Art is so much fun. Children love to create and take. If the child is drawn to the art area they should be introduced to skills that further their creative endeavors. The art area, however, should not be a free for all. There should be a well thought out shelf of simple to complex activities set up to enable the child to master skills like cutting with scissors, painting, pasting, cleaning brushes, sponging up spills, taping paper to surfaces, and replenishing materials for the next person.
It takes a certain amount of preparation, patience and micromanagement to have a functioning art program in the classroom. What is important to keep in mind is how much you want as a teacher to be connected and disconnected from the creative process of the child - it is our job only to give the child the resources and tools in which to be creative. This means that we should be methodical in our planning and presentations. Plan ahead and make sure that there is lots of room for expression within limits. This is sometimes difficult to wrap your head around in the creative art area because it is art after all. Remember though that you are laying the foundation for healthy and safe work habits. So, there should be tools available for any “mess” that could be made by the budding artist. Children appreciate order and will work hard, given the necessary tools, to restore that order.
Always have art activities available in the practical life area. Utilize this area to introduce skills used later in art application and appreciation. The aim of the art area is to prepare the child for more complicated and multiple step art. Preliminary activities include but are not limited to: separating – tearing, paper punching, cutting, pin punching; joining – gluing, pasting, paper Mache, collage; painting – printing, stamping, relief printing; sculpture – clay, play dough, paper sculpture, origami.
As the year progresses the children are ready for multiple step art processes. This is a good time to introduce the elements of art – line, shape, color, value, texture, form, and space . The elements of art can be shown to the child and given a name during a lesson and then later referenced in conversation. This way the child is given a name to the creative process that they are learning. The elements of art are so sensory based that the child will pick up the terms easily. Children love to learn new name and to share the knowledge of something they learned.
The best way to reinforce concepts learned is through practice. The elements of art are versatile and can be shown through many techniques and forms of media. It is important as a teacher to be informed and have access to real works of art. Creating a relationship with an art docent program is one way to bring art into the classroom. Thrift stores and eclectic stores like cost plus are also good places to shop if you are looking to spruce up your art collection. It is important to have tangible art materials that the children can examine with their own hands also.
Knowing the story of any given work of art is useful. Children love to hear stories and almost all works of art have a story. Exploring the history of the piece will lead you naturally into the study of the artist. The artists’ motives and the context which their works of art were made will steer you naturally towards styles in art. When trying to devise a plan of action for approaching art appreciation I thought to look first at the styles of art. I then figured out that it wasn’t enough to just sort and classify the works of art into styles as it was to participate in the process. Not to say that the styles of art should not be introduced. Styles of art should in fact be introduced simultaneously as all other activities mentioned above. However, since we are aiding in the artistic processes of the child, I would prefer to keep the study of styles in art to a graphic undertone. There are multiple ways that styles of art can be recognized such as through postcard sorting, conversations about an artist, games (dominoes, memory), or if you have the resources - thematically.