Early Childhood Programs Blog

Art & Science of the Land: Week 3

October 1, 2018 - Earth Friends, Preschool


Today we learned about our first land artist, Ashley Kidner, a local Baltimore land artist.  Before learning more about Ashley Kidner and his work, we opened our journals and reviewed our Nature Achievements.  We got to add our first sticker to our list of thirteen achievements from last week where we learned about the monarch butterfly, its life history and created art installations inspired by the monarch’s life cycle.  Also in our journals we glued in four images of Ashley Kidner’s land art installations.  One of the defining features of his work is that he uses only natural materials found locally in the area and his installations always have an environmental message.  The four images of his art that we looked at are below in this example of one of the student’s journal pages.  We also either circled our favorite art and or numbered them from one to four from most favorite to least.  We also wrote a word or sentence about how we felt about the art.  Here’s an example of one of our journal pages:

If you want to learn more about Ashley Kidner here is a link to his portfolio:


Also, there is a great land art installation hike at Lake Roland.  Here is an article written about this trail:


We started down the trail but didn’t get very far before Fiona found wood sorrel/lemon clover.  It’s an edible wild plant that can grow like a weed.  It’s a great foraging plant to know about and tastes yummy too!  We stopped again down the trail to identify a vine growing over a spicebush.  Since we were eating wild plants, we talked about how important it is to know how to identify plants before eating them.  An example of a plant that isn’t edible that grows prolific around this area is called porcelain berry (this is the vine we were examining).  The vine and leaves resemble a grape vine and the berries are small and brightly colored purple, blue and turquoise.  We compared it to the edible plant it was growing on, spicebush, and talked about how spicebush is edible and can be brewed into tea and the berries can be dried and used as a spice.  Many of us didn’t enjoy the taste of the berries, which makes sense considering they’re quite spicy.

At the gazebo we ate snack and shared our favorite activity from the weekend.  Leo shared about eating wild persimmons with his dad and how they left his mouth really dry and gross (that means they weren’t ripe yet).  We hiked down into the meadow (to find the wild persimmons, which we have growing here on the property).  We saw the pond we planned to stop at at the end of the day.  With all the water that has fallen here in the last week, the ground was incredibly wet with standing water everywhere.  We explored some of the air bubbles bubbling up in the small puddles and learned about how there is air under the ground in the meadow because plants, bacteria and animals need air in the soil to live.  We stopped at the wild persimmon grove (there are two at Irvine and we plan to visit the other one since the persimmons there are easier to reach) and then continued on.  With the wet weather also comes huge mosquitoes so we weren’t able to stay in the meadow long.  We noticed that the larger the prey insect (like mosquitoes) the larger the predator, so we saw a lot of huge spiders.

The swarming mosquitoes took us out of the meadow and we stopped at the Education Hut for our next activity.  We broke into four groups and examined the four pieces of art from Ashley Kidner that we had first seen in our journals earlier in the day.  Our task was to talk about each piece of art, describe it (read the description and the name if we wanted), talk about what it reminded us of, discuss how it made us feel looking at the art, how the artist made it and why.  Here are our individual groups and what we talked about:

(The link above with Ashley Kidner’s portfolio describes each of the following art installations)

Egg and Nest art: Ms. Kelly, Sarah Jane and Jackson.  Sarah Jane thought that if she found this art in nature she would want to check to see if it were real and wondered what would happen if it was real.  Jackson said that the blurring in the front right of the picture reminded him of it being in a tree.  We also wondered why the eggs were black.

Swalevine: Alden and Leo.  They created a miniature version of the art with a stick and small vine.  They said they liked it because it reminded them of a snake and the art is a nature and man made creation.

Pollinator Hexagon: Ms. Crystal, Fiona and Naftali.  They agreed that the art didn’t remind them of pollinators, that something else should be done to the art to change it to make it more interesting, perhaps put something in the middle.  The shape did remind them of honey combs.  This piece of art also looks a lot like a fire pit.  (In the spring and summer wild bergamot, an important pollinating plant does grow in the hexagon).

Earth Transfer: Julian, Dylan, Ariana.  This art was interesting to the group and they said it looked like a face with two eyes and a nose.  Some of us thought it looked like an insect with antennae (the two trees).  Dylan said it reminded him of an animal home and habitats and others said it looked like a worm going in and out of homes.

With the art on our mind and having brainstormed some thoughts about the art, we hiked to the pond nearby and worked on our own art installations.  Ariana had a thought right away and started collecting sticks.  Some of us helped her gather the right sized sticks and cattails.  She placed them in the water at a certain depth and began weaving the cattails through the sticks.  From there, she bundled cattails on the top and placed rocks on the inside.  She said she was inspired by some of Kidner’s artwork and especially by the bird nest with the black eggs.  Jackson and others started working on a small dam with the rocks on the other side of the bridge, experimenting with the flow of water.  Next week we will continue thinking about Ashley Kidner and his work and why he creates such interesting pieces of art in nature.