The Columbus Museum reaches out into the community in many different ways, but one of the most rewarding is being able to work with a special group of children who live on the autism spectrum. Our community outreach program, ARTiculate, is a focused initiative to help these kids explore art making and the Museum’s collection.

At the end of April the Columbus Museum’s Community Outreach Instructor visited Hannan Elementary Magnet Academy’s ARTiculate class.  With the focus on depicting the season and Spring being so recently upon us, it made sense to create a flower lesson that could also relate back to our Impressionism gallery at the museum. Usually the students have to be eased into the art making with a short video about art. This day we watched a YouTube video called ‘Small Potatoes-Art’. If you have kids and haven’t ever seen Small Potatoes, stop what you are doing and check it out! We warn you, the theme song is catchy.

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Once the children finished watching the video we talked about some of the ways art was made in the video, with sculpture being the one we were focusing on that day. Model Magic is a great tool for kids of all ages, but especially ones that are on this spectrum since they usually respond well to tactile stimulation. They used the Model Magic and shaped it around a plastic cup that was provided for them, which allowed for a guideline and helped them to focus on shape. Once the flower pot was molded they rolled a little ball of Model Magic and placed it in the bottom of the cup and set it aside. With assistance from the teacher and teaching assistants the kids were able to create flower petals from the Model Magic and place them on the end of a popsicle stick. For the final touch they added a button into the center of the flower and stuck the popsicle stick into the ball at the bottom of the cup for support. They were very proud of the end of product and loved being able to create things with their hands!

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After the lesson ended each student was presented with a sketch book, generously provided by Synovus and Columbus Bank and Trust for all the Community Outreach children. They were excited to have something of their own to draw in and take with them. One child in particular responded with enthusiasm to the sketch books and immediately began to draw some of his favorite things, which included popular logos that most of us look past daily. It was a great insight into what he thought about and the class, in general, was a success.

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