URUGUAY: La Mano de Punta del Este is a huge sculpture on the beach of a seaside resort called Punta del Este in Uruguay (on the Atlantic coast). It was constructed in 1982 by an artist, Mario Irarrázabal, when there was an art exhibition but no space for him to participate in the town. So… he went to the beach! The fingers are made out of steel bars, plastic, concrete, and metal mesh.
In class, we did not use steel bars; instead, kindergarten students smeared a piece of paper with glue, and then sprinkled real sand over it to recreate la playa/ the beach. Next, they smushed their palms (no splatting, please!) into a color paint of their choice, and put a handprint on the beach. It was a simple project–albeit messy, for sure–but helped students to connect with a country that they knew little to nothing about.
While waiting for their turn to make a handprint, kindergarteners “built” the Andes Mountains on my floor map with blocks, through much of South America. It was a good day!