Sit Spot lessons

25 Apr

The Sit Spot is an age-old practice of going to one spot in nature on a regular basis over a long period of time and making observations of what happens around you. Classrooms at George Watts Montessori have been doing it:

The benefit is that kids become more skilled at observing. They may notice the shape of a leaf, its vein pattern, or how its green coloring varies throughout the plant. Why is knowing how to “observe” important? Because when it comes to science, making observations is part of the job. A good scientist knows how to truly see something.

And then there’s the peaceful feeling that goes along with it.

Here’s how to do a Sit Spot lesson, according to Kimberley Smart, a Natural Sciences Educator with the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences:

Give each student a small drawing pad with heavier stock, some watercolor pencils, paintbrush, a smudgeable graphite drawing pencil like this one and an ink pen. (If you don’t know how to work with watercolor pencils or the other supplies, ask an art teacher.)

Use pencil to draw a color block

Then add a damp paintbrush to create palette

Pick a spot to sit for 15 minutes quietly. Observe your surroundings with all of your senses.

Set up each journal page by writing down the date, season, time, or weather. Write notes on animal activity. Listen quietly for two minutes, and write down three sounds that you hear. Choose a flower, plant or leaf to draw.

Do three “quick start” pencil drawings, capturing the shape of the plant. Don’t spend much time on any of the three quick starts — maybe two minutes each. When you’re finished, choose the one you like best, and continue with your drawing, adding watercolor paint. (Hint: It probably won’t be the first drawing.)

Quick starts help you develop skills of observation and drawing. And you won’t get stuck spending time on a drawing that was a weak start to begin with.

A final sit-spot drawing

Write a one-paragraph story to go along with your drawing. For example, if you chose to draw a flower, write a story from the perspective of an insect visiting the flower.

Observe the spot once a week for several weeks. Record the changes you observe in your spot.

Other Sit Spot lesson ideas:

Compare Leaves. Find two or three leaves that have different shapes. Draw the leaves. First draw the midrib, then the veins, then draw the edges and add any notes. Compare then. How are the veins arranged? Is the leaf smooth on both sides, or is one side fuzzy?

Does Drawing Help You Remember? Collect a bunch of leaves. Let everyone pick a leaf to diagram. All the leaves go into a bag while everyone closes their journals so they can’t see the leaf diagrams. Now, set all the leaves on the table and ask everyone to find their leaves from memory.

Eye Level Observations. Draw three things at eye level — up close, nearby, and far off.

Rub It In. Make pencil rubbings of leaves.

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