Sunday, April 30, 2017

Update: 8th Grade Sgraffito Plates

8th graders have been done with this project for awhile but I forgot to post photographs of their finished glazed pieces.

They did a wonderful job with the imagery on their sgraffito plates!

5th Grade Maasai Project

5th graders are almost done with their Maasai projects.  To continue to connect the Maasai project with what they have learned about Sabore and his well project and what students learned in Language Arts by reading, "A Long Walk to Water," students had to incorporate some sort of water element into their artworks.  

This continues to be one of my all-time favorite projects.  The results blow me away every time.  I can see each one of these framed and displayed proudly.  

In the next couple of weeks, we are going to try to FaceTime with Sabore so that they students can show him their artworks and so that they continue a dialogue with him.  Hopefully, we will be able to  make that work.  

Monday, April 3, 2017

Maasai Project and Sabore's Well


Three years ago, when our current 8th grade class was in the 5th grade, I did a Maasai-based art project with them.  We learned a little about the Maasai culture and created these beautiful and colorful works of art.

I posted a picture of a few of the projects on my Facebook page and later that day a teacher friend of mine responded that it was such a coincidence as in a few weeks a Maasai warrior and tribal elder by the name of Sabore Ole Oyie was going to be visiting her school to talk to the students.  She wanted to know if I would be interested in connecting with him to have him come to talk to the students at SFC.  I jumped at the opportunity and a few weeks later Sabore was at SFC visiting the 5th grade class to talk to them about his culture and a project that he was working on that was near and dear to his heart (more on that in a bit).

Sabore did not come alone.  He came to the school with a woman by the name of Therese Hjelm.  They both work together to raise funds and awareness for a project known as "Sabore's Well."  When Therese came into my classroom and saw the students Maasai project, she fell in love with them and asked if they could take them back to Kenya and use them as artworks in the hallways of the new school they would be building in Sabore's village.  With the excitement and approval of the kids, we gave them their projects and soon they were on a jet plane to Kenya.

Presenting Sabore with an artwork of his very own! 
Sabore showing the students how the warriors can jump.

Since this time, I have stayed in contact with both Therese and Sabore.

Sabore (middle), Therese (right)


Together, Sabore and Therese, have created an organization that brings wells to the Maasai villages in Kenya.  Without wells, women and girls have to walk miles each day to fetch water to bring back to their villages.  It is an arduous task, that can be dangerous with the amount of wild life on their journey.  It also prevents girls from going to school as they don't have time to attend if they spend the majority of their day fetching water.  Sabore and Therese have begun to change this.  They are raising awareness and money to drill wells in these villages as a way to empower the women of the Maasai.  Coinciding with this, they are also in works to create a school in Sabore's village.  Their work is nothing short of remarkable.

When the drill first hit water!!!

Women in Sabore's village collecting water from the well for the first time!

As I began to put together the lesson for the 5th grade class, I went to the Sabore's Well website to look at the current updates on their project.  When the home page loaded,  my heart leapt into my throat.  There on the front page was an artists rendering of the new school that they are going to build in Sabore's village and on the walls in the front of the classroom was the artists rendering of the 5th grade (current 8th grade) class' artworks.  It was amazing to see. See here: Half-way around the world in a small village in Kenya, the students artwork will be hanging.  I could not wait to share this with my students.


In preparation for presenting students with my slideshow on the Maasai, I wanted to find some experts for them to read and I stumbled upon the book, "A Long Walk to Water."  I ordered it and read it in a day (it's a very short book).  I immediately called Mrs. Behrens (5B homeroom teacher) and told her about my discovery and if there was anyway we could collaborate and bring a whole unit to the 5th grade class.  If anyone knows Mrs. Behrens, you will know two things:  She immediately said yes.  And by the next day she had a whole entire unit planned and ready to go for the 5th graders.  She has some amazing things planned for the 5th grade class in the weeks ahead.  I have no doubt that the 5th graders are going to learn so much about the world and themselves in the weeks to come.

Last week, after my presentation on the Maasai, the students had a million questions and we wrote them down on the board.  I told them that I would forward these questions on to Sabore and he would answer them for us (as he told me ahead of time that he would).  Today, while in class with the 5th graders, my phone buzzed and the screen lit up with a picture of Sabore with the message:  "Jambo!"  (meaning hello).  I could not believe the timing.  I told them that I was in class with my 5th grade students and he said, "Let them ask questions to me now."  The students could not believe it!  Here we were half-way around the world conversing by phone through voice/text messaages with a Maasai warrior and elder!!!  The students were soooo excited!  Sabore was kind enough to stay available to do the same thing when the other 5th grade class arrived in my room 20 minutes later.

Sabore and Therese are planning to visit SFC next November when Sabore is back in the United States.  I  have promised the 5th graders that even though they will be in 6th grade by then that I would include them in the discussion with Sabore next year.

I will continue to update you on our journey, as I am sure Mrs. Behrens will do as well.  I encourage all of you to read more about Sabore and Therese and their organization by visiting their website:

If you would like to donate to their amazing organization, you can do so here: