Fourth and fifth grade students at Oxbow and Brooks Elementary were in for a treat! Knowing they were going outside they were bursting with excitement and energy. I had set up this lesson by introducing the children to the art of Andy Goldsworthy, a unique Scottish artist who creates sculptures entirely made from nature. They were fascinated to watch him string a trail of golden leaves through an emerald green forest or create huge driftwood structures that slowly floated off into the sea when the tide came in. Eagerly they broke into groups or worked with a partner setting out their leaves, sticks, acorns, apples or pine cones into radial designs and delightful 3D sculptures around the school. Rarely have I seen them this engaged in a lesson, rushing to nearby trees to gather crimson colored leaves or picking dandelions to add to their creations. With the eyes of an artist, they would step back to survey their work, then run over to see what another team was doing, full of eager enthusiasm as the works slowly evolved and developed into finished sculptures. With only an hour long art class, I often don't get the luxury of time to debrief - yet with one class, we were able to take a few minutes to reflect on the day's experience. After surveying the finished projects all around the school, I queried the class... What was the best thing about this project? What was the most difficult? What did you notice about working together? What would you do differently? Every hand in the room shot up as each student had a chance to share. Wow!
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