Natural Art Like Andy Goldsworthy


Andy Goldsworthy is a name you should know. Seriously. You’ll want to know him more after reading this. Andy Goldsworthy land art is not only beautiful contemporary art, but it’s tailor made for early childhood education.

While reading the article Preschoolers as Eco-Artist by Triada Samaras and Janis Strasser, I read about how children used rocks, sticks, and other nature objects to make artwork. Perhaps this not a new idea for a preschool teacher. I mean, I see children play with dirt and they call it “art.” We tell the children “yes,” so as not to break their fledgling emotional development.

But along comes Goldsworthy, who is mentioned in the article, but who I was first introduced to in my graduate program. His work is not only mesmerizing and a visual feast, but you’ll be inspired to teach your children about natural artwork. Andy Goldsworthy art utilizes using sticks, rocks, branches, leaves, water and ice looks to make unbelievable and captivating.

Here is some eye candy for you


71NK2CtNhkLYou probably never knew that ice, rocks, leaves and wood had so much artistic potential. Absolutely stunning composition and art. Preschool teachers have destinations for children’s learning domains, but now there are pinnacle examples of natural artwork.

In creating this artwork, children can learn new words, describe textures, and even bring in other materials to create original artwork. Of course, all of Goldsworthy’s work took large amounts of time, patience, and work. Still, our kiddos can attempt some level of this creative expression in our classroom?

And, yes, although Goldsworthy admits that most of his artwork is temporary, there is a teaching and technology opportunity for children. Snapping a picture not only ensures that the child’s art piece will last forever, but imagine the children’s joy when they share their work with their family.

I’m sure there are some adults out there that want to try this out on their own! If I’m at the beach, I’m going to forget about the sand castle and try out one of these art pieces.

If you’re interested in learning (and seeing) more of work, checkout out some Andy Goldsworthy books.








Bag of Tricks: Paper Plates

Bag of Tricks - Paper Plates-04

Paper plates are a versatile resource for preschool teachers.  I’ll show you one activity I know: paper plate fish.

2 paper plates

Get two plates.

Put the two faces together.

Cut out a triangle piece, then put the pieces to the side.  The gap is the mouth.

Staple the two plates together, but leave a space at the other side.

Put the triangle pieces inside, then staple, making a fish tale.

Color in the fish.

Enjoy, and don’t forget to do the other side.

Okay, it’s not the same.  In fact, this was my first coloring attempt.  I call it my Aztec Warrior Guppy!

Bag of Tricks: String

Bag of Tricks - String-04

You don’t need a fancy, sparkly, technological, pricey, multitasking toy to have a quality learning experience for a preschooler.  Most of the time, the best teaching material is how you use the items around you.  Teachers call this “being resourceful.”  Allow me to demonstrate.  Here’s some string.


String – or yarn – that I found in my house has loads of learning experiences built right inside.  It is up to you and your students to unlock them.  I’ll share with you a little bit from a past circle time:

Teacher: Boys and girls, please place the string on your lap.

Students: (place string on lap)

Teacher: Look at me with your eyes and watch me.  (Places string on ground).  This is my string and it is magical.  I can make this string into any shape I want.  Watch me first. (Makes circle).  This is a circle.  Can you copy my circle?


Students: (making circles)

Teacher: Very nice boys and girls.  I see lots of beautiful circles.  Okay, everyone wiggle their string out and put back on your lap.

Students: (wiggles string in different directions, then places on lap)

Teacher: First, watch me with your eyes. (Makes a square).  This is a square.  Can you copy my square?


Students: (making squares)

Teacher: You guys are so awesome.  These are wonderful squares.

Continue making some other shapes.  Once your children have the hang of it, you can start expanding the activity to other shapes like…

DSC05482A banana… or a really, really, really old phone!

DSC05486You can also use your hand – or bear claw – and push the yarn between your fingers…

DSC05487...and then pull back and reveal an outline of your hand.

Now, if you look back, my square is not perfect.  Well, your preschooler’s first attempts won’t be perfect either.  The point is not perfection.  It’s about having fun and getting as close as you can.  They’ll get better as their fine motor skills develop (then, they’ll start making their own creations).

String, who knew?


This comes via my master’s graduate program.  My professor asked everyone to make a Flibber.  Don’t know what that is? Don’t worry.  No one did.  That was the point.  While everyone was making Flibbers, there were observers watching us make the item.  The observer’s job was to decide how the students learned.  You know.  Are you a visual learner?  Are you a tactile learner?  There are others.  Here’s a link to the Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences and you can read up on the kinds of learning styles.

I took a photo of how to make a Flibber. You’ll be very, very surprised by how this turns out… if you can find newspaper!  Great “shock and awe” activity for the kiddos.


Flower Power!

What do you think is the number one thing I teach in my classroom?  If people know my background, you might say “Of course! You mostly teach letters, numbers, literacy, shapes and colors?”  Nope.  Other people – mostly from my hometown – might say “Are you teaching them about computers and cameras?”  No, but I do take a lot of pictures.

The number one thing I teach in the classroom revolve around emotions and how we handle them during social situations.  And, when I’m not teaching emotions and social skills directly, I am reinforcing the behaviors everyday.

One of the best trainings that I ever received – which has had the greatest impact on me as a preschool teacher – is CSEFEL.  Okay, here’s the long name: Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (I had to go to the website and copy – paste) For the sake of my weary fingers, we’ll just call it CSEFEL from now til the end of time.

CSEFEL shares how preschool teachers can teach children about their emotions and, for my classroom, that starts with Feeling Flowers.  That probably sounds all fuzzy, warm and cuddly.  Hah! Anything but.  First, I show the children the Feeling Flowers.  Then, when the children stop laughing at the large man holding paper flowers on popsicle sticks, I get into teaching.  There are 10 flowers (maybe 12 on the website). Each flower has one emotion, such as happy, sad, mad and so forth.  Let me give you some situations:

Happy Flower: “I like how you’re giving the snail some grass to eat.  You’re being really nice.”
Sad Flower: “Where did the snail go?…. huh?… you ate what?”

Happy Flower: “I really like your drawing.  You used three colors: red, blue, and green.”
Mad Flower: “I know you’re mad that he drew on your picture, but that doesn’t mean we color his clothes… or his face.”

Happy Flower: “Aw-right! We made it to the bathroom!  Whew, that was close.”
Embarrassed Flower: “Ohhhhh! Accident.  The block area is closed boys and girls.”

Whatever the situation, I will show a feeling flower to show children how they’re feeling.  They’ve only been alive for three or four years.  Everything is a new experience and this includes experiencing happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, and all kinds of new feelings.  Teachers teach, and teachers need to teach children what emotions are and how we handle them.

So, you do this: “Hey, when you saw that he drew on you’re paper, you got really mad (show mad flower). When we’re mad (show mad flower) we can tell teacher about what happened.  We can work together to make things better!”

Children can learn a lot of things when we talk.  But, when we talk and show something, they learn better.  Like, you can tell someone about a banana, apple, or orange.  But, for someone who has never seen it, it’s much better to just show them.  When you show a child a feeling flower, you’re showing them the expression on their face.  This is a great teaching tool and lays the foundation for teaching emotions.  There’s more and I encourage checking out the CSEFEL website here.  There’s all kinds of good stuff there.  So, when you get all mad flower because children are eating snails and giving face tattoos, you have some teacher tools to work with.

Ahhh….that’s relaxing flower goodness.