Picture this: Autumn trees
12 October 2009Add to My Folder
Use our mini poster as the focus for some creative, autumnal activities
Trees image © Elenaphoto/www.stockxpert.com
This month’s ‘Picture this’ resource features a beautiful image of autumnal trees. The vibrant colours of autumn have long provided inspiration for artists of all ages – and the image provides a superb starting point for a whole range of creative, seasonal activities. Show the online version of the image (below or download here) on the interactive whiteboard as the children enter the classroom, then let the children chat freely about the picture for a few minutes before trying out the ideas below.
1. When is a tree – a tree?
Ask the children for their thoughts on the picture. What do they think it is showing? Hold a general discussion about trees. What do the children know about them? If a tree has no trunk, can it still be a tree? What about leaves? What sounds might the children hear if they were standing underneath these trees? What would they smell? Talk about the different colours shown. Can the children think of words to describe the colours? Encourage them to be creative with their vocabulary and introduce the idea of similes to describe something, for example, The leaves are red and orange like a bonfire. Using the children’s ideas about the sights, sounds and smells associated with the image, invite them to write a poem using a pre-prepared writing frame if necessary. Finished poems could be copied on to giant leaf-shaped paper for a stunning display.
2. In the wild wood
Talk about how a wood or a forest is a good setting for a story as it can be an adventurous, spooky or magical place full of exciting characters. Ask the class what stories they know featuring trees or woods. Suggestions might include ‘Red Riding Hood’, ‘Hansel and Gretel’, ‘Robin Hood’, or ‘The Three Little Pigs’ (one of the pigs built his home from sticks). Have the children ever visited a wood or forest? What animals, birds or minibeasts did they discover? What kinds of characters, imaginary or real, might the children expect to find in a wood? A wrinkly old witch or a gang of pixies perhaps? Thought shower possible characters and invite plot suggestions for a whole-class story called ‘In the wild wood’. You could divide the class into groups and ask each group to write a chapter using an agreed set of characters. Compile the chapters into a class book and invite the children to add illustrations.
3. Branching up
Looking at the image, bring the children’s attention to the unusual perspective of the photograph. How do they think the photo was taken? (The photographer was probably lying on his back.) Would the image have been quite as interesting if the photographer had taken the photo from the side? Tell the children that they are going to have a go at taking a similar photo of trees. If possible, visit a local wood or park, or use trees in, or near to, your school grounds. Ideally, do the activity on a sunny autumn day, as the blue sky will contrast well with the colours of the leaves. Let the children take turns to experiment with a digital camera. Tell them that if they lie on the floor, they should be careful to check for thorns and nettles first! (Mats or old blankets and waterproof clothing would be useful here.) Children could also try photographing each other from below, with the subject standing by a tree and looking up at the sky.
4. A bird’s eye view
Tell the children to imagine that the image is a hedgehog’s view of the trees around his home. Can they imagine what the trees would look like from above, as if from the point of view of a bird flying by? Challenge the children to paint a ‘bird’s-eye view’ version of the image. Discuss what their pictures should contain. Would you be able to see the trunks and the branches of the trees from above? How will they mix the colours they need? What about the background colour? Would it still be blue? Would you be able to see anything on the forest floor? (Probably not, as the shade of the trees would make the forest quite dark.) When the children have finished their pictures, create an autumn display of all their work. Use the mini poster as a centrepiece and arrange the children’s poems, stories, photographs and bird’s-eye view pictures around it. Complete the display with pictures of a foraging hedgehog and some birds in flight.