Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Creating Three Forests

For the fourth week in our summer challenge we are studying the forest. I am really excited because I am going to finish up the week with two fun outings: World Forestry Center and the Trail of Two Forests. I wanted to start the week just thinking about what forests look like. We live next to quite a few forests so "A" has some schema, but we also looked at one of my favorite non-fiction books for some further inspiration: Forest Explorer by Nic Bishop.
It was time to begin creating forests of our own. These happen to be all one dimensional art pieces but you can do so many things here. I just had an idea for a shoe box diorama...hmm, will I find the time to complete one this week? Back to reality and what we have actually finished! The first forest was a mural. I took brown wrapping paper used for the post office (a roll is $1.50) and made a large rectangle down our hallway as the backdrop. Next, I scoured online for free coloring pages of any living thing I may find in a forest. I used for most of my images, but now their site seems to be down (I was so excited to share them as a resource). A note on printing out the pictures: make sure you check the size, so your mouse isn't the same size as your brown bear (took me a lot of  trial and error). Some of the animals we printed out were: birds, owl, bat, trees, mushrooms, fallen logs, leaves, ants, bees, raccoons, opossum, chipmunk, squirrels, wolf, bear, moose, skunk, porcupine, mosquito, chrysalis, butterflies, rabbit, deer, spiders, and wildflowers. Then I had "A" choose the placement of the animals, after I cut them all out. I thought that we would make a forest scene with a forest floor and trees in the back. I was excited to talk about sight perception and how smaller trees would be in the back because they appear farther away. Yeah, well "A" had a different design in mind. He was very upset there was no trail or stream so he had to run and get his markers to add them in. Then he put the coloring pages strewn all about. I have to say it probably looks cooler his way, rather than mine! I was surprised that my background paper was not big enough for all of our additions so we had to make some choices, our opossum hanging upside down didn't make the cut, among other things. Once everything was in place it was time to decorate. We used markers and some oil pastels. After three days the masterpiece was complete. He used a great mix of using realistic and abstract colors.

Since "A" is so fond of using color I found a cool idea for a colorful, forest collage at First Pallette for our second forest scene. They have many variations of the collage for ideas, but I chose it to fit our forest theme. After printing out their tree template you just look for creative paper to put it on. I used what I had lying around: origami paper, cut up present bags, and magazines. They recommend cutting out grass and a pond as well. I added a mushroom for good measure. Once you have glued down the collage I let each of us pick four animals to add to the scene from online coloring pages. "A" chose a bear, rabbit, duck for his pond, and a moose. I chose a bear too, a deer, a chipmunk, and an owl.
"A's" finished collage
My finished collage
We have decided to tape our collages together for a huge collaboration piece.
For some further learning, we went to the University of Illinois for a walk in the woods. This is a great interactive flash video where you learn about the forest. This takes a good 30 minutes to complete and I had to narrow down the amount of nature field notes he watched (an added feature). Due to time and we not having some of the animals featured (lightening bugs) we cut our viewing short. Vocabulary is high, so it may be better geared towards upper elementary-but my five year old loved it. He had to pause it to tell me about conks and how interesting they were (didn't know about them myself until watching the video). When we learned about lichen and how it is made up of fungi and algae we had a text-to-text connection from another one of my favorite non-fiction titles: How To Clean a Hippopotamus by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. It makes a mama proud when I ask, ""A" what is that called when living things help each other out?", and he responds with "symbiosis". After viewing the video, click on Fun Places and then have your child (or you) make the third forest scene by clicking on My Woods. This is a computer game where you can change the background to different photographs of forest scenes and then add cartoon features like: mushrooms, snake, owls, squirrels, and more. You can change the size of the cartoons and then print out your finished picture.

"A's" printed picture from the computer.

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