April hath put a spirit of youth in everything. (Sonnet XCVIII)”
― William Shakespeare
Nature is often the backdrop and the inspiration for what we do at ART IN HAND. The emergence of spring always fills me with feelings of exuberant awe and wonder coupled with a calm reassurance that the joy her warmth and beauty brings each year can always be relied upon.
Young children respond similarly to the cues of spring, and these projects celebrating the signs of birth, rejuvenation, and the delicate beauty of nature’s creations are among my favorites.
Our students, ages 1.5 – 4, had fun collecting soft things to build cozy nests (and squeezing and pouring their own glue in the process). Then they experimented with feathers as tools for painting on various surfaces, creating delicate brush strokes quite different from those created with a standard paintbrush.
For more artful inspiration from nature and ideas for more springtime art explorations with your kids, I invite you to read my article originally published in Washington Parent Magazine in April 2008.
This lovely book written by Joanne Oppenheim and illustrated by Jean and Mou-Sien Tseng
inspired life-sized art, as we posed like trees and got to stretch our limbs as we drew and painted on large paper posted on the wall. Working large, on a vertical surface, makes the act of drawing and painting very much a gross motor (rather than fine motor) activity. The arms move from the shoulder down to the hand, and the entire trunk is engaged for balance as children paint in a standing or squatting position.
Have you seen trees? High trees, wide trees, reaching-to-the-sky trees….
Here’s a little photo gallery of some of our busy nesters and some of the many delightful nests they created in our classes recently.
Nothing like baby animals to bring out the nurturing side in us humans, and toddlers and preschoolers are no exception. The essence of that nurturing spirit is captured literally and symbolically in the concept of the nest. And the act of nesting itself, creating a warm, protective environment in which a new life can grow and emerge enveloped by its parents and the safe haven they so carefully crafted, is truly captivating for young children, as they identify with the babies in the scenario and also get to try the parental role on for size.
Toddlers and preschoolers are natural collectors…
… and gluers…
And as you can see, highly invested in creating their own unique nests.
An ambitious five year old got busy with scissors to create his own chipmunk from construction paper and flower petals (for eyes) to live in his nest.
I just love these nests, and look forward to seeing them emerge each spring!
As we kick off another spring session, I wanted to share with you all an article I wrote for Washington Parent magazine a few years back. I hope it inspires you to make the most of the creative possibilities that surround your wherever you are.
Washington Parent: The Art of Springtime
Spring just may be my favorite time of year for collecting stories and unique materials to share with my little students. I guess the spirit of growth and possibility and new discoveries that accompanies springtime is the perfect context for exploring the possibilities of creating with materials.
There is still time to register for Spring classes that start NEXT WEEK in Alexandria and Falls Church. Space is limited! Registration for Summer classes is also currently underway in the City of Alexandria and those are filling very quickly as well.
Herndon friends, remember that a second Spring Session at the Herndon Community Center will begin at the end of April, and regitsration for these classes is currently underway as well. Hope you’ll join us.
Spring Classes Coming soon to a community center near you! Great sensory and creative fun GUARANTEED!!
- Sping classes at the Herndon Community Center start THIS FRIDAY, March 9. It’s not too late to register if you haven’t done so already. Note: prices listed in the brochure are incorrect, but prices listed in the on-line system are correct.
- Registration for the Spring session at the Falls Church Community Center is also under way. Those classes begin the week of April 9.
- Registration for Spring AND Summer classes at the Durant Center in Old Town Alexandria begins March 28 for residents of the City of Alexandria, and March 30 for non-residents. These classes fill quickly, so I recommend registering early to get your desired time slot!