Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Out Your Window Study Handbook of Nature Study

Barb's most recent challenge asked us to look outside our window and note what we observe. I decided to set up a folding table in front of our window on a cloudy, gray, overcast (and chilly) day. We set the timer for 15 minutes. I thought this would give the kids time to overcome their initial attitude of "it's raining. And cloudy. And there is nothing to see."

View of the rainy, cloudy day from behind the kids.
My youngest, who was strongly opposed to even trying quickly overcame her initial reluctance and drew a really neat picture, full of observations. She drew the suet feeder we installed just last month. Then she drew a limb with all the little "pokey things" that come off it to make smaller limbs. She then changed that to how a tree grows. (Which in my mind is the same thing, but she wanted me to note that it was a different idea to her.)
(Sorry about the sideways image). 
My son also quickly got into the mood of the assignment. He drew the azaleas at the back of the yard and turned his pencil sideways to get the idea of the gray day.
My son's view out our window
My middle daughter had a much harder time overcoming her reluctance and sat there for the entire 15 minutes, drawing nothing. I finally sat down beside her and did a quick painting to try to give her an idea of how to proceed. Here's what I came up with.
My quickly done painting of the azaleas, the vines
behind them and the gray day. 
This finally motivated my middle daughter to put down the pear tree and the gray day.
my middle daughter's picture of the pear tree and gray day
I decided to make this a blog post rather than just a Pinterest post, because the process proved so valuable. My kids learned several things about art, such as how to leave things out that their eyes could see to focus the picture, how to depict the weather (with each coming up with their own ways of doing it), how to show that each thing in nature wasn't just one single color, but a multitude of different colors in the same range, and practice drawing trees (which I had to draw during college art classes because the instructor considered them such difficult things to draw.)

They also concentrated on nature for more than 15 minutes, observing and discussing things that didn't make it into their pictures, such as a cardinal that appeared on a fence post for one minute, a squirrel hanging upside down eating the suet feeder, and the colors inherent in each individual part of nature. I hope they learned that even on a gray, cloudy, cold winter day, you can learn something from nature.