We had a wonderful first afternoon with our Painted Turtles Art Club this past weekend! This is a group of keen, and keenly observant, children who love to blend nature and art.
Our first lesson looked a few of Georgia O'Keeffe's flower portraits - how she magnified the flowers so that they filled the whole page. The petals of her flowers touched all four sides of the page, and showed the detail and beauty of one single flower. Like this:
With that in mind, we hiked through the meadow, looking for some worthy subjects to sketch. It's a great time of year to find wildflowers in a whole range of rainbow shades. We started collecting, being mindful to only collect something when we could see that there was an abundance of it around. Golden rod, wild asters, chicory, milkweed leaves, daisy fleabane, sweet wild clover, crown vetch, Queen Anne's lace... it was so hard to decide!
Then we made our way down to the pond, where we set up our art studio for the afternoon. We sketched a rough draft, then sketched with pencil onto our good copy. We outlined with a sharpie marker, then filled in the colour with watercolour paints.
All too soon, our time was over. Here are some of our works of art, set up in our pond gallery.
On our way back to see our parents, our Painted Turtle Art Club even spotted some painted turtles!
Inspired by Caine's Arcade and the Global Cardboard Challenge, we organized a morning of cardboard construction at the Huron Natural Area play space. It was a drizzly and cool morning, but not wet enough to make our cardboard soggy or dampen our creativity!
With boxes, tubes, tape, scissors, markers, etc. we made something out of nothing. We transformed a pile of recycling into pirate ships, monsters, sticks of dynamite, anchors, sails, captains of the ship, and snakes.
Look at some of our creations!
Some more fun resources about boxes and creative play:
* this Norwegian short film about a boy and a box
* these two books: Not a Box by Antoinette Portis, and What To Do With a Box by Jan Yolen and Chris Sheban
Over the last two weeks, our forest kindergarten group has focused on two "C" words: colour and camouflage. In week 1, we looked for flowers and plants to create a flower colour wheel.
So many colours and creatures to see on our walk!
At our base camp site, we've been building, exploring, and getting to know the woods and water. Our second week focused on camouflage - and some of us even wore camouflaged colours! We are a creative, imaginative group, so there was lots of pretending going on (dinosaurs, moose, and unicorns were in our forest today!), and plenty of building. Amazing what we can do with sticks! Make antlers, rake a smooth area for a home, build structures. We loved making pretend campfires, and there were dinosaurs and firetrucks who put out the fires when they got too big.
We kept a tally of different creatures that we saw on our walk. There were lots of butterflies, grasshoppers, and dragonflies out that day. We saw many cabbage white butterflies. They like to eat... guess what?? Plants similar to cabbage. We talked about what we would each be called if we were butterflies - based on what we most like to eat. There was a chocolate butterfly (me), a hotdog butterfly, an ice cream butterfly, and a pizza butterfly. What kind of butterfly would YOU be? :)
We've had a great couple of weeks with our Salamanders group.
During our first session, it was like nature was throwing down an amazing welcome mat for us. Here is what we spotted:
We were all pretty excited about these sightings.
At our base camp, we worked on a hapa zome art project, where we used wildflowers we had collected to hammer their plant dyes onto fabric.
Week #2, we focused on camouflage because of all of the creatures we had seen in week 1 who were hidden, or hard to see at first. We read How to Hide A Butterfly by Ruth Heller, then played a game where we had to find hidden pieces of coloured paper in the grass. Forty pieces had been hidden, and when we gathered, we came up with some theories based on what colours we found most of: red and blue were the easiest to find; green was the hardest.
Then we were off, clipboards and pencils in hand, to see what we could find that was hidden in the meadow grasses and in the woods: swirly snails, milkweed beetles, and a salamander peeking out (do you see its little eyes at the left of the picture?) and some salamander eggs suspended to the log.
At our base camp, there was a lot of building with sticks. Some people created homes for insects, some created homes for squirrels, and some kept exploring under logs and in tiny holes to see what creatures might be living there.
Near the end of our time together, we went to our quiet sit spots. Some of us just sat and listened and looked, and others drew or wrote in their nature journals. It was a beautiful day, and a nice way to end our time together in the forest.
Our two Polliwogs groups (Monday AM, Thursday AM) have been learning about the pond this week!
We started out with a story called Pond Walk by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace. It's a wonderful picture book about a bear named Buddy who discovers creatures at the pond, then draws them in his nature journal and references his nature ID books. A perfect book for our walk!
We went on our own Pond Walk to see what we could see.
We used nets to scoop up mud and plants from the pond and found different kinds of water bugs and water snails. Some children worked on identifying what kind of bugs we caught.
On Thursday we found a lot of dragonfly nymphs at different stages. Did you know they live in the water for 6 years before emerging, hatching from their shell, and flying around as dragonflies?!
Just like Buddy the bear in our story, some of us painted Turtle Rocks to take home with us.
Everyone enjoyed the beautiful water and the creatures who live in and near it. A few of us also got wet feet, but it was worth it!
This fall, our Tuesday Tales and Trails program is exploring various Kitchener city parks. Our first week, we started at Breithaupt Park, our usual stomping grounds.
This past week, we met at Monarch Woods Park, a beautiful gem at Victoria and Fischer-Hallman in Kitchener. Wonderful woods with squirrels and toads, a gurgling stream with minnows, and bridges, hills, and valleys. Here's a little peek at the park:
Next week, we'll explore Lakeside Park in Kitchener. Feel free to join us!
Hammers, Huge Swings, and the Freedom to Play