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Become a Global Guardian

This term we have taken on a new subscription to ‘Global Guardians Project’, a monthly learning capsule which takes you all around the world. It is a perfect blend of inspiration and ideas for action regarding world sustainability issues and animal conservation. It is aimed at children aged 4-8 years, but I use it as a starting point to explore certain topics in more depth depending on what areas my own kids find interesting. We don’t tend to use their art ideas, instead finding projects to suit the ages of my own children who are 10 and 9.

You can find further information about the ‘Global Guardian Project’ by visiting their website: http://globalguardianproject.com/

Alongside the actual learning capsules, I have set up a ‘real-life’ group for my children, so that they can share their knowledge and complete engaging art projects on global themes with other children. The idea was two-fold, to give my daughter the social learning experience she wants, and to explore animal conservation which is deeply important to my son.

To begin, we downloaded the capsule on ‘Oceans‘. We learnt about the complex eco-system of our oceans, focusing on sea turtles and their particular plight. Although my children are pretty aware about the impact of rubbish, they were surprised to learn how much of it ends up in our oceans. We discussed the impact of plastic on marine life, which of course they found sad and shocking.

Taking action with my children felt like a really important part of this project. I wanted them to feel empowered and to know that they could make a difference. So this September we spent a day volunteering with the Marine Conservation Society and completed a beach clean at Warsash. Photos coming soon!

We are also taking part in The Last Straw, which sets the challenge to request ‘no straw’ in restaurants etc and also to share the challenge with others, which is why I’m telling you all about it!

In our ‘real-life’ group session on oceans we had a go at 2 types of printing: mono printing & collagraphs. The mono printing using glass didn’t work brilliantly on the day, but children are very forgiving and most used the materials to do their own kind of artwork. The collagraphs were very successful and definitely an activity I would recommend.

The idea is to use collage materials stuck onto a strip of card which give ocean textures. You then paint over the top with sea colours and print on paper or fabric. Our best prints were made on calico. One child in the group took theirs home and sewed a sea turtle on top, it was beautiful. You can also block or mono print sealife on top of the finished print for added effect.

 

The second learning capsule was focused on Brazil and the Amazon. We began our group session with a ‘sharing’ time and I was blown away by the amazing art and poetry some of the children had completed at home following the session last month on ‘Oceans’. Some children had some great books and knowledge to share on the Amazon too. I shared a beautiful book of photography with the group, which I totally recommend: ‘Rainforest’ by Lewis Blackwell.

We also looked at Henri Rousseau’s jungle paintings and recreated selected areas of his paintings in oil pastels. I set up a ‘free’ table too with some ideas and various materials and the children could then create how they wanted.

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Our group challenge this month was to research palm oil and attempt to be better consumers by eradicating 5 items containing palm oil from our shopping list. When we got home and looked in our cupboards, we couldn’t find anything containing palm oil, so we are doing OK on that front already.

Next month the focus is on Rwanda, I can’t wait for this one personally, it is such an interesting country and the focus will be on the plight of mountain gorilla’s, which should be really fascinating.

I’ve been thinking about the ‘Global Guardians Project’ a lot recently, and I honestly cannot think of a more important issue for young children to learn about. The Earth’s future is in our hands, and also in theirs. I think we all hear so much about endangered animals and the awful state of our world, but the difference with this particular project is that it focuses on the beauty that is all around us and the small actions we can all easily do to make a difference.

We ARE nature! Nature is our true home.

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Learning by heART 2

If you’ve read my first ‘Learning by Heart’ post you will have seen some examples of my children’s artwork. Both projects were done with some adult ‘scaffolding’. The modroc models were inspired by a lovely friend of ours, who made the most amazing volcanic landscapes with her children. The prehistoric pop art prints were carried out in a group learning session.

My kids loved the experience of new materials and techniques that I introduced to them. They were also really proud of the outcome. They had spent a lot of time on their models and it was great fun. It was really valuable learning.

However, both my kids do all kinds of creative things on their own, under the steam of their own motivations and this provides equally valuable learning opportunities, actually I’m going to go further and say better learning opportunities.

If I were to show you my son’s creations this week, I wonder how impressed you would be?

Here’s one of them. It’s a kind of outdoor oven, made from a cake box (see the smudge of cake icing!). He wanted to find out if he could melt a piece of chocolate using heat from the sun. He is waiting for a hot day to try it out, but typically the sun went into hiding this week.

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No adult interfered with the process at any point. From the idea to the execution, it was all T’s work (ok maybe Curious George helped inspire the idea). Many of us have this strange notion that ‘real’ learning can only be achieved if an adult is involved in the process. We are also really stuck on this idea that learning is all about the polished final outcome, whereas actually the process itself is where all the real learning takes place.

What looks like junk to anyone else, is seen as an opportunity by my son. If a package comes through our door, you would likely hear him say ‘Ooooo, I wonder what I could make with that?’ whilst holding the empty box or envelope aloft.

Most of it may look at first glance like the type of thing an adult might fob off with a cursory, ‘O’h that’s lovely dear’, and then quietly relegate it to the recycling bin. Whereas this is the real deal in my opinion, the activities we should be encouraging, giving time to, helping with (only when asked!) and finding ways to extend.

So that is why his solar oven will take pride of place, right next to his aardvark habitat.