Blog Post

Miss Kris’s Garden

Kris Kiko Cozy is a teaching artist based in Canton, Ohio. Her classes combine visual arts, music, movement, mindfulness practice, story-telling, and performance. In order to stay in touch and engaged with her students during the school closure she (with the help of her tech savvy husband) set up a YouTube channel.

one male student in a red hat and blue tie dyed shirt, one male teacher in a red and blue plaid shirt, and Kris sitting on the floor of a classroom. Kris is wearing a grey sweater and holding a large sheet of paper with a drawing on it.
Kris showing a sample mandala project to students and teachers

When I first asked myself how I was going to stay engaged with my students at Day School (a small, K-8 public school for students who need behavioral and emotional support) I drew a blank. I have taught for many years without technology and have a tech-free classroom. Fortunately, my amazing husband who is not able to practice massage therapy right now was willing to help me launch a Youtube channel, so that I could create short video lessons for the students.

Welcome Video for Miss Kris’s Garden

I teach an integration of art, music, movement, mindfulness and nature-appreciation. All of my students have IEPs, so we focus on the Social Emotional Learning standards. After a few long walks pondering how I would translate that to a video format where I wouldn’t be able to see my students, I was inspired to create my Youtube channel, Miss Kris’s Garden.

I did not want to add even more screen time for the students, so I thought I would share with them 10-15 minute moments in my garden and around the farm doing my daily, seasonal chores hoping to inspire them to go outdoors, move around a bit and look more closely at nature. The activities for the students, inspired by my work, would need to be very simple since many of my students have limited resources at home. I would need to engage K-8 in one lesson, so suggestions on how to further simplify or expand projects would be necessary.

close up of four handmade books with crayon and colored pencil illustrations. Students are working on the books and the photo showa their hands.
Students writing an illustrating stories in Kris’s classroom

The plan for the channel is to have pairs of short, related videos, the second video building on the first. The first set, for example, is about signs of spring, and daffodils in particular. In Part 1, we explore and observe signs of spring and daffodils, followed by a guided drawing of daffodils and hearing the beginning of a daffodil poem by William Wordsworth. In Part 2, we notice how the flowers have opened even more overnight, revisit the daffodil picture to add finishing touches, review and demonstrate more slowly the shading and color techniques we used both in colored pencil and crayon, and hear the entire poem.

Other video pairs will explore different combinations of art, music, poetry, mindfulness exercises and movement inspired by our time with nature. I will send a weekly note to the students through their classroom teachers with additional ideas for expanding the pair of lessons for that week. Students are able to use my school email to ask questions, comment, make suggestions and send photos of their work. Google Hangout meetings are also possible for the students who need live one-on-one help.

I am very excited for the students to actually see what inspires the activities I bring to the classroom, and to share more directly my love of nature and the arts and how they are interconnected.

quote written on a chalkboard, "I bless this day for the wonderful adventure it can become as I walk through it with eyes of wonder rather than boredom, use every opportunity to express peace rather than irritation, and choose love over fear." Pierre Pradervand. There is a drawing of a tree next to the quote with branches and roots.
Quote on Kris’s blackboard

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