Frida Kahlo, fall term 2018

After visiting Frida Kahlo's blue house in Mexico City last September, I decided to plan the fall term around Mexican Culture and Frida's life story, artwork and legacy. For preparation, I read many books and personal letters, and watched short clips. I knew that in order to engage the kids, I will have to tell each class a short story. I carefully memorized interesting stories about her life, from childhood to adulthood. I didn't know that my students would sit down quietly and would listen to my lessons with so much enthusiasm and interest. It was amazing the see them this way.

Each week, they learned more about Frida's physyical pain and challenges. From childhood, teen age years and adulthood, there is so much to know and understand in order to appreciate the artist's work.

I decided to combine the narrative with visuals and games. The kids specially loved the story when "Frida went back to school after many months of staying home due to contracting Polio at the age of 6". I picked one student to be "Frida", one to be "the mom" and a few to be "the classmates". We created 2 scenes, the first one was taking place in Mexico 100 years ago and the second one was taking place nowadays. We compared how kids reacted then and how they did now (with more understanding and compassion).

Children having fun re-creating "Frida"

Frida Kahlo was born, lived and died in the blue house. The house belonged to her parents, and later on, she lived with her husband Diego Rivera. They both decided to paint the house in the color blue to better represent their Mexican heritage. For the first art project, the students created a little "Frida's Blue House", adding clay furniture such as beds, little tables, pillows and carpets. Of course, I encouraged them to make the house extra "Mexican" by using fun, original supplies that I specially brought from my last visit to Mexico. Pompons, little wooden Piñatas, flowers and sparkles were some of their choices.

A close up to some blue House made by the kids.

We continued the journey into Mexican culture by making Papier Mache Piñatas. There is no going wrong with doing this project with kids. I never get tired of seeing their beautiful ideas and they always look so good! I did have some challenges to keep the kids focus on doing their papier mache work, which required two full classes, but it was worth the effort because they learned that hard work does show after all. A great idea was to ask them to estimate how many hours take me to complete a painting (which they are familiarized with and they love) and once they understood that a great painting requires lots of hours of work, they all went off to finish the tedious work of papier mache.

Wednesday's Class, sitting all together on the floor and doing the first layer of Papier Mache.

Thursday's Class, sitting all together on the floor and doing the fist layer of Papier Mache.

Kids in grade 3, painting their Piñatas (Thursday class)

Kids in K - grade 1 Piñatas (Monday class)

During the fall term, we also celebrated the Mexican Day of The Death (October 31st, November 1st and 2nd) by doing some Arts & Crafts related activities and watching some educational videos to learn about this colorful and meaningful celebration.

Tuesday's Class, enjoying painting the skulls I got them in Mexico.

Decorating the room for the Day of The Death

Of course, I couldn't resist when I was walking one day at the market in Oaxaca and saw these cute hand-made Frida Kahlo's dolls. I bought 50 of them! The lady who made them agreed to be photograph with her daughter ,so I could show my students, all the way in Canada, who made the precious dolls!

At the market in Oaxaca, Mexico

A grade 1 student showing proudly her Frida's necklace.

A Kindergarten student showing happily her Frida's necklace.

The older students did an interpretation of Frida's famous quote "Pies, para que los quiero, si tengo alas pa' volar" - "Feet, why would I want them, if I have wings to fly". We talked about her physical challenges and pain, and after the conversation they created these beautiful wooden pictures, using clay, stamps, pompons and more.

Samples of Sunday Art Class.

By the end of the term, the kids played to be painters as Frida and they did beautiful paintings inspired by her. The younger group painted a more "free version" while the older group started their artwork by tracing a famous photograph of Frida Kahlo and then continued painting until they completed their work.

A proud Grade 1 student. with her painting of Frida

A sample of a Grade 1 student.

A portrait by a Kindergarten student.

A sample of a Grade 3 student.

We concluded the term in a meaningful way, celebrating Hanukah with parents and siblings. From Sunday to Thursday, families joined us to light the candles and to see the beautiful art projects.

Parents visiting us on Thursday.

To finish this blog post, I leave you with these cute girls from grade 1, singing their Hanukah song!

"The stories you believe to be true are the ones your life will become"

with love, Jazmin

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