Going outdoors is a superb way to bring an art lesson to life.
The year 5 classes (60 children) were studying woodland, and as part of the curriculum they had to actually visit and experience a woodland environment. The C S Lewis Nature Reserve provided the woodland setting and art gave them a focus with which to explore this lovely place.
PREPARATION BEFORE THE TRIP
The children had a session looking at Andy Goldsworthy’s art, and a few other land art artists including Robert Smithson. The children shared their thoughts about their art work. Discussed why they thought these artists work with nature in this way and what possible purpose it could have-other than being fun. Environmental issues, conservation, the purpose of art, sending a message were all touched on in the discussion.
HOW WE DID IT
I split the children into two large groups (30, we had enough adults to accompany each group). I took one group, whilst the other group was taken by their class teacher. My group was looking at pattern in nature, capturing it using pen and ink and photography. The other group were making Andy Goldsworthy inspired sculptures using natural objects like leaves, berries, twigs and stones.
Here are some patterns my group photographed.
And now have a look at a few of their drawings.
These are perfect-what I was looking for was quick recordings of the general shape of the patterns and where they appeared. They had half an hour to do this.
Here is someone who spent his break time sketching instead of running around making a racket and disturbing the wildlife.
Lets take a closer look…
This is wonderful work, the little notes remind him of what he saw, he’s captured things close up and further away, he’s generalized the pattern into a overall look yet not compromised the detail either. I was very proud!
- Link it to woodland tales such as Beatrix Potter, Peter and the Wolf (musical links here too), Fantastic Mr Fox – Roald Dhal, The Woodland Trust Stories, Watership down – Richard Adams. These are just a few…
- Take photos of children’s work and use these to stimulate some descriptive writing, or instruction writing about how to create a woodland sculpture.
- Children can then create a collage in groups using coloured sugar paper to recreate their sculpture. Perhaps the class can make a huge collaborative one.
- We used our pattern drawing to inform some black and white illustrations of traditional tales.
- Children can find fascinating creatures or objects and create a character for them. They could use these characters to create a shared class tale.
- Science, study of woodland habitat, animals, birds, local area compared to another, local trees, a woodland tree as a mini ecosystem, food chains, how are woodland animals suited to this habitat, what’s special about the woodland compared to the rainforest.
- Maths, measure & estimate the height of a tree using traditional methods, comparing the size of different leaves in relation to the height of the trees they were taken from. Can make a graph to represent the results, can press the leaves to create art work after.