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Spring into Art!

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

 “Spring refreshes the soul, then refreshes the creative self.” – Anonymous

 New perspectives of young learners can provide essential energy for learning. For example, look up: an ever-unfolding canopy of trees spreads across the landscape. Sometimes, in an indoor learning setting kids get used to looking across rather than up or down.

 Outside, when we look up, there are the spreading spring leaves, and when we look down, there are bountiful floral surprises.

Sometimes, quite unbelievably, when one finds a tree or plant that does not seem to fit in a particular geographical place, it is especially interesting—like a magnolia tree on a campus in the Colorado Front Range! But I found one, and passers-by can hardly believe that—in late spring—it is really a blooming magnolia tree.

To learn more about trees, why not take the kids on a tree tour? This site is in Boulder, but tree tours can be found elsewhere as well.Or, perhaps take a Denver Botanic Gardens tour so that students can learn more about plant growth, research, and perhaps conservation alongside the arts by visiting the exhibits and perhaps attending an event at the Gardens?

What about seeing spring from the perspective of a plant or tree? OK, so I am a tree. What kind of a tree am I? What kind of leaves do I have? Am I a tree that grows locally or a tree that you saw on last year’s vacation with your parents or relatives? What if I am a magnolia flower? Where do I usually grow? When I grow in an unusual place, how might I survive? What kinds of supports (perhaps protection from the winds?) would I need?

 Then again, what if I were a 200-year-old cottonwood tree and one of my friends—call him Jerry or Mary, Joshua or Laura—wanted to build a tree-house in me?

Would I be strong enough to hold a little tree-house? What if the kids in your class thought so and wanted to design a tree-house that would suit a 200-year-old tree? How big is it? How do you build a tree-house without harming the tree? Will it have enough shade to keep you cool in my tree-house in the hottest months?

 Developmental skills kids could be working on with these activities could include observation, team-building, note-taking, guided question identification, “research,” and presentation skills. If you want to add another layer in class, play Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring;” spring does indeed bring gifts! So, let’s spring into spring and let nature guide our art and our perspectives!

 Arts are us!

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