Eco Art a la Carte concepts can be adjusted to meet any group’s needs, goals, and abilities. Developing participants’ relationship to our natural world can happen in a variety of ways and from short experiences to in depth explorations.
The best experiences connect to existing agendas for the target groups, so I work with teachers and group leaders to develop workshops and programs that make sense for them.
Eco Art for Preschool Audiences:
My objective in working with preschool students is to encourage that connection with nature as part of the most basic vocabulary. Introducing natural materials, close observation of the natural world, and an appreciation for the beauty and value of local landscapes can happen so simply at this age, and in my opinion, can set the stage for life-long habits and understanding.
Process: There are several projects that work for this age group, but the basic format for the workshop will be mostly consistent, and incorporates: Beginning Circle, Group Discussion, Exploring Materials, Project Introduction, Outdoor art-making, Closing Circle.Sample Workshops for Preschool
Exploring our snowy, quiet landscape
Who lives right outside our window in the winter? We begin by sharing the book, “Once There was a Tree”, that identifies many visitors to one space throughout the seasons, and concludes with the thought that nature is a shared space. We brainstorm ideas for our local creature inhabitants.
What if we created a special shared space outside? Students use natural materials to create a group circle sculpture in the snow.
Creating spaces for animal and insect neighbors
This workshop is designed for an introduction to collaboration in art making. We begin with a storybook identifying many animal characters, and we discuss the kinds of homes local animals need. Proceeding outside, we then work in pairs or small groups to construct homes from natural materials.
Garden Play Space
Creating a self-service art & nature exploration space for all seasons
Designed as a first step for a long-term educational opportunity, students use gardening tools, soil, plants, seed, and wild natural materials such as bark, sticks, grasses, nuts, and more to lay out their own “wild” nature play space. We begin with an indoor circle group discussion, and an inspiring picture book, envisioning what kind of space to plan. Outdoor activity quickly follows, with small groups designing adjacent areas. Our closing circle discusses next steps, and what could happen in each season. The goal is to create a space that can be added to during “free” outdoor play time.
Kindergarten- Grade 2 Audiences: Introducing Wonder
The early school years are opportunities to appreciate the natural world, and to set a pattern or habit for how we interact with and understand our immediate environments. So the focus for these experiences is on observing, asking questions, experimenting with simple building and design concepts, working both as individuals and as a group, reflecting, and celebrating/sharing the amazing ingredients and ideas we’ve discovered.
Sample workshops Pre K-2
Making Art with Nature
Combining environmental sculpture with the art of collaboration.
The workshop begins with a walk outside, stopping to examine closely and discuss various plants, trees, animal signs, and materials. Student teams locate a site for their sculpture and begin constructing with various natural materials. Further grade-appropriate design, goals, and construction instruction helps teams to plan, negotiate, and develop their sculpture. The workshop includes a group tour and discussion. If time allows, students create individual drawings of their artworks.
Story, Creatures, and Sculpture
This inquiry-based program begins with an inside book-sharing and discussion about local animals and insects. Who lives right outside our window in the winter? What if we created a special shared space outside? Students then go outside and use natural materials to build a group sculpture circle. As we work, we notice the materials, their textures, aromas, shapes.
Transforming recycled containers into planters and imagining what will grow
The group begins by discussing plants, time, and design elements. Students then design and build colorful containers made from recycled materials. They combine of natural materials, planted seeds and/or seedlings in the container, creating a small sculptural landscape. Each student then creates the first of a series of study or “scientific” drawings of their plant landscape. To complete the day’s workshop, each student paints a “prediction” of what each plant landscape might become over time.
Subsequent paintings and drawings of the plant as it grows can be collected into individual or group booklets.
Drawing Close to the Earth
Combining detailed observation, drawing, and discussion
The group walks outside discussing various elements of the local landscape and its plant, animal, and insect inhabitants. Students are given clipboards with paper and drawing tools. Students then locate a spot to settle in and begin to find the smallest ingredients to draw. As they work, we talk about the connections between the different small areas and natural elements. Each drawing will tell the story of that particular place. If time allows, the group can return to the classroom to add text about the elements they chose to draw, reflections on the experience, and the stories they found. These drawings and text can be combined into booklet and/or exhibit form.
Making books to store treasures gathered during a nature walk
This workshop begins with exploring sample scrapbooks and nature journals. Through a short nature walk, students then collect favorite leaves, grasses, and other materials and then construct simple scrapbooks. As we discuss what we’ve found, we’ll add in words and ideas that the materials inspire.
Grades 3-5 Audiences: Inviting Exploration
This age range incorporates the ideas above and takes them a step further, by beginning to make connections across disciplines, and incorporating research, writing, scientific inquiry, more advanced building techniques, and more team-based collaborations.
Sample workshops 3-5
New Hampshire Landscapes
Building habitats as sculpture
Applying visual art design concepts to research on our local animals and their habitats, students create small worlds for their chosen character. This project can involve several different materials, including recycled materials, papier mache, collage, clay, and found materials.
Recycled Landscapes: People, Houses, and Trees
Building sculptures with common recycle-able materials
Students explore and sort various materials, discussing various ways that items we use every day are packaged, and what kinds of things can be recycled. Students then select materials to work with and construct sculptural versions of people, houses, and trees creating recycled landscapes. Each work is given a title that tells the story of the selected materials.
Beginner Eco Art
Learning how to make art that has a message
We’ll talk about and create artwork about the environment we live in and how important it is for each of us to take care of it. We’ll take a nature walk, and create drawings and collages that will combine to form an exhibit that identifies the local landscape and its particular challenges. If time allows, the workshop can include creating a short video to accompany the exhibit.
Creating individual scrapbook/photo/drawing/writing books
Students construct basic nature journal books using a variety of recycled materials. Students then take the journals outside and combine close observation of nature with drawing, writing, and photography to begin to fill the pages.
Designing with Nature
Taking classroom art vocabulary outside
Using visual art elements such as line, color, symmetry, and pattern, students work in teams using natural materials to create three-dimensional collages in outdoor spaces. As the group project develops, students record their work in drawing and text form. Collages are photographed and collected with the text and drawing work into a group booklet.
Grades 6-12 Audiences: Deep Thinking, Inspiring Action
Middle to high school students are ready to take on some real world challenges. We consider, discuss, and interpret local issues, developing specific projects that will produce visible positive impact on their immediate environment.
Sample workshops 6-12
Assembling natural objects and ideas
Using visual art design concepts, students find, collect, and assemble natural materials, found objects, words, and collage materials into “shadow box” type formats. Using Joseph Cornell’s work as inspiration, these artworks combine commentary and description of a specific space.
Art, Nature, and Technology
Combining visual art, science, and multi media
Students work back and forth between traditional visual art media (drawing, painting, collage, photography), combining this with digital formats and written text to create and present a project based on their research and experience.
Eco Art Sketches
Brainstorming and creating ideas on using visual art to promote environmental awareness
This workshop blends writing, collaborative planning, and art-making into a school campaign addressing issues around ideas such as recycling, pollution, land use, etc.
Visions of a Garden
Imagining and designing a community garden space
Students work individually and then collaboratively to envision and design a visual and functional community garden for a public space. These garden visions can become proposals for actual garden projects that the group can then proceed to construct and plant, or they can stand alone as green space advocacy works.
Building lively sculptures that promote awareness of recycling, packaging, and consumption
After a discussion on recycling, packaging, and consumption, students select recycled materials from which to create a sculpture that communicates a related advocacy message.
Global Warming- What Can You Do?
Using visual art to highlight possible personal actions to address global warming
Students take on the role of an eco artist, working to assemble facts associated with climate change, to negotiate and plan local strategies, and to present these strategies through visual art making. This presentation could take one of many forms such as posters, videos, websites, sculptures, signs, paintings, ads in papers, etc.
Art on Site
Combining natural materials, design, and site-specific ingredients into individual sculptures
Using a variety of natural materials, students create artworks that respond and relate to their particular sites. Students then sketch the artworks and develop short texts that describe the work and the experience. Images and text along with photo documentation are collected into a book and/or exhibit
Multiple Visit Workshops
These workshops require 2 or more sessions, depending on the extent of the project and the number of students.
Nature Shelters: Homes, Characters, and Stories
Integrating literacy, art making, and nature study: Pre-K-Grade 3
Beginning by reading/discussing stories about animals, insects, and imaginary characters and their respective “homes”, students build shelters, made from natural materials, with their own stories in mind. The stories about their shelters are collected, recorded, and combined with photographs of artworks, creating a group storybook.
Designing and building an environmental art trail: Grades 3-6
Create a walk though Art Trail, with individual or group sculptures. Using an existing path (or an indoor space), this project engages students in the process of planning an experience of their landscape. Students will plan and build sculptures, made of local natural materials, which could include features for resident creatures.
Veggies and Flowers- Art in a Garden
Designing and planting a small community garden space: Grades 4-12
Design and plant a small community walk-through garden. As the garden grows, students observe and record, creating artworks that describe and/or celebrate the process, depicting the flowers/plants that grow. The artworks become products that the students sell or barter along with the vegetables, to plan for the garden’s next crop.
Creating artworks that highlight local pollution issues: Grades 6-12
Discuss different kinds of pollution and brainstorm positive alternatives we might create to replace that kind of pollution. The group works with natural materials and various media to create an artwork that highlights the problem, and a form (posters, video, exhibit, book, etc) to present the artworks.
The Art of Compost
Exploring the cycles and benefits of composting through visual art: Grades 6-12
Taking the science of composting into a visual art format, student teams build artful compost containers, then set up, observe, document, maintain, and harvest the resulting soil. As the project progresses, students brainstorm ways of presenting to the school/community the strategies, process, and results of composting.
Community Landscape- Murals and More
Creating a mural to describe the local landscape: Grades 6-12
Research the local landscape by walking, observing, sketching, recording the animals and insects that inhabit the space. Students develop the mural as a “catalogue” and advertisement for the life and activity life that happens right under their noses. This project can also be developed as an advocacy project for a local environmental issue/problem/challenge. It can include text as well as images.
Exploring Eco Art
Developing a group artwork with a local environmental message: Grades 6-12
Brainstorming, designing, building, and working together, the group initiates a community awareness-based project. The students implement an eco artist’s process involving research, negotiation, collaborative planning, multiple visual art tools, and communication avenues.
Workshops for Teachers and Community Learners
Intro to Eco Art
Make Art AND Make a Difference
Learn about Eco Art, a contemporary and exciting branch of environmental art. Workshop includes: a visual introduction to the field of eco art, citing a small number of key eco artist’s works; a visual and narrative presentation of eco art in education models citing several recently executed school group eco art projects; and a sample eco art project for teachers to experience in person.
Nature Sketchbook/ Nature Journals
Observing and recording local habitats
Take time to explore your landscape, observing closely, to create an image in various drawing media. The workshop will include several locations and multiple sketches, developing a visual trail of their interaction with nature.
Abstracting from Landscape
Looking at Nature with a different lens- Realism takes a day off
Experience nature through a guided walk, observation, and discussion. Then use acrylic paint to express the experience abstractly. The group will discuss elements in the landscape and the many ways that information might be transposed into an abstract image.
Garden experience, writing, and visual art
Connect creative writing and art with the experience of Nature. How have authors and artists expressed the experience of the natural world? What are we looking for when we go for a walk in the woods or garden? How can we express the value of wild, open, natural spaces? Use writing, journal drawings, painting, photography, and/or collage to express their reflections.
Focus in on the details
Locate the smallest ingredients in nature. Use digital photography to record miniature portraits, creating artworks that celebrate the complexity of our immediate landscapes. Projects can result in slide shows, power points, postcard, posters, and more.
Natural and Recycled Material Sculptures
Playing with “garbage”
Use humor, design, and anything else in the space to create individual and/or collaborative sculptures(indoor or outdoor). We will discuss ideas and concepts around the human relationship to the place we live and the products we create.
Making Art with Community Purpose
Developing an eco art project for your community
Assemble the ingredients you’ll need to incorporate a community environmental art project for your students. Workshop includes: concept development, research outlining, materials plan, community partners brainstorming, and sketch for presentation formats.
Schools and Nature Centers that Cynthia has worked with:
Amherst Elementary School, Nashua
Ashland Elementary School
Auburn Montessori School, Auburn
Bartlett Preschool, Bartlett, NH
Belmont Elementary School
Bethlehem Elementary School
Campton Park & Rec
Child and Family Development Center, Plymouth
The Children’s House, Littleton
Community Kids, Tamworth, NH
The Community School, Tamworth
Cornerstone Kids, North Conway, NH
Dacres, Dorchester, NH
Dunbarton Elementary School
Family Child Care of Madison, Madison, NH
Freedom Elementary School
Friends of the Arts Regional Arts Council
Geneva Point Center, Moultonborough, NH
Gilford Elementary School
Gilmanton Elementary School
Holderness Parks & Recreation summer program
Kimball Jenkins School of Art, Concord
LinWood Public School, Lincoln, NH
The Loon Center, Moultonborough, NH
Madison Elementary School
Mascoma Valley Regional High School, Canaan, NH
Moharimet Elementary School, Madbury
Montessori Children’s Center of Concord, Concord, NH
Moultonborough Central School
Newport Montessori School, Newport, NH
North Conway Day Care, North Conway, NH
Parkside Children’s House, Hopkinton
Pemi Youth Center, Plymouth
Pine Tree Elementary School, Conway, NH
Plymouth Park & Rec/APlus After School Program
Prescott Farm Environmental education Center
The Rey Center, Waterville Vallley
Russell School, Rumney
South Berwick Central School, South Berwick, Maine
Southwick School, Northfield
Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, Holderness, NH
Strafford Elementary School
Tilton School, Tilton
Wentworth Elementary School
Wink Tapply Playground Leaders
Whole Village, Plymouth
Young Readers, Plymouth
Conferences at which Cynthia has presented workshops for teachers:
2010 Nashua School District Professional Development Day
2010 Curious George Festival, Rey Center, Waterville Valley
2010 Annual Northeast Permaculture Convergence, Unity, Maine
2010 New England Consortium of Artist Professionals, Kimball Jenkins School of Art, “Layers of Learning” workshop for Teaching Artists
2010 Wink Tapply Parks and Recreation Training Day
2009 Kimball Jenkins School of Art, Workshop for Art Teachers
2009 NH State Council on the Arts, Arts in Education Conference
2009 Dacres Festival, Dorchester, NH
2009 Curious George Festival, Rey Center, Waterville Valley
2009 Wink Tapply Parks and Recreation Training Day
2009 Alton School District Teachers’ Workshop Day
September, 2008 NH State Council on the Arts’ Arts in Education Conference,
Highland Center, Bartlett, NH
October 2008 Vermont Alliance for Arts Education Conference,
Goddard College, Plainfield, VT
October 2008 New England Environmental Educators Conference,
Boston University’s Sargent Center for Outdoor Education, Peterborough, NH
2007 NH State Council on the Arts’ Arts in Education Conference
Boston University’s Sargent Center for Outdoor Education, Peterborough, NH
The Maine Learning Technology Initiative’s “Arts Innovation, and Creativity”
2008 Spring Teacher Leader Institute, Rockport, Maine
2008 Association for Experiential Educators Northeastern Regional Conference
Boston University’s Sargent Center for Outdoor Education, Peterborough, NH
2007 Audubon Expedition Institute of Lesley University’s The Great Turning
Education, leadership and Activism for a Life sustaining Civilization
Geneva Point, Moultonborough
2007 NH Art Educator’s Conference, Campbell High School, Litchfield
Want to hear more? Want to see sample workshops and programs?
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org