create (with kids): the life of a plant

By freshlyplanted - 9:27 PM

One of the most important things I tried to share with my students, besides the importance of self-expression, was that art does not happen in a vacuum. That all artists did- and still do- use art as a means to better understand, or react to, the world around them. For example, how Impressionist paintings developed as a reaction to the rising popularity of photography. Society thought photography could capture life better, so the Impressionists responded by demonstrating all photography couldn't capture: subtle nuances of color and light captured in defined, decidedly non-photographic brushstrokes. We wanted to do some capturing ourselves, by exploring the under-soil mysteries of the plants we love so dearly. 
This began awhile ago when we were planting seeds. "What are these?" Isia would ask. I would explain that they were babies that would grow up into Mommy's & Daddy's with babies of their own (which is really what vegetables are, right?). She was pretty baffled as to how a tiny seed could grow into a Mommy or a Daddy. So I thought it would be great to watch the process for ourselves. Then, a few months later, that's what we did. 

 We used a baby food jar, a few sheets of paper towels trimmed to the height of the jar then coiled up to fit inside, and some bean seeds. We carefully placed our seeds in-between the glass and the paper towels, then kept the paper towels moist. Since this jar previously contained a spider, we already had holes punched in the lid which let the moisture escape. (You could also just leave the lid off, especially if you trust your kiddos to not turn it over and dump it out like mine would). Within a few days you should see some roots escape, then the stalk. It's such an amazing process, even to a three-year-old. Isia wanted to check on it everyday*. Eventually it did need to escape from the jar- and be drawn, of course- but I'll share more about that later.

*Were she older, it would have been fun to keep a journal or a daily calendar of what it looked like each day. It could have even included predictions for the next day, or what she thought would happen next. However, she's still a bit too little for that.

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