Inspired by book written by Carol Reed-Jones, an author from Bellingham, fifth grade teachers at Daffodil Valley Elementary in Sumner have brought hands-on learning to life in the hallways of the elementary school.
“We thought it would be a creative way to integrate social studies, literacy, STEM and art into our curriculum,” said teacher Kim Hammer.
That creativity means bringing in two Portland area artists from Rather Severe to help paint a mural in the front entrance of the school, to help students understand the salmon cycle, storytelling and Native American history.
“When Chris (Sullivan), our principal, brought up the idea of doing a mural and the salmon cycle, we just jumped in and decided to take it on,” Hammer said.
In addition to providing artwork for students and visitors to the school, it also gave fifth-graders the opportunity to write persuasive letters to businesses in their community to help support the mural. Last trimester, the students sent off letters to McClendon Hardware and Lowe’s, and the businesses responded and sent money.
“The kids have actually been able to make a connection in the community,” said fifth grade teacher Jenny Lamont.
Fifth-grader Brielle Davis, 10, reflected on what writing letters to business in the community meant for her.
“When I wrote the letter, after proofreading it, I really liked it,” she said. “I thought with writing that, maybe I could show them how much I care about this and we could get some stuff to help.”
Some of the students are enrolled in a Native American class, so students were able to take what they’ve learned there and incorporate it into the mural.
“It was inspired by some of the art elements that we see around here in Native American art. We have the life cycle, the art, we have a literary aspect,” Lamont said.
With Daffodil Elementary having a fairly diverse group of students, it has allowed students to understand and recognize culture.
“Another element of this project is recognizing the diverse culture at Daffodil and making a connection with the community,” Lamont said.
The mural was completed Friday, and the school hopes to bring in a tribal elder to work with the students on storytelling.
“They’re going to come in and hopefully do an oral story of the creation story of the salmon for fifth grade as well, so weaving it in to storytelling as well and the narrative,” Lamont said.
Not only were students able to have a visual reminder of what they learned, they also were able to paint on the mural with the help of Jon Stommel and Travis Czekalski from Rather Severe.
“Every student has really gotten to work with the artists, to work hand in hand with them, collaborating to do the fish, so it’s been a really neat opportunity,” Lamont said.
Students were thrilled to be a part of something to adorn the hallways of their school for years to come.
“I think it’s helped us because we got to be a part of it,” Davis said. “We get to experience seeing it go, and we get to learn about it.”