Parts of a River


An observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing. – Charlotte Mason

For the last two weeks we have been taking small groups of children to the Charles River to create a collaborative mural. Our atelierista was going to introduce the concept of creating murals and we chose to do so in this fashion since the Charles River is our school’s Umbrella Project right now. I am glad that we did, because it gave me an opportunity to see what each child seems to be most interested in in regards to the river.

Each group started out by standing by the river and talking about what they observed. Some children focused just on the seaweed or spider webs, others were interested in the ducks or the bridges.

We then had each group draw a piece of the river. Initially we had planned on each group drawing a different section of the river: the water, the plant life, the animals, the buildings, etc. It became apparent quickly though that the children were drawn to particular parts of the river, not always in the category assigned to their group.

 First, they drew their sketches on small paper.


Then our atelierista prompted them to figure out where to transfer their sketch to our big paper.

Then we added paint to our drawings.


The world is but a canvas to the imagination. – Kenry David Thoreau

For most of the groups, the river itself wasn’t what appealed to them but what inhabited the river. They added ducks swimming, spiders hiding, and people running along the river. A large section of the mural is seaweed. There is but a faint line that represents the river itself.

I wonder

  • How this initial deep observation of the river will effect their next steps
  • What they will say/think about their finished mural when we put it up
  • What will they be most drawn to in the finished piece
  • How they will find a way to connect to the inhabitants of the river
  • What knowledge of the river they gained from this experience/how they will use it



For observing nature, the best pace is a snail’s pace. – Edwin Way Teale

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s