The arts are incorporated into nearly every class at the Athenaeum Learning Session, for what is the point of learning and thinking if not to use knowledge creatively? Students perform skits in a foreign language, learn to recite poetry with appropriate emotion, make three dimensional paper objects to learn about important math principles, learn music and art in history in history, and build structures that take principles of design, as well as engineering, into account.
Studio Art and Art History
Arts and crafts are a normal part of the Forest School classroom, and students will usually have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of daily projects. Materials are often those found in the Forest.
Elementary and Middle School students take formal art classes a few times each week, including for a two hour period on Thursday afternoons. These classes incorporate theory and technique, and are often based around a famous artist or period from history.
Music is an everyday part of Forest School life: the students sing, dance, and make music outdoors using their voices, instruments, and found objects from the outdoors. Once Elementary students are six, they may elect to take a weekly violin lesson, which includes note reading, and music theory. We offer a music composition and history class to interested Middle School students.
Poetry, Storytelling, and Drama
Poetry, storytelling, and drama are fantastic interdisciplinary subjects that incorporate literature, writing, speaking, and performing. In all three, students increase their vocabulary, improve their memories through memorization exercises, and practice important social skills such as clear enunciation and making eye contact.
Forest School learning is largely oral, and students learn poems and songs in English and Chinese, practice skits and drama, and are encouraged to present stories and ideas to each other.
Elementary students take a weekly storytelling class, where they learn a variety of folktales from around the world, and practice writing and presenting there own. Emphasis is placed on diction, expression, volume, and performance technique. Students also put on a variety of skits and plays for the student body and parents.
Elementary and Middle School students take a weekly poetry class, where they explore English-language poems in a wide variety of styles. Students are expected to memorize some pieces, and write their own.
Handcrafts include sewing, knitting, crochet, weaving, needle felting, and other small crafts that can be done by hand. These lessons not only teach practical skills and perhaps introduce life-long hobbies, they provide a valuable creative outlet while encouraging fine motor control, eye-hand coordination, and careful craftsmanship. Some teachers encourage students to bring their knitting to classes, if it helps the student focus on the day's discussion!