Teaching Writing

Framing Nature: Prompts for Writing Outside

“Young people, I want to beg of you always keep your eyes open to what Mother Nature has to teach you. By so doing you will learn many valuable things every day of your life.” – George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver, a man born into slavery who grew up to be one of America’s most important scientific researchers and inventors, always held a deep love and appreciation for nature. When he wasn’t observing the natural world for scientific purposes, he often painted nature and even painted with nature, becoming known for his pigments made from barks and berries.

Kim Ruffin of Outdoor Afro was inspired to create with and within nature after a visit to the George Washington Carver National Monument and here she walks us through her process of leaf rubbing to create a colorful backdrop for her haiku poem. In the second video. Elizabeth Farris takes you out on a nature observation walk with her family to collect what she calls ‘tiny beautiful things’ to paint with, paint on, and look at closely as she guides you in writing a Nature Observational Poem!

Writing “Sparks”

Spark from Kim Ruffin, Outdoor Afro Leader – Creating a four-color leaf rubbing palette for your nature poetry.

Content focus: George Washington Carver’s inspiration to create a leaf rubbing for poetry
Age-level recommendations: young writers, middle writers, advanced writers
Time: 6:00

Professor Kim Ruffin, an Outdoor Afro leader, tells us how a trip to the George Washington Carver Museum inspired her to use nature in creating art just as he did in his lifetime, and she created the four-palette leaf rubbing technique as a background for poetry. A downloadable handout is also available.

Spark from Elizabeth Farris – Nature to Spark Creativity!

Content focus: Creating with Nature and Nature Observational Poetry
Age-level recommendations: young writers, middle writers
Time: 13:23

Kim Farris walks with her family through the Forest Run Metro Park Wildlife Reserve observing nature, taking photos, and finding ‘tiny beautiful things’ that they can bring back home and use in creating art. After they paint sticks, draw cicada leaves and use a buck-eye shell as a stamper for paint, Kim teaches you how to write an Observational Poem based on something found in nature. A downloadable handout is also available.

Related resources

Below are related resources gathered to further support inquiry and exploration of this topic. If you have additional resources to recommend, please share them online via the hashtag #writeout

Traditional Haiku: Poetry of Nature: This open educational resource is meant to support understanding Haiku as a form as well as writing them.

George Washington Carver: George Washington Carver was an American agricultural scientist and inventor who promoted alternative crops to cotton and methods to prevent soil depletion. He was one of the most prominent black scientists of the early 20th century. Learn more here on Wikipedia.

This post is part of the Poetry-powered Prompts for Writing Outside collection.

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