Last year my students had a chance to explore Andy Goldsworthy but some outside factors moved us in a different direction. This year, I re-attempted a unit on Goldsworthy with my 3rd graders. My goal was to have them spend one day outside exploring the possibilities with nature, a couple class periods working with digital media and lastly, a couple more class periods planning out and creating a group project using nature. All was going excellent until mother nature decided that winter needed to show up in October but we made it work by cheating. Meaning, we brought nature inside because my students were so excited to do their projects, I couldn’t take it away from them.
I started with a prezi I created using Goldsworthy images or Goldsworthy-inspired artwork. We discussed who he was and the medium he used. We also discussed why we thought he used nature without any man made materials – this was an amazing conversation because students really snowballed into understanding that his work was always temporary. We talked about the organic shapes he used.They concluded that part of his artwork was nature doing “it’s thing” and taking back the materials he used either by wind, time or water. They also concluded that the artwork was originally beautiful but this last step, when “nature took it back” was the best part and actually finished the artwork.
On that first day, we went outside and I set them completely free – let go of control and simply requested that they make some art form or sculpture using nature without destroying it. At first students explored alone but then little by little, they began to come together in pairs and then groups to solve the problem I had given them. The initial results were great
From there, students used Mixala, an iPad app to learn about radial symmetry and created their digital masterpieces using the images of nature.
Their final step was to work as a group to determine a final naturalist piece of artwork. There groups were randomly assigned and they had to brainstorm what materials they would use and who would do what (if they even wanted to split roles). They also sketched out their idea and noted what kind of organic shapes they would use.
And then winter came. And it was cold. And my students didn’t have their winter gear quite yet because ya know, they transition into realizing how cold it is. But we adapt and make it work. I went out side in the frost bitten grass and collected every possible type of nature left in the playground. Unfortunately, this was limited but we work with what we have.
Students then worked in their groups to complete or adapt their original idea.
We finished with a gallery walk and shout outs to the different groups about what was successful in their work. This is jut a portion of the projects that came out of class. Students were thrilled they were able to finish their final planned project even though it was an adapted version. I plan to continue this study every year and build upon it.