Defining Nature Through Art

Grades 6-8 Arts & Literature, Environment/Nature Lesson or Unit Plan

This lesson will teach students how to connect the various organisms within nature through an artistic lens. Students will develop their own definition of nature, and conceptualize this definition through Chinese landscape paintings or poetry. They will leave this class with the ability to interpret natural elements within Chinese landscape paintings and Chinese literature.

Title: Defining Nature Through Art
Author: Deirdre McEvoy
Subject Area: Life Science/Biology
Grade Level: 6-8
Time Required: Two 45-minute periods
Standards: S2 Life Science Concepts
S4e Demonstrates an understanding of the impact of science
S5b Uses concepts from Science Standards 1 to 4 to explain a variety of observations and phenomena
(Source:http://schools.nyc.gov/offices/teachlearn/documents/standards/science/index.html)
Keywords/Vocabulary: nature
landscape painting
prose/ poetry
imagery
blossom
moonlight
Essential Question(s):
  • How can we define nature?
  • What is in nature?
  • Can nature be different in different countries or ecosystems?
  • How does nature make you feel?
  • Why is it so important for humans to protect nature?
Learning Objectives/Goals/Aims:
  • To be able to define nature and give examples of things that are in nature.
  • To be able to observe things that are a part of nature.
  • To be able to create a picture or poem that describes or depicts their observations and feeling of nature.
Introduction: This lesson will teach students how to connect the various organisms within nature through an artistic lens. Students will develop their own definition of nature and conceptualize this definition through Chinese landscape paintings or poetry. They will leave this class with the ability to interpret natural elements within Chinese landscape paintings and Chinese literature.

The students in sixth grade honors science at this school learn all life science or Biology. The curriculum moves from learning about cells and their functions to specific organisms and their characteristics and interactions with eachother. To transition from the Fungus Kingdom to the Plant Kingdom, it is important for the students to open up their eyes and see how these species fit into the world as a whole, not the microscopic world. A lesson on “nature” and what composes it helps students put these various organisms into context. Furthermore, tapping into their creative thoughts helps them make connections between science and their lives. Allowing the students to create nature scenes using the techniques of Chinese landscape paintings or write poems in the style of early Chinese poetry, such as the Book of Odes; Tang dynasty poetry; and the famous Ming dynasty drama The Peony Pavilion.

Procedure/Pedagogical Technique/Instructional Strategy:  Students will make a list of things that are in nature. They will then be put into groups of three and discuss their lists. After the discussion, they will write a definition of nature. Each group will have one person read their definition of nature. The class will then watch a movie that defines nature and shows nature in 5 different locations. Students will be asked to write down their observations of nature in each location. After the movie, they will be asked to write down their favorite natural setting from the movie. They will then write how it made them feel.

After this discussion, students will be shown a few pictures of Chinese landscape paintings. They will discuss as a class, what elements of nature they see in the paintings.
Then they will read two Chinese poems in groups of two. Each group will have different poems or selections. Students will discuss with a partner what elements of nature are described in the poems or selections of Chinese literature.
They will share out their poem and what they identified as descriptions of nature.
Students will then be shown the technique of drawing a landscape scene using “magic markers” and then painting them with water.

Discussion Points/ GroupInteraction:
  • Students will discuss the elements of nature.
  • Students will discuss in groups of three the definition of nature.
  • Students will discuss with partners the elements of nature found in the poems/ selections of Chinese literature they are assigned to read.
  • Students will discuss as a class what elements of nature they observe in Chinese landscape paintings and Chinese poems.
Assessment:
  • The definition of nature being shared orally.
  • The landscape scene they draw/ paint and how well it depicts nature.
  • The poem and the use of imagery in describing nature.
Closure:  Students will be able to present their creative work, either landscape paintings or poems. They will be able to compare each others’ ideas and perspectives on what is dominant in nature.
Instructional Resources/ Materials:
  • magic markers
  • paint brushes
  • cups for water
  • selections from the Book of Odes
  • selections from David Hinton’s Anthology and the Tang Dynasty poems
  • selections from the Peony Pavilion
Extending the Lesson / Follow-up Activity: Students will learn about plants and animals in nature. They will also learn about the impacts of humans on nature in an environmental lesson.

Redux Framework: New Documentation coming! We’ve heard your screams and we’re completely redoing our documentation. For a preview of things to come, please visit our new docs repo. P.S. You can contribute! If you have an idea for a doc, post your ideas here. Redux Framework: New Documentation coming! We’ve heard your screams and we’re completely redoing our documentation. For a preview of things to come, please visit our new docs repo. P.S. You can contribute! If you have an idea for a doc, post your ideas here. Redux Framework: New Documentation coming! We’ve heard your screams and we’re completely redoing our documentation. For a preview of things to come, please visit our new docs repo. P.S. You can contribute! If you have an idea for a doc, post your ideas here.

Redux Framework: New Documentation coming! We’ve heard your screams and we’re completely redoing our documentation. For a preview of things to come, please visit our new docs repo. P.S. You can contribute! If you have an idea for a doc, post your ideas here. Redux Framework: New Documentation coming! We’ve heard your screams and we’re completely redoing our documentation. For a preview of things to come, please visit our new docs repo. P.S. You can contribute! If you have an idea for a doc, post your ideas here. Redux Framework: New Documentation coming! We’ve heard your screams and we’re completely redoing our documentation. For a preview of things to come, please visit our new docs repo. P.S. You can contribute! If you have an idea for a doc, post your ideas here.

Resource Type: Lesson Plan
Caterogy: Grades 6-8 Arts & Literature, Environment/Nature Lesson or Unit Plan

Author

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