Arts Integration

Putting Plans Into Action

I mentioned last week that I’m working with the Mississippi Museum of Art and Davis Magnet School to develop a lesson plan that will get students engaged in science, writing, photography, and art. I’ve been working with Elizabeth Williams, curator of education at the museum; Jalisha Cross and Jordan Gunther, the two fourth grader teachers at Davis; and Beth West, the IB Coordinator at Davis.planning curriculumPhotographs of planning meetings are never very exciting, but we did good work that day. We made books, practiced nature journaling, set up dates for further contact sessions with students. These include times when I will guide the students in photographing the museum’s garden and when Ginger Williams Cook, the museum’s master teaching artist, will guide two sessions on creating watercolors from sketches in their nature journals.



During the final week before the break, I visited both fourth grade classes to introduce the lesson and to talk about my book, Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator.

sarah talking about storyboarding

sarah with wolfsnail book

Fibonacci Folding Book App Available on iTunes

icon for iPad AppOur iPad app version of the Fibonacci Folding Book tutorial is now available on iTunes. The best way to find it is to search for “Fibonacci Folding Book”. This is Richard’s first app and I think he did a tremendous job. If you have an iPad, please download it and tell us what you think. The app is free.

Created for teachers of all kinds, including homeschoolers, the app provides step-by-step instructions on creating Fibonacci Folding Books with your students.This multidisciplinary unit includes photography, bookmaking, writing poetry, number patterns, illustration, and measurement.

My friend, Julie Owen, and I have taught this unit with third, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. We also taught a professional development workshop for teachers this summer. Read more about the project at St. Therese Catholic School here and the Whole Schools Summer Institute here.

More Fibonacci Folding Book Project Examples from Whole Schools

I’ve been posting for several days about my teaching experience at the Mississippi Whole Schools Institute. Here are some more examples of Fibonacci Folding Books made by teachers in the workshop I team taught with Julie Owen. Aren’t they amazing?
fib book1
fib book1b
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fib bk3b
fib bk4
fib bk5
fib bk5b

fib bk6
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Knit It, Solve It at Whole Schools

Julie Owen pulled together an awesome workshop on using knitting at school to support math learning. Here are some photos. You can learn more at Knit School, which is Julie’s new knitting blog.
Julie teaching knitting
holding the needles
learning the basic stitch

multimedia presentation on knitting

Zentangling at Whole Schools

Julie and I introduced Zentangling to the participants in our workshop at the Mississippi Whole Schools Summer Institute. We adapted it to the Fibonacci sequence and gave the teachers “kits” to complete at their own pace during the three days of sessions. It was a big hit. You can see from the these photos that they did all kinds of creative stuff with it.





putting it all together

display zentangles

zentangle display2

putting it all together2

group zentangle

group zentangling2

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group zentangling4

group zentangling5

This group of teachers left their finished Fibonacci zentangle in the hotel.

Mississippi Whole Schools Summer Institute

I taught this week at the Mississippi Whole Schools Summer Institute. Julie Owen and I teamed up to teach the Fibonacci Folding Book Project. I taught three other afternoon sessions and Julie taught her fabulous “Knit it, Solve it,” for the first time. You can see photos of our work on Julie’s flickr album here or here on my blog.

ct student takes photos

ct student2 takes photos

ct student3 taking photos


measuring and folding Fibonacci accordian books

writing Fib poem

teachers working on poems

illustrating book

illustrating book2

teaching showing MAC director Malcolm White

illustrating book3

example 1

example 1b

example 2

example 2b

My Classroom Projects

Sarah reading Growing Patterns at St. ThereseAs a teaching artist, I am excited about the new school year. I am scheduling traditional author visits, but I am also scheduling a few longer residencies. Tuesday, I will join other Jackson-area artists and arts organizations in meeting with elementary school faculty and principals committed to integrating the arts into everyday academic instruction. This group is the Ask for More Arts Collaborative, a program of Parents for Public Schools of Jackson. I will offer my services through the AFMA JumpstART program.

St. Therese Student Share Fibonacci Folding BookIn collaboration with teachers and a librarian friend, I have designed two projects that combine writing and photography. They are: The Fibonacci Folding Book Project and [Your School] on the Map. Regular blog readers will have followed the development of these projects. Julie Owen, librarian at St. Therese Catholic School, helped develop the Fibonacci Folding Book Project. It is a companion to Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature.

Student photographer composes imageSecond grade teachers at Davis Magnet School, most notably Beth West, helped develop Davis on the Map, or [Your School] on the Map. You may click on the “Davis on the Map” category to the right to read about this project. Both of these projects feature the study of the work of a master artist, the opportunity for students to create original artwork, and an exploration of the program’s theme (Community: A Sense of Place.) Each meets curriculum objectives in the visual arts and several academic areas.

Davis Neighborhood Photos and an Exhibit

Spring brings sunshine, flowers, recitals, and exhibits. On Friday, Richard and I will attend the Opening Reception for the JumpstART project. My participation in JumpstART this year was at McLeod Elementary School. I worked with 5th grade students to photograph and research living things in the Schoolyard. (Read previous posts here.) With generous support from the Beth Israel Congregation, an adopter of McLeod, we enlarged five photographs for display. The students compiled the rest of the photographs with titles and captions into the first McLeod Schoolyard Field Guide. See the photos in a gallery on my website.

In addition to the work with McLeod, I returned to Davis Magnet School for a second year of Davis on the Map. Instead of being paid through JumpstART, the Davis Magnet principal and second grade team found separate grant funding to pay for my time. (You can read about this project in these previous posts.) You can see some of the photographs I took below. I have the students’ photographs in galleries on my main website.


Amy Lancaster Answering the Door

Visit the JumpstART exhibit at the Mississippi Art Center from Saturday, April 17, through Friday, April 30.

MAC Artist Training

I spent the day with about 70 Mississippi artists, convened for professional development by the Mississippi Arts Commission.

We had ceramicists, playwrights, storytellers, painters, dancers, musicians, and more. In the morning, we heard from Dianne de Las Casas, a storyteller from Louisiana. de Las Casas explained ways artists can use technology to manage marketing and other business-related tasks. She is an active user of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Ning. She maintains a calendar online, sends press releases via, and manages billing online.

After lunch, we had an interactive lesson taught by Sonya Robinson, a musician and arts integration teacher, from New Orleans. Robinson led us through a multi-stage dance/movement lesson. It served many purposes: ice-breaker, team-building exercise, introduction to some of the skills involved in dance, and an example of how to create space in teaching for discovery and inquiry (and not just linear instruction).

I learned some things today that I will use in my teaching, presenting, and marketing. As one of the other artists said today, it also served as a great time of fellowship for those of us who spend a lot of work time isolated in studios or offices. I appreciate the organizing efforts of Diane Williams, Kim Whitt, Shirley Smith, Larry Morrisey, and Susan Dobbs, all of the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Hot Colors for a Rainy Day

Day Lily

Day Lily

Today in Mississippi it is cold and rainy. In other words, a very nice day to be inside writing. And dealing with the paperwork that writing generates: receipts, invoices, and rough drafts. I selected a photograph with hot colors to contrast with the cold day. As the mother of two boys who take art every day, I am always learning new art concepts and terms. The concept of “hot colors” came up twice recently. N was making a birthday piece for his father and he pointed out that he would use hot colors in certain places and cool colors in others and that the hot colors would make those design elements “pop” to the foreground. A few days later, D, studying for his science midterm, was learning about photosynthesis and accessory pigments. As I quizzed him, he made the connection that the accessory pigments, yellow, orange, and red, were hot colors. I love the connections my sons make between their traditional academic subjects and art.

As they studied for their art final, I learned a new word: frottaging. Websters online defines it as the technique of creating a design by rubbing (as with a pencil) over an object placed underneath the paper; also : a composition so made.” At first, I was convinced the teachers had made the term up. It sounded to me like some kind of cheese (fromage plus cottage). These teachers were clearly capable of making up some of the multiple choice options. How about this one: “An imaginary line between the eye of the artist and the drawing subject is ____.” One option was: a death ray.