This post is inspired by Everyartist Live!, a national, collaborative art event with the goal of engaging a million elementary school children on November 21, 2013 – the largest art event in history. Want to get involved? Join us in our efforts to show that #CreativityMatters. Sign up at http://everyartist.me.
If you follow the blog or spend any time with me, this statement should not come as a surprise, #creativitymatters. I am a strong believer in fostering creativity and encouraging your inner artist, so when the opportunity arose to partner as an affiliate with Everyartist.me to promote creativity and encourage children to participate in art, I could not pass it up!
I have never been a fan of "cookie cutter" art projects, especially for young children. It is heart wrenching for me to walk into the school to find nearly identical art projects hanging on the wall. It is not necessary for children to make the same thing, in fact, I think it can be quite stifling for their creativity. To really be creative, to really enjoy and produce a work of art, it has to come from the heart. Art is a process, not a product. Art is different for each and every child. It is the messy hands, the flow of your medium, the science of experimentation, and the celebration of the expression of our very being.
For more on my philosophy on children's art and crafts, you may want to check out these other blog posts from the archives:
We are all born artists, but often, somewhere along the way, many forget that. I am happy to be sharing with you our journey and philosophy as we leave the teacher driven "projects" behind for a more open-ended, child driven, creative art experience.
One way that you can encourage more creativity with art is to organize an art station where children have the opportunity to make their own decisions in regard to materials.
Here is an example: Our Art Station
Make art supplies readily accessible to the children. Our general rule is: If you can reach it, you can use it. If it is out of your reach, you are welcome to use it if you ask first. This way, we can put materials that are suitable for all ages on the lower shelves and those materials that need more supervision on the lower shelves.
What you place in the art station is completely up to you, but I recommend changing it up a bit from time to time.
Here are 10 things that I replenish due to frequent use:
1) Pipe Cleaners
4) Paint (various types)
8) Cardboard Tubes
There are also a number of things that are important to have available as tools:
Stamps & Ink Pads
As you work on letting go of the "projects" and allowing the children more freedom to choose supplies and create, Keep this list of tips in mind:
1). Real Art can be messy. Don't be afraid of the mess, it can be cleaned later.
2). Some children have a real hard time with things like aprons and smocks. You can keep them available, but please don't require them as they can be a HUGE deterrent in participation for some children.
3). Young children need to use too much before they learn how to use just enough. If your budget does not allow for unlimited use of materials- find cheap or free materials to work with. You can use a lot of recyclable materials in your art station.
4). Let go of the idea that what is created has to look like or "be" something. Change your perspective not only when looking at the art, but also when talking to children about art. Rather than asking what is it? or what are you making? Say something like.. "Tell me about your art" or indicate what you notice about their work using art vocabulary. (colors, lines, hues, etc)
5). Educate parents about the change or philosophy so that they can appreciate the process as well.
6). If it takes you longer to prepare than it does for the children to participate, it probably is not art.
7). Young children will almost always create "preschool brown" with their paintings when mixing colors. Let them decide when the painting is finished. If it takes 3 days to dry, it takes 3 days to dry. If the paper rips, the paper rips. It is their process -- give them the control over it.
8). Sometimes art requires movement, sometimes it happens while sitting down, sometimes while standing up. Remove as many restrictions as possible.
Do you have an open art area for the children to explore?
Or a favorite art material? I'd love to hear about it!
Now, a bit more about Everyartist.me:
On November 21, 2013 Everyartist Live will launch with a goal of engaging one million elementary school aged children in a collaborative art event. When this succeeds (as I believe it will), It will be the largest art event in HISTORY!
"At Everyartist.me, we believe fostering creativity is as important as Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. It will better prepare our kids to transform our country, and the world, in their lifetimes."
I hope you are as excited about this mission as I am- and that you will spread the word that #creativitymatters and sign up to participate today!