We have been very fortunate to have Liz McMahon working with our school for the last few years with the Dun-Laoghaire Rathdown Creativity in the Classroom project. https://dlrcreativityintheclassroom.wordpress.com/
For the last two years, she has been bringing her skill, enthusiasm and creativity to collaborate with us on the Forest Friday project. Here she explains an aspect of what she sees as how art is more than just the end result.
The Power of Art
Art as a subject in primary schools can sometimes be seen as decoration or illustration.
During our sessions in the forest on Fridays I would like the children to realise that art is a way to organise their thoughts, to spend time noticing, to be able to share ideas, and to experiment. It is a way to communicate with themselves and with others. Just as talking is not restricted to the professional speaker, art/creativity spreads across a spectrum of circumstances.
Here is an example –
During session 2 the second class in my group were building a den together.
The den had to be:
1) Big enough for someone to sit in
2) Comfy enough for someone to sleep in
3) Have a beautiful view from the entrance.
The group of 10 children chose a site and discussed what they needed to make a start. They set off collecting large branches with lots of enthusiasm, energy and group work.
They got a good basic structure up by using a wall and a tree for support. This part worked well with 10 builders but I could see that they needed a bit of time to think and plan the next stage as everyone was busy doing their own thing and there were a few clashes.
We used drawing for the children to organise their thoughts. They worked away on their drawings not worrying about technique or prettiness. Then they each shared ideas by explaining through their drawings. One child decided not to show his drawing but explained his ideas.
There were amazing ideas, a skylight to be able to see the leaves of the trees during the day and to see the night sky, a shelf to put food of wild garlic, beach leaves and wood sorrel on, a clothes line and beds made of soft leaves.
When they returned to work on the den they worked really well as a group.