Learning Intentions forArtistic Expression

Setting learning intentions, that are strongly rooted in the Spirit of Alliances, is something we have been focusing on and learning to do all year in our Kindergarten class. Our intentions are set daily, and now are also set for specific activities such as journal, play time and numeracy or literacy time. Over the past couple of weeks we worked on setting learning intentions with our artistic expression. Here is how it went.

To quickly set the background, we embarked on an inquiry journey in the middle of January. I presented the topic and the essential questions, which encompass various components of our science curriculum pertaining to animals and their adaptations to seasonal changes. I presented four interest group options for the children to choose from: Wolf, Raven, Bear and Salmon (animals we have been learning about all year). Since then, we have been researching and sharing our learning and wonders about these animals.  As a means of sharing our learning in another way, we decided on doing an art piece that would portray our animal and share one written fact. I introduced some of Ted Harrison’s work, and then we did a mini inquiry answering lots of our questions about Ted Harrison and his work. We learned that he is from Victoria, BC and that lots of his art has animals on beautiful scenery. We even noticed our four animals and various seasons in his pieces. This was exciting.

I chose to present the children with a sunset directed draw of Ted Harrison which we would do multiple times, each time in hopes of improving something and making a positive change to our work. Inspired from the clip Autin’s Butterfly, I had great images in my head of discussions, intention setting based on their art and refining their work. We started out with a directed draw, which I guided on our document camera. We had an ongoing discussion about how art decisions and work is never wrong, but we are doing our best to create a piece inspired from Ted Harrison that somewhat resembles his piece. The message of ‘art is never wrong or a mistake’ became a common language and was repeated by many of our little friends. We finished our directed draws and left them until the next lesson.


Next, we learned about critiquing our own art in comparison to the directed draw. Thanks to our background work on setting learning intentions the children quickly flipped their critiques into intention setting, basing them on the Spirit of alliance teachings, in the form of “next time I will…”. Growth Mindset in Kindergarten? YES! We shifted into learning about critiquing a partner’s work in the form of a suggestion, I modeled each step from how we would sit, how we would find something we liked about their work and something we thought they would improve on. We shared our predictions about how we thought it would feel to receive a compliment and a suggestion, I am glad we shared this before as it made the activity feel positive and smooth. I am always looking at how I can set my learners up for success and this set up did just that. To witness them all sitting knee to knee, eye to eye and sharing their compliments and suggestions was a magical experience. They were so kind and thoughtful, but also had great suggestions for each other.

We then moved into setting intentions, based on the Spirit of Alliances, using a sticky note (an intention setting activity we have done many times before). We set an intention for our art for next time, such as: I will be like the Salmon as I try harder to space out my lines, or I will be like the Raven because I would like to be more creative with my swirly wavy lines. We took our sticky note intentions, and went back to work and created a second piece. We followed this same process again, another day, but the third time made verbal intentions in small groups and continued onto our third piece.


In the end, we had three directed draw’s of the same piece, but refined to something we were proud of and ready to use as a tool to help us with our final copy. The three pieces were all done in pencil, but the final copy was done solely in sharpie. The children didn’t use pencils for the final copies, straight to sharpies! Bold and bold! It was wonderful to see them laying our their three copies and then going over each one and making mental notes about what they liked best about each one (a process we modeled prior to getting going).

Once they had their sharpie outlines, they had the choice of painting or using pastels to fill in and add the colours. They then drew and cut out a black silhouette, just like Ted Harrison, of their focus inquiry animal. This project was NOT about the final copy, it was about the process and the intentions…but the final copies are beautiful!


Thanks for reading,