T is for Texture

On the white board in Room 2A2, a word was illuminated in fat pattered letters against a curvy, swervy background: Texture! This would be the focus of a lively and experimental lesson that conceptualized the limitless artistic quality for the Kindergarteners in Alana Cimillo and Kim Tran’s class.

“Does anyone know what texture is?” Lower School Art Teacher Lauren McCarty asked on this recent Friday.

The students shared a few ideas, recited the word aloud, and copied it on to their papers. Then Ms. McCarty pushed “play,” setting in motion a quick video that brought “squishy,” “prickly,” “bumpy,” “smooth” and other adjectives to life through songs and animation.

“Now what do you think texture might be?” Ms. McCarty asked.

“Texture is how things feel,” one student answered correctly.

Next, the class was tasked with creating the illusion of texture by using crayons – selected from personal containers on their desks or a blue bin at the front of the classroom – and large sheets of white paper. They wasted no time jumping into this activity, working with focus and energy.

When Ms. McCarty asked them to shout out words to describe the textures they were crafting, a chorus of eager voices filled the classroom: “Cloudy!” “Spiky!” “Fuzzy!” “Rough!”

Flipping over their drawings to find the clean side of their paper, the students prepared for another imaginative exercise. With images from Grace Lin’s vibrant picture book, “The Ugly Vegetables,” displayed on the board accompanied by Head of Lower School Arts and Integration Sarah Bellantoni’s melodic narration, these Kindergartners learned how artists incorporate texture into their work in intricate and unexpected ways.

“Every single illustration in the book has its own texture,” explained Ms. McCarty as she handed out index cards that happened to match the polka-dotted top she was wearing.

Zooming in on three images in Ms. Lin’s story, Ms. McCarty asked her students to cover their cards with textures that represented soil, sky, and vegetables. Using their larger sheets of paper to protect their work areas, the students drew wavy lines, tiny circles, and zigzagging shapes as well as edibles like carrots, potatoes and broccoli. They practiced pushing hard with their crayons to make heavy marks and drawing lightly to produce a softer effect.

After a few minutes of creative work, Ms. McCarty invited her students to join her on the rug. Sitting “crisscross applesauce,” they watched their teacher demonstrate how a variety of visual pieces can come together to form a collage.

Back at their desks, the students began to transform their original drawings into textural collages. Their completed pieces will become the scenery for a series of puppet shows in Ms. Bellantoni’s classes, an extra-special bonus for these Kindergartners.

“Cut and glue in any way that seems exciting to you,” Ms. McCarty encouraged, walking around to admire each person’s progress.

“This is so fun!” one student exclaimed. Many of her classmates smiled and nodded their heads in agreement.

As Ms. McCarty said goodbye to her “texture detectives,” a fitting nickname for these observant artists, the students cleaned up and got ready for their morning snack, likely more aware of the multitude of textures that make up our world.