Jun. 17—Community members can now hop, skip and jump on artwork created by local elementary students.
Hand-painted tiles cemented in the Master Gardeners Teaching Gardens form a game of hopscotch. The installment is one of several pieces created by young people in the community for the children's portion of the Teaching Gardens.
Master Gardeners volunteer Carolyn Peterson said she saw the idea for painted hopscotch tiles online and loved it. Not being an artist herself, Peterson was able to connect with some of Claremore Public School's art teachers and involve local students.
Art teachers Jen Coffey (Catalayah Elementary), Amber Reavis (Stuart Roosa Elementary), Andrea Ratcliff (Westside Elementary) and Tina Francis (Claremont Elementary) jumped on the opportunity to bring the kids and the community together. Together, they each created three tiles with their students, for a total of 12 hopscotch squares.
"We were all in," Ratcliff said. "Everybody was ready to contribute to this project. I think its always a great opportunity when the community and the schools connect and work together."
The teachers said painting on concrete was a learning lesson for the students and themselves. Reavis said she had to learn that the tiles soaked up more paint than expected. The project also taught the students to work together, Ratcliff said.
"Anytime you have a group project, that team aspect comes into play," Ratcliff said. "Not only did our kids teamwork it on an individual site, they worked together with [The Master Gardeners], we team worked as a district and as a community."
The art teachers worked together to make sure none of the tiles were too similar. Art teacher Jen Coffey, a Cherokee Nation citizen, led her students in painting a tile with feathers and taught them how to paint with a toothbrush. Speaking about the Cherokee influence on the art, Peterson said the Nation made the first donation the gardens so they could build a fence.
On another tile, Coffey had her students use daubers and then had them paint lines around the dots in to make flowers and butterflies.
Francis said her students looked up tutorials online to help them paint sunflowers.
"A couple of girls did the sunflowers and they watched YouTube tutorials on how to do that," Francis said.
Each teacher took the project and made it their own and did the project with different ages to give a variety of style in the installment.
"We all loved it," Coffey said.
Peterson said she hope's to add more to the children's garden soon, like wind chimes and a xylophone. Located right next to a splash pad and playground, she said she hopes the gardens can be another place for kids to learn and play.
"We want it to be flowery and kid friendly," she said.
Anyone can visit the art at the Teaching Gardens at 1564 Camden St. The Teaching Gardens are free and open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day of the week.
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