It’s still a little cold to get super excited about a long ramble in the woods, but I like to think ahead, and the teachers from the Salem State Pre-K program and I had a great time a few weeks ago looking at ways to incorporate art and nature study into their year long theme studying neighborhoods.
As a librarian’s daughter and former English teacher, I believe strongly in centering lessons around stories. Great stories make great hooks to engage learners of all ages!
So we started the day with a read aloud of MT Anderson’s The Serpent Came to Gloucester, which I love, not only because it’s based on actual history, but because the illustrations and sea-chantey-esque text are captivating. We then made sand paintings, with glue, sand, sea shells and sea glass (some courtesy of the local beaches, some thanks to Christmas Tree Shop). People made some beautiful designs! I only wish I had thought to have related music playing in the background while we worked.
Next we moved on to oral history techniques that are useful with pre-k and other young students. Download the discussion notes here: Oral History Projects with Pre-K As part of this activity, we also worked with Twisteez wire to make a representation of our favorite toy from childhood, and talked about 2D and 3D ways of working art into story telling and personal history.
Art & Nature Center director Janey Winchell made a guest appearance to talk about great ways to get young kids involved in and actively observing on a nature walk, complete with a suggested Nature Walk scavenger hunt.
School Programs manager Emily Scheinberg also led teachers on an investigation of Salem history in PEM’s collections.
Finally, we wrapped up the day with a pair of observation activities: examining and understanding beach erosion via milk and cookies, and creating ‘viewing frames’ to take on a walk through the neighborhood to encourage close looking, thinking about perspective, and even the basics of composition. These two activities were inspired by Corinne Demas’ The Disappearing Island and Dr. Seuss’ To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street.
Want more? Other classroom activities, read alouds, resources etc available for download here: handouts 2014