Thursday, March 06, 2008

Squirrels and More Squirrels - Homeschool Focus in Art Today

Today we combined many learning experiences we have enjoyed over the past few weeks into one fun project. Our work in our nature notebooks as well as attention to poetry have both been dismal these past months as we have focused our time and energy on more core subject material - so today we had a bit of a "homeschool holiday", and killed a few birds with one stone, as the saying goes.

This winter we have learned much, and found pleasure in bird watching/feeding to accompany our lessens in zoology. Part of this time has been spent observing a pair of squirrels visiting each day climbing the tree near our deck and forming a plan to get onto our deck to carry out their mission of stealing all the bird food and goodies. For weeks we watched the sly pair sit in the tree, which was ohh too close for comfort, eying the variety of birds with keen interest and us even more as we watched through the sliding glass doors. But alas! Last week the shifty duo managed to carry out their scheme and haul away all the birdy booty, but not good enough... the gluttonous ground squirrels check back daily for any fresh supply, eager to hoard it all until the arrival of better spring weather.

Incidentally, for Christmas this past year, a good friend of ours who knows we collect Christmas Nutcrackers gave us a gift that was a bit of a fun twist on the theme - a giant, functional, silver squirrel nutcracker called Davy Crackit. Our jolly rodent has been the centerpiece on our table next to a bowl of nuts since being welcomed into the home, and the kids have enjoyed many a happy hour cracking nuts open with him (and making quite the mess).

A few weeks ago, we came across a wonderful book at the library that possessed the most intriguing artwork: Squirrels by Brian Wildsmith. The illustrations were bold and colorful, and I immediately recognized some of them created by the wet-on wet painting technique that is popular in Waldorf schools and that we used to do with frequency when Christopher & Elliot were younger. I was inspired to renew the acquaintance with our long lost pastime and whip out the paints.

Thus today the children were assigned to write a poem about our squirrel visitors and then we used the artwork in the book by Wildsmith to inspire us in our watercolor paintings using the wet-on-wet technique (although some of the kids deviated from it into more traditional watercolor work). We will place the finished paintings and poems together in each of the kid's nature journals.

It was a refreshing day of creativity!

Christopher's Squirrel
(although we think it looks more like a kid dressed up in a tiger suit!)

Gabriella's Swimming Squirrels on A Sunny Day Among the Reeds

Elliot's Squirrel Duo

Ruby's Fiery Red Abstract Squirrel

Mom's Rendition of Brian Wildsmith's Squirrels

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