The World of Design!

Screen Shot 2018-07-19 at 12.11.12 PMGraphic Design is full steam ahead with the knowledge and power of Adobe Illustrator! Students have spent 2-3 days learning the ins and outs of the program and are currently creating vector based artwork which isn’t limited to scaling in comparison to pixel based art. Their first project was the development of a hand drawn character which was then drawn as vector art and colored using Illustrator.

Their second project utilizes a typographical composition where they learn about altering fonts and the use of imagery behind text. It’s always exciting to see students putting forth the effort and artistic energy to learn and benefit from learning something new!

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Chris Thilges is in his fourth year of teaching at Linn-Mar High School. He currently teaches several fine arts classes as well as new technology-based courses new to LMHS. Twelve years of teaching art along with a prior graphic design degree and career has enabled Chris to develop dynamic and rigorous projects. His artistic pedagogy takes into consideration student choice and makes meaningful connections to one’s self as well as raising self-reflection questions concerning artistic purpose and function.

Ceramics Art

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College for Kids student artists are busy creating works of art during a series of ceramics classes including:
  • Forming Ceramic & Fabric Figures
  • Historical Clay
  • Clay & Jewels

All three classes are taught by Amythest Warrington.



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Greetings from the students of Pastel, Charcoal and Chalk!

New friendships are being made as we explore the possibilities of charcoal this week! Vine, willow, compressed, pencil…who knew there were so many different charcoal options?! Inspired by Claude Monet and the Impressionists, we took our work outside to view the effects of natural light. Claude and friends called this “en plein air”.

College for Kids students complete charcoal composition in Pastel, Charcoal and Chalk.

College for Kids student completes charcoal composition in Pastel, Charcoal and Chalk.

We chose a spot on campus for our charcoal composition that was pleasing to look at and had a nice variety of contrasting values. We tried to capture the components of light in our composition- highlights, lights, shadows, core shadows, reflected lights and cast shadows help bring our work to life.

A charcoal composition in Pastel, Charcoal and Chalk.

A charcoal composition in Pastel, Charcoal and Chalk.

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Erin Ennis holds a Masters of Art Ed from UNI and is a National Board Certified teacher. This is the fourth year for Erin at College for Kids. She absolutely loves it! During the school year you can find her at  Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids where she teaches Drawing, Ceramics, Painting, Sculpture, AP Studio Art and AP Art History.

Second Session for College for Kids Underway

This week students started the second session of the 2018 Grant Wood Area Education Agency College for Kids.

This is Grant Wood Area Education Agency’s 31st year of bringing college experiences to local middle school students this summer as more than 1,000 students from East Central Iowa begin taking courses through College for Kids.

College for Kids has a rich history of providing gifted and talented students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade the opportunity to interact with a challenging curriculum in a college setting.  This year attendees come from 35 different area schools including Alburnett, Anamosa, Andrews Christian Academy, Belle Plaine, Benton, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Valley Christian School, Center Point-Urbana, Central City, Clear Creek Amana, College Community, English Valleys, Highland, HLV, Iowa City, Iowa City Regina, Iowa Valley Community, Isaac Newton Christian Academy, LaSalle Middle School, Linn-Mar, Lisbon, Marion Independent, Mid-Prairie, Monticello, Mount Vernon, North Cedar, North-Linn Community, Regis Middle School, Solon, Tipton, Trinity Lutheran, Vinton Shellsburg, West Branch, Williamsburg and Willowwind.

aerial photo of college for kids attendees

There are two sessions of College for Kids available each summer. This photo was captured using a drone during the June session, and a similar photo will be taken of students in July as well.


Writing our Stories and “Hamilton”

We have been busy these past two weeks in both Hamilton and Writing Our Stories!

Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 3.13.43 PM.pngOur Hamilton class contains a wonderful group of students whose creativity and passion for the musical never cease to amaze me. I wouldn’t challenge any of these students to a Hamilton singing competition as many know the lyrics inside and out!

Last week, we dug through historical documents, listened to show’s music with attentive ears, and watched portions of a documentary about both the historical Alexander Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of this musical masterpiece. This week, students are taking a cue from Miranda and creating their stories based on a passion of their own.

Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 3.13.25 PM.pngWriting Our Stories is full of fantastically creative writers and thinkers. In class, students explored new characters, new writing styles, and new sources of inspiration daily. During our time together, students shared their work with small workshop groups and sometimes read their writing to the entire class. Each day, I’m amazed at students’ eyes for imagery, the complex characters they create, and the new worlds they explore with their writing.

We also used Coe’s vast resources to our advantage and took a trip to the art galleries in the library. Pictured below are students drawing inspiration from the art they saw, creating complex characters and narratives based on the tone, detail, or style of a piece of art. I loved hearing the different details and genres students created daily.

For both classes, it is energizing to be in a room full of imaginative, warm, and witty students. It’s been a great two weeks!


Author Bio

Mackenzie Kaspar is in her second year of teaching College for Kids, after attending sessions herself many years ago. A graduate of the University of Iowa for her undergraduate and Master’s degrees, she teaches Language Arts at Kennedy High School and has a passion for reading, writing, musicals, her friends and family, and, of course, her students.

The Magic of the Blue Dye – Indigo Day

IMG_20180627_071949566Indigo was known throughout the ancient world for its ability to color fabric a deep blue.  Egyptian artifacts suggest that indigo was employed as early as 1600 B.C. and it has been found in Africa, India, Indonesia, and China. Indigo is plant based and fits nicely into our goals promoting natural dyes for the bulk of our classroom projects.

Applying dye to,Shibori techniques, Kumo and Kanoko.

Applying dye to Shibori techniques, Kumo and Kanoko.

I challenged the class to use one or more Shibori techniques to create their favorite design on cotton flour sacks using only indigo with white being their backdrop.

Students demonstrate Indigo tie dye application.

Indigo tie dye application is demonstrated to the class utilizing Kanoko and Kumo techniques.

The results are stunning.


Artistic Creations Using Altered Books and Art Boxes

Altered books, also known as Junk Journals, is a way to recycle old hardcover books into new works of art. Students choose a theme, sometimes inspired by an original book title/topic or by a personal interest. Artwork is created in the book by painting, drawing, collage, cutting, and paper-folding. At times the text or original illustrations/photographs act as prompts for the alteration. Altered books are unique and personal! Each book reflects the ideas, beliefs, and interests of the creator.



Art Boxes are 3-D collages. Each box is a collection of images and objects that reflect the vision of the maker. Inspired by Surrealist Joseph Cornell, each art box represents a dream, fantasy or individual perception of reality. Each student chooses a theme that is meaningful to them. Their challenge was to interpret this idea in images and found objects. Art boxes are like secret worlds in which the viewer is invited in to solve the mystery.


Jim Jacobmeyer has been a C4K Art and Design instructor for 31 years, 1987-2018. He is a veteran Art, Gifted & Talented and Alternative Education teacher of 44 years. Jim has taught K-College levels. He has a BA in Art Education with an MAT in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Alternative Education and G&T. He has taught in Sydney, Australia, Waterloo, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, IA.

College for Kids- A group poem by 1st hour Slam Poetry, June, 2018

What does it look like when a group of kids get together for Slam Poetry?

book of poetry including colorful word balloons

“It doesn’t matter where you’re from.

Because everyone at College for Kids is welcome.

A  place that’s truly fun,

It’s great for everyone!

College for Kids is lots of fun for kids like me and you.

There are lots of things for everyone so,

Come join us, too.

I wake up at 5:30 to catch the bus,

It’s pretty tiring for all of us!

Hundreds and hundreds of kids dressed in blue,

They wake up real early to toot their kazoo.

Kids as smart as whips,

Smiling and laughing through the day,

Solving challenging problems all along the way.

For two weeks in the month after May,

We learn and have fun every week day.

Even though my grades were pretty bad,

I’m in poetry class so I’m not mad.

To learn to excel,

 A goal we accomplish well.

College for kids is so fun,

And now it’s sad that it’s done!”

bound book of student art with 'dream, big, fly high' watercolor art of tree and 'nature's envy'

It’s been a great week In Poetry Slam class so far.  The students are amazing and so willing to take risks with their writing and the results have been earth-shattering!    We have been silly and serious and everything in-between. As their group poem states over and over again, we have had fun with poetry and will be sad when the week comes to an end on Friday.

It’s also been an adventure with the SMASH journal groups in second and third hours.  We have made life-maps, journaled about our fantasy trips and dreams, and today we went outside and sketched nature. The journals the students are creating are a beautiful blending of artistic talent and creative writing.   I love seeing the beauty the students create each and every day.

Deb Siebenga teaches at Franklin Middle School in Cedar Rapids during the regular school year as the talented and gifted facilitator.  She is entering her 34th year of teaching and wonders where all the time has gone!  She enjoys creative writing, water colors and collage and so poetry and SMASH journaling are perfect classes for her to teach at College for Kids!  One of her highlights in her life was seeing Michael Phelps swim his last competitive race at the Rio Olympics in 2016.  She has a daughter, Kirsten, who will be a junior at Minnesota State next year, and recruited her mom to teach College for Kids after she worked there as a staff assistant for several years.  Both agree that College for Kids is the best!



The Beauty of Creation: Decorative Paper and Handmade Books

Decorative paper making and handmade book students have been working with handmade paper, paste paper, and marbling paper materials this week.  While these photos make the work look like it’s a little messy, these students had a lot of fun!

pulp placed over screen

To make the handmade paper, students pour the pulp over a screen and blot dry.


red pulp getting screened

There are many techniques available to make paste paper. Each sheet is unique!

color grabs paper after floating in colors

Marbling is all about floating colors. Students drop in the color and add paper.


wire pattern laid over purple color on paper

Each sheet created by the students is a one-of-a-kind!

It’s always a fun surprise!

This guest blog was submitted by Katrina Martin. Katrina has been teaching at College for Kids for ten years.