She showed a picture of it to Woodin Principal Jill Crivello, who was equally enthusiastic about the idea and encouraged Johnson to “go for it.”
The Woodin parent and über volunteer, with the assistance of Marylynn Powers, 4th grade dual language teacher at the school, subsequently wrote a grant and was awarded funding via the Kids in Need Foundation to implement the project.
“The mural ties into the 4th grade curriculum, which focuses on the study of our state,” explains Johnson. “That was the leading reason for wanting to do the mural.” Powers adds, “The map allowed the students to use what they had learned about the different regions of Washington state — what geographical features are in each region and what things of interest are in each region such as tulips, onions, Space Needle, orcas, etc.”
The project, which began last May, took four weeks to complete.
Powers supplied a map that designated the regions of the state that the students had studied.
A parent volunteer made the map into a PDF. Boards were primed and then the map was divided into sections.
A projector enlarged the image onto the boards, which were then brought to the school for Powers’ students to start painting in layers.
First, they painted the outline of the map, followed by each region in a distinct color.
They added landmarks, major cities, a map key and compass rose.
“This was all done in stages and the boards were stored each night and brought out on sunny days to do the painting,” says Johnson. “All the students at the school were eager to watch these 4th graders painting.
The younger ones wondered what they were making, while the older kids, who had already studied Washington in past years, would stop by during recess and make suggestions of landmarks to add based on what they had previously learned.”
The weather, according to Johnson, was a big challenge because all the painting had to be done outside due to the size of the project.
Fuzz from nearby cottonwood trees also created an unforeseen issue, as on windy days it would deposit on the wet paint, along with sand from the playground.
“We also had a few balls during recess inadvertently come into our work space and roll across the wet paint,” adds Johnson.
According to both Johnson and Powers, the students were super excited to participate in the creation of the mural and even those who weren’t in Powers’ class were eager to help bring the boards in and out of the building each day.
“It was fun to see the students use what they had learned and produce it on a map of such a large scale,” comments Powers. “Some students retained the information better than others, but what they forgot, they could look up on the internet and I think they were excited to get to do that in English.”
She notes that dual language students study social studies in Spanish.
The map was mounted on one of the outside walls of a covered area with the help of two volunteers from the Community SERVE Day in late August.
Everyone who has viewed the mural has commented positively on it.
Powers is thrilled that the map is there for her current and future students to reference.
She says, “I know kids will look at it and be learning, without even realizing it. It was a fun project and great for the students to get to express what they had learned in an artistic way. I also think it was really cool for some of them to see the final project and realize that they were capable of doing something pretty good.” Johnson adds, “We have left a legacy.”