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Natural Expression

Standards: 4.8 Humans and the Environment

Duration: 30 to 40 minutes

Setting: Outside – General, Forest, StreamWetland, Farm

Vocabulary: aesthetic, intricacy, interactions, commonalities, cinquain

Summary: Students use various exercises, including the writing of a poem, to better appreciate the intricate beauty nature provides.

Objectives: Students will gain a deeper understanding of how the intricacies and beauty of nature and how to see these details.

Materials: pencils, paper, clipboards

Background:

Nature provides an unlimited variety of objects to view and interact with and each time these interactions are slightly different. Nature is always moving and growing and changing, and in that sense is almost “alive.” Viewing and interacting with these objects and landscapes gives us a sense of beauty and provides us with images that spur on our creativity and imagination. Think of how different we would be if we were locked inside all day!

It may be obvious that being outside hiking, camping, hunting, or fishing provide us with enjoyment, but they also strengthen our skills physically and mentally. Climbing trees and crossing streams fine tunes your balance, your hand-eye coordination, your muscle tone, and lots of other things. Camping develops your resourcefulness. Hunting builds your patience and ability to be quiet and sensitive to sounds around you.

Different sounds can also stir our sense of imagination. Does anyone remember hearing cicadas? How do they sound? Or the sound of deer hooves pounding the earth, or leaves rustling in the wind. We also use our sense of smell and touch to interact with nature. Nature provides an endless supply of these types of elements that we can store and use later to be creative. This ability is almost as important as the ability to get food and water and everything else nature provides.

Procedure:

Warm Up:

Ask students what memories stand out to them about being in nature. Is it a smell? A sound? Go through the five senses with them and ask them to think of something for each.

Activity:

Have students focus their various senses on the surroundings. Have them record (one at a time) what they hear, smell, feel, and finally, see. Do sight last because we so often put it first! Have students write a few words for each of these senses.

Next, ask students to create a poem and/or do a nature drawing based on the words they just wrote down. There are two different styles of poems as options–one is a simple rhyming poem, but the other is a type of poem called a cinquain. A cinquain has 5 lines, and each line contains a different number of syllables. The first line has 2 syllables, the second has 4, the third has 5, the fourth has 8, and the fifth has two again.

Here is an example about music by Rick Freyer:

Music

An expression

Of some man’s inner thoughts

and some player’s inner feelings

Beauty

After giving students time to write, have them share their poems with the class.

Assessment:

Ask students to describe some of the senses they especially noticed while they were writing/drawing. Do they find writing to be calming or frustrating? Why do they think so many people throughout the ages have looked to nature for inspiration? What sense besides sight do they think they use the most while in nature?

Enrichment:

Have students search for and choose a favorite poem about nature done by someone else and explain what they like about it.

Have students do a poetry reading for other classes.

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