Reflecting on Andy Goldsworthy With Grade Three

Back in June, I had the opportunity to teach grade three for Deb.  I created an experience that combined viewing, planning, and sculpting in nature and writing.  The students were over the moon with excitement and expressed some brilliant ideas.  I think I’ve written about a number of different ways that Andy Goldsworthy’s work has inspired my teaching…here’s one.

Grade Sevens built Goldsworthy-inspired sculpture over Easter holidays, documented their work and then wrote haiku poetry based on their sculptures in nature.

When I step into landscape of any variety, I am always hyper aware of the textures, light and the impact of one element upon another.  It really drives me as an individual in relationship with my natural world.  Andy Goldsworthy sculpture is very beautiful in its complexity and its consideration of natural contexts.  The manipulation of found materials is inspiring…the challenges seem impossible, but he finds solutions.

You may wish to try this type of project with your students, either in the spring or autumn, no matter the grade. Nice weather days are best.

I began by sharing a movie with the students.  There are several on YouTube.  Select something that is age appropriate, so, take the time to screen for yourself.  It is a good thing to learn about the artist so that you can support ideas/concepts and philosophy with the children, appropriate to age.

I asked each child to select a partner before we left the classroom. The students and I went out into the school yard and very automatically, they began their search for materials.  It was a lovely experience.  I photographed each sculpture as they completed it and once all were documented, we returned to the classroom.  There, I taught them the structure for a Cinquain and then they went to work responding to their sculptures, using words.  It is a magical experience when learning takes place despite anything you say as a teacher.  Inspire them.  Give them the tools and materials.  Then, watch that magic happen!  Congratulations, Grade threes!











Winter Provides a Blank Canvas

I was writing about slowing down…observing…wee things.

I posted this photograph.

P1140599Lots has happened since those two mice made tracks in the fresh snow.

A rabbit enters into the picture.

A rabbit enters into the picture.


Either a crow or a magpie seeks out mouse activity at the location.


More mice.

I often think about the patterns, light and colour in nature.  No need to go tripping into the mountains to see the remarkable possibilities or to experience the narratives.  They surround us.

Alex Mulvenna gave me, as a gift, Andy Goldsworthy and David Craig’s book, Arch.  The year she left my class, I had been telling the students how much I would dream to own an Andy Goldsworthy coffee table book.  The gift is a treasure to this day.  Alex is now a woman.

Looking back, I remember the poetry assignment that I shared with my students every year in language arts.  Our school edges on a ridge and below, stretches the Bow River and an exquisite valley…Fish Creek Park links with a wildlife corridor that stretches all the way to the mountains.  We are very blessed.

Some time around May, every year, I assigned the students haiku poetry, but the hitch was to base their poetry on natural sculpture that they had constructed in the river valley.  I spoke to them about the sculpture’s fragility and that it must incorporate the potential for falling victim to the wind, rain, collapse…that purely natural elements to the location needed to be employed.  The project, designed to overlap Easter vacations, seemed, from my end at least, to be consistently successful.  I also asked that the students archive their project.

I continue to have two of these projects out in my studio.  I cherish them.  I cherished all of them.

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