William Bridge Gr 3 and 7

Arts Education, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies


William Bridge Elementary School, Richmond, BC



Anik Tuason and Janice Potter



Laura Barron



Grade 3 and Grade 7


Sources of Inspiration:

Vancouver Biennale Legacy: Water #10, Richmond (Ren Jun)

Toque’s Geographical Fugue: a rhythmic word rap based primarily on layers of single ‘place-name’ words with different syllabic and phonetic content.

City of Richmond School Water Conservation Project Wet



(Ren Jun’s ) sculpture, Water #10, inspired the students to explore the inquiry on “How is water a critical resource?” Using word games, they created text and grouped them by categories: Health, Sustenance, Transportation, and Recreation. The students wrote concrete poems to decorate on their concert t-shirts and some were performed. The texts were woven together with their own created melodies, rhythms, and movements and instruments for a final performance. Throughout this collective creative process, the students have cultivated their expressive, collaborative, critical thinking and leadership skills. The successful fusion of Grade 3 and 7 students provided an excellent opportunity for mentorship.



Valuing Critical Resources


Guiding Question:

How water impact our life? How can we conserve our critical resources?


Curriculum Access:

Language Arts, Arts Education – Music, Science, Social Studies


Learning Process:

The artistic tools employed throughout this project involved multiple literacies (auditory, visual, verbal, and kinsethetic), allowing points of entry for all kinds of learners. The students were first introduced to relevant media including classical, folk, and rock songs about water; viewing videos of performances on bottle flutes, crystal glasses, water drums and rain sticks; and a performance of Toque’s Geographical Fugue. Using word games focused on text related to ‘water as a critical resource,’ the students composed the rap lyrics for a musical composition. The syllabic patterns of the verse created the rhythms for their water instruments interlude. Students were able to easily remember these rhythms by identifying them with the corresponding words.


Student Creations:

The students created water-based instruments constructed from entirely reclaimed materials including bottles flutes, ice rattles, water drums, rainsticks, and water bottle xylophones and used them to perform their original composition, Water is Life. This musical creation incorporates a body percussion rainstorm, a rendition of Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head on the crystal glasses, narrated original water poetry, a water instrument band and a rap.


Taking Action:

After the students reflected on what they have learnt, they made twenty posters as part of their performance at Water #10 to educate their peers about easy, at home, water conservation efforts that they can make on a daily basis. Each poster will include one of their chosen “Top Twenty Daily Water Conservation Tips”. They will also create a ‘Water is Life’ newsletter, at the culmination of the project, with all twenty of these tips included, and distribute it to every student in their school, to take home and share with their families. And finally, in honor of Earth Day, one of these tips will be announced over the school loudspeakers, daily, by one of Grade 3 or Grade 7 students, for the next twenty school days leading up to their performance.

As a follow up of this project, the students were selected to participate in the City of Richmond Project Wet aimed at educating students about the importance of water. The program is designed to inform, entertain and educate students on the importance of water quality and supply.




Feb Project Introduction

  • Met the artist
  • Discussed the importance of water in everyday life
  • Exercise multiple artistic literacies: art, music, movement, creative writing
  • Cultivate creative ways to imagine how to make music with water


Mar Brainstorm Project Concept

  • Develop listening skills
  • Develop ability to create sound effects with the human body
  • Develop sensitivity to conducting cues.
  • Encourage critical thinking about the far-ranging impact of water on the planet and in our daily lives.


ASSIGNMENT #1: Water Drop Concrete Poem

1. Write a non-rhyming poem about water.

2. Compose a rhymed verse about water.

3. List single words they associate with water. OR

4. Write a letter to water, expressing their gratitude for its value in their life.


Rhythm Exercises/Water Word Games

  • Begin practicing collaborative music making skills, layering multiple conducted body rhythms, in four separate student groups.
  • Explore the music of words (cataloging water word phonetically and syllabically)


ASSIGNMENT #2: Collect recycled materials for handmade instruments


Apr Introduce Song Form and Lyrics

Development of:

  • Song Structure Comprehension
  • Auditory Learning and Vocabulary
  • Memorization Skills
  • Rhythmic Skills
  • Collaborative Skills



1. Collect recycled materials for homemade water instruments
2. Make rain sticks in class, in groups (Instructions found here)

Water is Life Auditions and Rehearsal

  • Further Develop Melodic and Rhythmic Skills
  • Cultivate Concentration Skills by practicing ability to maintain independent part while collaborating with multiple parts
  • Employ Integrative Learning – meaning, text, music, movement



Water is Life Auditions and Rehearsal (multiple sessions)

  • Relational Learning Skills – Revisit project relationship to initial inquiry: “How is water a critical resource?”
  • Didactic Thinking – How can the learnings from this project be communicated through an Action Item
  • Communication Skills
  • Public Speaking Skills
  • Further Develop Melodic and Rhythmic Skills
  • Cultivate Concentration Skills by practicing ability to maintain independent part while collaborating with multiple parts
  • Employ Integrative Learning – meaning, text, music, movement


ASSIGNMENT #5: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!!!!; Make white water drop cards with individual text words; Laminate blue water drops to make lanyards & bring in white t-shirt



  • Continue with practice
  • Water is Life Final Dress Rehearsal (two classes together)
  • Distribute Water is Life Water Conservation Tips newsletter, schoolwide
  • Perform during school assembly and at Water #10




“In talking to both Anik (Grade 3 teacher) and Janice (Grade 7 teacher), both remarked and emphasized how happy they were with the opportunity to take part in this activity. Not only were they able to introduce students to art (as they had the students go and see the Water #10 on their own time and come back with reflections), but they were also amazed to see how well the subject of ‘water’ fit into other curricular subjects as well.

Anik mentioned that in terms of the grade 3 curriculum, this project linked to the topics of space, plants and bodies of water – all of which she has taught this past year. What’s more, students will also be taking a field trip to a water treatment facility as part of Project Wet next month, and both teachers were again pleased with just how relevant this whole experience has been. Anik put it best when she said that because of this project, ‘students started seeing water as a necessity for life for all living things’ – proving that this experience has been incredibly worthwhile!”



“My experience as a Vancouver Biennale BIG IDEAS artist truly exceeded my expectations. I was initially excited to participate as a facilitating artist because I was impressed with the thoughtful, and comprehensive vision of the Arts in Action program. Many arts engagements risk becoming ‘hit and run’ projects. But instead, the Vancouver Biennale considers and balances the importance of student arts engagements with targeted school learning objectives, cross-curricular teaching opportunities, and relationship to sculpture-inspired themes, to ensure the sustainability of the learning experienced.

Consequently, I was able to witness, throughout the project, consistent student inspiration, enthusiasm, growth, and new skill development. I found this aspect of the project incredibly rewarding. And I also attribute its success to the tremendous contribution from my partnering teachers, Ms. Janice Potter and Anik Tuason, who went above and beyond the call of duty to carry the project between my visits (completing rain sticks with the students, facilitating drawing exercises based on song lyrics, fabricating performance props, rehearsing song parts, etc.). As a result, the students were extremely well prepared for our final performance. And while I emphasize process rather than product in engagements of this nature, it undoubtedly adds to everyone’s experiences when a project concludes with a tight, beautiful, and well-received show.

Last Thursday, both at William Bridge and at the Jun Ren, Water #10 site, the students whistled, sang, drummed, danced, recited poetry, tooted flutes, and blew bubbles with delight and command of their new skills. I was certainly proud of them, but not more than they were of themselves. And I feel that it is this self-esteem and satisfaction from being part of a collective creative team that is the most valuable bi-product of these arts engagements.”



During the last two rehearsal visits, students were observed to be incredibly involved and excited about performing what they had learned the past three months. After talking to a few students on the first day of rehearsal, many mentioned how much they had enjoyed learning about the importance of water, and seemed more than happy to share some facts that they had learned along the way. It was evident that not only had the students learned a great deal, but that they were proud of the work they had put in also.

At the end of the first rehearsal, two Grade 3 girls remarked how much fun it had been to make their instruments, and when questioned further, expressed just how much they loved the songs they had written as a class. Their excitement was definitely clear, as they left the rehearsal space singing the songs that they loved so much. It is obvious that the students have thoroughly enjoyed this project, and will take with them knowledge they will carry for the rest of their lives.