(This article first appeared in print in Christy's monthly feature, the Outside Art Table for Around the Park magazine, March 2018 and was republished here in March 2020 as a free resource for families during quarantine.)
How many shades of green can you find in spring? Grab that box of crayons full of moss, olive, jungle, asparagus, sea green, and screamin' green just waiting to be used in our green scavenger hunt. This activity has several challenge levels for all ages and abilities, so give it a try and see how far you can get with your great greens.
Ask your parent to help you gather these things you probably already have hiding around the house:
empty egg carton
paper, clipboard and pencil
box of crayons with many green choices
optional: magnifying lens, field lens or loop
Look for green things like mosses, ferns, leaves and grasses in your yard or at the park. Maybe you'll even find a four-leaf clover while you're on the jolly green hunt! Take the egg carton and fill each space with a green thing that you find. Then, mark your paper with crayon in different shades of green; try to match the crayon colors to the nature stuff. You can even blend two or more colors to make your own shade. Give your hunt to a family member and see if they can match the nature stuff to their color. Pretty simple, huh? Want to take it to the next level? Read on...
Do this hunt backward by marking the green colors on paper, giving someone the egg carton and the color chart, and having them hunt for the things that match those colors. Pretty soon, you'll be seeing green with your eyes closed.
Not challenging enough? This time, use only yellow and blue crayons to mix your greens. Since these are the two colors that make up green, it should be interesting to see how many combinations you can make and how closely you can match them to the green things you find. Challenge accepted!
Do you like to draw? Take it to the next level. Sketch the items you find with a pencil on paper and then color them in. Take your time looking at each shape and texture, using a magnifying lens if you have one, to make a detailed drawing.
Hold a leaf up to the sunlight or under the lens. Do you see lines running through it? Those are the veins that carry food from the leaves to the rest of the plant. Wouldn't it be cool if we could just raise our hands to the sky at snack time to create our own food? That's what green leaves are doing for their plant or tree. Instead of going to the grocery store and then coming home to prepare lunch, green plants capture sunlight in their leaves and then store it to make their own energy. You may have learned about this process called photosynthesis at school, but did you know all living things depend on green plants to stay alive? Thanks to the leaves, we can breathe and play at the park and drink a kale smoothie that tastes like peaches.
What do you think of the green creatures in the photos? Artists created these giant people in a place in England called the Lost Gardens of Heligan. They are as big as cars and made with plants that grow on sculptural wire. How many shades of green can you find in them? Maybe you can design your own green people sculptures that celebrate all things good and green.
Photo credits: These larger-than-life natural sculptures are by sibling artists, Pete and Sue Hill, designed for the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall, U.K.