Monday, 4 January 2016

Nature Collected and Explored

Discovering Leaves
Part one

I am so excited to share this post with you as it has been on my mind for some time now. There will be several posts about this inquiry as the children completed a large body of work based on their interest. The children's work in the autumn centered around a common focus of exploring the outdoor environment. This interest continues today in the form of our light investigations which I will blog about soon. Their desire to seek out nature and investigate it with all of their senses speaks to the wonder and amazement that the natural world can provide. Too often I feel that we lose this sense of wonder towards the natural world as we move on into adulthood. It was our pleasure to support them in their investigations and share in the beauty of the natural world. I love this quote from one of my favourite artists Vincent van Gogh. It fits so beautifully with the work of our students. I hope their passion for nature encourages you to seek the beauty of nature too! 

"If you truly love Nature,
you'll find beauty
- van Gogh - 

We placed several invitations out for the children to explore in various areas around the classroom. We included several texts that focused on Autumn and I really loved the Toob set of mini trees with the mirror in our loose parts area. It was a favourite of the children as well.

"I am making a forest."

"This is our house. We put leaves and curtains in the windows." 

The children created many transient art pieces which we documented and I enjoyed listening to their descriptions of their work. We posted their investigations on the learning wall and shared it with them for further reflection. 

Presenting Leaves

The children began collecting leaves from outside during their recesses. We placed them in one of our sensory bins and the children often investigated here. They would stir the leaves with a large stick that they had also brought into the classroom. They listened to the leaves as they rustled and swirled inside of the bin. Sienna asked if she could present a few colourful leaves that she collected from outside. She placed her leaves in the question box for safe keeping. When it came time for her to present she carefully placed the leaves on a silver tray. Showing them to the children she shared, "I found a red leaf, a yellow leaf and I found another red leaf. I found them outside. The red ones in our yard. One was on the ground." We asked the children if they had any questions for Sienna. Emma L. asked, "Why did you find the leaves outside?" Sienna replied, "Because they are nature." Jacob wanted to know, "Why did you bring them in?" "They are nature they are two different kinds." said Sienna. Then she suggested, "We could paint them.They are a different colour." Charlotte spoke next she said, "They are turning black because they are going to get crushed and they are crunchy." Eden added, "They will break off. If you throw a leaf on the ground and smash it will get crushed up. If it's all black and it doesn't live anymore it will get all smushed up." I then asked the children to share how they would know if the leaf was living. Jenna said, "They are living when they are in a tree." Next to speak was Ryder. He shared, "When they are on the branch and they turn black they are all dead." Colby concluded our discussion with a question. He wondered, "How do leaves fall on the ground?" After this presentation we knew we had an interest in leaves. We would create for the children some opportunities to investigate leaves based on their interest. 

Sienna presenting her leaf collection.

An Autumn Nature Walk

We took the children outdoors to explore some of their ideas and collect nature items for further investigation. We visited the schoolyard and church garden. The children were encouraged to share their discoveries and we documented our walk so we could look at the photos the following day.

We placed the nature items that the children collected in the sensory bin. Then we shared the photos with the children and discussed what they had discovered from our walk. The children began by sharing that some leaves had changed colours. The children were also interested in the flowers that were blooming in the church garden too. They also talked about the lady bugs discovered as this had been a previous interest we already investigated. 

Looking Closely at Nature Collected

During our inquiry work time an invitation was created for the children to investigate their nature collection from the garden. 

Some of the children were interested in using the magnifying glasses to investigate. As they did the children shared their thinking with each other. Brandon shared after observing his acorn and pinecone, "I noticed that when I hold the magnifying lens farther it looks bigger."

"I notice that the leaves are on the stem. I know they grow."

The following day Eliana went to the sensory bin and picked up the pink rose. She asked if she could paint it. As I prepared the acrylics paints for her in the art studio. She shared her interest in the rose with Ella. They discussed the centre of the rose and how bees visit it to make honey. Then Eliana brought the rose to the table in the art studio. She went straight to work and created a beautiful art piece using the rose petals. It was a wonderful to see her create and respond to the petals falling off the rose. As I observed and documented her I did not interrupt her work or focus. She worked well past clean up and was so proud when she was finished. It is her work that I used for the photo of the new header of the blog as this experience of documenting her work was one I will not forget. The wonder, beauty and magic of creating freely.

Several children became interested in Eliana's work and the following day they asked to paint nature. They were inspired by her work and this began our collection of painted leaves.

An Invitation To Paint Leaves

After observing and documenting this interest in painting leaves this invitation was created providing the opportunity for the children to further their interest. We collected and pressed Fall leaves and the children were presented with the choice of using acrylic paint, oil pastels and oil based Sharpie paint markers. The children immediately began with the paint. Then some of the children added details with the Sharpie markers. 

As you can see the results of their creative leaf painting was lovely. I had to share all the photos I took because I could not choose to eliminate any. After the leaves dried I put a coat of mod podge on them to help make them less fragile. A tip that I learned about on Instagram from Jean Van't Hul of . I look forward to sharing with you the rest of our investigations and activities in another post. 

"Every leaf speaks bliss
to me, fluttering from 
the autumn tree."
- Emily Bronte -