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Young Artists Build a Connection to Nature

Fourth-grade students explore Asian species and teach us reverence for the world around us

  • monkeys batik

    Golden snub-nosed monkey created by a 4th grade student at Sidwell Friends School, Bethesda, Md.

  • dolphin batik

    River dolphin created by a 4th grade student at Sidwell Friends School, Bethesda, Md.

  • red panda batik

    Red panda created by a 4th grade student at Sidwell Friends School, Bethesda, Md.

  • Rhino created by a 4th grade student at Sidwell Friends School, Bethesda, Md.

  • crocodile batik

    Gharial created by a 4th grade student at Sidwell Friends School, Bethesda, Md.

  • gaur batik

    Guar created by a 4th grade student at Sidwell Friends School, Bethesda, Md.

  • saola batik

    Przewalski's horse created by a 4th grade student at Sidwell Friends School, Bethesda, Md.

  • rhino batik

    Rhino created by a 4th grade student at Sidwell Friends School, Bethesda, Md.

  • red panda batik

    Red panda created by a 4th grade student at Sidwell Friends School, Bethesda, Md.

  • monkey batik

    Golden siamang created by a 4th grade student at Sidwell Friends School, Bethesda, Md.

As children we enjoy a natural curiosity about all living things. Young people discover Earth’s abundance in a variety of ways—from playing in the great outdoors, to creating in the classroom. For the students of Sabreena Jeru-Ahmed, an art teacher at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., lessons about the wonders of nature take place partly through art.

With a curriculum grounded in teaching students about the natural world and their relationship to it, fourth-graders completed a research project on Asian species in their classroom. Inspired by this project, Jeru-Ahmed then asked the students to showcase what they had learned by creating images of the different species in batik—an ancient cloth dyeing technique. The result is a gallery of iconic species like the Asian rhino and the less familiar gaur and gharial.

“Art is a perfect discipline to reach into different subject matter children are learning in other classrooms and provides an opportunity to convey it through the lens of feelings,” said Jeru-Ahmed.

The lesson for these fourth-graders is also a lesson for us all—a reminder of the value of nature and the understanding that we are all connected.