Sunday 21 January 2018

We Showed Them Where to Look, but Not What to See

Loving the outdoors, Kelly Maxwell (grade 3) and her teacher candidate Sydney Kemp explored the work of Andy Goldsworthy, a British sculptor, photographer and environmentalist. Andy Goldsworthy is known for creating beautiful non-permanent works of art using nature.

Here is their blog on teaching students to use Andy Goldsworthy's work as a guide:

To introduce students to works of art using nature, students were shown a YouTube video that highlighted Andy Goldsworthy’s work (  

Students were put into groups and used their bodies to create a piece of art. They demonstrated their art to their classmates and discussed how they came up with the idea and how they felt when creating it. Some questions that were posed to the students were: Could you hold the poses forever? How long could you hold it? Would it change over time?  This led to the introduction of the idea that art does not have to be permanent by drawing attention to the fact that every pose was different; no two art pieces are the same. Students were unable to hold their pose for a long time, and each pose would change slightly over time and eventually end.  Learning intentions were written on the board such as:  I can recreate a story using different materials, I can respect nature while using natural materials, and I can recognize and recreate different shapes in nature.

The story of Shi-shi-etko was then read to the students as they looked for the shapes and symmetry in the book. A provocation table using natural items for students to create and explore different patterns, symmetry, and sculptures was set up in the classroom and after the story students were given an opportunity to use the provocation table and explore different ways to create art using nature. After using the table, students completed a See/Think/Wonder sheet to encourage “deeper thinking”.

Then we took their learning outside! Students were put into small groups and given the instructions to work together, find natural (only) materials and create a piece of art. Students were reminded of the Core Competencies of Communication and Creative Thinking.  The pieces they came up with were not only unique but thoughtful. Students had specific reasons for not only creating what they did, but for why they used specific materials. Students were then given time to write a Nature Journal entry to explain their “masterpiece” and their feelings around it.

An extension:  We are planning to give the students time to create individual art pieces using nature and then exploring photography. Students will look for “Nature Art” that was created with no human help and photograph it.  They will write about why they chose to take a picture of that specific piece of nature and what feelings they experience.  In the end, they will have a piece of learning that they can show (a photo), without disturbing nature.  Essentially they will take something nonpermanent and have a permanent reminder.

Thanks to Kelly Maxwell (grade 3 teacher) and Sydney Kemp (teacher candidate) for this blog post.


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