Arts Integration: Grade 3 Focus

Have you read the news? Yes, we literally made the news for our arts integration curriculum at Memorial Spaulding, because well….it is a BIG deal! Third grade was where it all began, back in the day (about 11 years ago) and now EVERY grade level has a different unit where we integrate the arts. Yes, that is newsworthy information.

If you are not sure what arts integration is….we like to use the Kennedy Center for the Arts definition:

Arts Integration Definition


Yes, there is A LOT of value in this work and your children are able to learn so many content areas through arts learning. This approach is differentiated inherently, age appropriately engaging and most certainly, as one teacher at Memorial Spaulding said recently “creating everlasting memories in our learning.”

This morning was a very special opportunity for our third grade students to share their artist biography learning with families and here is a glimpse:

Want to SEE some of our work and our amazing artists tell more about what they have learned? Check out this amazing gallery:

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So, K-2 families….here is something to look forward to, and to grades 3-5 families….ask your artist what was most memorable about this unit. Then ask them other ways we learn through the arts.

I will be sharing more about this process in this space, and others too…..I am SO proud to work with such an amazing team here at Memorial Spaulding to create the most engaging units to have children learn science, social studies, math, reading and writing with an arts integration lens!

Thank you for your incredible and vibrant support….YOU and your enthusiasm is what make our school so magical!

Stay Tuned for more information about our culminating trip to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston OR check it out in real time on our INSTAGRAM page!


We Heart Art

Watercolors, pastels, and tempera, oh my! Your beautiful artists are not just making masterpieces, but they are also learning every step of the way. Our process is truly magic- I hope you will follow us on Instagram to see the daily posts that hold windows into our journey to create a work of art….and the different ways we create as well!

Alas, you are HERE now, so let’s share some slivers of this magic 🙂

In the fifth grade, your artists may have shared that we are using academic choice as a guiding way to foster more independence in our artistic behavior and studio habits of mind. We have experienced mural making, printmaking with markers and with ink, as well as exploring more techniques with our altered books as well! Ask your child: Which printing strategy did you prefer: ink, or marker printing? Why are the processes different and how? What inspired you? Which materials did you choose?  

In the fourth grade, artists have been creating zentangles and working with studying contemporary artist Jen Stark. This has been highly engaging and ties into our study of the elements and principles of design. Ask your child: How did you approach this project? What inspired you? Which materials did you choose?  

Third grade is diving into the very exciting arts integration unit of artist biography work! This is a very special and pivotal moment in the Memorial Spaulding artists’ journey in our school. Ask your child: Who is your artist? Why did you choose this artist and what inspired you? What materials are you using and why?

Remember: this unit culminates with our Museum Fine Arts field trip coming in February!

In second grade, artists have been creating outer space collages! We call this project, a classic Memorial Spaulding project because it is a favorite tradition in our second grade art curriculum. Artists paint their own planets using watercolor techniques and salt to create texture. We then move on to collage the painting on black paper and use oil pastels to create a full fledged and stylized imaginative galaxy! Ask your child: What happened when the salt and the watercolor mixed? What are some of the collage strategies you used to create depth? What about strategies for using your edges in your collage?

In the first grade, we dove into our winter tree paintings and our winter tree mural! We were excited to create trees using our branch strategies and start styling our lines a bit more, now that first grade artists have more skills to create. We used cool colors and glitter paint to make our snow glisten! We also brought our skills into our large winter mural as we continue to create for our four season series of tree paintings and murals, as we continue to integrate the arts in both the art room and the classroom to learn through our seasons unit in science! Ask your child: How did you style your tree? How did you create snowflakes and which strategies did you try? Which part of the mural did you enjoy creating and why?

In kindergarten, artists read Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert and used it as a source of inspiration for our own rainbow gardens! Through a process of organizing, counting, and creating variety, artists used monochromatic greens to set their garden up for a lush and blooming masterpiece! We then played the game “pass the color,” where students were able to use all the shades of each color, one at a time. Artists then chose one color for the sky with watercolor to finish this vibrant art! Ask your child: What does monochromatic mean? How do you play the game ” Pass the Color?” How did you choose your sky color?

What else is new? Well, surely you have seen our yarn bombed tree and fence (made by our upper grades)! We are excited to do this work and continue to create as much public art as possible! Our lower grades have made our window art, a rainbow that also serves as a reminder to look at neighbor colors as we create!


I am continually astounded by your children. Their curiosity, thoughtfulness, diligence, and creativity teaches me each day. I am so grateful for our time together and you sharing them in our thriving and colorful community!

What Have your Artists been up to?

It has been SUCH a busy time in the art room! We have been working hard to grow and learn in the art room in SO many different ways! While I know you see our final products on Artsonia, it is important to hear about the process as well….here are some questions to ask your child specifically so that they can explain to you what is happening and the growth, resiliency and knowledge gained while making this art:


What are the brushstrokes called in art class? (Hints, and answers 🙂 : 1. Cinderella does this (sweeping), 2. This one is loud like a dinosaur or elephant (stomp) and 3. Like a ninja ballerina in the night (tiptoe)


First Grade:

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What does abstract mean? What does landscape mean? What are the warm colors? What are the cool colors? What is the word that explains where the ground meets the sky? What does bold mean? What is a neutral color?

Second Grade:

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What does it mean to render? What does it mean to “underpaint?” What happens when you blend? What is the silly way to explain shading with colored pencils (we equate it to: outdoor voice, indoor voice, table talk, whisper and then silently weaving into another color….a way to explain how to create gradation!)

Note: your children will soon learn that these images will be deeply connected to the Integrating the Arts work that the second grade team and I have proudly created with the social studies unit through our Newton Schools Foundation grant we received in our vision work around Arts Integration- these photos we worked with are landforms! Stay tuned to learn more!

Third Grade:

Who is Faith Ringgold? What is a contemporary artist? What do you know about her life?  How did her life guide her work? What is a “dreamscape?” What is a textile? How will you create a quilt and a painting together? What did you choose for your dreamscape and why?

Fourth Grade

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Who is Ted Harrison? What is an abstract landscape? What color combinations did you consider while working on this project? (contrasting, warm, cool,  neutral, neighbor colors) What is the process to create your art? How did you create texture? What is a foreground? What color did you choose for the sky and why?

Fifth Grade

What is a silhouette? What techniques will you use to create the sky? What unusual materials are options? What colors will you use for your sky and why?  Why did you choose your silhouette? Is it large or small, or medium? Why?

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If you don’t want to wait to see all these fun photos (and more), then you are the perfect person to follow our classroom on Instagram!

Also….would you like to donate anything to the art room to keep it running smoothly? Your donations mean the world to us and certainly help us meet our goals of having a clean, multimedia and stocked classroom, so thank you!!! See here for our donation wishlist:

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Thank you for your constant support and your amazing and thriving artists!!!!!


Welcome Back!

Dear Memorial Spaulding Families,

Welcome back to school!  I am so glad to be back for another colorful year!  For those of you who I have just met (virtually), please come in and introduce yourself and visit the art room….and familiar faces are welcome too, I would love to see you! We have the most beautiful studio I have ever seen.

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A little about me….I am a native Newtonian and attended Memorial Spaulding when I was a kid. I graduated from Brandeis University with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and Education and hold a Masters Degree in Education with a focus in Arts Integration from Fitchburg State University. I have two little artists at home too (a Pre-K kiddo and a 2nd grader!). I am surprised and proud to say, this is my 15th year (!) at Memorial Spaulding teaching art….as I told your kids- I have spent more than half of my life at Memorial Spaulding I love it so much!

I am looking forward to a great year of discovery as we learn about ourselves as artists as well as art from around the world and throughout history. We will engage in array of creative endeavors including drawing, painting, printing, ceramics, building and collage. It is my goal to work together with you and your child to make art class an experience where he or she will learn and grow in a thoughtful, inquisitive and joyful way.  We create in lots of different ways in the art room, allowing your child to find his or her voice in the arts, while also learning skill sets with different media, and becoming a 21st century learner.

It is my expectation that students will be able to use the time we share to its full potential and in a productive way. I hope we can work together to make art a special place for your child. I will be in communication about your child’s art class to share happy moments of success and so we can work together to be sure that your child is using his or her time productively!

Please feel free to email me at or stop by!

As a reminder- please do not send your child to school on his or her art day in special clothes- making art can sometimes be messy!

Do you want a window into our classroom on a daily basis? Follow us @memorialspauldingart on Instagram!

The art room could also use the following donations if possible:

Baby Wipes ****(these are amazing for cleaning the art room and hands!)

Clorox Wipes

Paper Towels

Hand sanitizer

Colored Sharpies

Tissue Boxes

Magazines (age appropriate please), Catalogs, fun papers

All NEW families: look for an announcement how you can see your child’s art on so you can share it with your family and friends worldwide! 🙂

Thank you!

I am looking forward to seeing you soon!


Alexandra Etscovitz (most kids call me Ms. E)

the art show is TOMORROW!

I know you didn’t forget, because how could you?

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THE ART SHOW IS TOMORROW from 5:00-7:00pm!

Still want to help, but haven’t gotten a moment to sign up? SIGN UP HERE TO HELP! Especially taking the show down….bring your kids! They can help too!

Here are some frequently asked questions about the Art Show:

What are some things to ask my child (I am sure you don’t need this list, but in case you wanted a jump start 🙂 )?

What materials did you use? Why did you choose this piece? What did you learn? What was hard about this project? What was fun for you?

How many pieces of art at the art show?

There are 2 pieces per kid, one 2-dimensional and one 3-dimensional. Each child chose their own piece, and this results in approximately 1,000 works of art on display! 

When do we get our artwork back?

After the art show, kids get ALL their artwork back….don’t you fret 🙂

Can we touch our own artwork?

Please do not. Younger kids get confused if they see kids touch and think it is okay. Be a role model!

How do I know what grade is which?

Do you know our school-wide color coded system?

Each grade is color coded by frame color:

Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade

And, finally, just in case you didn’t know how to act at an art show :), the good news is that the children have gone over some of the expectations. Here are their reminders: 

That is right- your kids reminded us all not to run, not to touch (even if it is your own!), no food or drippy drinks, don’t use your cell phone in the art show, and please be respectful with kind words- THEY NAILED IT! 🙂

Your kids rock.

We are so so excited to see you there!!!!!!!

Busy, busy artists, Artsonia, Integrating the Arts and Instagram!

Hey there art fans,

Long time, no talk! We have been crazy busy in the art room! Here is a quick synopsis:

5th Graders started the year with Grid Trees, and then moved on to observational drawing and painting Fauvist landscapes:

Ask your child: How did you choose to use your color families for your Grid Tree?   Where did you draw outside? How did your drawing change when you painted? What painting strategies did you use? What does Fauvism mean?


4th Graders worked hard to create beautiful zentangle trees, then moved on to make a complex and gorgeous instrument still life!

Ask your child: What is a zentangle? How did you paint your paper (with negative and positive space in mind?)? What was it like to draw an instrument still life? How did you feel? Was it hard? How did you engage and persist? How are you adding color and what materials and techniques are you using?

3rd Grade artists have been busy too! First we learned about making glue trees using color families for coloring with pastel. Then we learned about artist Hunderwasser and found his artistic elements through a strategy called Visual Thinking Strategies and created our own inspired landscapes. We also created alla prima still life paintings! Then we learned about contemporary artist Dale Chihuly and are currently working collaboratively to make our own glass chandelier!

Ask your child: What was it like drawing with glue? How did you organize your color families? What are some of Hunderwasser’s characteristics in his art? Which are your favorite and inspired you? Who is Dale Chihuly? How are you working to make a chandelier?

2nd Grade artists have been busy bees as they have been working to make Paul Klee inspired cityscapes using glue to draw and then pastels to color in. They then have started gorgeous shell drawings that they painted with warm and cool colors.


Ask your child: What color did you use for the sky? Why was this important? When you were drawing a shell….how did you start? Was this hard? What does abstract mean? What colors did you use?

1st grade artists have been super prolific this year, already! First we started with our gorgeous abstract landscapes using warm and cool colors, then we started our beautiful glue drawings of fish using pastels, then we created our complex still life drawings of flowers and finally we made our line collages where we cut our own paintings!

Ask your child: What does abstract mean? How did you draw with glue? How did you color your fish? What is a trick to starting a still life drawing? How did you cut your painting? What does tension mean in art?

Kindergarten artists have made gorgeous art, all while investigating our line unit! First, artists painted with black paint to create lines and then we colored the designs with oil pastels. Then we learned about Vincent Van Gogh and created our own Starry Night paintings using broken lines and beautiful stars! We read the book Lines that Wiggle  and created watercolor line paintings to culminate our study of line….but don’t you fret- we will be thinking about lines for many years to come 🙂

Ask your child: What lines can you see around you? Who painted Starry Night? What is a broken line? What are warm colors? What are cool colors? How do you remember? What happens when you paint on top of oil pastel?

Also, be sure to check out our Artsonia Gallery! Your child has their own gallery that will never vanish! You can buy products (20% of the proceeds goes back into our art program to buy special materials and books!) or just share the beautiful art your child creates here at school!

Want to remember your child’s work from home, but not have to have too much clutter? Did you know you can upload your child’s image onto your Artsonia account? You can with their amazing app too!

Also….hopefully you have marked your calendar for December 1st for our Integrating the Arts morning! I am excited to share with you all the best practice teaching strategies  along with deep curricular connections that we have worked hard to create so that children can learn through the arts to access content in an engaging, memorable, and meaningful way!

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Also….would you like a daily update on our art room fun and curriculum? Follow us on Instagram!

Also, thank you for your amazing donations- every baby wipe, sharpie, foil, tissue, and paper towel is used with such appreciation! 🙂

I am so thankful to be your child’s art teacher….thank you for sharing your amazing children everyday!!!!!