For Those Tears I Died: Grade Four Illustration

I found a beautiful reflection about grief this morning.  I had some personal reasons for thinking about bereavement again and I really haven’t been very faithful to my typical reflections through this Lenten journey.  I knew I was going to be spending time with one of my favourite classes this morning…I have several of those because I am a guest teacher and that always makes the practice of teaching very special.  I was also teaching in one of our Catholic schools and so, I had the freedom to make spiritual connections.  While the students did not complete the works, they are almost there.

Food for thought…

Sometimes it is the people who are struggling the most, who inspire us greatly, not the people who seem to have the best of everything and yet have an insatiable appetite for MORE.  When our lives are filled with good health and our loved ones are healthy, then really, we can find our way through anything.  When we are warm, then we need to find comfort for others.  When we are well fed, we need to find a way to feed others.  When we have fresh water, we need to consider how to fulfill that thirst in others.  I think that we are too much a ‘WANT’ society.  I don’t mean to judge others,  but there is a struggling world out there and we are really walking wounded, all of us.

Today’s art activity had to do with ‘making meaning’, so the emphasis was on composition and expression.  The students and I shared a lot about illustration and how illustration is used for a number of purposes.  The lesson is inspired by a journal entry that I found here.

Tears to Crop

The art work includes words by Helen Keller.  Her story is inspiring and the fact that she was such a light to others continues to amaze me because she was unable to see or hear.  It was with the help of her teacher, Annie Sullivan, that she learned to make relationships between the sense of touch and language and began to use signs to spell out words and make necessary associations.  Here are her words.

We bereaved are not alone.
We belong to the largest company in all the world, the company of those who have known suffering.
When it seems that our sorrow is too great to be borne, let us think of the great family of the heavy hearted into which our grief has given us entrance, and inevitably, we will feel about us their arms, their sympathy, their understanding.
Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world.
So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.

Helen Keller

The first discussion was about font style and size.  I played them an old hymn I remembered from my days in University and asked them to design a font for the words, For Those Tears, I Died.  I created a number of exemplars on the white board, fonts that I have used a lot over my lifetime.  I told them that font selection is a very personal thing and it was completely up to them how they communicated their message.

After dealing with font and placement of text, the students practiced drawing tear drop shapes. (not so easy as you might think).  The larger-the better, as the grade fours would choose a number of tangled pattern designs, to develop their illustrations, in Sharpie permanent markers.   I showed them this 20 Easy Zen-Tangle Patterns Youtube video, stopping it at intervals, to explore the patterns with them.  I paused at the conclusion of each and the students drew pattern directly onto their compositions, with permanent marker. They were encouraged to surround their tear dropped shapes with a frame for invented patterned borders and to fill in any blank spaces in their compositions with other shapes.

The next step will be to incorporate their mauve, purple and blue tints to their illustrations, using waxed crayon or pencil crayon, sparingly.


Here’s where they are at the moment!  A great class!  Thank you, Jess.





3 thoughts on “For Those Tears I Died: Grade Four Illustration

  1. What a marvelous lesson and completed or not the truth has come through to these young minds. A class they will never forget.Those tears a part of the forty days.

  2. I agree with you completely. Trying just to satisfy ourselves is an impossible project. We constantly want more. But to relate to the world around us, that does give us satisfaction and pleasure, and makes us more sensitive at the same time. It can start with people. But eventually, the sensitivity extends to animals and plants and even to inanimate objects. I read Helen Keller as a young man, and loved her. Especially, her sense of humor.

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