Squirrel and Hickory Armbands

Wearable Projects – Transformations for Learning!

We often give older students activity pages (such as the Squirrel and Hickory page on this website) to provide an interactive, visual means for them to amplify and reinforce their auditory and verbal learning about a particular topic. However, often, such learning will be even deeper / broader if the youngsters opt to use such pages as prompts for their original compositions and work – i.e. the creation of projects featuring their own drawn, painted, or collaged interpretations. The goal of such endeavors remains comprehensive and lasting understandings combined with emotional involvement / investment in the new information. Art-making helps make this happen.

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Especially for young children, learning should be pleasant and imaginative. Can a particular project or topic engage students’ impulses to create beautiful adornments or impersonate other beings? There are so many delightful motives and rewards for art-making – including simply impressing family and friends, or the joy of participating in theoretical, theatrical, make-believe realities.

Here is an example from a project focused on the partnership between squirrels and hickory trees. This activity with six and seven year-olds resulted (mostly) in decorative arm bands. The children were asked to imagine that they themselves could become massive trees who provide tasty food, escape routes, and swaying nests for the squirrels. Long rectangles of brown construction paper were glued to become circles of bark. The students could slip these over their arms when they were ready to become towering plants. The line drawings of the squirrels from the activity page were colored and cut out. Their contours were patiently observed and echoed in the motor activity (with scissors) required for the trimming. The finished cut-outs were attached to the ‘branches’ with glue, often with a few leaves as well. The youngsters had time after this to show, play, and discuss the results with their friends. Then they took their projects home. All of these activities allowed them to better remember and celebrate the rascally rodents who help plant new forests – forests not only of hickories but of oaks, butternuts, and walnuts too.

Note the addition of ants, an oak leaf, and texture to the bark of this branch.

When doing a project like this, expect that some youngsters may prefer to design headbands (so that the squirrels can perch at the tiptop of the tree). Others might decide to have two or three squirrels on their ‘branch.’ A few may prefer to skip the wearable art path entirely. They might just use the original squirrel graphic as a reference for their own marvelous drawing or painting!