Nature Art can help improve the health and wellbeing of our children

Our latest Artstarts project was inspired by two elements:

My love of chocolate and discovering how we can have a healthy intake of chocolate if it is the right chocolate. (Below, Apricot and Oat Cacao Raw Bar)

The second element was from a passage I read many years ago – the inspiring passage was from the book “Peace Is Every Step” by Thich Nhat Hahn – “Interbeing

The passage evoked this illustration (above) and is the “root” or the focal point of our creative investigation and journey of the “chocolate tree”.

Just like in Thich’s passage, the chocolate tree is dependant upon the sunshine, the rain, the midgy that pollinates its flowers in order to produce the fruit. We too are dependant upon the sunshine and the rain, in-fact all life cannot exist without the sunshine.

How can we improve the health and wellbeing of our children

That’s a question I ask myself a lot; especially when articles such as these appear in my news feed:

No Downturn In Obesity Among U.S. Kids, Report Finds

Read article here: Obesity Among US  Kids

Too Much Technology: Children Growing Up with Weak Hands, Fingers

Read article here: Too Much technology

Just two of the ever increasing disturbing stories we hear every day…

Project Mission:

  • To improve healthy eating habits and healthy choices
  • To raise awareness of healthy foods and where our food comes from
  • A love and appreciation for the Arts – exploring different art mediums, self expression
  • An appreciation for the natural world and all life – we protect what we love (stewards of the future)
  • Experiencing the joy of creating
  • Nurturing love, peace and humility
  • Bringing a community together

School Project Description (Grades 4 and 5)

A creative journey of discovering where our food comes from, in this particular journey we investigate the fascinating story of the chocolate tree.

Through a series of 12 hands-on workshops the grade 4 and 5 students will learn about the life cycles of the chocolate tree and their significance in our culture today. Guided by local artist Marghanita Hughes, students will learn through hikes in the forest and lake-shore, chocolate making, meditation, clay work, mask making; sculptures and wall hanging projects. These creative exploration will help the students have a better understanding of how interconnected we are to our food and all life. We will complete our journey with a short colourful dance performance.

Meaningful Art

Where better to be inspired creatively than the great outdoors – imaginations soar outdoors.

It takes a village to raise a child and that is why I wished to make this a community driven project where we work together collectively to improve the health and well being of our children and our little planet earth.

I invited local organic farmers Lorena and Jim Wood, who have several organic orchards to visit the school. The students will learn how they can grow their own healthy food in school, and at home, through a fascinating hands-on workshop. (Below – Home grown tomatoes and peppers)

Visited chef – Danny Capadouca (Pastry Arts Instructor) at the local college to see if he would be interested in providing a workshop to inspire the students to make their own healthy snacks. Danny recently gained national recognition for making the Okanagan college, the first college in North America to launch their very own line of chocolate and was very excited about our workshop: Bean to Bar. Danny has put together an amazing arrange of activities for the students during their visit to the college.

(Below – date and coconut and cacao raw balls)

Next was a meeting with highly creative, dance instructor, Lucy Hazelwood. It was a wonderful exploration as we discussed possibilities -so many ideas flowed from our meeting which will morph into meaningful, creative explorations for the students in both music and dance, using the Inter-being passage as our focal point, infusing Vivaldi’s classic “Four Seasons” and the fascinating story of the chocolate tree into the dance performance.

Growing up from the roots, we explore the journey we all make – I believe if every child was to read the “Interbeing” passage and experience the journey through self expressive arts, they would have a deeper understanding, appreciation and love for the natural world and each other, all life.

Our collective journey will nurture respect, humility, gratitude and inner peace

Bringing the joy of learning back into the curriculum…Here is a brief snapshot of the workshops we will be providing over the next 2 months:

Storytelling : Culture, history: “Food of the Gods” – we will explore the culture and history of chocolate by making our own little story-books, along with little characters to tell the story.

Wire Birds and Insect Sculptures: Having learned about the birds, insects and animals that visit and help contribute to the chocolate trees survival we will create wire birds and insect sculptures.

Trees : Learning not only about the Chocolate tree but the native trees in their local environment, the students will visit the forest and and a nut tree farm and learn about the life cycles of trees and their significance in our culture and survival.

Group Canvas Painting : Wall Hangings – Using a large piece of material, the students will collaborate in producing wall hangings using earth paint. The paintings will be their interpretation of the meaning of Interbeing using the Cocoa Tree as their main focal image in the painting.

Farmers school visit; Visit to College: Health and wellbeing: From Bean to Bar

Meditation pebbles; Exploring the elements and our connection through pebble meditation

Music, Dance and Drama with Lucy Hazelwood

Designing a package: All students will design their very own packaging for their chocolate “health bar”. We will explore graphic design and sustainable packaging.

Ceramics – Giving Bowls

Curriculum connections and how they will be explored:

  • Choose artistic elements, process, materials, movements, technologies, tools, techniques and environments using combinations and selections for specific purposes in art making.
  • Create artistic works collaboratively and as an individual using ideas inspired by imagination, inquiry, experimentation, and purposeful play.
  • Explore identity, place, culture, and belonging through arts experiences.
  • Observe, listen, describe, inquire and predict how artists, dancers, actors, musicians and visual artists use processes, materials, movements, technologies, tools, techniques and environments to create and communicate.
  • First Peoples Principles of Learning: Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors.   Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place).
  • Dance is a unique language for creating and communicating.
  • Science: Demonstrate curiosity for the natural world.
  • Careers: Leadership requires listening to and responding to and respecting the ideas of others.

“Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play.” – Philip Pullman “I have seen children who felt they were ‘no good’ at academic subjects blossoming when they discover that they can write poems that move other people, or stories that are exciting and thought-provoking.’ -Philip Pullman

We are super excited about beginning our creative exploration in April. My only wish was that we were visiting a hundred more schools not just one – nature art should be part of every child’s education. Let’s bring the Arts back to school!

We are truly grateful for the grant funding from Artstarts.  Without the grant this project would not be possible. If you would like to learn more about Artstarts please click here.

ArtStarts in Schools provides innovative arts programs for young people, practical resources for teachers and artists, and leadership in advocacy for arts in education.

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