Fox Valley Montessori School

Nature & Art Blog

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At Fox Valley Montessori School, Art and Science are part of our regular curriculum and core classroom activities. Beautifully prepared classrooms along with a large outdoor playground offer ample opportunities for naturally occurring learning opportunities. You can provide opportunities for your child to learn from nature this summer while they’re home—with a few prompts, you can help them cultivate an awareness of life cycles, textures, sounds and more.

Outdoor spaces are full of interesting subjects and views, from colorful flowers to interesting limb structures which can awaken and inspire artwork. To encourage your child to use the yard or any special place in nature as an art studio, have them choose a safe and quiet spot that allows them to work with uninterrupted focus. This could be a corner in the yard, or a bench or chair placed underneath a tree. Make sure to provide coloring paper, a clipboard or an easel if you have one at home, pencils, crayons, or pastels. Perhaps your child would prefer to make photographs of what they have discovered as well.

Ask your child what kind of changes he or she can observe during the day. Does the garden look the same in the early morning as in the late afternoon? Where is the sun casting it’s shadows at different times of the day? How did the flower look in the morning different than later in the day?

The changes are most visible to a child if given the opportunity to watch the entire life cycle of a plant. Try planting seeds indoors and transplanting them into your garden when they are seedlings, your child can observe the plant from seed to harvest, or from seed to seed. Furthermore, learning may take place regarding the needs of a plant, how to take care of a plant, and your child may become increasingly aware of the beauty and of our interconnection with nature.

To widen the experience regarding the use of media and the implementation of nature itself in the art process, encourage:

+ Picking and drying small flowers in a flower press, which can be part of the work that is created
+ Use marigolds, indigo, beets, or berries to create natural dyes
+ Use sand and/or dirt mixed with water for painting
+ Collecting leaves, pinecones, grasses, seeds, rocks, etc. to add texture or to create three-dimensional pieces of art or collages

Your garden is the perfect place to display some of the created pieces as well. It could create a focal point and complement the landscape. Creating opportunities for your child to display their art in the garden will increase feelings of ownership and accomplishment. Your child could create and display:

+ Decorative stepping stones
+ Painted planting containers
+ Gazing balls
+ Scarecrows
+ Bird feeders
+ Weather stations with wind socks, wind chimes, rain gauges, sundials etc.
+ And so much more…

If your yard is sprinkled with yellow little dots, here is a recipe to make a natural dye play-dough with dandelions:

+ A big handful of dandelions
+ 1 cup of boiling water
+ 2 cups of flour
+ 1/3 cup of salt
+ 2 t baby or vegetable oil
+ 1-2 t cream of tartar

Bring the water to a boil and remove from heat. Mix the water with the dandelions in a blender. Add oil, salt, cream of tartar. Give it a good stir to dissolve the salt. Add 2 cups of flour in the mixture and stir well until fully mixed. Take out of the blender and mix with your hands. Add flour if too sticky. Add water if dough is dry or not holding together.

Nature is an excellent teacher (and so are ours!). Contact us today to learn more about Fox Valley Montessori and what you can expect for your child during a typical school day.

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