Sunday, 15 January 2017

Leaves Discovered

Forest Friday

This year we made a commitment to using the outdoor learning classroom each Friday with a group of children. So as long as the weather provides we visit this natural space just before lunch on Friday mornings. The following series of blog posts will share our observations, discoveries, wonders and investigations all inspired from our Forest Friday visits. My hope is that by sharing our thinking that others will be inspired to stop and take notice of the beauty and inspiration that nature provides us. Whether it be a small patch of grass, wild flowers, a neighbourhood tree or an entire forest let's celebrate the wonder of all living things that share the journey with us. 

"Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn." 
Elizabeth Lawrence

Our first outdoor classroom visit can be summed up by this photo and quote: 

"Everyone put your looking closely binoculars on!" 

It was such a wonderful way to begin our adventure into this lovely outdoor space. That first visit was marked by the children noticing insect life, flowers, spider webs and leaves. There were several brown leaves scattered across the mulch under the trees. The children picked up the leaves and began to look at them and discuss how they were different than the green leaves on the trees. I suggested they try to create something with the leaves. One of the children was already busy creating alphabet letters with sticks he had discovered. The children decided they would make a circle with the leaves. We talked about artists who make art using nature as their materials as well.

That weekend I did some reflecting and felt that Andy Goldsworthy would be where we would start this journey. The first day back to school I showed the children the photos of our visit and a video by the land artist Andy Goldsworthy. Well were they inspired? They asked many questions and were very intent on figuring out how he made his art. Their questions were: "How does he stick the leaves together?" "How does he make his art?" "How does he stick the leaves on the tree?" "Where does he find his art?" The children knew that his art was inspired from nature so this would be our starting point. 

I shared this beautiful Andy Goldsworthy book with the children as we sat beside the grove of trees in our outdoor classroom. Then I sent the children to explore and discover any changes that they noticed from our previous visit.

It was this second visit to the school's outdoor classroom that I believe was the spark for the learning journey we have been creating these past two months. Let me take you back to that day. The autumn was warm and sunny therefore we enjoyed many days exploring out in the outdoor classroom. Our second visit brought some changes though and the children were quick to note them. The leaves oh yes the leaves had started to change colours. Just a few but the children were smitten. After some discussion and observation I suggested they create something with the leaves. The leaves were a beautiful shade of red and soon we had a lovely red circle painting the forest floor. 

 When we returned to the classroom the children brought a few of the leaves with them and added them to the table in the atelier. I also placed the Andy Goldsworthy book there with a clipboard, paper and coloured pencils. This was to give the children an opportunity to record any further ideas or thinking that they may have. We observed the children interact with the leaves and book for a few days and they continued to bring leaves in from their outdoor play. Then we planned invitations for a few areas of the classroom to extend this interest. I will share these learning invitations in another blog post. I hope that you will follow this series of posts and be a part of our learning journey. Please feel free to comment below we would love to hear your reflections on the children's discoveries. 

"Look deep into nature,
and then you will understand
everything better."
Albert Einstein