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Connecting to Nature through Art

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Originally appears in the Summer 2010 issue

Despite evidence that outside activities improve the health, focus, productivity, creativity and sense of well-being of children, most spend too many hours indoors with little exposure to sunlight and nature.  Many children today can readily identify corporate brand names while barely recognizing the animals and plant life in their local region. If we expect this generation of children to serve as responsible eco-literate stewards of the environment, they are going to need meaningful early connections to nature.

Art activities serve as affective and effective tools to further enrich, enhance and enlighten the nature experience for students. Art creation itself allows for higher-level cognitive, affective and psycho-motor domain attainments from Blooms taxonomy of learning.  The study of nature through art allows the “student-artist” to experience, observe, value, analyze, synthesize and express his/her understanding of, and relationship to, nature and the environment.  The examination of nature through artistic processes has been a constant in the development of artists and scientists throughout culture and history.

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Dawn Malosh is the Founding Director of Outside Art Lessons, a program that integrates art standards with discovery based environmental education across Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Over the years, she has served as an art department head, an art specialist at multiple environmental, nature and conservation learning centers, an educational guide at the world-renowned Biosphere 2 and a presenter at various national conferences. For more information, visit www.outsideartlessons.com.