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“What color should we make this man’s shirt?”

The children, ages three to five, sitting in circle time eagerly raised their hands as resident artist, William Christine, asked the question while sketching a picture of a man. Initial sessions of the 15-week artist residency began with a similar introduction to allow “Mr. Bill” to build rapport with the preschoolers, and help the artist learn about their interests and abilities.

LVCC at Stones Crossing in Easton makes our eighth preschool artist residency with William Christine since 2007, made possible through the Arts-in-Education Partnership of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and LVCC’s Fowler Education Fund. Christine, called “Mr. Bill” by the children, is a Bethlehem-based painter. He received his master of fine arts degree from Brooklyn College, City University of New York. He taught at DeSales University, Kutztown University, Messiah College, as well as the Parsons School of Design Continuing Ed Program. His artwork has been exhibited in Allentown, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.

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A day with Mr. Bill in the preschool classroom began with storytelling. He asked questions, with the children expressing ideas, which transformed into exciting stories of imaginary creatures and fantastic places. Together they wrote down their stories, adding sketches to make a picture book. The children then experienced their stories come to life by designing three-dimensional dinosaurs from cardboard boxes and painting colorful zoo animals from their imagination.

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With Mr. Bill strumming a guitar in hand, the children sang and danced about the stories they created together.

Our teachers worked with the artist-in-residence to introduce art activities tied to specific learning objectives aligned with our developmentally-appropriate curriculum. Working in small groups allowed each child to contribute at his own pace.

Preschool wasn’t the only age group to benefit from Mr. Bill’s lessons. The artist visited the toddler classrooms twice to lead music and movement activities. He will also spend a day with school-age children (grades K-5) attending LVCC this summer. Afterward, we hope to host an arts-focused event for the Stones Crossing parents.

In August, Christine will present a hands-on, arts-focused workshop for our staff during LVCC’s Professional Development Days. This will provide our teachers with additional tools to develop highly creative and expressive visual art programs for the classroom.