Learn All Year Long
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The Natural World as Inspiration: An Outdoor Art Show
- Glue and/or tape
- Paint, crayons, and/or colored pencils
- Paper (Use construction paper or sketch paper for the artwork and lined notebook paper for the artistís statement.)
- Materials found outside (sticks, leaves, needles, acorns, flowers, small rocks, dirt, etc.)
- A bag or basket for each child to collect materials
- Clothespins, paperclips, or something else to use to hang the pictures up
- If children will be working on their artwork inside, you will want to spread newspaper or a washable tablecloth on the floor or table for them to work on.
- Gather the preliminary supplies (adhesives, coloring supplies, and paper) on a table with a tablecloth if you are indoors or on any flat surface if you are working outside.
- Explain to the children that they are going to create works of art using natural materials along with their colors/paints and paper.
- Take children outside, give them each a bag or basket, and have them find at least five different things that they might want to include in their art. (Different can mean two flower petals of different colors or two leaves from different kinds of trees, for example.) Let them know that they donít have to decide exactly how they will use the materials just yet and that they might decide to only use three or four items instead of all five, so they donít have to worry about making those choices right now.
- Once theyíve filled their bag or basket with at least five items, take them to the art supplies and let them work on their pieces together.
- Explain that artists like to write about their art, so the children should think about what their artwork means to them or why they like their artwork and why they chose to include the natural materials they did.
- Give the children each a piece of lined paper, and ask them to write a sentence or more saying what their art means to them or why they like it. Then ask them to choose one of the natural materials they used and write a sentence explaining why they chose to include it in their picture. (For younger children with limited writing ability, write the sentences as the child says them.)
- Encourage children to think of titles for their artwork and include them at the top of their artistís statements.
- Have the children tape their artistís statements to the back of their artwork.
- Hang the pieces up on clotheslines, fences, or porches.
- Give the children time to visit each piece of art during the outdoor gallery walk.
- Sharing: Take the artwork down, and give each child an opportunity to read his or her artistís statement aloud to the rest of the group.
- Reflection: Ask the children to sit in a circle and talk about what they liked about including natural materials in their artwork. How did it feel? How was it different from the art they usually make? What surprised them about it?
- Instead of or in addition to an artistís statement, you might encourage children to write stories about their artwork.
- After the art walk, have each child trade artwork with a friend and write a story about their friendís art.
- Have children make invitations for the art walk and give them to their parents and/or friends.
- Have children make sculptures out of natural materials.
- Have children take their natural materials and trace them on paper. Then they can write a brief description of their colors and other distinguishing characteristics in order to catalog the various things theyíve discovered as they explore.
- Read books about nature and outdoor places to inspire their pieces of art. An example would be to use Yellowstone Moran. Find†Yellowstone Moran at your local library or online at www.wegivebooks.org. Create a free account by clicking "Join" at the top of the homepage. Once logged in, click "Read" in the top header and then search for the title you'd like to read online, Yellowstone Moran.