Students who work in the Jewelry Art Studio at Stratton Elementary are developing math skills, researching historic time periods, and honing their writing abilities, all while practicing the craft of jewelry making. A sign in the display case outside of Jamila Appleby’s classroom explains.  

In our studio we create jewelry using a variety of tools and materials. We work on projects with a partner or sometimes we work alone. We make jewelry for the grade level showcases, for ourselves, and others. We also use jewelry beads in art work. Some of our work will have writing that accompanies it. Did you know that making jewelry includes math? We measure, count and make patterns when we are creating. We also learn about history when we research jewelry that was worn during certain time periods. We have lots of fun learning, thinking and creating together. Come check out what we do!

Stratton 4th graders Faith and Jasmine select and sort beads.

Appleby, a teacher at Stratton, received a grant from CU Schools Foundation last fall to set up the Jewelry Art Studio in her ESL classroom.  She wanted students to learn how to safely and properly use jewelry making tools, but she had an even more enterprising vision in mind. She wrote in her grant proposal, “I want students to experience collaboration, connect to community resources and see the ‘bigger picture’ of their efforts.”


Fifth grader Jalyssa unwinds jewelry wire.

Her students have created costume pieces for the school’s production of Annie and they’ve explored how jewelry can tell a story. Fifth grader Jalyssa explains, “We learned about history, about the 1930’s, what the people wore and the kind of jewelry they wore.  It helped me learn some things that happened in that time period.  We also learn about math because we have to do patterns.”



“It helps me in reading and writing.  When I read about other artist’s writing about their art it helps me learn about details.” – Fifth grader, Averionna


This is Appleby’s first grant, and she is thrilled with the outcome. “The grant gives me breath.  I can breathe easier knowing that I can better provide the materials and supplies that my kids need to learn and create.  I can actually sit down with the students and ask them what kinds of beads or tools they would like to have, and then purchase them.  Thank you to CUSF for providing us this luxury!”

Teacher Jamila Appleby meets with student jewelry designers at Stratton Elementary.