Introduction to Printmaking

Students participating in Introduction to Printmaking are exploring four kinds of printmaking: Mono-prints, Intaglio, Calligraphy, and Serigraphy. We’ve had some great prints!

College for Kids students participate in Introduction to Printmaking

Sumi-e students have explored the Sumi-e (Black Ink) painting techniques exploring Kanji calligraphy, figures and landscapes. Sumi-e is also known as “a meditation in ink”.


The Introduction to Printmaking instructor is Jim Jacobmeyer.




Dream On Dream Weaver

Weave a web of lure as you step quietly into the legendary world of Dream Catchers and Totems. Native Americans of the Great Plains believe the air is full of good and bad dreams whereby good dreams pass through the center of a dream catcher while the bad ones are trapped in the web.

Students in Dream on Dream Weaver are pondering which totem best identifies with their personality, and weave it throughout the dream catcher to visually make it one of a kind.

Discover Your Animal Totem

Discover your animal totem.

Dream catcher with beads on the end and an arrowhead

This is one of two dream catchers that will be made in this class.Students are able to select from a nice variety of beads, adornments and arrowheads to embellish their dream catcher and make it a one of a kind.

Dream Catcher with "fish" totems.

Just like the web that catches the dreams, no two dream catchers are alike.

Dream Cather with large circle and fish totem and bottom circle with design and beads.

Double up! This student affixed her small dream catcher to her larger one to create a truly unique work of art. Dream on Dream Weaver!

Dream catcher with one larger circle and two fish on strings in the center of the circle and three feathers hanging on beads off the bottom.

A dream catcher with “fish” totems.

Students discuss their dominant totems and forge ahead weaving their dream catchers.

Students discuss their dominant totems and forge ahead weaving their dream catchers.

Students select beads to adorn their dream catchers, and weave their web or warp the rings for their large dream catcher.

Lots going on today in Dream On Dream Weaver class. Students select beads to adorn their dream catchers, and weave their web or warp the rings for their large dream catcher.

Making one final check on the smaller dream catcher web.

Making one final check on the smaller dream catcher web.

Moving from weaving the web to affixing beads and totem.

Moving from weaving the web to affixing beads and totem.

Almost finished with their first dream catchers.

Almost finished with their first dream catchers.


Growing Student Artists Through Watercolor

Students in the watercolor class this summer were exposed to different techniques and materials. They learned different additive techniques, such as wet-on-wet, dry brush, and glazing. They experimented with different subtractive techniques, using different tools such as a dry brush, paper towel, and using a magic eraser. They played with different materials, such as rice, salt, oil crayons, and plastic wrap, to create interesting textures. 

Students practiced their observational skills by painting flowers, landscapes, still lifes, and portraits. They learned how to mix complex colors, and reviewed formal color schemes. They practiced observing light and shadows and were taught how to shade different simple objects using a variety of watercolor techniques. For their final painting, students were encouraged to create a personally meaningful piece of artwork and explore dream imagery. Students could use their imagination and choose what techniques and processes to use in their final work, and their final pieces were very impressive.

During the two week class, students created new friendships, grew as artists, and took chances to create challenging works of art. I’m so proud of all of the students this summer, and truly amazed at their concentration and drive as artists and learners. I hope they all continue to create artwork and use it to slow down, reflect on the world around them, look inward, express themselves,  and live in the moment. 

This is Molly Sofranko’s eleventh year as an art teacher in the Cedar Rapids District. Molly has taught art at Iowa BIG, Metro Alternative High School STEAM Academy, Washington High School, and McKinley Middle School. She also teaches preservice teachers at Mount Mercy University. Molly’s passions include exploring different materials and learning new techniques. She works in ceramics, mixed media, bookmaking, printmaking, painting, drawing, and dabbles in digital arts. 

Archaeology of Iowa

What is archaeology all about? We are learning that archaeology is NOT about collecting cool artifacts, but what those artifacts can tell us about people who lived in the past. Archaeology is the study of past human cultures using the materials that they made and left behind.

In our class “Archaeology of Iowa,” we are learning how archaeologists study an archaeological site by mapping artifacts in place and how they learn about the use of objects from their context. Archaeologists recover animal bones and plant seeds to learn about the environment at different times in Iowa’s past and the uses that prehistoric populations found for them.

Archaeologists also study past technologies by experimentation. That is, we try it out. Our students have tried flint knapping (making stone tools) and learned to admire the skill of past masters. Flint knapping is difficult!  We have also tried throwing spears with atlatls (hunting tools used for thousands of years before the invention of the bow and arrow), making our own string with plant fibers, grinding corn, using stone drills to make wooden objects, and many more interesting skills. Our ancestors understood A LOT about the natural environment, physics, and chemistry.

The following is a photo collage from Archaeology of Iowa.


Atlatis and Spears


Flint knapping


Identifying animal skulls


Identifying seeds


Mapping an excavation site


Recovering seeds by flotation


Studying animal anatomy


Studying artifact context


The class instructor, Chérie Haury-Artz, is an archaeologist who works at the Office of the State Archaeologist at the University of Iowa. She has been involved in archaeological research focusing on the Great Plains for more than 30 years. Her research interests include analysis of fauna from archaeological sites, use and identification of lithic resources, rock art, and environmental adaptation of prehistoric cultures. She also has a special interest in public education and outreach and has more than 20 years of experience teaching classes and writing interpretive material on archaeology for groups of all ages.

Sumi-e Ink Painting

Students in the Sumi-e Ink Painting class are creating works of art.

The Japanese term “sumi” means black ink; “e” means painting. Sumi-e is an art form in which subjects are painted with black ink in all possible gradations ranging from pure black to the lightest shades achievable by dissolving ink in water.

The students complete Sumi-e painting using ink, bamboo brushes and rice paper.

This class is taught by long-time College for Kids instructor Jim Jacobmeyer.

Students at tables completing Sumi-e Ink Painting.



Calligraphy for Kids at College for Kids

Students demonstrate calligraphyAfter learning about the evolution of writing and the making of medieval manuscripts, students received their calligraphy pens on Day 2. We all take the letters of the alphabet for granted. Each letter of the alphabet has its own history. Calligraphy is a fine motor skill. Practice is key to becoming a better calligrapher! Students are encouraged to practice at home each day.

The upper right picture is an exquisite

example of calligraphic artwork.


Students share their calligraphy

Calligraphy is a serious, quiet, acquired skill. Classical music is played while students practice/are critiqued in the classroom. They began with rhythmic pen exercises to get used to their pens. Teacher Ida Martin Sorensen critiques each students’ work. The students are learning italic letterforms stroke by stroke with their broad edge felt tip pens. Middle school students are a PERFECT age to learn calligraphy.

The 24th edition Speedball Textbook was distributed on day 5 – it is full of letterform styles and project ideas, a keepsake book for certain. The Making of the St. John’s Bible DVD was shown on Day 6 – it is a contemporary illuminated manuscript made in the old masters way, using quills, vellum (skin), & handmade inks/paints. Donald Jackson, Scribe to the Queen of England, was the lead calligraphic artist. It took 15 years to complete & demonstrates the skills/artistic expression of 23 different scribes and illuminators.

A student practices calligraphy

The power of the written word will never go out of style. There is still a demand for hand lettering projects in spite of technology and computer fonts. Beautiful writing is the ultimate synthesis of words, art and the human connection!

This student is taking Calligraphy for Kids for a second year. During this session, she is working on Uncial letterform (using dip ink/pen) after learning italic letterform last year. She is hooked on calligraphy.



Ida Martin Sorensen has been teaching calligraphy at College for Kids for 25 years. She has studied extensively with internationally known calligrapher Sheila Waters who is 90 years old and still teaching. Ida is the founding president of Iowa Scribes calligraphy guild. She has exhibited work locally and regionally. Ida has done and continues to do private commissions and projects. Her clients include Governor Tom and Christie Vilsack, Mercy Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital, Downtown Rotary, private collections, and more. Many of her students continue to ‘write beautifully’ after their two-week session is over, which makes Ida very proud!


Acrylic Craze

The Acrylic Craze class looks at different painting techniques, brushstrokes, and artistic styles. Students pour paint, freeze paint, and use odd materials like shaving cream to apply unique surface designs.

This class is creative and a little messy at the same time! Enjoy the view from
Acrylic Craze.

The instructor for this course is Katrina Martin.

Ice painting

Ice painting

Bubble painting

Bubble painting

Paste paper

Paste paper

Shaving cream

Shaving cream

Paste paper

Paste paper

Shaving cream

Shaving cream


Harry Potter: Fiction, Fear, and the Familiar, and The Holocaust: Interpreting History Through the Diary of Anne Frank

Wednesday, July 19, 2018

Hello! Miss Champion here from Harry Potter: Fiction, Fear, and the Familiar, and The Holocaust: Interpreting History Through the Diary of Anne Frank. Just a quick background on me: I will be entering my fifth year of teaching this coming school year in the Marion Independent School District, teaching 8th grade Literacy. Teaching is my calling, and I love working with middle school students. I am a die-hard Harry Potter fan, and have enjoyed teaching and discussing the culture with the next generation of die-hard Harry Potter fans! I am also very impassioned with discussing and evaluating the Holocaust with middle school students. We have been looking at the historical events that have led up to this unimaginable time in history, while also focusing on the positivity, warmth, and courage displayed by Anne and her family in the stage adaptation of her diary.

We started our Harry Potter class by looking at the “historical” elements that are used in the story: alchemy (potions class), Nicolas Flamel (a real person!), the beliefs and legends Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 9.07.56 AMbehind magical creatures, monsters, and plants. Students presented their findings to the class. Here’s a student example of Mandrakes, a plant mentioned in the stories, but existing in real life! They were believed to hold magical properties because of their human-shaped roots; an element that is further explored in the books.









Our exploration of Harry Potter continued with identifying theme, and how that theme prevails through all of the stories. Students created a theme house, where the foundation was there theme statements, the bricks were the textual evidence, and the roof was their reasoning why their textual evidence supported their tScreen Shot 2018-07-20 at 9.23.00 AMheme statement. Repeated themes were: love, loss, friendship, perseverance, and hope.

Our session is finishing up with exploring Boggarts, the shape-shifting creatures that reflect your innermost fear. Our discussions have focused on how fear manifests itself for different people; as both tangible things like spiders, sharks, and snakes, or intangible things things like loss, boredom, or failure. Students will be exploring what their own fears are, and what shape that would cause their Boggart to take.



Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 9.24.24 AM

Our Holocaust class began with a historical background on what were the events that led to the rise in Adolf Hitler’s power, as well as an exploration in the form of a digital tour of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Students were then asked to decide Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 9.26.12 AM“Who Is to Blame?” for the Holocaust by filling out a pie chart. Student response was varied, but you may notice a lot of green (Hitler), blue (minor Nazi soldiers who carried out their orders without question), and purple (top SS officers who designed the “final solution” for Hitler).

We then used the rest of class to explore Anne Frank’s story, and how her family, plus the other four people lived in the Secret Annex of Mr. Frank’s business. In reader’s theater style, we read through the play adaptation of Anne’s diary. We explored each member of the Secret Annex and what kind of character traits we would use to describe them, and why they might display those type of character traits.

For the final project in The Holocaust class, students were asked to think what lesson we should learn from Anne’s experience and attitude throughout her hiding experience. As most know, Anne’s story is a famous one, and is influential it is still taught today. Students were asked what impact they want to have on the world, and how they plan on going about achieving their influence