Cacti + Succulents

The theme of the autumn term workshop block was cacti! This is an activity I had been promising the children for a while – but with the summer term being such a short block, it wasn’t possible to do it then.

This workshop was a fabulous opportunity for the children to have a go at a little bit of everything – observational drawing, model making and painting. During week one we looked at a variety of cacti and other succulents, studying the different shapes, colours and textures. I then presented the children with a selection of about 10 different plants – I encouraged them to look closely at their form, texture, patterns and colour. They picked up the pots, used magnifying glasses, and tried to identify whether the plants were smooth, spikey, soft, or rough.

Using a variety of drawing materials and papers, the children made some lovely observational sketches, some of the full plants, others zooming in on detail – all focusing on the bits the children found interesting.

Week 2 and we started out making some fun models based on the forms of these wonderfully shaped plants! We used old florists wire, that had been donated to me, modelling wire and sheets of thin scrap of paper. After demonstrating a few ways of modelling, the children got to work with folding, scrunching, tearing, sticking twisting and bending… all the time referring back to their sketches and the plants so they could translate their 2D sketches in to 3D sculptures. Once they were happy with shapes, they coated the paper with a layer of PVA glue.

Before the third workshop, I took their sculptures and planted them in terracotta pots and packed them out with newspaper and Plaster of Paris and left them overnight to dry. The final workshop saw the children using their imagination to paint their plants. Some were very creative and chose to exaggerate colour and pattern, while others chose to be more realistic. All with wonderful effects!!