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Garden Gnomes and Scarecrows: Student Artwork Featured

SCOE Students Make Choices to Create Art Pieces

Student seated in classroom

Sophia's artwork is featured in this year’s Student Expressions calendar.

If you’re fortunate to have a Student Expressions 2023 Student Art Calendar, it undoubtedly brightens a corner in your home or office. During the month of May, you will see that looking back at you is—Garden Gnome—a bright yellow felt gnome perched on a wooden pedestal with a splash of bright spring flowers in the background. If you peek ahead to October, you’ll find—Scarecrow on a Fence—a figure made of brightly colored oddly shaped pasta pieces glued to a green fence made of popsicle sticks.  

The two pieces of art were created by Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) students in the Foundations Academy. The students are in Debbie Carlson’s class, a teacher at T.R. Smedberg Middle School in Elk Grove. Ms. Carlson teaches functional life skills to adolescents and young teen students who have significant disabilities. Sensory experiences and choice-making are woven into daily activities within the classroom. Ms. Carlson also provides seasonal and holiday art activities with sensory experiences.

Breana A. chose the color of felt for her gnome’s hat and whether to add flowers or not. Projects like the gnome include choice-making and some hand-over-hand help from a member of the team to glue the pieces together. Her teacher, Ms. Carlson, creates a scrapbook for each of her students and once they’re ready to move on to another program the book gets sent home.

“I take a lot of photos in the classroom so parents can see their children making choices, applying glue, picking out beads, and so on,” explained Ms. Carlson. “Once they see what their kids are doing, they greatly appreciate it.”

Sophia V. got to take part in a sensory experience while creating her scarecrow that’s featured in October. She first played with the uncooked pasta, scooping it with her hands and feeling the different shapes. For Sophia, choosing the pasta pieces for her art project is made by gazing with her eyes. Other non-verbal students in the classroom may be able to reach out and touch the pasta pieces or point to “Yes” and “No” cards that are green and red, respectively.

The Foundations Academy, part of the SCOE Special Education Department, provides education services to students who require extensive support in a variety of areas, including visual, mobility, and/or speech and language. Many students who complete the program started in SCOE’s Infant Development Program and continued in SCOE programs through young adulthood.