Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Go on an Art-n-Nature Element of Shape Hike

Our second Art-n-Nature hike last month was based on the art element Shape.

Luke used both geometric and organic shapes in his shape art collage, inspired by the fish his friend's mom caught with her bare hands..

The planning for it was quite similar to that of our first hike on Line, but the actual experience was much different.

Form (and structure building!) became everyone's practical "study" of the day.

But more on that in a bit.  First, let me share he basics of the hike's preparation so if you want to lead a similar hike, you can.

Planning Our Shape Hike

In planning the our Art-n-Nature Shape hike, I decided that vocabulary I would introduce would be:

  • line - a mark that spans a distance between two points, like the edge of a pond
  • shape - a two-dimensional space defined by edges, like that of a leaf
  • organic shapes - for example, leaves, blobs, ponds or trees
  • geometric shapes - for examaple, squares, circles, rectangles, hexagons, etc.
  • positive shapes - ones defined by objects, like trees or leaves
  • negative shapes - ones defined by objects around them, like holes in a tree or the space between branches

I then thought about a local trail that might have many interesting natural shapes -- one with fields, trees, a river, a pond, etc.

Then, among the art projects I had in mind,  decided on two that would be feasible to do along the trail -- providing multi-age interest without rquiring too many supplies for my pack.  These were:

With diagonal, curved and even twisty "lines" made of sticks, some children combined several shapes to make this structure.

A leaf picked up along the trail inspired my art work.

All this decided, I wrote up a hike announcement (which is shared at the link in case which you wish to adapt it for your own Art-n-Nature initiatives), and, then, prepared a bag with:

  • snacks and lunch
  • water bottles
  • a first aid kit
  • a baggie of index cards
  • a black Sharpie
  • print outs of inspirational Andy Goldworthy art works
  • a copy of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
  • a copy of How Artists Use Shape
  • white paper
  • pre-painted paper (painted with watercolors that included many autumn hues)
  • glue sticks
  • scissors
  • colored pencils
  • stiff plastic

These things done, the children and I headed out on the day of the hike to meet friends.

Our Shape Hike
Building structures in the woods.

I had planned to get our Shape Hike underway shortly after getting to the trailhead, with a quick review of Line, then a Shape spotting walk, a break for some found objects art, some further walking, a break for lunch and collaging and, finally, a hike back to the parking lot, with perhaps, a quick reading of How Artists Use Shape, along the return hike if we needed a break for the littles.  But, you know that saying, "Life is what happens when you are making other plans."  The same can be said of Art-n-Nature hikes. 

For, just before we left the house for our Shape hike, I found what appeared to be an engorged deer tick on Jack.  Knowing people would be waiting for us at the trailhead, I decided to remove the creature, put it in a baggie, call our family doctor, meet everyone at the trail parking lot, and, then, stick near the parking lot for a bit in case our doctor called me back and wanted to see Jack or the critter that I'd plucked off him, in which case I would leave my supplies (and maybe my older children) with the other moms, let everyone know where the trail was, what the projects were and head off to the doctor.

Luckily, that was not necessary.

Each of the children drew a shape, and, then, we sorted them based on their characteristics to "discover" what "organic" and "geometric" shapes are.

Instead, after the children ran around and played a little ball in the field near the parking lot to the trail, I called everyone together to review some basic ideas about the concept of "line" and to introduce "shape" using index cards, a sharpie, colored pencils, the nature around us and the children's ideas and prior knowledge. 

Not only did we find cool shapes in nature, but, we also found an old wheel shape that a tree had grown around!

After that, since one mom who had called and told me she'd be running late had still not arrive,  decided to do "shape spotting" in the roots of an interesting tree and its surroundings not too far from the parking lot instead of along the trail.

One child made a simple pyramid of triangle shapes.

I also showed the children a number of printouts of Andy Goldworthy's art and art other children made inspired by it.  With these as inspiration, the children got to work building their own nature art (and fairy houses, bug houses and forts!)

A mom explored creating negative space shapes.

Jack created a long line in the bug house/fort he was involved in making.

One child found an old birds' nest and gave it to Luke.

.  Luke decided the circular shape of the nest would make a wonderful addition to the bug house he was building.

Shortly after that, the mom who had called to say she'd be late called again to say she was lost.  So, I ran out to the street to wave her in and, finally, after catching her son up briefly with the concepts of line and shape that we'd already discussed as a group and allowing him some time to join in on building nature art and structures, we all set off along the trail, trying to find objects with interesting organic or geometric shapes along the way.

Jack lagged behind friends while looking for shapes (and, sometimes, asking to be carried.)

In a short while, we came to a small pond, where I introduced our collaging project, suggesting that the children cut geometric and organic shapes out of pre-painted paper to create a collage inspired by the nature around us.

We worked on shape art collages on the ground.

Some chose to do this before picnicking, others after, and others not all.  For some were more interested in catching fish in the river or exploring side trails.

Two friends begin their art collages.

One friend was rightfully proud of his collage made with organic and geometric shapes!

These boys were so excited when one awesome mama (not me) caught a fish with her bare hands that they had corralled toward her.

Jack and some of the other little boy, meanwhile, pretended to fish.

All, also, wanted to build yet more structures, while pausing occasionally to note beautiful fall foliage.  Whatever each child's choice was, all children enjoyed companionship in nature!

Nina decides where to place the next stick

A determined Jack carries his own piece to build with.

The Work of Childhood

Teamwork + Nature + Proprioception = An Awesome Afternoon!

Beautiful autumn views!

And, before going home, some of us enjoyed a bit more play and nature.

Enjoying a little post-hike football...

The boy digging negative space into a small grassy hill.

One of our friend's is always a critter magnet; creatures truly find her!
With five mamas, ten kids and a whole lot of fun, our second Art-n-Nature hike sure was an awesome experience.

Enjoy the Other Posts in This Series...


What are you favorite resources or activities for sharing nature and/or the elements of art with children?

Ideas I have come across while planning Art-n-Nature hikes are at Pinterest.  Feel free to add links to ideas you've come across (or blogged about!) in the comments and I'll add them to the board!



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