|Farrah Foskey paints the inside of a door from the old Budd Lake School|
Sensory wall comes to life
After six months of planning and production, the sprawling sensory wall at the end of the center MOMS corridor is complete.
The wall was designed to provide students with special needs an opportunity to touch, play, and explore. Incorporated into the vibrant artwork are textures such as artificial turf, carpeting, fake fur, sequins, rocks and seashells, and fake leaves that make the mural come alive, adding a 3D tactile dimension. It’s about 75 feet in length.
After meeting with special education teacher Michelle Corazza, seventh- and eighth-graders in the G&T art program sketched out ideas. Art teacher Melissa Silvestri combined them into a cohesive design and supervised the work of about 80 students who took took part in the painting and production.
An 8-foot-long dragon and a scene of the solar system cupped by bright green hands are two of the wall’s most powerful vignettes.
Unlike the work in a museum, this art is meant for hands. The interactive components are some of the most innovative features. An old door from the Budd Lake School/former administration building was repurposed for the wall. On the front is an interpretation of Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.” When the door is swung open, a chalkboard is revealed that students can write on. And an eye-catching four-foot-tall profile of a human head, made from wood and cut by a district carpenter, has working plastic gears and an abacus that were printed on the school’s 3D printers.
“’The mural is called ‘The World of Love’ and includes underlying themes such as acceptance, love, compassion, unity, and kindness,” said Ms. Silvestri. “My students and I wanted it to be a magical space where you could feel as if you’ve been transported into another universe. We hope it will bring a sense of joy and peace, and be a place where students with special needs can feel comfortable learning, being creative, and expressing themselves.”
Students with learning, vision, and physical difficulties often have a distorted sense of their surroundings which can interrupt their learning and exploration of the world. The kind of interactive sensory input that the mural provides has been found to help them focus and relieve anxiety, as well as aid in cognitive growth, language and motor skill development, problem solving, and social interaction.
Last year, Ms. Silvestri coordinated the creation of an 80-foot-long mural in the art department hallway that celebrated the greatest artworks and art movements in history.
From sketch to reality:
Above, Melissa Silvestri's sketch of the solar system scene; Below, Ms. Silvestri puts the finishing touches on the scene
Journalism circa 200 BCE
If newspapers existed during the Punic Wars when Rome battled Carthage, what would they look like?
Sixth-graders at MOMS answered that question when they used everything they had learned about the conflicts to create digital newspapers. With maps, illustrations, ads, and graphics, the newspapers were each created for either a Roman or a Carthaginian audience.
To craft their stories, the students placed themselves not only on the front lines of the action but in the daily lives of the people of that time period and region. They also wove in excerpts from historical accounts that have survived and a smattering of Latin words and phrases. Stories included the now famous tale of Hannibal, the great Carthaginian general, crossing the Alps with the aid of elephants, recounts of key battles, and interviews with soldiers. In an exclusive in The Carthaginian Times after Hannibal’s suicide, writer Romaisa Arsalan spoke with Hannibal’s widow who speculated that the leader chose death over imminent Roman imprisonment.
“The kids really got into the details of what was happening during that time,” said Stephanie Tarnowski, social studies teacher.
The causes and effects of the wars, which were spread over a century, were examined in different ways. In his newspaper, The Roman Times, Charles Atkinson explored the breaking of a peace treaty that resulted in the First Punic War. He also discussed the military and trade advantages of controlling Sicily, a key goal for the two forces.
“The project helped students understand the points of view of the different sides,” said social studies teacher Ashley Lopez. “A lot of them struggle with putting themselves in other people’s shoes and understanding ancient history. It was also fun to see them develop their own voices. You really see their personalities come out.”
At the beginning of the project, teachers brought in physical newspapers for the students to study. Most of them had never looked through a printed newspaper before – a testament to the digital times in which we live. The teachers broke down the components of the publications and reviewed the language of journalism by discussing leads, bylines, headlines, and the importance of quotes.
Sandshore Elementary School
498 Sandshore Rd
Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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118 Cloverhill Drive
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160 Wolfe Road
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