Nature Intertwined with Art
Nature and art are so closely intertwined and as human beings we can often feel an invisible pull towards both. After taking a course with Eloise from FridayBeMighty.com we’d introduced looking at masterpieces as part of our morning rhythm at home (find out more about our rhythm here). Floss (our little one) most certainly is drawn to works that include nature. She first became entranced by Sunflowers after we looked at some of the works of Van Gogh – his famous work ‘Sunflowers’. We found this great little Usborne book – Art Colouring and Sticker Book to begin our masterpiece discovery.
Now the Winter seems to be fading, the days are getting longer and the sun is peeping out at every opportunity and warming the ground we’re springing into Spring! Observing nature, planting and tending to the outdoors is such good food for the soul, children and adults alike. The slowness really appeals to me and in our world where everything keeps speeding up, it’s good to help children see the passing of time in a different way. When we plant seeds, flowers don’t instantly pop out of the ground, we have to be patient and wait. This time of year is perfect to start planting.
Eggy Cress Heads
When introducing planting with children I like to start off with something that is a little quicker, so they can get the idea of what growing means and what they are waiting for. Last week we started with Eggy Cress Heads! Within a week you start to get a crop and even after the first day you begin to see the seed grow. Getting them to help with the care of the plant and discussing where to put them for sunlight and making sure they get water daily are really good basics of plant care. What’s great about these is once the week is over, you can eat what you grew! Not showing children what it will look like before you do these is also a lovely surprise.
You can get even very young children to do a diary where they can draw what has happened each day. Older children could be more detailed in their drawings, write descriptions of their observations and begin to label parts of the plant.
Once children have the idea of what it means to grow then you can begin more longer term projects and with Floss’s fascination with Sunflowers that’s the direction we’re going. Now as these will take longer to grow I want to immerse her in everything ‘sunflower’ so that when we go to plant the sunflower seeds she will have a good idea of what she is waiting for. This is the part where it’s time to get creative. It gives lots of opportunity to discuss the structure of the plant as well as naming parts of the plant. You’ll often see how much they have absorbed at this time when the plant starts to grow and they begin to use this language in a real sense.
Collage is a lovely way to introduce nature art. It helps to explore the senses too with the different textures and how they feel, sound and look when used. I prefer to collage before painting as I find they have more understanding of what it is they are painting when they have physically constructed something with their hands first.
This is a really quick project with a simple set up. You need paper, yellow and green tissue paper (paper or fabric works great too), sunflower seeds and glue (we used Tiny Land food based glue). Applying the glue each section at a time allows us to talk about each part of the plant as we are working on it. It also means I can shake off any excess.
Your child’s fine motor development will determine whether they are able to collage on their own or whether you will give some guidance. Floss is 2.5 years old and so could get involved with most parts. Do take care with little ones who explore with their mouths as sunflower seeds could pose a choking hazard, I would always supervise. She tore the tissue paper and I folded it in half. We have books with pictures and a little model of a sunflower to help us as we go when doing projects like this.
Painting – Guided and Free
Floss loves painting! She’s very careful when she paints and I’m trying to encourage her to become more relaxed as she can get a little upset if she gets messy (if you’ve got any ideas on how to help with this please let me know). Our painting falls under two categories and usually we do a little of both. We do guided painting – where I show Floss a skill/ technique and free painting where I give her the materials and she can do whatever she likes. Which one we do first changes like the wind and I like it that way. It means that Floss isn’t always given a plan before hand and she can create as she chooses.
These sunflower pictures are another super quick idea. Sponges for toddlers are great, even children with very limited fine motor control can get a good effect using them. The squeezing is perfect for developing motor strength in the hand and fingers too. We used paint on plates with two different sizes of sponge to create the effect. Sponges were from a local craft shop (you can get natural or synthetic sponges) and the paints are Tiny Land made from food.
We did the guided painting first this time and then I handed over the materials to Floss. I have to say I love her own interpretation much more! Already, following on from looking at the books and doing the collage, she was identifying the yellow as petals.
Gallery in the Home
Creating a gallery in our home where we can share our creations is incredibly important to us. We have spaces dotted around on the walls with hooks and bull dog clips that mean we can put something up on the wall instantly (well as long as it’s not too runny)! It’s great for changing things quickly and letting everyone in the house have a say over what stays and for how long.
Planting will be happening next. We’re going to use our painting skills to decorate pots ready to plant our sunflower seeds. I’ll post how we got on soon. We’ll be doing messier planting, but I’ll also share how to do planting with minimal mess or when you haven’t got long. Making and decorating our own labels will be in the plan too. What have you got planned for Spring play and craft ideas?