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I Art Amador—Teacher Spotlight, Jackson Elementary School

By Kelsey Newman, Staff Writer for Amador County Arts Council

During the last week of school and marking her 18th year of teaching, Ms. Nikki Silveira and I sat down to discuss what it’s like to teach art in Kindergarten. Ms. Silveira received her Bachelor’s and a multiple-subject teaching credential from Sacramento State University and has been teaching mainly kindergarten and first grade with some combos up to fourth grade. Now at Jackson Elementary, where she has been for 5 years, she states there is so much more freedom to do art in kindergarten where “we have the liberty with a chunk of time to do a lot of art.” At the beginning of each year, Ms. Silveira really gets to know her students and finds out what excites them and then she plans her art activities. Some of the lessons she recycles from year to year as most students love them, but she is always looking for new mediums and ways for her students to create, whether it is collaborating with other teachers or researching online. Sometimes the lessons include purely learning about the elements of art, “but mostly they are connected to something we are reading in class, the seasons, science or social studies, and sometimes we just do art because it is fun!” Ms. Silveira and her aide, Ms. Fraboni, love finding ways for students to create art out of recycled items and found objects. For example, one of her beloved lessons for Earth Day has students painting the earth onto a newspaper as a canvas. The effect of color on black and white really makes their work shine and the display is wonderful. Kids are learning to create art out of anything. I personally love that Ms. Silveira is bringing recycled art into the classroom as it shows her own creativity and intentions of using what we have, teaching kids a valuable lesson. When I was teaching preschool, I would do the same and the kids really had a chance to think more imaginatively when meat trays became “boats” and cardboard tubes became “binoculars and colorful pipes or chimneys”. Ms. Silveira also teaches one letter a week where she incorporates an art activity. “This year for “V” they made volcanoes out of clay where we connected art and learned about letters to deepen the knowledge of it and create more conversation.”

Student Artwork from the 2022-2023 school year inside Ms. Silveira-Bergen's Kindergarten classroom.


Silveira states, “I feel like I am at such an advantage to do art with younger kids because families and administrators expect it and it frees the path to do whatever I want with them as far as art goes”. The kids’ art in these younger grades “allows them to be creative and showcase their talents in so many different ways. I am always surprised by what they build and the connections they make. They end up teaching me things every time we do something in art”. She says that art allows her to see another side of her students. They are happy doing art and learning life lessons while doing so. Sometimes, it’s a student who is a perfectionist and doesn’t want to mess up and they are having to overcome this throughout the year in art…’it doesn’t have to look like your neighbors. How boring would life be if everyone was the same?’ It teaches such an important lesson for that group of kids, changing the perception that it can look however you want it to look and maybe it won’t be perfect, but instead finding what you can appreciate in your art.”

Children use visual arts to explore self-expression, communication, thought mediation, and aesthetics.

Art indeed helps foster diversity and uniqueness. Art also has a calming effect on the kids that may have a lot on their minds. Ms. Silveira says by getting tactile and messy, “it changes their gears to less anxiety or stress, to create and be in the moment.” With these final thoughts, I challenge you to make art out of something you usually recycle. Think in a new way and find the joy in making art for fun where your inner 5-year-old comes out happy and excited about something unique you created; just for you.

Kelsey Newman is an Artist, Teaching Artist, and Writer who serves at Amador County Unified School District as a Health Aide focused on supporting student needs so that they can thrive throughout their education journey. Kelsey has been a Staff Writer for Amador County Arts Council since 2021.

CAPTION 1: Kindergarten Teacher Nikki Silveira-Bergen in her classroom at Jackson Elementary School.

CAPTION 2: Student Artwork from the 2022-2023 school year inside Ms. Silveira-Bergen’s Kindergarten classroom.

CAPTION 3: Children use visual arts to explore self-expression, communication, thought mediation, and aesthetics. More information is available at the education hub.

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