Second Graders Tell Stories Through Art

Second graders recently explored visual narrative and storytelling through watercolor art in a weeklong lesson led by Erin Oda ’89, a second and third grade art teacher.

Oda taught the lesson live through Webex and also created instructional videos for students to review. Working from home on supplies distributed to families, students reflected on a memory or a family tradition and captured that on the page.

Students drew inspiration from other artists who use art to tell stories, in particular American artist Faith Ringgold, whose “Tar Beach” quilt captures a memory from her childhood.

In addition to the main image, which was their visual narrative, students worked on creating a border similar to Ringgold. Like Ringgold, who uses her own cultural imagery, Oda said the students drew upon symbols within the artwork to tell their stories. Afterword, Oda invited students to come up with their own fictional tale based off their artwork in a writing component of the lesson.

“I learned a lot of techniques about using watercolors, like not using too much water or too little,” one student shared. “You just need two to three drops for each color. I used pencil, crayons and watercolor in my design. My favorite part of this project was getting to paint with watercolors and using a lot of different colors.”

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