From kites to candy, mud to marigolds: Slade school devotes day to 'Earth Art'

May 28, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

The best part of school yesterday was the mud. Or maybe the kites. Or perhaps the candy. Or just that there were no classes at Arthur Slade Regional Catholic School.

The Glen Burnie school held "Earth Art" day and devoted it to showing its 840 students how the environment influences and inspires the visual arts.

Students thought they were having fun flitting from one art project to the next all day. But teachers, artisans and parents said the events surreptitiously taught students to apply skills and consider the world around them.

Students roamed among a dozen tables in the auditorium, where they molded chocolates, planted marigold seeds, packed colored sand into jars, folded pinwheels and made critters from pebbles.

Meanwhile, artisans geared a schedule of activities to different grades.

"I want all of you to get your hands muddy; it's OK," Joanne Riddle, owner of the Wild Bird Center in Severna Park, told about 250 second- and third-graders who couldn't wait to comply. "You are using your hands like birds use their feet."

The youngsters mixed a wad of Spanish moss with broken twigs, strands of yarn, old leaves and clothes dryer lint, glued it together with blobs of mud -- making sure to get sufficiently dirty -- to create bird's nests.

"We have an apple tree in our back yard. We're going to put it in the tree, and then a bird comes and lays eggs in it," said third-grader Rachel Goodwin, 9, of Glen Burnie. Specifically, a robin.

Ms. Riddle said that after she did this project in other schools, students told her that birds did use the nests.

The same youngsters also made kites from decorated trash bags and then ran outside to see them flap in the wind.

This was the second year the 38-year-old school has held the "Earth Art" event.

"I wish they had a day like this for adults," said Patti Sinnen of Linthicum, one of the 58 parents who had volunteered to help out.

Applying what they had learned about the needs of endangered wildlife, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders, under the guidance of the Baltimore Foundation for Architecture, designed habitats for several animals.

Baltimore architect Gloria Mikolajczyk said the project boosts children's self-esteem by showing them that their knowledge of animal needs can be used to create havens for wildlife.

A favorite of all ages in the auditorium was the creation of wearable art. Pupils arranged such things as leaves, feathers and shells on T-shirts, which then were spritzed with paint to create colorful, outdoorsy outlines.

Most of the items were the real thing, but the fish shape was not. Last year, the school used real fish for the outline, "but it got too smelly," said Suzanne Whitmore, director of development.

Edible art was nearby. Kathy Furth of Millersville, president of Slade's school board, staffed one of the most popular crafts. With 40 pounds of white chocolate behind her, she and her crew had students lined up to mold warm, tinted chocolate into such delicacies as little pink bananas and blue ponies.

Fifth-grader Michael Gorman, 11, of Severna Park, carefully painted dinosaur molds with chocolate tinted purple and other hues, and predicted that concentrating on the task would give him a steady hand and yield fine candy.

Filled molds were chilled in a cooler, and children picked up the finished products a few minutes later.

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