5th Grade students in the art room

In 5th Grade at NPS, students study human migration by investigating the factors of when, how, and why people move from place to place. No mere social studies lesson, this comprehensive cross-curricular unit involves skills such as interviewing, note taking, reading, writing, editing, map skills, service learning, and visual arts and technology.

As part of this study, the students interview family members to learn their own family's history of migration. These interviews lead to a written essay of their families' migration story with an accompanying map. Further interweaving the theme of migration, students read A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park and Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate. These activities also serve to provide the students with a background of knowledge as they embark on the 5th Grade service learning project, which centers on homelessness. Finally, this year the students took their stories and knowledge to the art room to create inspired stop-motion animations.

One function of art is to tell stories.  How do visual artists tell stories of migration, and how does art add to our understanding of these experiences?  

To answer this question, 5th Graders studied the art of Reena Saini Kallat, Do Ho Suh, Sadik Kwaish Alfraiji and Jacob Lawrence. They identified symbols in each of the artists’ work (maps, lines, houses, boats, train tracks), and analyzed how the artists used images to convey their experiences of migration. 

Inspired by these examples, students brainstormed symbols and images to tell their families’ migration stories through stop motion animation art. They created storyboards to develop settings, characters and story structures. Next, students chose two-dimensional media and began the hard work of creating animation movies of their migration stories. Throughout the process, students collaborated to solve problems and share ideas.

"I used the storm to symbolize all the hardships my ancestors went through to get to America." 

"I used a seed to symbolize the beginning of my family, and I used a strong rope (between the US and England) that is cut to show the revolution." 

"I chose to animate the sun and moon changing because it was a long journey." 

"I used hearts to symbolize people, and when the hearts got smaller, it was them going through tough times."

"I want viewers to know that migration is something a lot of people do, and it is a difficult thing."

"I want viewers to know that it took a lot of time and work, and we did a lot of work before we started filming."

Please enjoy the following video of the students' work.



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