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Out of lurkdom for a moment...we did a schoolwide rainforest project.
Our state art museum (Ringling) is currently having an installation
show "Blurring the Boundaries" with some great installation art. Lots
of variety, some very thought provoking pieces.
I discussed these pieces and described the installation process and
artists methods for sending a message in a new way. My students in
some classes were going to start studying the rainforest in science,
others were starting animals, etc...so I decided this would be a
schoolwide project and we would create an "installation" in our front
hallway! Of course I cleared this with the principal first, the fire
marshall came later!!!
I gathered rainforest books, read every class "The Great Kapok Tree'
(some classes spontaneously applaueded at the end of the book, I
almost cried!) Also had teachers bring me their nature CD's with the
sounds of the rainforest to play while we worked.
We had just finished doing OAXACAN carved animals from construction
paper so most students already understood or had seen the dimensional
possibilies of construction paper.
All classes constructed animals, birds, insects, snakes, flowers, tree
trunks, etc... A parent donated 15 large carpet tubes which hubby cut
for me to fit snugly floor to ceiling. These were scattered about the
hallway randomly.....like a real forest....The older kids made tons of
very large leaves and vines from roll paper and we started assembling
The fire marshall happened to come through, had a cow, and the boss
asked me nicely to scoot the trees back closer to the walls. No
problem...we just made the vines creep overhead! (good lesson in real
installation projects, about site specific issues!)
The tubes are already a nice tan, we just added texture to them with
crayon and lots of our huge leaves. Then came the fun of installing
the animals, insects, birds, etc...snakes are hanging eye level from
vines, tigers are peeking out from leaves, monkeys swinging overhead,
etc...big kids came back during their recess time on their own to
The kids also decided to create a waterfall cascading out of the
glass display case complete with fish, river dolphin and alligator
head with open jaws! The CD player is hidden under the waterfall and
all day long I have the rainforest sounds playing as people come and
The kids did it all! from concept to installation to sitting "in" the
rainforest and sketching their favorite part...all 700 of them had a
part in it!
The music teacher had a concert in the rainforest with her 4th graders
playing recorder on the "Rainforest Suite"...awesome. It was on the
This has been a HUGE hit with parents and visitors, and no one wants
it to come down.
Connections...language arts, science, social studies, math, music and
social issues and aesthetic worth to name a few.
It was worth the chaos for the end result! You could hear a pin drop
all week as each class almost reverently sat out in the hallway and
sketched with black pens on 9 X 12 paper on lapboards...the sounds and
sights of the rainforest were so inspirational as they drew.....fun,