I should have known it would be amazing letting the kids take over to lead the way!”