Henry Hudson Gr 2/3

Arts Education, Language Arts, Physical Education, Science, Social Studies


Henry Hudson Elementary, Vancouver, BC



Gabriela Novotny



Holly Arntzen, Kevin Wright and Ziyian Kwan



Grade 2/3 French Immersion


Sources of Inspiration

Biennale Legacy: Echoes (Michel Goulet)



Inspired by Echoes and the site, students with their classroom teachers identified extraordinary everyday elements in the natural environment of Kitsilano Beach. Students engaged in a cross-curricular learning experience and gained enduring understandings on the ecosystems and their extraordinary values on living and non-living things. The students explored, observed, research and analyzed multiple forms of information within and outside the classroom environment. Working with the artists-in-residence, the students created and performed a musical performance entitled Nous Faisons La Vie with a message on why the small things in nature are valuable and extraordinary to us.



Making the Ordinary Extraordinary


Guiding Questions

How are ordinary things in the natural environment actually extraordinary and important to us?


Curriculum Access

Arts Education – Drama, Dance, Music and Visual Arts, Language Arts, Physical Education, Science, Social Studies, Mathematics , Health and Career Education


Learning Process

The Henry Hudson Elementary School was awarded the Vancouver Biennale BIG IDEAS residency grant to work with two talented musicians from the Artist Response Team. To prepare for the project, the students visited a number of art galleries to learn about the art creation process. During their visit to Echoes, the students wrote down key phrases which evolved into poems and songs for their final musical composition. Through this process, the students used their observation skills to explore their emotions, imagination and memory and prepare them for the dance part of their planned performance. The students were engaged in on-site and classroom inquiry-based activities to explore, research, express and present ideas, information and feelings through writing, visual arts, creative movements and music.


Student Creations

Drawings, Poems, Songs and a Public Musical Performance




  • Visited a number of art exhibitions: BIG IDEAS Student Exhibition at ArtStarts Gallery, Ian Tan Gallery
  • Worked on music rhythm


  • Explored ordinary items in classroom
  • Created songs for Christmas performance


  • Visited the Vancouver Art Gallery
  • First visit to Echoes at Kitsilano Beach


  • Group research projects about environmental issues through the ‘Citizen Awareness Project’ and ‘Parent Science Sharing Project’
  • Worked on visual art drawings and poem
  • Mar Worked on song and performance


  • Created dance, choreography, costume
  • Rehearsed many times
  • Performed at Echoes


Teacher: “This project was an undertaking that brought my teaching to a different level. In many ways it helped me connect and bring various aspects of what and how I teach, and piece them together in a more comprehensive and meaningful ways. Without this experience, I would have probably taught various skills and concepts in isolation instead of weaving them together in such a holistic learning context.”

“Another interesting discovery about teaching through the Biennale Project is how it brought so many members of my classroom community as well as artists together. I often became a facilitator of learning relationships between artists and students, school community members and students, volunteers and students, student-teacher and students, artists and students, as well as students with other students. My teaching was about bringing human relationships together. I was not teaching in the usual smaller world of only me.”

“It was exciting, exhilarating, and powerful to be teaching this way as it stretched me in ways I would have never imagined possible before.”



“I would recommend it for other students. It was creative. It is good teamwork and it gives you a chance to work with people like Holly and Kevin. It helped with poetry and singing which you might need in the future.” – Jacob

“We were like scientists because we were finding seashells and seaweeds and learning about seagulls. We learned about the beach and we learned how to listen to sounds and pay attention to things and be observant. We would like to do another big project but a different theme (but we liked this one) but something like flowers, or gardens, or animals, or people, or different kinds of houses.” – Breanna

“It was really fun even though we had to practice over and over again. It was fun to have Holly and Kevin because we could be creative and make music. I liked other parts because we were learning outside.” – Chloe

“It was fun doing all the artwork, singing and dancing and stuff like that! I liked telling people that seaweed are not random things or that the ocean is not just something to be taken for granted.” – Emmaleen

“I liked that other people could hear what kids have to say.” – Don

“It was great because we didn’t have to do boring things. Instead we practiced and we learned what makes the beach extraordinary.” – Fraser and James

“Other students should do something like this because we learned how to treat the ocean well. Learning this way was good because first of all it was not only our teachers ideas it was our ideas (most of it was). Second of all, we learned really well…in a way that most children don’t get the opportunity.” – Clarice