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RJB Fifth Graders Get Creative and Learn That Imperfections Can Be Beautiful

All of Ms. Dove’s classes begin the same way, with a mindful minute. Ms. Dove leads the students through a series of deep breaths to center them and bring them into the present. Next, is a mood meter check in, followed by groupings by mood color of students. “Find your color corner and tell a friend how you’re feeling, and then ask them how they are doing,” she said.

Once the students are settled and connected to their peers, it’s time to get to work. On this day, the fifth graders are finishing their clay projects. Using watercolors and a special gold paint, they will put the finishing touches on their creations. Why the gold paint? It’s a technique called Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending it with brilliance. Translated, the word means to join it with gold.  “Mistakes are a part of life,” said Ms. Dove. “Fixing things is part of the restoration process and the results can turn out beautiful.”

Students spent the class time painting their hand-molded creations, which were varied and chosen to reflect their interests. One student, Phoenix, had sculpted several different objects: a lotus flower, a face, and a character figure made from her own imagination. “My friend taught me how to draw this flower in third grade,” she said. “After I perfected it, I wanted to make it out of clay.”  Adrian’s clay project started out as a hat, but as he worked through the painting process, he decided to make it into something more unique. “It’s a UFO,” he said. “With an alien inside.” Other students’ projects included pinch pots, cars, cats, birds, and snails. 

November’s IB Learner Profile is ‘Inquirers,’ and Ms. Dove’s art class is a wonderful way to explore this theme. “Art is always about inquiry,” she said. Next year, these fifth graders will begin working on the IB Exhibition project, which is coordinated by Ms. Dove. “The IB Exhibition is a creative, hands-on endeavor, where students showcase and present their projects,” said Ms. Dove. “From kindergarten through sixth grade, students are learning the skills that will be needed leading up to the exhibition, in a connected way that weaves across curriculums.”

Once finished, the students were eager to come back together as a class and talk about their completed work. Sharing with each other came easily, and compliments were given generously. Isabella declared Julian’s piece, one of her table mates, as her favorite. As for her own creation, a pinch pot with a lid, she is still thinking about how she might use it. “I might use it to put things in,” she said. “Or, I might add it to the collection of my clay projects from school that are on my dresser as decorations because I like how they look just the way they are.”