During a recent trip to the Denver Art Museum, I happened upon a wonderfully colorful, vibrant, beautiful and thought provoking interactive installation entitled Aqua Terra. The artist, Francisco Alvarado-Jaurez took paper bags from the grocery store to create tropical sea plants and a landscape inspired by his home, Honduras. The description stated that Alvarado-Jaurez felt this piece highlights the many different ways of recycling and using everyday objects to create art. When I saw the art installation, I immediately thought what a wonderful project for a classroom to take inspiration from and create their own. The installation also invited viewers to participate in the creative process by adding a creature, note or original art to the installation.
There are so many great learning opportunities to stem from a project like this: recycling, taking care of the Earth, learning about the environment, becoming scientists and observing your surroundings, and cooperation.
Exploring the different themes:
- Discuss the concept of recycling: the process, how it works, why it is important.
- Ask children/ families to bring in materials from their homes. It could be anything from paper grocery bags, bottles, cans, to natural elements found in their yard that the class will repurpose.
- Look for items in the school that can be recycled and repurposed.
- Discuss the process of recycling and the concept of turning something old into something new
- Explore and discover the environment: the school, the city. Is there an ocean, mountain, desert near by? What trees, flowers, flora and fauna are surrounding the school?
- Create and design a piece of artwork
- discuss a plan for the classroom’s piece. Does the class want to use one type of material or multiple? Does the class want to assign roles and specific jobs or let everyone work on what they want?
- Create science or art journals
- Research different art mediums and environments
Family engagement component
- Ask families to contribute to the piece, just like Aqua Terra. Provide some guidelines for parents and families to follow
If you are in a Jewish classroom you can incorporate Jewish values and themes. Here are some values you can discuss and highlight:
- Tikkun Olam: Repairing the Earth
- Shemirat Ha’adamah: Protecting the Earth
- Bal taschit: Do not destroy or needlessly waste