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Homeschooling and Art

Posts: 54
Location: Michigan, zone 5
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I am a mother of three small children, and I am homeschooling them. I have little time, money or to be quite honest, energy but as an artist, I know the importance of art and creativity in a young child's life. Now, don't get me wrong, these children, when left to their own devices are more creative than most people I know. I would, however, love some ideas for some permaculture type projects that I could work with them to instill a love of nature, art, and of course all things permaculture
Posts: 63
Location: Vancouver British Columbia
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Hey Jenna,
I understand your point about not having money for art supplies- that is what started me down this path myself- and I don't think you should have to buy supplies to teach your kids about art anyway! It is WAY more valuable for them to learn a love and respect for the land and ecology around them by making art and developing their creativity with what they find at hand. A project I have done for years I call ephemeral mosaics- the idea of them being temporary, and made up of many small pieces- but not ceramic, just the petals and seeds and leaves etc found around me- and changing every season.
Start by having your kids talk to you about the colours they see when they look around them outside, be specific- get them to say more then green, maybe new green or dark green- recognizing there are different greens, how many can they count? Talk about what the colours might be like from the same spot in 5 months time- what does spring look like? how are the colours different for summer? Then get the kids with paper bags or other carry sacks walking around and gathering what is fallen- don't pick! Teach respect for not picking the plants, just gleaning from what they find, and limit each bag to one particular type of material- maybe one bag is acorn caps, another pine cones or maple leaves. If there are things like horse-chestnuts or other seeds- I talk with kids about who we might need to share the bounty with- would anyone want to eat this? Be sure and share, and instill the idea that others in our ecosystem will want some too!
Talk about colour, texture, shape.
Teach your kids to look closely and see if they can identify the growing patterns: the explosions, the fractals, the branching, the packing principals of seeds on a flower head, find spirals.
Pour out everything that has been gathered into neat little piles- make them an attractive colour run, like a paint palette. And then think about drawing with the materials- have little trays or cups they can use to carry the material and teach them about not messing up the paint palette, but keeping the colours pure( tidy), and sharing the colours with each other try and stay away from iconic images like cats and houses, and have them draw those patterns in nature they are looking at- the spirals, the branching of trees, the explosions of seeds or figure out how to make a fractal pattern- how many iterations can they create? take pictures on your digital camera, so they can see the images and then enjoy the wind blowing it all away. Come back the next week or the next month and do it all over again, talk about how the material they find and the colours change- this is a great way to teach kids to see and experience the natural world around them and develop a tactile seasonal awareness! You can make games too, where they start off doing their own patterns, but then have to join to each other and try and collaborate. If you have big stacked herb drying racks, or spare table spaces, let the plants dry out, and use them another day- store in paper so they don't mold after thoroughly drying in case of any residual moisture. Going out on treasure hunts for sticks and little rocks, fallen flowers, spent petals and more is a very mindful and fun thing that I have watched many a little one get lost in for ages, so you can always keep a few bags of materials around dry, and ready to use on a sweepable floor or on a table top on those rainy indoor days....have fun!
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nature pattern based mosaic of petals- by adults
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