This past summer, when a friend asked me to revive our Art-n-Nature club this year, I knew I could not do so as a weekly fall series as I had initially run the club. However, I figured I could manage to plan and lead experiences about once a month - especially if I tied some of our club excursions to hikes that I was already planning to enjoy with my family. Thus, I kicked off our monthly 2015-2016 Art-n-Nature club series by offering an Element of Value lesson prior to a pre-scheduled park interpreter-led hike at Scusset Beach Reservation.
Exploring the Element of Value with Pencil and Paper
The day of our Element of Value outing was an overcast one with t-storms threatening. However, when I put a call into the park interpreter to ensure that she was, indeed, planning to lead a night hike, she told me she'd be there if we would (and if no lightening started just as we were about to set off on our beach walk.) So, I messaged folks about an hour before we'd planned to meet to confirm things were a "go". Then, my family headed out to meet folks.
Around 7 p.m., we began greeting people at the fishing pier parking lot at Scusset Beach Reservation, where the kids thoroughly enjoyed climbing some cool-shaped trees while waiting for stragglers to arrive.
Then, we walked over to the grass along the paved bike trail across from the fishing pier, where I officially welcomed everyone, shared a brief history of what the club is and why we meet, reviewed basics about Line, Shape, Form, Color and Texture using things we could see around us as examples, as well as drawing on the kids' own knowledge.
After that, I used things around us to introduce the idea of Value before handing out value scales (with thanks to Donna Young's free printable!), pencils and drawing boards (cut pieces of showerboard) to those who did not bring their own. I challenged the children to create at least one solid scale of light to dark values and one that used dots, lines, or patterns.
After the children completed at least one shaded value scale example, I drew the children's attention to the objects around us and asked them to name what form they were: part of a sign post looked like a partial pyramid, power plant structures looked like cylinders, parts of the fishing pier looked like cuboids, parts of the fishing pier looked like cylinders, etc. After noting these, I led the children that wished to learn how to draw such forms in drawing and shading them,. (Other children skipped this part of the lesson in order to take a "wiggles "jog around the fishing pier.)
I had then planned to have the children apply the use of value in sketching objects around us, but when I looked at what time it was, I realized it was time for us to head over to the beach to meet the park interpreter for the hike. (She'd actually joined us for part of our art meet up, but had already gone over to the beach in case any other folks had decided to join the public hike. None had, but we did not know that and did not want to keep her waiting...)
Observing Value in Nature as Night Fell Upon the Beach... And Learning About Adaptations, Too
After wrapping up our mini-lesson on the Element of Value, we headed over to meet the park interpreter for the public night walk on the beach. Due the iffy weather, our group members were the only ones who showed up for the hike, so we lucked out with our own private tour. However, since the park interpreter wanted us to experience the beach at night with as much authenticity as possible, no flashlights, cameras or phones with glowing screens were allowed on the hike. Thus, we only have a few photos from our gathering time, when the kids enjoyed climbing the life guard stand and running through giant sand craters left by earlier beach goers.
After all our light-sources were turned off or put away, we began our beach walk. Immediately, the the park interpreter engaged the children (and adults!) in discovering how animals adapt at night.
We talked about how some animals have wet noses which help them to smell better, and, of course, some of the kids then went to the shoreline to wet their noses, after which they sniffed canisters to identify scents such as olives, cookies, peaches, and more.
Then, we talked about how some animals hear well at night and why that is important. To drive that point home, the children played a blindfolded owl game.
We also talked about animal sight - how owls have binocular vision and how many nocturnal animals have more rods than cones. While discussing this, we took colored crayons in the dark and tried to guess what colors we had by writing the color names in paper. Later, when the hike ended and we were back in the light, we opened our papers to see if we had "seen" the colors correctly in the dark. Very few of us had!
We also talked about luminescence. The park interpreter showed us how if you crunch a wintergreen lifesaver in your mouth it will glow with luminescence. She also demonstrated how two quartz rocks hit together at night will glow/spark. How cool!
Of course, we also all noted how our vision of the beach changed as darkness rolled in - a perfect tie-in to our Element of Value explorations.
It was a wonderful hike capped off with some casual chatting and play in the semi-lit area leading into the beach.
If You'll Be in the Area...
For those planning to be on the South Shore of Massachusetts or in the Cape Cod area, be sure to check for other park interpeter-led walks and talks. The ones at Scusset are typically free and well worth attending.
Want to Know What We've Done on Our Other Art-n-Nature Hikes?
- Create Your Own Art-n-Nature Hiking Club with Five Easy Steps!
- Planning and Preparing for our First Art-n-Nature Hike on the Element of Line
- Go on an Art-n-Nature Art Element of Line Hike
- Go on an Art-n-Nature Element of Shape Hike
- Our Art-n-Nature Element of Color Hike
- Go on an Art-n-Nature Element of Form Hike
- Go on an Art-n-Nature Element of Space Hike
We've now completed our first foray into each of the seven elements of art and design. We plan to revisit all of these elements with future excursions based on single elements or combos and would love to hear about YOUR favorite outdoor art ideas. Please share them in a comment here or on the Training Happy Hearts Facebook page.