Skyview students create living desert
PRESCOTT - During the past two months, 49 third- through sixth-grade students at Prescott's Skyview School created a desert in one classroom, a bat cave in another and will perform as cacti, rabbits and rain for a Sonoran Desert museum and performance.
The public can watch the performance and tour the museum Thursday evening in Skyview School at 125 S. Rush St. in Prescott. The performance starts at 7 p.m.
"This is an interdisciplinary, thematic-based project about the Sonoran Desert," fifth- and sixth-grade teacher Scott McCreery said. "We've been working on the museum and show for about 12 weeks.
"We started with a three-day, two-night field trip to the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum and Kartchner Caverns in Tucson. We wanted the students to see first-hand how remarkable the Sonoran Desert is."
McCreery's students joined Claudia Dery and Kathryn Miedema's third- and fourth-grade students to create the life-like desert and live performance. Each student chose a desert plant or animal and researched its life, diet, food chain, range and adaptation.
"Each student is responsible for their plant or animal," Dery said. "They had to make the desert display and their own masks and costumes for the show. Our music teacher, Nancy Larson arranged the music and choreography."
Students worked with each other to build desert scenes that include Sonoran desert flora and fauna.
"I picked an otter because I think it is strange to find otters in the desert," fifth-grader Madeline Tilyou said. "They are very playful and about the only place they live in Arizona is in the Sonoran Desert."
Gaelan Parker created a Gila monster because he saw one in his front yard.
"I thought it was fascinating that it was so venomous," he said.
Students are enacting the creation and blossoming of a desert in a five-part play.
"It starts with an earthquake and big seas and then a calming effect and the emergence of the animals," Dery said. "It goes from darkness to light and then a monsoon storm occurs and the final scene is the desert blooming."
Students perform as wind, rain, animals and flowers, Dery said. Each student created his or her own mask by molding clay on a rock and then papier macheing over the clay.
"Our Sonoran Desert museum and the live performance with music comes out of Skyview's philosophy based on Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences," McCreery said.
During the performance, students play drums, rattles, tambourines, violins and rain sticks to create storm sounds, scene transitions and the explosion of blossoming cacti.
David Belli discussed his favorite desert animal while hot-gluing a cottontail to his handmade cottontail rabbit.
"I like cottontail rabbits," he said. "I think they are cute and cool. We've got a bunch in our yard at my house."
The tour the of Skyview Sonoran Desert museum and the live hour long performance are free of charge. Attendees will be able to see the museum and process room where students developed the projects during school hours Friday. For more information about the live performance, call Skyview School at 776-1730.
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