SitStayRead adds art to their palette at the Art Institute of Chicago

Third graders from Fuller Elementary got the chance to visit several popular exhibits at the Art Institute of Chicago, guided by docents. (M. OBrien)

Third graders from Fuller Elementary got the chance to visit several popular exhibits at the Art Institute of Chicago, guided by docents. (M. OBrien)

A SitStayRead collaboration with the Art Institute gives Fuller Elementary third-graders a trip they'll never forget

Thursday, October 12 was a day the third graders from Fuller Elementary will always remember. SitStayRead, in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago, planned a unique field trip where art, dogs, and literacy were brought together for a fun morning of creative writing and inspired storytelling.

“For most students, it was their first time to the Art Institute of Chicago, and I was inspired by the questions and enthusiasm that the students from Fuller Elementary shared,” said Mara O’Brien, executive director of SitStayRead. “The perfect mix of a Certified Reading Assistance Dog, inspiring works of art, dedicated teachers from Fuller and staff from SitStayRead, and enthusiastic docents from the Art Institute led to a morning of literacy, writing, and art that won’t soon be forgotten.”

The students, guided by Art Institute docents, visited hand-picked pieces of art that feature dogs, including A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat and Marc Chagall’s America Windows, which were a student favorite. They then returned to The Cynthia and Terry Perucca Studio and wrote their own creative stories about a dog having a museum adventure.

J. Bradley Blakenship, the author of “Cozy Fan Tooty,” a children’s book written for SitStayRead and used in SitStayRead’s second grade Tail Blazers program, joined the fun with his Certified Reading Assistance Dog, and star of the book, Cosi Fan Tutte. Cosi and Bradley accompanied the students on their tour and provided a muse for their creative stories. Blakenship plans to use the students’ stories as inspiration for his next book about another Cozy Fan Tooty adventure!

“The Art Institute project was truly amazing for me. This was an opportunity that allowed us to take SitStayRead's writing process out of the classroom and into the city,” said Blakenship. “By being in the museum, students were able to gain hands-on experiences to inform and inspire their writing. And while it was certainly cool to have my Certified Reading Assistance Dog, Cosi Fan Tutte, along as the inspiration, just like in the classrooms, it was my interactions with the students that impacted me the most.”

This unique opportunity was made possible for SitStayRead students by the generous support of the Perucca Family Foundation. Thank you to them for giving the students a trip they’ll never forget, and to the Art Institute of Chicago for hosting SitStayRead and Fuller Elementary students!

Certified Reading Assistance Dog Cosi Fan Tutte poses outside of the Art Institute of Chicago's Modern Wing entrance. Student stories created during this trip will serve as the inspiration for the next Cozy adventure! (M. OBrien)

Certified Reading Assistance Dog Cosi Fan Tutte poses outside of the Art Institute of Chicago's Modern Wing entrance. Student stories created during this trip will serve as the inspiration for the next Cozy adventure! (M. OBrien)