Friday, September 14, 2012

Noticing Nature

I wanted to do a simple lesson with the Kindergartners that would give us an opportunity to talk about one of the most important skills an artist can have: the ability to notice the world.

supplies: a camera, a bunch of natural things (I used: white beans, split peas, berries off an ash tree, sticks, little nests, sunflower seeds, and figs because that's what I found/had- but you could use whatever)

prep: gather your supplies and divide them into containers. You'll be splitting the kids into small groups of 2 or 3, so make enough for each group (I used paper lunch bags to hold the supplies, and filled 11 bags).

Discussion: I had the kids close their eyes and think about things that are beautiful to them in nature - answers included an acorn, a pet cat with only one eye, and flowers. We talked about what it was about those things that made them beautiful. The acorn, for instance, was little (size). The cat was soft (texture) and imperfect (imperfect things can be even more special than perfect ones). The flowers were purple (colors). Then, we talked about how nature makes all kinds of patterns - giraffes, zebras, rows of leaves on a branch, etc. The kids had lots to say about this - many ideas. (**I meant to show them some pictures of Andy Goldsworthy installations, but forgot to push send on the email to the teacher! So I didn't use any visual aids and it was fine, but I think if I did it in another K class or 1st grade I'd totally show them pictures like this and more from the Andy Goldsworthy slideshow here:

Andy Goldsworthy, Elder Leaves, 1983
Activity: We went outside the classroom on a patch of cement, and I gave the paper bags with supplies to each small group with instructions to make a design that was interesting and beautiful to them. We talked about maybe incorporating patterns (ABABAB, ABBAABBA) and looking at how the different colors look next to each other.

(These guys above focused on making patterns inside the nest, look closely. For the photograph, which is the "art", they thought it would look neat to have all their hands shown.)

(This group used sticks to frame their nest, and then made piles by color around the nest. The diagonal stick across was a deliberate choice too.)

The last part - I took pictures of all the "installations." (Practical tip: I also made sure to get one picture of each with a piece of paper with names of group members so I can get copies of the pictures into the right portfolios. I would totally forget!)  

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