Dublin Villager

Kid's toys help make creating art accessible to all

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Some Chapman Elementary School students are experiencing art for the first time, thanks to teacher Patrick Callicotte.

The goal of the Chapman art teacher is to have all students create art and Callicotte has created a few machines to let students with special needs participate.

"Before coming here I worked with many students with special needs, but I never worked with a student who couldn't grip," he said. "I've always wanted students to make art independently."

After finding some students couldn't participate in art class, the first-year Dublin City Schools teacher looked online for tools, but found none. So he turned to children's toys.

"I went to Family Dollar and bought a child's blender," he said. "It's battery operated and spins. I took it home and took it apart."

Callicotte put the toy back together so it would hold a paint brush and spin at the push of a button.

"Abigail is a first-grader. She's great with switches, but has never done art before," he said. "Now Abigail is painting with the other students."

A fourth-grader who doesn't hold objects very often or for very long started participating in class when Callicotte put a canvas on his pottery wheel. He spins the wheel while the student paints it.

Another grip and pour tool regularly used for special needs students was modified to pour paint on a canvas, Callicotte said.

By modifying a child's toy saw, Callicotte created another spinning art tool that can hold sponges or paint brushes with Velcro and be operated with a button.

"One of the things I like to teach about art is creative problem solving," he said.

Yet another student makes art after paint is poured on a canvas and put in a plastic bag.

The new tools allow students to make art, but also be part of the class.

"The positive results of the situation are more interaction with the other kids," Callicotte said.

"Every week I have a student making a comment about the art... . Those interactions are the biggest thing and being able to highlight the abilities of a group that isn't normally highlighted for their abilities."

The art is shared with the school with displays and photos and one student's creation is on display at the new Dublin Tech Center.

"My big focus in teaching is how to make learning and art public," Callicotte said. "I've been posting photographs of the students making the art with the art."

With three creations done, Callicotte is still learning, but plans to make more in the future.

"It's been a matter of figuring out what will work for each student," he said. "It's about what I can do to let this child make an artwork."

In the future, Callicotte could spread his tools to other buildings.

"Down the road I could make tools available for others outside my classroom. I assumed there would be something out there already for these kids," he said. "I can see being the one who gets some of this stuff out there."

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