Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Littles Learning Link Up: Guest Post- Exploring Art with Preschoolers

Welcome to Littles Learning Link Up. Each month you will find:
  • A seasonal round-up (at the beginning of the month)
  • A guest post featuring crafts, activities, tips, snack ideas or other early childhood topics. (the third week of the month)
  • Posts where I share what I have been up to with my preschoolers and/or early elementary children (with the occasional free printable).
Each week, I will host a link up, where you can share either what you have been up to recently, or old posts that may go with the theme.  Feel free to link up more than one post.

Each week I will continue to feature a couple of posts from those that have been linked up. 

I hope you will continue to share your wonderful posts, and I hope you will find something new to try with your child.

Today I am excited to introduce you to Wren from FinchWren

Wren pic for art post 2 Wren has homeschooled her child for the past 10 years, and has done a lot of art in the process! She loves her amazing husband and son, homeschooling, books and good coffee. She blogs with her sister at finchnwren.com. 
Exploring Art With Preschoolers banner 
 Moms of preschoolers can attest to the fact that children love to make art. Whether it's crayons, watercolors, modeling clay, or pipe cleaners, these little ones can create for hours. As a homeschool mom, I've spent hours with my son painting, drawing, sculpting. And that was before he was even a preschooler...but it continued from there! Art creation has always been one of our favorite ways to pass the time. I've discovered since then, that not only can preschoolers create, they can observe and appreciate fine art, whether it's paintings, sculpture, architecture...really, anything in the visual arts spectrum. I've learned a process which any parent, whether she is well-versed in art or not, can open the world of understanding of this subject to her children. It's both simple to learn and enjoyable!

Teaching children to observe art 

The best thing about this process is that ANY parent can do it. You don't have to be a trained artist...or even a creative person! I learned this process at a teacher's art seminar, and it's based on a process created by Abigail Housen and Philip Yenawine called Visual Thinking Strategies. Museums and teachers all over the world use this successfully. And so can homeschoolers! I don't follow the VTS program exactly (as you'll see) but it is an excellent way to lead children in developing an eye for art. All you really have to do is:
  • Ask children what they see
  • Point out, and restate, what they are seeing (with the focus being on what the children see, not what the teacher sees)
  • And repeat!

Doesn't that sound simple? In case you're not convinced, let me demonstrate it for you. We were able to see an exhibit of John James Audubon's wildlife paintings at a museum, not too long ago. You probably recognize this painting.

American Flamingo:
"American Flamingo," by John James Audubon
"American Flamingo" by John James Audubon
 So, if I were teaching about this painting, I wouldn't introduce it at all. Instead, I'd begin by asking the children questions, such as:
  • What do you see in this picture? (Children's answers could include: a pink bird; a flamingo; water; flamingos in the background; black and white drawings at the top; a bird with a long neck; a bird drinking water, etc.)
  • Each time a child makes an observation, I'd restate what they said slightly differently, and I'd point to what they were describing. For example, I could say, "A bird with a long neck," as I pointed out the neck from top to bottom. Or, "A group of flamingos in the background," as I touched the eight birds in the back.
  • If the children run out of specific observations, and I see more, I'd simply say, "What else do you notice about this picture?" At this point, perhaps children might see the background colors; what the anatomical drawings at the top might be; the flamingo's shadow at his feet; his beak; and so forth. Each time they make a new observation, I'd continue the process of pointing out what they've seen and restating it in different words.
You will be absolutely amazed how much even a 3- or 4-year-old child can notice about a painting. And the wonderful thing about this process is that you will both likely see things in the art that you might not have noticed before! This process works equally well when you're at home looking at a print or actually in a museum, viewing fine art. (The difference is that, clearly, you do not want to touch art in a museum as you point at what the children are seeing!) 

And then what? Normally, at this point, one could do some further study. That's when the public library comes in handy. We've checked out storybooks about the artist and his life, and art books with reproductions of the artist's paintings. We've read and learned more, and looked at more of the artist's creations. (At this point, you can follow the question-and-answer process again, or you simply look at the art.) Lastly, I can't move on from the artist without completing an art project with my child. You can do an online search for children's art projects in the style of the artist. (Or, just look on Pinterest!) The Internet is just full of wonderful ideas. 

In conclusion: Even if you have never taught art before, you can do it! Look for artists that you're drawn to, or even start at the end and find projects online that you think your child would enjoy doing. Then work back to the artist and a specific work of art to study. This process is so easy to apply---and you and your child will both learn something! Enjoy! --Wren

Now It's Time For:

Littles Learning Link Up Features

On my last Littles Learning Link Up post, there were 8 wonderful posts linked up. I will be picking one randomly selected post to share, plus the top clicked-on post.  

This week's randomly selected post is:

Michelle from Research Parent shared Rhyming Wheels (with Free Printable).

The following posts tied for the most number of clicks:

The Practical Mom shared 17 Airplane and Hotel Busy Bags.

I would love to have you join in this week! What sort of activities do you do with your young children? Do you have some favorite activities you would like to share? I invite you to link up below. I will be pinning posts on my Toddler Ideas or other relevant board, and I would love to feature some of the activities each week from what is linked up.

Please know I may share a picture from your post and link back to it, along with sharing how we used your idea in our school time. By linking up you are giving me permission to use a picture from your post. I will ALWAYS give credit and link back. Additionally, if you choose to try out any of the ideas with your child, please make sure you give credit where credit is due.

Linky will be open through Sunday night, to give me time to check out all the posts and get the Features organized. Please take the time to visit some of the other wonderful posts linked up.



Thank you for visiting my blog today. I love to read your comments, so please leave me one if you have the time.

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