After my magical playground scrap sessions with Paulton Infants I knew I would be coming back at some point for some reason or another. I felt I’d really connected with the children and they kept asking when I’d be back. So Mrs Smith a while ago had told me about the school’s “Mart” week. (Haha I know, what’s with that?) It was half mathematics and half arts! Peculiar combo but whatever works! I wasn’t attracted to the Maths part as I HATE maths and will avoid numbers at all costs. You talk to me about money and I feel really uncomfortable! Is there such thing as ‘mathslexia’ maybe that’s what I’ve got… The creative aspect of the week, Mrs Smith the reception teacher/SENCO of the school had suggested I could come in and do something arty. Recently I have been really encouraging outdoor-ness and playing with nature as much as possible (I don’t like working inside myself) so I thought art and nature would be a cool idea.

Play England’s Jane suggested collecting natural stuff and bringing it all in to make some art. So I roped in my parents to help me gather lots of goodies from their gorgeous garden. Fuzzy stems, soft petals, rubbery weeds, velvety leaves, a few spiders that had made their way into the bags and loads more sticky/clingy/hard/wiry all-sorts.

I arrived with the bags and had planned to have all children in one class doing the activity in one go, possibly in the playground on top of a tarps sheet. But it ended up being a rotation of groups of 8 children from 2 classes worth, as soon as one group finished another would come out. We started with an explanation from me of what there is to make with and a good introduction to the natural materials would be to scan the pile of stuff by searching for bugs.

“Let’s play a game! Now who can find me some spidders?!”

“There’s one!” Squish.

“Don’t squish them guys, be gentle please”

I pick up a slug and balance its slimy body on the tip of my finger, “look what I’ve found”

“Eughhhhh!”

We crack on with the materials, not only flowers, plants and grasses but also, I’ve brought nicely textured paper, wool, yarn, scallop shells and pine cones. The shells were very popular, with some children using 4 at a time on one piece.
The teacher had given our session a pile of sticky boards which you peel the paper and its already glued, so the kids could just place things on without fussing with glue sticks.
I loved how the children weren’t just using the materials as decoration, but also as tools. The shells were great for mark making creating wonderful patterns. They enjoyed using their hands with the dry paint on their fingertips making interesting prints. Some children were working on the floor and so when stood on their sticky boards, made spontaneous patterns with the bottom of their shoes! First they’d complain that they’d ruined it and I would say “but no its made a wicked pattern! That could be part of the piece?” They’d perk up and continue.

I will post some photos as soon as school has sent me some, and I will show you the spectacular works of art…some quite minimalist (which is perfectly acceptable in my book, children shouldn’t be told that “that’s not enough so do more”) and some very packed on pieces that had a lot of time spent on them.

Its just nice to touch things, as Marc would say!

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