When children can understand their surrounding environments (whether it be the natural environment or their built environment) it is said that they can connect more deeply and have a heightened awareness of their surroundings (Kelly, 2013). This connection and heightened awareness can open their eyes to prevalent environmental issues, increasing their sense of social responsibility. The research on this type of learning generally occurs in formal institutions (i.e., a school), non-formal centers (i.e., at an outdoor education center), or informal meeting places (i.e., at a park with a parent). I conducted a primarily qualitative study—utilizing arts-based research (ABR) methods and environmental art education theory—to better understand school-aged children’s (5-10 years of age) engagement with nature during indoor nature-based art classes. I observed children within a small, mountain-town school (Kindergarten – 5th grade) while they engaged in various artistic activities such as drawing, finger painting, and watercolor. My purpose was to gauge whether indoor nature-based art activities compelled elementary aged children to engage in meaningful conversation about nature. I assessed meaningfulness by the structure of their sentences and topics of their discussions that ensued. This assessment included looking for changes over time in students’ reaction to the art they were creating and the subsequent connections they were making. Results demonstrate that students are deeply engaged in their artwork and talk mostly about memories related to nature and what aspects of nature their artwork inspires. Given that these activities provoked students to be thinking about nature, schools may want to consider conducting similar activities if they are unable to provide quality time outdoors for their students but want to help their students maintain a nature connection.
|Commitee:||Johnson, Ann, Sherman, Peter|
|School Location:||United States -- Arizona|
|Source:||MAI 56/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Art education, Environmental education|
|Keywords:||Arts-based research, Environmental art education, Nature, School-aged setting|
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