Thursday, June 17, 2010

Elephant Art

A few years ago, I taught at a wonderful school called Adrienne Clarkson ES in Barhaven, Ontario. I was the teacher in charge of the environment club. Students in grade 2-4 came together and studied endangered animals. Each one chose an animal to focus on. We held an Endangered Animal Fair. Students showcased their research and classes came to see their projects. This was all voluntary. It was fantastic to hear club members discussing why we should save their particular animal.

It was also that year, the students decided to fundraise to help Asian elephants in Thailand. It began with this book Elephants Can Paint too by Katya Arnold. This was our inspiration. Elephants were taught to paint as an alternative to roaming the streets looking for handouts. Elephants were very useful in the logging industry but since Thailand has cleared the majority of their forests, elephants and their handlers have little work to do.

To raise funds, we held a used book sale. Each club member encouraged their classmates to each bring a book to school to donate to the sale. We had hundrends of books. We raised over $500 and as a club, we purchased a painting created by an elephant.

The painting hangs in the school as a reminder of the potential hidden talents of animals and humans. If elephants can be taught to paint "realistically" so can humans. For more information on elephant paintings, check out Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project

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