• JoAnne Saldanha

An art-ISH theme

Updated: Aug 28

Every term I like to plan around a theme...the idea usually pops up a few months earlier, often inspired by new books added to my collection or old books I may have revisited. The time I have, allows for me to revisit oral stories that I have in my repertoire or to search out new stories. I particularly like to take stories from folklore and mythology.


What working around a theme does is:

  • Helps me narrow down my choice of books and/or stories.

  • Interpret the theme across a range of books and stories.

  • Help children build on their knowledge around a theme through fiction, non-fiction, picture book biographies, folktales, mythology or poetry and song.

What tends to happen over the length of time that we share books and stories around a theme is that children tend to get 'into' the theme and bring their own contributions to the session.

I love when this happens because this means that they are engaged and making connections to what we are doing at Library class. This is what MUST happen, what I hope for...children taking the initiative in their own learning.




This term I decided to explore Art as the theme.

So I put together books I had, books I could find on Storyweaver and Get Epic to work around the idea of art.

They include books about artists, fiction, non-fiction and different art forms...both Indian and international books and stories.

I am excited with my little pile and will feature how we explored the books each week.


I started my first class with the question, 'What is Art?'

Many responded that it was drawing, painting and maybe colouring. I waited for thoughts to flow, allowing for all kinds of responses.

It took one of the older children to say that art was a way humans expressed themselves. This is the response I was hoping for, we then moved on to discussing what those ways(forms) could be.

I love seeing how the realisation dawns, paving the way for many more inputs.


I deliberately chose Ish by Peter H. Reynolds to start with. I love its simple yet profound message...hoping to set the tone for participation in activities around art. Many children are conscious that they are not 'good' in art, often not participating in an activity which may involve drawing.



To begin the class I asked children what they loved to draw.

Then I very casually asked them to think of one thing they may want to draw but never attempt it because they do not think they can draw it. Or something that never comes right.

I asked them to note that down on their paper.




I went on to do an Interactive read aloud of the book, stopping to ask questions and eliciting responses as I went along.

We chatted our way through the book stopping at different points in the text to discuss many different things. Here are a few....

  • Things we may do one the potty!!!LOL

  • What it feels like when someone puts down our work, laughs at it or makes fun of it.

  • How we could frame our words to offer constructive criticism.

  • Reason's why Marisol would want to save Ramon's crumpled drawings.

  • Marisol's character

With admiration for Marisol we moved on to the end of the book celebrating that its okay being a bit 'Ish' in various areas of our lives.




To end the session, children were asked to draw the word that they had written on their paper at the beginning of the class. It was interesting to see how proud they were of their drawings.


Picture book philosophy always hits the spot!!


I am not a believer of structured art activities in the library or in response to books. The library and/or story sessions must offer space for creativity, for imagination to flow or even explode.

But most importantly I want children to be able to see their friends responses to the same story. What this does is to help them see and appreciate the individuality of those around them. It is beautiful to hear them appreciate different aspects of each others work...be it art or written efforts.


ISH was the perfect precursor to my next read...look out for our next art themed book, next week.




SEL Competencies and Skills


Competency: Self Awareness

Skill: Recognise strengths and emotions


Competency: Social Awareness

Skills: Perspective taking, Kindness and empathy, Respect for others.


Competency: Relationship Skills

Skill: Communication, Relationship building, Social engagement



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