“I’m going to the beach to meet my friends!” “I’m going to an amusement park!” “I’m going to the Taj Mahal!” True to their words, these Class 2 students, joined by the entire grade, recently embarked on awe-inspiring vacations.
Although the students themselves stayed safely put, tiny replicas of each student journeyed to lands near and far through an immersive, cross-disciplinary unit in Art and Spanish that incorporated a multitude of visual-art, technology and language skills – and plenty of fun.
For the first step in the “Mini Yo on the Go” project, the students got to work designing self-portrait sculptures (Mini Yo means “mini me” in Spanish). Following Lower School Art teacher Lauren McCarty’s directions, they sketched their likenesses in pencil on pieces of thin cardboard, several inches high. Then, after adding color and cutting out the figures, they fashioned an anchor at the bottom, not unlike a stand for a paper doll.
After their Mini Yos were completed and the boxes to store them beautifully decorated, the students used their iPad cameras to photograph the sculptures. Then, with Ms. McCarty and the classroom teachers’ guidance, they opened the Photos app on their tablets and practiced cropping, rotating and otherwise editing the images. It didn’t take long for these tech-savvy young people to master new skills and efficiently produce a perfectly enhanced self-portrait.
During a subsequent lesson in Jonathan Talbot and Madeline Burns’ class, the students became travel agents of sorts, planning exciting virtual trips for their little ones. Animated chatter filled the classroom after Ms. McCarty announced, “It’s time to take your Mini Yo on a journey! Where will they go? Who will they meet?” (The other Class 2 sections met at different times.)
With their Mini Yos close by, these artists were eager to identify captivating destinations to explore. But how? Again, they turned to technology, specifically a website called Kiddle (www.kiddle.co), a Google-like visual search engine just for kids.
“Who has found their way to Kiddle? Raise your hand,” instructed Ms. McCarty, who Zoomed in from another room at Chapin. Directing their attention to the large screen, the students watched her lively demonstration. “Maybe I want to take my Mini Yo on a hike,” she suggested, opening up Kiddle’s landing page and typing “Adirondacks” into the search bar. Moments later, images of glorious peaks popped up.
“Our goal today is to find images we like that represent parts of our identity and experiences,” Ms. McCarty explained, showing the class how to save with a few quick clicks. Embracing this activity with enthusiasm, the students soon discovered an abundance of possibilities from Disneyworld to ice cream.
In their next Art class, the students learned how to create digital collages that incorporated the five selected images and other vibrant elements while also capturing their creativity and senses of humor. “Who’d like to share what you’re working on?” asked Ms. McCarty. With their teachers’ help, they took turns proudly showing her their dazzling projects, which were made on Seesaw, an educational platform that allows users to draw, design and experiment.
On one student’s Seesaw page, her Mini Yo was attached to the wing of a majestic bird of prey. The bright-blue caption read, “Let’s take a ride!” A second observed the landscape below from the top of a giant Ferris wheel. A third donned a swimsuit and dove into turquoise water. “Splash!” the caption shouted. Yet another Mini Yo posed in front of the White House, declaring, “I am the President.”
The Mini Yo project expanded into Isamar Rosado-Aponte’s upbeat Spanish classes. The students made “mini esqueletos” (mini skeletons) with black construction paper and white pencil in honor of the Mexican holiday El Dia de Los Muertos (“The Day of the Dead”). These figures accompanied some Mini Yos on their travels and also starred in funny videos Maestra Rosado’s students made to strengthen their Spanish-speaking skills.
Back in Art class, Ms. McCarty kept her students’ expectations high as this far-reaching project continued. “Tell your Mini Yos to start packing! They’re going on an adventure!” she exclaimed. It’s quite clear that these adventures will be limited only by Class 2’s boundless imagination.