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April 29, 2013

Open Up Creative Art

Blog Photo 1Art is truly one of a kind. It is not craft, it is not following a prompt, and it is not the gluing of shapes to create a suggested animal. Art is from within and without boundaries. In early childhood, it is perfectly fine to have an assortment of activities to address a variety of objectives. Recognizing and building vocabulary for shapes, colors, directions, and other parts of language may require a more directed approach that involves precut shapes, prompting, and step by step directions. Each of these is important in its own way, but they are not ‘art’ in the truest sense.

When a child steps up to a blank piece of easel paper and an assortment of tempera paints and brushes, a create art experience has the opportunity to take form. Designing the environment with a blank slate invites them to respond to internal motivations, ideas, and imagination instead of responding to a set of instructions or a prompt that could limit them from searching for creativity from within.

If a child is hesitant or unsure of how to begin, ask open ended questions to help them jump start their imagination – “What could you do with these materials? How could you use this brush? Do you have anything in mind you would like to create?” During true open ended creative art experiences, avoid giving suggestions or demonstrating techniques, but instead allow them to discover and invent ways to use the materials on their ownBlog Photo 2.

Equally important is helping them realize that anything they create is valuable, regardless of who likes it. It is important that they like it or that they learned something from it. When a child asks, “Do you like it?” the best response is the same question: “Do you like it? It doesn’t matter what I think. It only matters if you like it or that you enjoyed creating it.”

Blog Photo 3

Children are born creative, eager to learn, willing to try new ways of doing things, curious about how things work, and curious about why things happen as they do. Designing their environment and experiences to fully embrace those qualities enhances growth, development, independent thought, and higher order thinking. From a social emotional standpoint, it nurtures a healthy self-concept, builds confidence, and encourages high self-esteem.

Teachers have an important role in this process. Fostering self-empowerment is an amazing thing. It gives children the foundation to seek out answers, pursue ideas, and most importantly, conquer the inevitable adversity ahead.