Rural Schools Partnership News


Scores of Willow Springs first graders get a cross-curricular lesson in art, nature and aerodynamics.

Placeworks takes to the skies, Earth

May 11, 2016

It was a perfect day for (first-grade level) kite flying when first graders from Willow Springs Elementary School not only enjoyed their end-of-semester field trip, but also tested out the products of their most recent Placeworks Art Initiative unit.

What started as a creative outlet to explore the life cycle of a butterfly turned into explorations on the connections between art and nature and a study of Japanese culture. The result: Paper kites, decorated with butterflies by each of the 100 or so first-graders, that briefly turned the orchard at Baker Creek Pioneer Village, near Mansfield, into a veritable kite festival.

Willow Springs teacher Kelly Wardle, a graduate of the Ozarks Teacher Corps and frequent Placeworks collaborator, was the point teacher for Placeworks teaching artists Cory Leick, Lillian Fitzpatrick and Will Knauer. Every adult in the vicinity (including this photographer) helped the kids get their kites off the ground on a

perfectly breezy (but not TOO windy) day in Wright County.

Alexis, 7, is a member of Miss Wardle's class. She says her favorite things about butterflies is that they come out of their cocoons in all different colors, though she's partial to the blue ones. She said the unit helped her learn about "symmetry.

The kite session dovetailed nicely with the first graders' visit to Baker Creek, an heirloom seed company, working farm and throwback pioneer village. Wardle said the planting activities also accentuated other science lessons learned by the first graders.

For more on the Placeworks Art Initiative, which will begin taking applications for the 2016-17 school year soon, please visit

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