Millstadt art teacher Gay Otten gave her third-graders an assignment a couple weeks ahead of Mother's Day: Draw a portrait of your mom.
"I told them, 'This is your interpretation of your mom, how you feel about your mom," said Gay, who has been teaching 29 years. "It doesn't have to look exactly like her."
Young artists drew either a full body portrait or just Mom's face. Some backgrounds showed what Mom is like or what Mom likes.
We chose some to share with our readers.
Artist: Hannah Dreher, 9
Family: Mom is Victoria Dreher-Williams, a medical technician at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis. Dad is Alexander Williams. Hannah has a sister, Lorelai, 8, a second-grader.
What will Hannah do for Mother's Day? "I work at night," said Victoria. "I will work the night before. She's going to make me breakfast."
What will Hannah make? "Toast and scrambled eggs."
What do you like about Mom? "Her hair and that she's pretty. She's a pretty and smart mom. Her hair is short and a little bit of a dark color. We look alike. I have my mom's eyes and mouth."
What do you like to do together? "I like to play games and play crafts," said Hannah. "Sometimes, she does it with me."
Does she give you advice? "She gives me advice on school. She helps me with my homework and also tells me to study hard."
Artist: Joey Johnston, 9
Family: mom is Elizabeth, 36, a substitute teacher. Dad is Jim. Joey had a sister Katie, 11.
What will you do for Mother's Day? "We'll have a family barbecue," said Elizabeth.
What will Joey do that day? "Annoy her. I just talk a lot."
Tell us about your picture: "I am not the best artist," said Joey. "She does wear fingernail polish all the time. Her middle is supposed to be like a rainbow T-shirt. I didn't know that my mom had blond hair."
What does she do for you? "Makes me food, gives me shelter, all that stuff. Today, we're going to the zoo."
What's she like? "Sorta mean half the time and sort of nice. She gives me a lot of stuff. Candy. My favorite is Airheads."
What do you do for her? "I cut down wish flowers (dandelions), and trees with my very own saw.
What does Mom think of her portrait? "It's interesting," said Elizabeth. "Very Picasso-esque."
Artist: Holden Fournie, 9
Family: Mom is Heidi, a stay-at-home mom. Dad is Jeff. Holden has a brother Jackson, who is 14.
About Holden: "He's adopted. It was 9 years ago today (May 2) that he came," said Heidi. "They're both adopted. They came when they were 6 months old. They were already sleeping through the night."
What were you thinking about when you drew your portrait? "I love when my mom wears this flowered shirt," said Holden. "I just thought about putting some clouds and the sun. She has brown hair and brown eyes and I know her favorite color is probably pink and purple, and in the middle it would be yellow. I put in the sun to show she was standing outside."
What do you like to do together? "I like to do the garden with her. I go down and pick the tomatoes up. I like to cook cookies or something like a cake."
"He likes to help me cook," said Heidi. "I like to take him to his baseball games and to the movies."
How does your mom help you out? "Since I don't like reading, she says maybe we each could read a page at a time."
Does Mom give you any advice? "To have fun and play," said Holden, on the afternoon of the school picnic. "Can I have some money for the games, Mom?"
Artist: Caroline Whitney, 9
Family: Mom Julie Whitney, 44, a compliance coordinator, dad John, and a sister, Madelyn, 12
What do you like to do together? "We like to cook together. We cook a dessert called chocolate mousse."
Does Mom give you advice? "When we were making dinner one time, she showed me how to cut strawberries and lettuce."
Anything else? "Just be glad you have friends. Be nice to them."
What do you like to do together? "I like to go to Applebee's and go to the movies. I saw 'Frozen' twice."
Tell us about your picture: "Because I love her, I put a big heart in the middle."
Artist: Ella Morris, 9
Family: Mom Emily works at Memorial Hospital. Dad's name is Scott. Ella has a brother Joe, 14.
What do you like to do together? "Go the the park. I just play there and see if my friends are there. Mom sits on the bench and watches."
Any advice from Mom? "What did we talk about last night?," said Emily. "What does milk do for your bones?"
"It makes your bones strong," said Ella. "I guess it's good that I drank so many glasses of milk."
What will you do for Mother's Day? "Go to a fancy restaurant. Reinhardt's. I like it because I always get their chicken. Grandma works there, too."
How did Mom like her portrait? "I like how you got the hair color. It's blonde with highlights and I'm wearing a heart necklace."
"I tried coloring in the necklace," said Ella, "but it's so small. I gave you bangs, and you are outside, too."
Artist: Sydni Juhas, 8
Family: Mom Traci, works at SIUE in financial aid. Dad is Kevin and her brother Maxwell is a sixth-grader.
About your drawing: What does the T-shirt logo mean: "I have a girlfriend who just developed these T-shirts for running. They got me one for Christmas. Sydni does Girls on the Run."
Why the big butterfly? "Because my mom is always happy," said Sydni.
"We might have to frame this one," said Traci.
What do you plan to do for Mother's Day? "Generally I like to go enjoy the outdoors because it's so beautiful," said Traci. "We may hike or bike or something like that. Last year, we walked around Forest Park."
What do you like to do together? "Cook," said Sydni. "Make chocolate chip cookies. Or have a spa day where we just paint our nails."
What kind of advice does Mom give? "She tells me how to bake a cake. Don't put too much of this in."
Any advice about life? "Do what you have to do before you do what you want to do."
Do you look like your mom? "No, I look like my dad."
Artist: Hannah Langlitz, 9
Family: Mom Heather, 33, a loan manager; Dad Matt; and a sister, Ava, 5.
What made you draw your mom on the beach? "When we were at the ocean, she liked to be by the water. We went last summer to Hilton Head, South Carolina."
"It didn't start off great," said Heather. "Hannah loves the sea turtles. The first day there she got stung by a jellyfish. She made the best of it. We went swimming a lot, and to a sea turtle walk and talk. We also went to Savannah for a day."
Any advice from Mom? "Stay away from strangers."
What do you like to do together? "Go to the park."
What are you doing for Mother's Day? "We're talking about going to the zoo," said Heather.
Do you look alike? "Yes," said Hannah. "People tell me, 'You look just like your mom.'"
Artist: Dylan Petric, 8
Family: Stepmom Beth, a special ed teacher at Red Bud Elementary School; Dad Goran; brother Evan, 1; and Mom Ashleigh Wildeisen, of Phoenix, Ariz.
What were you thinking about when you drew your portrait? "How short her hair was," said Dylan.
"I had just gotten a haircut," said Beth.
What are you going to do for Mother's Day? "We are going to go visit Grandma," said Beth.
What do you like to do together? "We like to watch movies together," said Dylan. "My favorite is 'The Hobbit.'"
How do you help out? "Dylan's a big help with the dog (Max, a doberman pinscher)."
Do you visit your mom? "He usually goes for Christmas break," said Beth, "and we try to get him out there for a couple weeks in the summer."
"It's like a summer day like this there," said Dylan, "except twice as hot."
Artist: Zachariah Lusk, 8
Family: Mom Jeannette Saak, a home health physical therapist; Dad Fernando Lusk; brothers Brendan Saak, 18, and Brett Saak, 22; and stepsiblings, Val and Fern Lusk, 18, Isaiah Lusk, 15, and Elijah Lusk, 14.
What were you thinking when you drew your picture? "That she is beautiful, and she's so kind and I adore her. She likes animals. I drew her outside and with wonderful weather."
What do you like to do together? "Go on vacation and go to special places like the Cardinals games, the Rams games and Monster Jam."
"We definitely stay busy," said Jeannette. "He's been on lots of college visits (because of brother Brendan). It gives him a reason to focus on his grades at a young age."
"I liked Illinois Wesleyan," said Zach. "It's a private school, but really, really nice. My brother's going to Quincy."
Does your mom give you any advice? "She helps me study and know about movies. She helps me with words and what they mean, like 'unisex.' It means that a name can be the same for a boy and a girl. We found that out in 'Identify Thief.'"