Summer Time Art in the Montessori Classroom, Indoors & Out!

LITTLE CHILDREN, THE SUMMER GARDEN, AND CREATING ART GO TOGETHER VERY WELL! Just provide the art tools and see what happens.

All photos by Carolyn @ Magical Movement Company unless otherwise noted

We all know how much little children enjoy outdoor activities and gardening is probably one of the most popular in the Outdoor Classroom. Some children not only enjoy planting and maintaining the garden, they also love the harvest. And, drawing a still life of veggies is a great way to extend this activity even more! In the Montessori environment, children are given lots of activities to develop drawing skills from observing nature. In fact, Dr. Montessori included drawing from nature as part of the Art curriculum in the Preschool and School-age environment. Here's the link for a great wikispaces article about Montessori's approach to art & creativity in the children's education:Wikispaces Creativity & Montessori. As always, Montessori emphasized observation, not only on the part of the teacher, but as a way for the child to create from reality.  

"The sensory education which prepares for the accurate perception of all the differential details in the qualities of things, is therefore the foundation of the observation of things… it helps us to collect from the external world the material for the imagination." –Maria Montessori
One summer, when our Children's Garden harvest included a beautiful purple eggplant, the children thought we should make pictures of our harvest. (Children do love the color purple!) We took our Outdoor Classroom inside and set up a little still life of yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, and our beautiful purple eggplant.

Then, we took the still life to a special art table set up with fine tip ink pens (washable inks), colored pencils, regular pencils and special art drawing paper.

The 5 yr old pictured in the photo below, chose to write the names of the veggies she drew and I was delighted! Not only did she help plant the vegetable garden in the Spring, she was now drawing and even writing about this wonderful harvest! 

This was "Montessori in action" since this devoted little student was drawing from an actual piece of nature that she was very familiar with! We hear more from Dr. Montessori in this passage from her book, The Discovery of the Child :  
We do not give lessons in drawing and modeling, and yet many of our children know how to draw flowers, birds, landscapes, and even imaginary scenes in an admirable way” (Montessori, 1978, p. 280).
Sometimes this wonderfully accurate drawing ability exhibited by the young child in the Montessori environment shows up all of a sudden and the adults are delighted! Yet, this carefully prepared Montessori environment has been fostering skills in fine motor and careful observation since the child was a toddler!

The young child has been manipulating objects (especially picking them up with the pincer grasp important for drawing/ writing) and observing nature (beautiful fresh flowers, classroom pets, and of course the outdoor classroom Children's Garden) from day one in the Montessori environment. Then, there are the  aesthetically pleasing and colorful Montessori materials that are found throughout the curriculum, including the color tablets, geometric insets, short bead stairs, Botany cabinet...just to mention a few! You can read more about how ART is organic to the Montessori classroom at this past post of mine by clicking the link: The Elements of Art: Organic to the Montessori Classroom! 

Our 5 yr old in the above photos valued her picture so much that she went on to place it in an art frame and then she decorated the frame with sequins, and other collage items!

Since the children so enjoyed the colors from out garden harvest, I decided to place the veggies in a fancy bowl (Thrift store find) and this made it very inviting for creative drawing. This led to a fun exploration of still life settings of fruit, veggies and flowers from famous artists and so I displayed these prints near the drawing table where our still life was set up. 

 "Still Life with Apple" by Paul Cezanne

Over the weeks at the end of the summer, we changed the objects in the still life that was displayed at our special drawing table and so the children had many fresh ideas to contribute to the creative juices flowing in our classroom!

I just had to include these amazing little paper creations inspired by experiences the children had in the Outdoor Classroom. 
Looking through a clay pot:
 Actual experience & Art Creation

Tadpoles hatching out of frog eggs:
Actual experience & Art creation

Hauling with a wheelbarrow in the children's garden:
Actual experience & Art creation

I am always delighted that you are reading this post at my blog and hope you got some useful information. Feel free to leave a comment in the section below!

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