Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pinwheels for Peace 2012.

Last year, as a first year teacher, I found out that the retired teacher I had replaced had been doing Pinwheels for Peace for years. While it didn't necessarily feel like I had the option to discontinue this tradition (which was somewhat tough-- how to establish a new identity and not just feel like a replacement who is trying to be a cheap imitation of what came before?), I was happy to fall in line with Pinwheels for Peace expectations. But unfortunately, when I did end-of-the-year surveys with all my classes at the close of my first year, many students commented that they were bored with Pinwheels for Peace, which had more or less consisted of making pinwheels with the same photocopied template year after year. While I had developed rigorous lessons with in-depth discussions and reflections on what peace means, can be, can look like, I hadn't deviated from that paper template. So this year, it was time for a change.

Inspired by an NAEA session I attended at the annual March conference, called Ponder the Potential of Pinwheels: Projects Inspired by Pinwheels for Peace, led by Amy Broady (who can be found over at her blog, Tanglefish), I shook it up a bit.

Kinders and first graders still made paper pinwheels, which still hold and held plenty of magic for them.

These photos are really haphazard. I literally ran outside, snapped these shots while some kinders were "planting" their pinwheels, then ran back in to continue prep between classes. They're putting them around our school sign. Sad that I didn't get a more comprehensive shot :( Photographer... I am not.

Second graders made Peace Doves, after thoroughly discussing the dove as a symbol of peace, and analyzing Picasso's use of doves in many of his drawings. We took one class to weave, another to draw and cut our doves and color and cut the mini-pinwheels. Next year, I think the pinwheels should have some sort of "stem" that comes from the mouth of the dove. Some doves look like they're munching the pinwheels or that they have pinwheel noses. Whoops.

Example of... pinwheel-nose.

Peace doves come in all shapes and sizes.

Third graders made clay pinwheels that they then painted with tempera. Our glaze order never came in this year because the warehouse the whole county ordered them from... discontinued carrying any glaze. A new order is pending. The students rolled plastic texture sheets into the slabs that would become their pinwheels, but with a traditional application of tempera, the texture was mostly lost. Whoops, again. I've seen India ink rubbed into fired bisque, and I might want to try that next year. Or glaze :)

Concentrating with such intensity!

Fourth graders made Tibetan prayer flag-inspired Pinwheel Flags on tracing paper with Sharpies and colored pencils. Like the second graders who added doves to their arsenal of peace-related symbols, fourth graders added prayer flags. I strung them together by hole-punching the construction paper tops and linking them together with paperclips. 

Last but not least, fifth graders made posters that advertised International Day of Peace (which is on September 21st, by the way), which were hung up around the school a week before the big day. While I challenged the students to work together to consider layout, font, images & symbols, readability, and create a "bold and simple design", I found their posters didn't necessarily reflect all those careful considerations we delved into. Something to work on: effective, clear, concise design! Especially before middle school, when the assignments that require posters will continue, while the art classes may not.

Here's to another year filled with promise and aptly, peace!


  1. It's a wonderful tradition, no matter how you choose to celebrate it. I especially like that the message is universal and non-political.

    1. I agree with all of that, Phyl! I think that reflecting on peace at the beginning of the year is a nice opener for the entire school year to come.