My summer of teaching has finally come to a close! It was incredibly busy and also tremendously rewarding. I got to work with a wide range of students, ranging in age from 5 to 16. Each week I was challenged with a new class (out of my 9 classes, I only repeated a class once) and a new group of students. This year I really focused on applying my knowledge of constructivist education that I studied so intensely in my first year of grad school. What this means is, I tried to let the students construct their own knowledge, rather than solely teaching a how-to craft. I led art-making experiences which were more open-ended than I had in years past, allowing for the kids to discover new possibilities. I found that this was especially rewarding for the teens, who really appreciated the freedom to express themselves.
The class I was most excited to try out was the one titled, “Nature Nurtures Creativity”. I got the title from the book, Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. The class was named after Chapter 7, which makes the case that children learn better and are more creative when they are immersed in nature. In this class, which I taught two different weeks with both 9-12 year olds and 5-9 year olds – students used natural materials combined with conventional art materials to create works of art. In the 9-12 class, we constructed robin’s birdhouses with sticks and plywood, and made looms out of sticks and wove natural material and scrap fabrics. In the 5 to 9 year old class, we did leaf rubbing and printing, and created sun catchers with sticks, tissue paper, and leaves. All of the natural materials were collected by the students around the premises of the Visual Arts Center. I’ve attached some fun photos of student work!