TUPELO – The GumTree Museum of Art became a classroom for Tupelo pre-kindergarten students on Friday.
Two classes from the school district’s Early Childhood Education Center visited the museum for a series of lessons related to its current exhibit of Theora Hamblett paintings.
Classroom teacher Morgan West had them describe what they saw in one of the paintings and guided them through writing a sentence about it. Classroom teacher Cheryl Dexter led the students through an exercise in which they counted the objects in another painting, and music teacher Aynsley Farmer taught them a song related to a third painting. The students divided into groups and rotated between the three educators.
“I hope they will be able to apply what they see and hear to our artwork in the classroom,” West said. “I hope they will be able to recognize art in the community.”
Farmer organized the field trip as part of the school’s arts-integration program, which uses art to teach core subjects.
“We will be studying different artists, and they can take this experience and realize those other artists are in a museum like this,” she said.
The teachers instructed the students to look closely at the paintings and determine what was happening in the scenes Hamblett painted.
“Observation is what is wonderful about seeing traditional art in a museum, to be able to really digest what they see and observe,” said Laura Ashley, executive director of the GumTree Museum of Art.
Ashley talked to the students about Hamblett, who lived in Oxford, and about museum etiquette.
“We are really trying to strengthen our outreach arm, especially in education and with kids,” Ashley said. “We want to be a great resource.”