Thursday, May 16, 2013

Nurturing Acorns: Environmental Art

One of my art classes in college touched on environmental art. We looked at interesting, thought provoking examples and debated whether they could be art. We went into the nearby canyon and created our own works of art with found natural materials. Since then, I went on group dates and had fun with nature, gathered my younger cousins for natural art, and am now helping other children see the connection between art and nature. I talked a little of a book I enjoy on the topic and a local artist in this post about Artist Grow.

At Nurturing Acorns at Woodlawn Nature Center, our topic was Environmental Art. We started with a sensory experience with shaving cream to draw and write letters. Little hands squished, squeezed, spread, and begged for more!

Outside, each child found a "precious" item to share with the rest of us. In the hunt for something special, the children focused, observed, and used attentive skills to determine a piece of nature deemed worthy of a special title. Each was unique and the connection was special. We looked at the beauty of what is considered a "weed" and intricacies of leaves.

Later, we used frames to capture art in nature. Focusing on one small part of nature rather than the whole larger picture, we could see look at the beauty of the details. Lots of the children wanted to use them as magnifying glasses, which was interesting to watch!

We brought out the parachute for parachute play, including some natural elements from the ground as we shook the parachute, lifted up high, and brought it down to the ground. We talked about the colors we saw. Each child put his or her hand on a color and then found something in nature with that same color.

We talked about other kinds of art, such as dance and music. We used our bodies to imagine the movements of different kinds of creepy crawlies, like butterflies, snails, and more!

We then made nature faces. A simple child drawn circle became a canvas for natural elements to create faces. 

After some time to create, we took a tour of the art gallery! Each child talked about the different elements used and how each piece fit into the overall piece of environmental art. It was neat to see my son who rarely talks to adults or in large group settings clearly tell us about his nature person. He didn't just make a face, but added arms and legs as well. 

There is always time to find a little creepy crawlies, right? This boy has been obsessed with bugs recently!

We looked at natural colors and experimented with different colors that can be made with natural elements. The children tried different flowers, grass, different types of leaves, bark, and more to fill their palettes.

Later, we went on a color walk, looking for spring colors to match with our cards.

Back inside, the children explored the sensory bin, sorting, classifying, arranging, and more. They played with dot markers, pattern blocks, play dough, and read books. For snack they had a variety of elements they used to create their own edible patterns. The water beads were cool to explore as well!