Launching Land Forms at Ocean Avenue Elementary

Posted by on Mar 28, 2016 in drawing, Illustration, John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall, pastels | 4 comments

Thanks to Side x Side, I had more adventures in second grade, this time at Ocean Avenue Elementary School in Portland, Maine. I’d received an out-0f-the-blue letter from a Professor Amir Sneedlebaum of the University of Papua New Guinea, as did my colleague, Pamela Moulton.


He also wrote to each of the second grade teachers as well.


He needs their help in creating a model island of diverse land forms, so that his team of researchers can study earth’s changes. Cool! Count me in!

I arrived in a costume quite suitable for me, a native of the White Mountains of New Hampshire!


I shared my letter with the classes and rolled in a mysterious package from the hall. Hidden beneath white stretchy fabric, a figure embodied three land forms in sound and movement: a mountain reaching tall, a waterfall so brisk, and a volcano exploding! And then, out crawled…Pamela! She pulled out an old suitcase and put on a new costume and shared her letter from the professor along with some of her recent work. She loves working in found materials and performance art.


The teachers, Tracy McGhie, Erin Partridge, and Kelley Nogar, then showed a slide show of land forms from all over the world: mountains and valleys, coastlines, islands, glaciers, hills and rivers,  waterfalls and cliffs, canyons and arches, caves, plateaus and plains, lakes with islands, mesas and buttes, volcanos, peninsulas, and even hoodoos! What is a hoodoo?!! Glad I can learn side by side with second graders to find out.

Students were asked to share what they saw, thought, and wondered. What a stellar team full of thinkers.


I arrived a couple of days later armed with boxes of natural objects, 2B pencils, Bristol paper, and magnifying glasses for close inspection. The study of land forms begins with observation. What are we looking at? How do we draw the shape and surface?


This young artist clearly has an interest in comics, with panels ready for story, and a feather on a page floating in the foreground of a distant island setting.


But wait, another package arrived from Professor Sneedlebaum.


He sent a hunk of amethyst! This student captured it’s many facets. It could even be a cross-section of a glacier.


This student is magnifying a bit of beehive.


I like how this student composed their specimens on the page, including the magnifying glass.


Next came another surprise, a model of a volcano with papers inside. Brave learners, these kids drawing out a mystery.


Each neighborhood of students drew the name of a land form to work on.


When I arrived for a second session of drawing, another exotic package awaited with the most beautiful stamps from Oceanie.


We all wondered the same things!


The package included photographs of land forms, sent by the Professor as handy reference for our drawing session.  Working on my recent book, John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall, taught me a few things about drawing waterfalls, so I began with this quick demo.


Since I live on an island, it was lovely to see this dreamy pastel by a student quick with color.


How about this icy glacier!


That is one bold butte!


This is a work in progress, of river and hills.


I love how this artist used a hot orange paper to create dynamic color for this volcano.


Now the second graders have a new visual vocabulary for their land form mission. Next they are working with Pamela to create the island model. More adventures to come in the Earth Changes learning!


  1. Jamie, you’re something else!

    Loved those stamps / packages / ideas / reading/seeing your new project.
    Go, girl. There’s no end to what you can do.

  2. Gunnel said exactly what I was going to say! So, ditto from Peg. You go girl! Lucky kids.

    • Thanks Gunnel and Peg for being loyal readers! This project has been loads of fun learning.

      • You ROCK Girlie!!!


  1. Launching Land Forms at Ocean Avenue Elementary by Jamie Hogan - Side x Side | Awakening Tomorrow's Innovators through Art - […] > read more of this blog post by Jamie Hogan at its original location […]

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