Shapes inspired by Andy Goldsworthy

I love Andy Goldsworthy’s ephemeral sculptures. I feel like they are so in tune with the environment and that he has such an incredible understanding of his surroundings and its changing elements. I did a lesson on Andy Goldsworthy with high school students several years ago, and I’m not sure they were as impressed with him as I was. I decided to introduce him to our toddler group and see what they thought.

We started by watching a clip from the documentary Rivers and Tides, just to get them thinking about using leaves, sticks, and rocks to make art. Here is the clip:

We talked about the shapes that Andy made with his materials. The kids identified lines and circles and “pinecones.” They loved the hole in Andy created with the rowan leaves at the end of the video. Then we went outside to find some materials. I’ll admit that it was a little difficult to keep them on task–they wanted to turn on the hose, play in the sandbox, and generally just wander off instead of look for interesting things in the yard.

looking for material

When we had collected enough material, we found a shady spot on the driveway to make our arrangements. Since I was working with a group of children ages 2-4, I decided that completing a simple arrangement on the concrete would be challenging enough, and I was right. I first asked them if they could sort the materials by size. This (sort of) worked, with a couple of the kids catching on, and the younger ones crushing things or checking out the garbage can.

contemplating the material

After they had finished sorting, we talked about what shapes we could make. The first suggestion and successful attempt was a triangle, with Miss L making this:


The next discovery was that some rose petals were really shaped like hearts:

heart-shaped petals

And she decided to make them into a circle.

petal circle

C-man arranged his smooth leaves in an arch by size:

arranging leaves

Even though this project took a bit more coaching than I would have liked during the collecting phase and ended rather quickly once we actually started arranging materials, I still think it was a success. The kids really liked identifying the shapes and materials that Andy Goldsworthy used in the film, and they were proud of the shapes they made from their materials. Little O even requested to watch more of the “holes” movie later in the afternoon.

We’ll try this again when the kids are a bit older; I think it would go over very well with 6-8-year-olds.





2 thoughts on “Shapes inspired by Andy Goldsworthy

    • Thanks Amanda! Your kids will love it. If you want an extra kid, let me know. Little O would love a playdate!

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