Sequence of Activities:
Sensory Warm-up (10 minutes)
Poets and artists use their five senses to know the world more deeply. When we take a calm curious moment to look closely, we see things in a new way. For this activity, pick an outdoor location, preferably a garden space with bricks, tables, and tile work. While sitting or standing in this outdoor environment, invite students to take 30 seconds for each sense (taste/touch/hear/smell/see). After each moment in observation, students can share aloud. The teacher can make a list of their observations on a giant sticky note paper if desired. Invite students to search for some less obvious sensory experiences. For example, the whoosh of cars might be obvious, but what can you hear through/beyond/within this initial layer of sound? Older children can write their observations themselves while exploring the garden more freely, and then come together to share after 5 minutes or so.
I see ______________
I hear _____________
I taste _____________
I smell _____________
I feel ____________
Garden Rubbings (20 minutes)
Most of the lesson will be spent in tactile exploration. Each student picks two crayons. Note that the crayons work best with no paper wrapping! Send them out into the garden with a piece of paper and invite them to rub the crayon over various textures. In this way, they are “recording” the textures of place. There are many ways to know a place. We often know a place best by sight. But what if we get to know it intimately through its textures? As students find textures to rub, they should search for a diversity of patterns/designs/markings. They should use the long edge of the crayon and press firmly. They should cover a large area to record a good-sized sample of each texture. IMPORTANT: they can layer textures! They can start with one color and once the page is full, switch colors and layer a few more right on top of the first color. Pairing a bright color with a dark color works especially well. For example, orange and black. Tiles with letters and numbers, or even images, can be especially fun. Encourage them to try leaves, bark, concrete, metal grids and vents, flower petals, mosaics, and tiles.
Because this activity also involves an element of exploration, it can easily take up more time. If you need to extend, consider giving them a second piece of paper or moving them to a new part of the garden. Once they have filled a page with two layers, they may also like to free play in nature.
Examples are available in the .pdf version of this lesson plan.