Preschool and the Arts
Introducing children to new concepts is one of my favorite things to do in preschool.
It is so easy to get into the ABC rut prepping them for Kindergarten from a "McDonald's" style checklist and even easier to drown in the mundane of daily routines and circle times.
We have to keep things fresh and engaging. Part of that is not becoming bored ourselves and our Mother Goose Time curriculum ensures that every single day is fresh, inviting, and engaging!
This is why I LOVE introducing children to the Fine Arts. It gives them a window into the bigger world they live in and gives us an opportunity to watch them interpret and create masterpieces of their own.
Some would say, "They are too little!" "Why bother?" "Just stick to the basics..."
The basics??!! The basics assume that children are not capable of amazing things. "Too little" is a adjective for small thinking.
"Why bother?" Just look for yourself and see what these little learners created with some basic materials. They are proud. They are engaged. They are imagining and creating and inventing and interpreting. These activities build language skills, fine motor skills, observational and spatial relationship skills. What's not to LOVE!!!
The Science of Art
In this Fine Arts lesson we utilized Van Gogh's, "Olive Trees with Yellow Sun," provided by the educators at Mother Goose Time.
Teaching Fine Arts to preschool children allows teachers and children to learn together through observation and conversation. Much of how a child learns is first through conversation and engaging each student on the same level.
"Teachers respond to a student’s comment on a painting by paraphrasing the comment and taking it to the next level,
"Perhaps a student will notice a figure. The teacher will then say, “so you are noticing this figure in the left-hand foreground of the painting?”
“We’re giving them language they wouldn’t normally have in a context that is meaningful to them right in the moment,” she said
"It is important for the teacher to paraphrase the student’s comment in such a way that the student feels understood and the rest of the group can grasp what the student has said, Gulden said. Teachers have to let go of their agendas and ideas and follow the child,"
"Using high-quality artwork is also important," Morin said, "particularly in terms of stimulating observations by the children."
“You can keep going back to a masterwork and see something different every time,” she said. “If it’s not a high-quality work, it doesn’t have that depth.”
,Grace Hwang Lynch, explained this concept well in, "The Importance of Art in Child Development."
"Developmental Benefits of Art
Motor Skills: Many of the motions involved in making art, such as holding a paintbrush or scribbling with a crayon, are essential to the growth of fine motor skills in young children. According to the National Institutes of Health, developmental milestones around age three should include drawing a circle and beginning to use safety scissors. Around age four, children may be able to draw a square and begin cutting straight lines with scissors. Many preschool programs emphasize the use of scissors because it develops the dexterity children will need for writing.
Language Development: For very young children, making art—or just talking about it—provides opportunities to learn words for colors, shapes and actions. When toddlers are as young as a year old, parents can do simple activities such as crumpling up paper and calling it a “ball.” By elementary school, students can use descriptive words to discuss their own creations or to talk about what feelings are elicited when they see different styles of artwork.
Decision Making: According to a report by Americans for the Arts, art education strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. The experience of making decisions and choices in the course of creating art carries over into other parts of life. “If they are exploring and thinking and experimenting and trying new ideas, then creativity has a chance to blossom,” says MaryAnn Kohl, an arts educator and author of numerous books about children’s art education.
Visual Learning: Drawing, sculpting with clay and threading beads on a string all develop visual-spatial skills, which are more important than ever. Even toddlers know how to operate a smart phone or tablet, which means that even before they can read, kids are taking in visual information. This information consists of cues that we get from pictures or three-dimensional objects from digital media, books and television.
“Parents need to be aware that children learn a lot more from graphic sources now than in the past,” says Dr. Kerry Freedman, Head of Art and Design Education at Northern Illinois University. “Children need to know more about the world than just what they can learn through text and numbers. Art education teaches students how to interpret, criticize, and use visual information, and how to make choices based on it.” Knowledge about the visual arts, such as graphic symbolism, is especially important in helping kids become smart consumers and navigate a world filled with marketing logos.
Inventiveness: When kids are encouraged to express themselves and take risks in creating art, they develop a sense of innovation that will be important in their adult lives. “The kind of people society needs to make it move forward are thinking, inventive people who seek new ways and improvements, not people who can only follow directions,” says Kohl. “Art is a way to encourage the process and the experience of thinking and making things better!”
Cultural Awareness: As we live in an increasingly diverse society, the images of different groups in the media may also present mixed messages. “If a child is playing with a toy that suggests a racist or sexist meaning, part of that meaning develops because of the aesthetics of the toy—the color, shape, texture of the hair,” says Freedman. Teaching children to recognize the choices an artist or designer makes in portraying a subject helps kids understand the concept that what they see may be someone’s interpretation of reality.
Improved Academic Performance: Studies show that there is a correlation between art and other achievement. A report by Americans for the Arts states that young people who participate regularly in the arts (three hours a day on three days each week through one full year) are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math and science fair or to win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate."
And now......The Masterpiece!
As you can see from the variations of interpretations and level of development each child has a unique masterpiece. These went home with smiles and compliments and were a grand addition to many art walls and refrigerators.
We love providing the time and freedom to allow our students to experience the Fine Arts and recreate what is in their own hearts and minds.
All in a day of play at Woolsey Academy.
I wish you well and I hope you get to play today!
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Life is made of moments...
"There isn't anything more full of hope, joy and peace than a child's smile... It captures the mundane and makes it extraordinary." - LaDonna Woolsey
I am a Mother Goose Time Blogger. I decided to become one after trying their products because I they are comprehensive and serve my mixed age group well. I do receive products to review from Mother Goose Time and do so with my own honest and thorough opinions. For more information, please contact me at Ladonna@woolseyacademy.com