Here’s a resurrected draft from 2009.
Kids naturally are inclined to create. If we are made in the image of God, then it is just natural that we would mimic our Creator. It is necessary for us to create, be it with words in writing, with clay or colored pencils in art, with our bodies in dance, with code in programming.
There are some who say art lessons are not necessary, that what a child needs is just lots of art supplies and free exploration time. I agree, there is a time and place for that. However, the above is like saying that to be a writer all you need is words and lots of free exploration time with those words. Yet, how am I to know just how to use those words most effectively if I haven’t been taught rules and tools for using those words. A writer writes and rewrites, finding the best word, but if she hasn’t been taught about the importance of word choice, she might just choose the first word that comes into her mind. Similarly, there are elements and principles of art that do need to be taught in some capacity.
One reader once wrote me:
“…I make art supplies available for (my children) and I bought a few books …. They recommend the process not the product, so when I saw your posts and how you do art with Bear, I felt it was too directed. But leaving them with the art material and not giving any instruction is not helping them learn anything about art…”
Here was my response to her:
“As a former art teacher in the primary and elementary level, I can assure you that children DO need directed art lessons, as well as free exploration lessons. It is important to let a toddler (age 12 months to 3 years) get lots of exploration before starting formal art lessons.
That said, Bear, at 4 has had LOTS and LOTS of this free exploration of art.
She is ready to learn how to draw from observation and the Paul Cezanne lesson was all about that.
I do not remember the ages of your children, but do make sure you give them some process oriented experiences like mentioned in the books you have. Those are GREAT books. For lessons for the artists, although I haven’t seen the lessons plans written by Pink and Green Mama, I think they would be easy for you to follow and there is a color photo of each project. I have a book called Discovering Great Artists by Mary Ann Kohl that is excellent also.
If you want to teach the the principles and elements of art then I recommend How to Teach Art to Children by Evan Moor. It is item EMC 760. Although it is geared for children grades 1 to 6 the majority of projects are easy enough for a child of 3 or 4 (depending on the child).”
I don’t think I gave as many free art exploration experiences to J-jo as I did to Bear. He likes art, but not to the extent Bear does and I sometimes wonder if it is a result of the lack of early childhood free art experiences. So, give your kids plenty of free art time, but also provide them instruction, to stretch them, and to give them new techniques and ideas that they can then apply in their next free art time.