Implementation of ‘Nature in Spring’ (SOI-MT-501)


I chose to implement the learning scenario ‘Nature in spring’ by Nada Peretić because it matches exactly with the theme that I refer to with my students during the spring season. The aim is to make them more aware of the environment around them and to encourage them to note and appreciate its changes during this period while also being creative and executing artworks related to it and expressing their inner thoughts and feelings.

This is a cross-curricular learning scenario. The subjects this learning scenario referred to were Science, English, Mathematics (Year 6) and Art.  I am an Art teacher in a primary school in Malta, who gives a weekly 45 minute lesson to all the students attending our school. This limited me a bit in the number of activities that I could do myself with them. However, I collaborated with the class teachers of each year’s group so that they could continue building up on the students’ prior knowledge and what they had done and learnt with me during their Art lessons. The educational setting of this learning scenario included indoor and outdoor activities, and the students’ age range was between 5-11 years, as this lesson took a whole school approach. The final artworks of each year group varied a bit, but it was still related to the theme of spring. The approximate size of each class was 20 per group.

For the second consecutive year, our school, which is e-twinned with another primary school in Oroslavje, Croatia, invited us to participate in an International Art and Literary competition: Melita’s Spring. This competition filled a great void in Oroslavje Primary School and the community for some years now. Teacher Melita Peternel was a teacher at the same school for 38 years. She raised and taught numerous generations warmly, gently, and sincerely. Unfortunately, in November 2020, she lost her battle with a serious illness. Melita was born on the first day of spring, and this competition was launched in her honour. Thus, this year, we are also participating in this collaborative competition, which is being continued just as she would have liked, through children’s freedom and creativity.

The Narrative

Structure of the session: 45-minute Art lesson. I am sure that if I had more time, I could have allotted three sessions so that the students could learn more about the theme by making a more in-depth cross-curricular link with other subjects during my Art lesson. The students would also have more time to execute their work and do a longer peer assessment task.

Adaptations: Even though the theme of the learning scenario matched perfectly with the theme that I do during this season, I have made some adaptations of the learning scenario that I selected to better suit my needs. I am an Art teacher, and I had 1 week (45 minutes) to execute the art section of this learning scenario. I also had to ensure that our school would have good artwork for the e-twinning competition, which I had to coordinate.

Collaboration: The students with learning or developmental disabilities had a Learning Support Educator to facilitate the work for the respective students and who helped me overall by prompting the students to continue working on their tasks as well.

Step 1: The students were introduced to the spring theme by asking them if they knew in which season we are now. Most students knew that it was spring, and some also told me they remembered when this season started and ended. Then, they were asked what happens during this time of the year. The elder year groups were more responsive than the younger ones and answered that nature starts to change and the weather becomes nicer than the previous season of winter. The gardens and natural environments have become more beautiful, with lots of colourful flowers and butterflies flying around and many baby animals being born at this time.

Step 2: The students with their class teacher were invited to observe this happening in our school yard and in the school’s front garden. Year 4-6 students also used their learning pads to photograph the flowers, plants that start blooming and any butterflies (Year 6 students) that they might have seen which they compared with the Europeana images which they could browse on the Europeana digital platform from their own learn pad. The respective class teachers have also related to this by doing a Science lesson in this regard and have given the students some writing tasks about spring in English. The teacher explained that some trees and plants are native, and some are protected by law because they are very rare, thus we concluded that it is very important to preserve biodiversity including butterflies. It is good to mention that our school also has two special areas in our yard, which make the students appreciate the environment around us more and make us happy. We have a scene depicting the garden and another depicting the sea. The garden scene represents trees, flowers, birds, and butterflies. This was also mentioned to them as it could be a source of inspiration for their final work. This was a previous project which was concluded during the previous scholastic year which I am very happy that I worked on and coordinated.

Step 3: The students were shown some images from Europeana: photographs of flowers, plants, butterflies and other paintings executed by various artists.

Figure 1 – Students observing related photographs and images of paintings from Europeana platform

Step 4: The students were also shown a video about spring and the awakening of nature which they were very attentive to. The Year 6 students were also shown an interesting YouTube video about the life cycle of a butterfly. I am sure that this was a very good source of inspiration for the students and made them understand more about the changes that nature goes through each year.

Figure 2 – Work in Progress – Year 1
Figure 3 – Work in Progress – Year 6

Step 5: Since the weekly art lesson time is very short and limited, a step-by-step drawing template for each year group was projected on the interactive whiteboard so that the students could use it as a starting point and as an idea of how they could create their own artwork. It would have been good if the students had been given some time to brainstorm and make preliminary sketches before starting their actual final work. The students were encouraged and continuously reminded that the best artwork from each category would be selected and sent to Croatia to participate in a competition, and the best artwork from these would be selected by a judging panel and would win some prizes. This motivated the students to be more creative, work harder, and do their very best to execute their artwork. The competitive side of some students was evident in most of the older students by trying to make the work look different than the others by changing the colour of the flower/s or butterfly that they depicted. Some of them started asking for feedback about their work and were curious if their final work would be one of the selected ones. I realized that sometimes a competition could be a very good way for the students to be stimulated to perform much better than usual. The students also looked very happy while working on this task and wished they could have more time to work on this project. Year 1 to Year 5 students used pencil colours or crayons but Year 6 students could use watercolours. I tried to explain the technique they can make use of to do a good artwork with this art medium The Mathematics topic symmetry was mentioned to the Year 6 students when trying to do both sides of the butterflies with the same shape, pattern and colours.

Figure 4 – Final artworks selected from each year group for the e-twinning competition

Step 6: Near the end of the session, while some of the students were still busy trying to finish their work on time, they were invited to look at some randomly picked artworks of some of their classmates and observe the elements that make a final work look better or more eye-catching than another. Some of the students could pinpoint these aspects easily, and others could also predict which could be the artworks that made it to Croatia. I believe that peer assessment is a very important way for students to be given feedback from their own peers while allowing them to observe, compare and arrive at conclusions on their own and with the help of the feedback given from their peers.

Figure 5 – Year 3 and Year 4 Artworks

Step 7: The best three artworks were selected from each category. Unfortunately, there were only four categories. These included Year 1 and Year 2; Year 3 and Year 4; Year 5 and Year 6 and the last category included artworks from students with developmental disabilities. It was good that there was the latter category which gave the chance to students with disabilities to take part in this competition.

Figure 6 – Year 5 and Year 6 Artworks – Picture 1
Figure 7 – Year 5 and Year 6 Artworks

Step 8: The students whose artworks were selected to participate in the competition were notified.

Outcomes for me as an educator’ is a great digital platform for cultural heritage, which I could use practically during each art lesson. As a teacher, I always try to show the students photographs and images of other artists’ works as a source of inspiration.

Apart from that, I found ‘Teaching with Europeana’ very useful because it contains many tried-and-tested free learning scenarios from teachers from different countries around the world. These are related to different subjects and topics. It’s great that they can be downloaded and amended according to your needs. Some also include all the resources used, which you can download a copy of and use accordingly.

Outcomes for the students

From this, students learnt more about the changes in nature during spring. They observed the primary sources: the trees, plants, flowers, and butterflies in our schoolyard during their break time. They learnt to recognize some of the plants that bloom in spring, and the elder year groups (Year 4-6) could also take photos of them. They compared their photographs with other secondary sources: photos of other butterflies and a few artistic paintings found on Europeana. They concluded that we are surrounded by nature and that it is a constant inspiration for everyone to create any type of art form. Students learnt that some are native and endemic, and some are protected by law because they are very rare. They understood the importance of preserving and taking care of biodiversity. After observing and analyzing some photos and artwork from Europeana, they created an artwork related to spring. The Year 5 and 6 students also explored different techniques and art styles and tried implementing some of them in their artwork.

The students became aware of Europeana, a digital platform and browsing tool on which they can find many photographs and images, which could be a great source of inspiration when researching any topic.

Implemented teaching scenario: Nature in spring (EN-CUR-607)  

Do you want to discover more stories of implementation? Click here.

PDM 1.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the National Heritage Institute, Bucharest.

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