Art via Nature

Students in younger age like having activities in outdoor. In this learning scenario which I’ve applied, we started with a “scavenger hunt activity” to explore natural texture around our school. Then my students have had experiences with an interdisiclinary lesson process both inside and outside of the school via a natural material “pine cone”.

In this learning scenario:

Pine cones

Age of the students: 9-10

Teaching time: 40’+40’+40+40′

Materials: Pine cones, hot and cold water, two bowls, acrylic paint, brushes and scavenger hunt forms. You can find a sample of scavenger hunt paper below:

Online tools: YouTube, Padlet, Artsteps

Aims of the lesson:

  • Students will be able to make connections between the situation of materials in nature and weather conditions,
  • Students will be able to realize mathematical order in nature,
  • Students will be able to make predictions and connections,
  • Students will be able to establish and test hypotheses,
  • Students will be able to design artistic works

During the lesson we use out of school learning, design thinking and STEAM approach.


Students find materials in the scavenger hunt form. They work in groups. They recognize the natural area around the school. As they are filling the form they should collect pine cones to their basket. Then students think about questions below and share their ideas in Padlet:

  • Why some pine cones are closed and why some of them are open?
  • Is there a relationship between weather condition and pine cones?
  • Can pine cones’ spirals have a mathematical order?
  • Can we use pine cones for art?
This photo is the author’s own– (Attribution CC-BY)


Students asked to make predictions and establish hypothesizes about the topic:

  • There is a relationship between weather condition and pine cones (open or closed).
  • The pine cones are closed in water.
  • The pines cones are closed faster in hot water.

Then for testing hypnotizes we set an experiment and apply. For the experiment we use two bowls: one of them has cold water and the other one has hot water. Students noticed that when the pine cones hit the water they closed up.The pine cones in the cold water closed quicker than the ones in hot water. Students realize that pine cones are like seeds: when it is warm and dry, the pine cone opens to release cone’s seeds.

This photo is the author’s own– (Attribution CC-BY)


Students and teacher go back to padlet and third question and whole-group debate it. Then students watch the video:

Students count and calculate on their pine cones and they realize the mathematical order and fibonacci numbers. Teachers asks “Can be same or similar situation in other materials in nature?” Students work in group, make research on internet and present their findings.


This photo is the author’s own– (Attribution CC-BY)

Teacher explains students that they prepare art works with pine cones, acrylic paints and other materials which students choose. “It is better to paint open pine cones” says teacher and asks students how to turn closed pinecones to open. According to previous lessons’ knowledge students make their predictions. They remember that pine cones should be warm and dry to open. So they bake pine cones before the designing part.

Students make their designs. All the designs are on display in an exhibition in school corridor. For sharing the exhibition with parents and more people there is an online exhibition too:


All visuals belong to the Author – Attribution CC-BY

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About bokur

I'm a primary school teacher in Binali Yıldırım İlkokulu, İstanbul. I've been working as a teacher since 2007. I'm a Phd student at the Marmara University Institute of Educational Sciences. I'm interested in out of school learning, socioscientific issues, ecological literacy and 21st century skills.