This blog post corresponds with a program for children and their caregivers by the Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon about Thinking Like a Scientist, Bird Nesting, Searching for Signs of Spring, and making art by creating a bluebird and nest box out of household and common art materials.
Nature Story Time: Have You Heard the Nesting Bird
This blog post complements a nature-based STEAM programming about butterflies and their life cycle.
Monarch Butterfly laying an egg on Common Milkweed
Monarch Caterpillar on it’s host plant Common Milkweed
Engineer a Butterfly Habitat
To engineer a butterfly habitat, you need to think about and create a list of what a butterfly needs to survive during it’s entire life cycle as an (i) egg, (ii) caterpillar, (iii) chrysalis, and (iv) butterfly. The following are a few things to think about when engineering a butterfly habitat.
Host plants for caterpillars
Places to shelter or hide
After thinking about how to create a butterfly habitat, design your habitat to contain everything a butterfly needs and draw it on a piece of paper. After drawing your butterfly habitat, if you have a couple of pots for plants, a garden, or another area you could modify, you could engineer your own butterfly habitat.
To attract black swallowtail butterflies, you can plant parsley in your garden.
How to Create a Nature Journal
Get outdoors and record your nature observations in your very own nature journal. You can make one with materials you have at home!
Barry Van Dusen’s Sketchbook Page of a Painted Lady Butterfly
“On one liatris plant, I count eight Monarch butterflies – a phenomenal concentration of these handsome migratory insects, whose populations have been down in recent years. There’s just time enough to do some sketches before I leave to catch the ferry at Vineyard Haven.”
This blog post corresponds with a program for children and their caregivers by the Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon about Rachel Carson, searching for the signs of Spring, and creating a nature journal to record your observations, questions, drawings, and thoughts.
Nature Story Time: Spring after Spring
How can you observe spring like Rachel Carson?
Create a nature journal and explore your neighborhood
Draw leaves, seedlings, flowers, insects, landscapes, branches, and anything that you like in nature
Write down or draw how certain things in nature make you feel
Write down other observations, questions, and other notes
Create Your Own Nature Journal and Observe the Natural World like Rachel Carson
Enjoy the following video created and produced by Dan Boudreau, a Terracorp member serving at MABA as a youth education coordinator.
We are so inspired by the amazingly talented young bird artists that are exhibiting in this year’s Taking Flight exhibition. Since we all have to be isolated to stay safe, we wanted to bring you a virtual exhibit and a little background about the artists. We still hope to have a physical exhibition of the original art, but we want to share this wonderful work now.
Today, we feature Eleanor Smith and her artwork, Northern Harrier. She is 16 and lives in Utah.
“Without a doubt, there are relatively few animals more majestic than birds of prey. Whenever I watch Northern Harriers fly overhead, I am captivated by their graceful beauty. I wanted to convey this power and gracefulness in my piece, ‘Northern Harrier’.” ~ Eleanor Smith
I’ve been making art since I was just little, but I didn’t really get serious about it until middle school. One of my favorite things about art is exploring new media.
I love to experiment with new and unconventional art forms like paperclay sculpture or block printing.
Growing up in Utah has given me access to a unique natural environment. I love being outdoors, and most of my art is influenced by the nature around me. I especially love drawing birds; when I was in elementary school, I would spend hours walking around the lake near our house and looking for sandhill cranes and pheasants. My dad, an avid birder, would help me identify different birds, and I would use field guides to draw the birds I saw. Even today, I’m fascinated by the diversity and beauty of wildlife.
The Museum might be closed, but we’re still accepting submissions for Taking Flight, our youth bird art exhibition. Not sure where to get started with drawing birds? We’ve got you covered!
The goal of the Taking Flight exhibition is to create a greater awareness, conservation, and appreciation for birds while fostering the development of young artists and sharing their work with the public. Submissions will be accepted until June 15, 2020. Click here for more information.
Getting Started With Nature Drawing
Advice for Young Bird Artists from Barry Van Dusen
We are excited for our second installment of our Nature Story Time video series, so even in times where we need to be isolated, we can still be together. We hope to bring you a few nature story times each week along with a little art project or nature exploration that you can do at home. Please comment and let us know what stories you’d like to hear, what you like about the program, and most importantly how we can improve. If you missed it, our first nature story time was Little Bird.
Our second story is The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. Just like in Liam, these days it is restoring to look for the little treasures in nature and discover spring come alive right outside your door, on the sidewalk, little gardens, and in your neighborhood. Enjoy the story.
Nature Journaling Art Project
Enjoy this wonderful art project created by Dan Boudreau, MABA’s incredible TerraCorp service member.
As we move further into spring, more and more plants will bloom. More and more wildflowers will blossom! If you look closely, you’ll see wild gardens growing all around you. To keep track of all the new flowers blossoming, you can keep a Spring Journal. Here’s how to make one. We’ll make a flower stamp out of cardboard to decorate the cover.
A paper grocery bag
White paper for your journal pages (regular printer paper works great)
Paint, a paintbrush, and a palette knife (optional)
Twine or yarn
A hole punch
A black marker
Cardboard from a cereal box
Step 1: Making the stamp
Draw a flower onto the piece of cereal box and cut it out. I made mine in the shape of violet wood sorrel, a wildflower that grows here in Massachusetts. What’s your favorite wildflower?
Step 2:Make the cover of the journal
Take the grocery bag and cut out a large rectangle. You’re going to fold it in half, so make it big! It should be a little larger than the pieces of paper that you’ll use for your pages. Once you’ve cut it, fold it in half hamburger-style. Then punch holes for your twine.
Step 3:Stamp the cover
Take the flower you cut from the cardboard and load up one side with paint. You’ll need more paint than if you were just painting the flower itself, so put it on thick. I used a palette knife, but a popsicle stick would work well too. Press the stamp paint-side-down onto your journal cover, making sure to press down every part of the flower. Stamp as many flowers on the cover as you want. I added more paint to my stamp after the second flower.
Step 4: Put the finishing touches on your flowers
Use a paintbrush to fill in any blank spots on your flowers. I mixed two shades of purple, and used a paintbrush to dab on a few spots of the darker purple to really make them pop! Now put your cover aside to dry.
Step 5: Put your journal together
Is your cover dry? Great! Fold your white paper in half and hole punch it. Put it inside your cover and use the twine to tie it all together. You’re all done! Now you have a place to draw all the wild and curious gardens that you’ll see this spring!
Thanks for joining us and hope you enjoyed the art project and nature story time.
We are excited to announce our Nature Story Time video series, so even in times where we need to be isolated, we can still be together. We hope to bring you a few nature story times each week along with a little art project or nature exploration that you can do at home. Please comment and let us know what stories you’d like to hear, what you like about the program, and most importantly how we can improve.
“There are no greater treasures than the little things… ~ Little Bird”
Our first story is Little Bird, by Germano Zullo and illustrated by Albertine. Just like in Little Bird, these days it is restoring to look for the little treasures in nature and discover spring come alive right outside your door, on the sidewalk, little gardens, and in your neighborhood. Enjoy the story.
Enjoy Nature Story Time
“May my heart always be open to little birds who are the secrets of living…”
~ E.E. Cummings
Eastern Bluebird Art Project
Enjoy this wonderful art project created by Dan Boudreau, MABA’s incredible TerraCorp service member.
It’s spring and that means that Eastern bluebirds are headed back our way to make their nests and raise their young! The meadow behind the Museum has several bird boxes that bluebirds sometimes build their nests in. Want to make your own bird box scene with a brightly colored bluebird?
Here’s what you’ll need:
Watercolor paints, a brush, and clean water
A paper grocery bag (or brown construction paper)
Oil pastels, crayons, or colored pencils
A sturdy piece of paper or cardstock for your background
A small piece of cardstock or an index card for your bird
Draw your bird shape onto the small piece of cardstock (I used an index card), then cut it out.
Step 2: Watercolor the bird!
First, wet the paper enough that it shines in the light. Be careful not to overwet it, though, or the paper will start to fall apart. Then, paint on blue for the back and orange for the chest. We’ll do the eye later. Put the bird aside to dry while you work on the box.
Step 3: Making the bird box
Cut a rectangle out of the grocery bag and use a black marker to draw a hole for the bluebird to get in and out of.
Step 4: Draw your background
Using pastels, crayons, or colored pencils, draw the sky and meadow onto your large piece of paper. Make sure to leave a blank spot to glue your bird box onto, since glue won’t stick well to crayon or pastel. I used pastels because I love being able to smudge and blend them to make a cool texture for the sky.
Step 5: Assemble!
Now’s the time to glue it all together! To make a perch for the bluebird, I just cut a piece of the handle from the grocery bag and glued it right on. I did the same to make the post for the box. Now that your watercolors have dried, it’s also a good time to draw an eye on the bluebird. I used a black marker.
And voila! You’ve made an eastern bluebird in its spring habitat! The bird box provides important shelter for the bluebird and the chicks that will come soon. Can you think of anything else that bluebirds might need to live? Draw them in to your own art project!
Rarely does the moment arrive when everything seems to fit together perfectly and converges at just the right moment, but that’s probably why transcendent moments are so rare and special and our vacation campers had this type of moment this morning.
Over the past few weeks, we have been keeping tabs on a pair of Great Horned Owls and a single Barred Owl that have been very active in our wildlife sanctuary. For one week, a Barred Owl has been roosting during the day in the same tree in our pine grove, but was not there today. Alas, I thought our vacation campers wouldn’t get to see this amazing owl.
BUT the reason it wasn’t in it’s daytime roost was because it had taken up residence in a nest that was in perfect view of the trail in our pine grove. This is the first Barred Owl nest we have ever found on the sanctuary.
So with the snow sparkling in the mid morning sun, an owl resplendent in it’s nest, the first people to see it were our vacation program campers and the look on their faces just tells it all, so much more than words could.
Sticks cracked, boots splashed in the stream, and the sanctuary burst with life as students from Canton High got into position to take the perfect photograph of our natural world. On December 11, Patricia Palmer’s photography class from Canton High School visited the wildlife sanctuary to take nature photographs. We spent time exploring near our vernal pool, pine, maple, and oak forest, and Pequit Brook.
Along the photography hike, we encountered lots of birds, including red-breasted nuthatches, a fisher (Martes pennanti), an extremely rare sighting, and a raccoon all curled up in a tree hole along the vernal pool trail. Special thanks to the Marilyn Rodman Council for the Arts for supporting these wonderful programs.
The light and reflections of the ice were wonderful. Enjoy these photos of the trip.
Our inaugural travel week at the Wild at Art Summer Camp has just wrapped up. From July 9 to July 13, our travel program included a visit to the amazing and inspiring Nature Lab at the Rhode Island Institute of Design.
Campers had a close up look at many amazing natural history artifacts and were able to use state of the art microscopes to be amazing by a tiny world that is almost always hidden. Enjoy this short video of the day.