Connecting kids to art

Pend Oreille Arts Kaleidoscope Program adapts to the times by offering materials and remote instruction

By Claire Christy
Reader Contributor

For 28 years, Pend Oreille Arts Council’s Kaleidoscope Program has provided art lessons to third- through sixth-graders in Bonner County elementary schools without art education programs. Typically, a trained volunteer would visit the classroom monthly and teach an art lesson. This year volunteers are not allowed in classrooms due to pandemic protocols in area schools.

While in-person instruction currently isn’t possible, the Kaleidoscope team has been hard at work creating a fun and unique alternative. Kaleidoscope welcomed two new team members this year: Artistic Director Amy O’Hara and Coordinator Nellie Lutzwolf. The Kaleidoscope team has come up with a program that allows for learning at home, or to serve as a supplement to teachers in the classroom.

Each month, there is an art lesson posted online. There will also be a yearlong sketchbook project, which consists of 30 creative prompts — one for each week of the school year. Nearly 800 sketchbook kits have been distributed to Bonner County students with the help of the Lake Pend Oreille School District. There are kits available at the POAC office for homeschooled students to pick up at 110 Main St., Suite 101, in Sandpoint. 

At the end of the school year, POAC plans to host an art show to celebrate the students who have participated in the program.

The volunteers and students will miss the hands-on experience with one another in the classroom. However, some exciting benefits come from remote instruction. These online lessons will be accessible not only to students in grades three through six, but also to the broader public. POAC staff encourages as much community participation as possible, and invites the community to participate in the Kaleidoscope art projects and sketchbooks along with students.

All instructions and information is available on the Pend Oreille Arts Council website — — and on Instagram, For those without internet access, hard copies of the lessons are available by contacting the POAC office at 208-263-6139. Anyone participating in these creative tasks can share their work with the hashtag: #kalscopekids. That includes students, with help from their parents.

The Kaleidoscope staff will reassess in-classroom lessons for the spring semester in January 2021. If you have a student in grades three through six who currently has no access to an art program, contact Kaleidoscope Coordinator Nellie Lutzwolf at [email protected].

Help POAC fund the Kaleidoscope Program by making a donation at or by mailing donations to P.O. Box 1694, Sandpoint, Idaho 83864.

Claire Christy is the arts coordinator for Pend Oreille Arts Council.

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