Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Dozen Benefits of Art Time with Kids


1) Time Together (Social Interaction)
"Mommy, I love having art time with you." Let me tell you, that'll melt your heart one day. My now 3-year-old told me that just last week. And I have heard the same from parents who are doing art with their kiddos: it's time they love to spend together. Some find it de-stressing, as in stress-relieving; some love connecting after a long day's work; some just love talking and creating together.
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2) Sensory Experiences
A child’s first intellectual learning comes naturally through his or her sensory experiences. Materials that expose children to different colors, forms, sizes, sounds, smells, temperatures, weights, and textures help them to learn about the world around them. The art process and art supplies Little Scribblers use provide many opportunities for sensory experiences.

3) Exploring the World
It goes without saying that we have an innate curiosity about what's around us. Art gives the opportunity to explore that as well as create representations of the natural world.


4) Gross and Fine Motor Skill Development
Creating art takes both sets of muscles; the big ones (gross) and the little ones (fine). Throughout development, children move from control over bigger movements to the more finite and delicate movements of the fingertips. Art gives children more experience, practice, and desire to control those muscles.


5) Pre-Writing Skills
Many things that seem like "just playing" are developing skills needed later for writing. Gross motor (upper body) muscle work, eye-hand coordination, processing sensory information, pushing, pulling, twisting, turning, squeezing, poking, pinching, tearing, crumpling, and stringing are just a few examples of art techniques that develop muscles and hand skills needed for manipulating a writing tool.

6) Enhancing Language (a pre-reading skill)
All of the words a child hears in the beginning years of life set the stage for reading. The more you talk and read with a child, the more vocabulary they have to apply to reading later in life. Art involves vocabulary that a child might not otherwise hear.

7) Self-discipline & Boundaries
Art is often an experience that comes with some boundaries and responsibilities. While this can be frustrating for both parents and kids alike, even young children can learn how to use art tools and where the final product is expected to go. :) Experience, exploration, and gentle guidance will eventually get them there.

8) Problem-solving
Many problem-solving opportunities crop up through art. Young children are starting with the basics: space and layout, construction and deconstruction, how art supplies react to their actions and how they want them to act, color intentions and color realities, how paper or other art surfaces absorb the medium, muscle control, etc.

9) Confidence & Self-concept
A child's confidence builds as (s)he contributes to a final art piece, or even completes an entire project solo. Specific praise ("Wow, look at how straight you made that line!") and placing final projects in places of honor (refrigerators, walls, windows, etc.) makes a child feel valued for his or her contribution and achievements.

10) Scientific Concepts
Cause and effect, changes in matter (color mixing, saturation, evaporation), chemical changes (puffy paint), biological diversity (nature as art tools), and more can be explored through art. Some projects even lend themselves to the scientific process.


11) Personal Expression
Toddlers, two-year-olds, and some children with special needs have difficulty expressing themselves. It's part of what innately drives us to learn to communicate. Sometimes art is just a fun way to spend some time, sometimes it's a way to relax, sometimes it's an expression of something important in the eyes of the creator, no matter what age or ability.

12) Initiative
Ever wish for a few moments just to do the dishes? After working with my own Little Scribbler for three years with art supplies and techniques, I hit the mother lode one day. We had a bunch of incomplete crafts from a summer art class we went to, so I set them out around the table and said, "go!" I had about half an hour of free time while she was able to do her projects completely on her own (aside from the octopus that I helped with pictured below). These days, with a not-quite-3½-year-old, she grabs some paper, her colors, and sits down for some art time completely on her own and without prompting! ...kind of hilarious that the first benefit is time together and this one is essentially time apart. :) We need some of both, right?!









Added benefits of Little Scribblers Art Club:
1) No Internet research needed: it's all planned for you.
2) No bead crafts: it's safe and developmentally appropriate.
3) No trips to the store: it's all there and delivered to your door.
4) No foam crafts: it's eco-conscious.

www.littlescribblersartclub.com

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

It Takes a Community...

When I was in high school, I babysat for a family with three kiddos. The oldest was a self-entertainer. The middle, I could play babies with and she'd be happy (she even named one of her baby dolls after me--quite an honor). The youngest, well he was never happy without his mama. One of the most helpful things in managing all three of those kids at age 16, was a subscription art club that the oldest girl could take out when I was there watching the three of them. Now I was down to two kids to entertain...after Donald stopped crying, anyway.

And that's the beauty of life...things come around full circle.

I'm now the founder of Little Scribblers Art Cluba subscription art club for toddlers, twos, and children with special needs. I'm appreciating several influences in this process...consider this my thank you and acknowledgements page. :)

1) Summer baby art classes at my local community center that made me want to keep going through the year.

2) That art club from long ago...that made me search the Internet high and low for just such a thing for my own toddler. 

3) A bad experience with a toddler art club by mail. Look at that, something positive from something negative! :)

4) Friends who were on board with trying things out in a test group with their own toddlers and preschoolers: Annette, Tauna, and Ben & Stephanie (with my godkids)!

5) My bestie, who designs like no other! Having an amazing graphic designer backing you is pretty awesome.

6) My Early Childhood Education program at George Fox University. Who knew I'd ever use those art classes? Not me!

7) A blogger who freely gave art ideas to me and reshaped my thinking about whether this was a club for a particular age or developmental stage.

8) Another friend who used his photography talent and shared business tips.

9) A magazine that influenced the eco-friendly practices and even the formatting of the direction pages in Little Scribblers Art Club.

10) My early supporters, friends and family, mostly found here, other test groups, friends who let me use pictures of their kids doing art, people who let me yak about the business end of things even though I know nothing about the business end of things, supply companies who make sure their products are environmentally conscious and have slave-free initiatives, mentors like Bernie, a cousin who spent time cutting yarn and sorting glitter, a particular post office that was super helpful and friendly, a husband who has taken on the "Vice President" title even though there is no such thing in our company (but, hey, at least he contributes to the work load) and I'm sure this list will be ever growing...

And of course, my own Little Scribbler:




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Friday, July 26, 2013

Finding Truly Toddler-friendly Art

We opened our "toddler fun stuff kit" from a certain company to find: stickers (yay!), a foam door hanger, a small foam sticker magnet craft :( , a beaded key chain craft :( :( , and a letter tracing workbook :( :( :( . Hmmmm...not what I had in mind for my (at the time) 15-month-old even though the description on the web site was clearly developmentally appropriate! Needless to say, we discontinued that club's service and took our money out into the wide world to start a path of discovery when it comes to toddler-friendly art supplies and crafts.

Since I already had a couple of favorite parenting sites, Pinterest was on the rise, and we live within five miles of several arts & crafts stores, I had a good starting place. My evaluation criteria had to evolve through this process, and that's what I want to share with you: how do you know that an art supply or craft will work for your Little Scribbler?




1) It's safe. This is a biggie and really depends on where a child is on the developmental spectrum. Is your child still exploring things with his or her mouth? Does your child play with things around his or her neck? Does your child eat non-food items? My Little Scribbler went through all of these phases at different times, so it felt like an ever-changing need...kind of like baby-proofing. 

Industry has standards already in place for things that are made for children (ASTM), but we naturally use all kinds of things in art that aren't meant for children and therefore aren't labelled with warnings. A few things to consider for safety:

  • Anything that can fit through a toilet paper tube can block an airway. (P.S. Don't use toilet paper tubes as they can be contaminated with fecal matter; use paper towel rolls instead.)
  • Things that are really small (glitter, beads, rice) can be inhaled into the lungs, or can collectively block an airway.
  • Any string over 12 inches (yes only 12!) is considered a strangulation risk, even more so if anything is attached to it because they can tangle to form a loop. This is why hardly any pull-toy these days actually reaches a child's hands without them stooping over. Also, anything that forms a loop (such as a necklace) has a greater risk of catching on something and becoming more of a strangulation hazard. For Little Scribblers, tape the ends of a necklace together instead of tying; this allows an easy release if it snags on something.
  • Things that aren't labelled as non-toxic, could have poisoning possibilities if swallowed or absorbed through the skin.
  • Sharp items (such as pipe cleaners) can obviously poke skin and break it, but if swallowed can also perforate the esophagus or other parts of the digestive system creating space for infections.
  • Magnets pose a strange risk that you may not have considered: according to one manufacturer's warning "swallowed magnets can stick together across intestines causing serious infections and death."

That said, a parent or caregiver that is very aware of risks and very present during art time can safely use many of these items with a child that is not yet ready for the recommended age or developmental stage. Several of the projects we have done at home are put up out of reach when not in use and pulled down for supervised play only because of my awareness of the possible safety risks. Protect your Little Scribbler accordingly.

2) It's "washable." Or at least it says it is. I am not yet brave enough to use acrylic paints or unleash my child with regular crayons in her art box. Even with supervised art time, we end up with splatter and stains. The fact that even the supposedly washable products are not 100%, makes me nervous about others that don't boast that benefit. Also, the fact that Crayola has 60+ pages of stain tips at the time of this writing also says a lot about both the fun and potential messiness of art with kids! I'll take the washable label right from the start, thank you!

3) It's developmentally appropriate.  Little Scribbler art is about the process first and foremost. There should be no expectations of staying in the lines, cutting perfectly, creating something that is a copy-cat craft with really specific directions, etc. Toddlers, Twos, and children with special needs can scribble; draw vertical lines, horizontal lines, and circles (depending on the age or stage), tear, crumple, snip with scissors, stick stickers, stack stickers, paint with whole arm action, paint with wrist action, stamp, swipe, blot, string, and more. They should not be expected to go beyond their abilities. Doing something that is frustrational rather than fun for a Little Scribbler is a good indication that it is not yet developmentally appropriate. Sometimes the difference between developmentally appropriate is one day, sometimes one month, and sometimes a year. 

4) It's tested. I always check super-art-blogs for pictures of children actually doing the art. Was it just an idea somebody saw somewhere and thought a toddler could do it, or was it actually an experience they tested out? Sometimes knowing the developmental abilities of my Little Scribbler will already nix an idea, but sometimes I know I need to stretch her. Above all, I need to know that it's possible before I dive in. I don't mind getting involved to make an art experience successful, but I shouldn't be the only one participating! This leads to my last point...

5) It's authentic. No adults pretending to be toddlers. (This is especially annoying to me in teaching catalogs where they have included fake children's writing. Blech.) I don't want to see pictures of an adult's nice, tidy, easy art; I want to see some authenticity. That's not to say the art can't be guided by an adult, done together with an adult, or made into a final product to which an adult added the finishing touches. I love that! Just don't present a final product done by an adult and expect me to believe a Little Scribbler was involved in any way. I want to see what an 18-month-old is actually capable of doing with the experience presented to him or her. It gives me an idea of what my own Little Scribbler might be able to do.




Pictured here: actual, toddler-created examples of 2 of the 4 art experiences from the "Year I-Colors" subscription at www.littlescribblersartclub.com.

What tips have helped you decide something is appropriate for your Little Scribbler?


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Friday, May 17, 2013

Teach Colors Using Books and Art

"Mommy, it's a blue fish!"

"Yes, it is a blue fish; good job!"

The nurse was impressed; I was impressed; bystanders were impressed. "Do you work on colors with her?"

Granted, some of this is due to the fact that my child is and has always been in the lower percentiles on everything, so she looks pretty tiny to be able to articulate such an idea at her two-year-old well child visit (she probably looked 1 1/2). But it made me pause. "Well, we don't use flashcards with her or anything, if that's what you mean, but we read and talk a lot about colors." And there it is. The secret to teaching anything to a kid, right? Read about it. Use it in your daily language. Not only do we talk about colors during art time, we do it while waiting in restaurants, driving, and getting dressed. We didn't set out to teach her colors, it was something she was naturally curious about. And that's important, too. Don't force the issue with anything you're trying to teach a kid (words of advice I could've used at work today).

In our color journey, we have discovered some books that have been really helpful and not too painful to read over and over again.

~The Classics~


 Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire: We used the board book version of this one (the other version is much longer and not as focused on the colors). This book uses the colors blue, orange, green, and violet in that order to describe the animal's spots. It has good repetition of short words and a rhyming pattern. Each page is a short 3-4 lines of text. Great for the attention span of a Little Scribbler.

 Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr: Pattern books become the first books your child "reads" by himself or herself. They get the idea that particular books "say" the same thing every time and once they've memorized it, they "read" through as if they know the sounds. If you don't love this series, please, please, please find another pattern book you can get through with your little ones (says the reading teacher in me). This book uses the colors brown, red, yellow, blue, green, purple, white, black, and gold. This is also a great book to use for teaching animal sounds. As your Little Scribbler gets older, you can flip to the next page and have him or her fill in the blanks: I see a _____ ______ looking at me. Even later still, your little one will probably know what comes next before you turn the page. The last page is a great review of all of the colors in one place.

~Bilingual Books~

 My Colors, My World; Mis colores, mi mundo by Maya Christina Gonzalez: This board book is another adaptation of a longer, larger book. Since we use two languages in our household, my husband reads this book to her in English and I read it to her in Spanish. This book uses the colors brown, orange, purple, yellow, green, red, black, and pink. (En español: marrón, anaranjado, violeta, amarillo, verde, rojo, negro, y rosado.) It's probably a little confusing for her because we use a different word for purple (morado) than the book uses. The language (no matter if it's English or Spanish) is exquisitely descriptive while being concise, "The night falls, velvety blue."

There are a whole series of these books, and even one dedicated to color. While some of the words in this particular book are pretty effectively communicated, I wouldn't say the same about the color page. Bilingual books can be really good, or kind of "meh." Some of the pictures didn't really even look familiar to us, so it was hard to connect the words to the concepts. Maybe the actual color book would be better, but I would pass on this one.

~Interactive Books~

My Very First Book of Colors by Eric Carle: This book is split with a top half and a bottom half throughout the whole book. It uses the colors blue, white, green, pink, many colors, red, yellow, black, purple, and brown. Almost the same colors we use in Little Scribblers Art Club. The word for the color is on the left top, a swab of paint that matches the word is on the top right, and the bottom has artwork that is primarily made from one of the colors, but in random order. For older kiddos, the idea would be to match the color to the word on their own. For our own Little Scribbler, we flipped through each page and asked, "Is this blue (or whatever color)?" Flipping the bottom page until we found the match.

Color Train, Color Train! by Martin Kelly: This book comes in two formats, the one pictured (which is called "square"), and another that measures 6 1/4" x 12" and opens from the top (called "portrait"). The cool thing about this book is the pull through ribbons (6 total) that magically appear each time you turn the page (although an eager little one can pull too hard and with the resistance of the ribbon it is easy to bend the board book). I am not a fan of whimsical artwork, nor poetry that doesn't quite have the right rhythm. However, the focus of each color page, the movement of the plot (if it can be called that) at the end as the train goes through a tunnel and into the train yard, and the super-cool ribbons override any perceived negatives. This book uses the colors blue, purple, green, yellow, orange, red, and black and reinforces them all again at the end.

Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings by Matthew Van Fleet: Books by this author are simply amazing! I haven't come across a single one that didn't draw me in as much as (or sometimes even more than) my daughter. This one is not a board book (although it is a thicker cardstock), so we keep this one out of reach for now and enjoy it together so that our investment is protected. :) These book are generally twice what you would pay for others, but as it says on the back of each book: they are painstakingly hand crafted. The words in this book are so simple and yet seemingly calculated to get the biggest bang for your buck as far as the concept a child learns with each turn. Each page has a texture word, a color word, a shape, and an animal word under each flap. For example, the first page reads "Fuzzy Yellow Circle," and then when you open the flap the picture changes and the word "Ducklings" appears to create a new description: "Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings." The flaps are the most fragile part of the books, but ours has survived so far with just a few creases. The pages also have touch and feel sections built in to reinforce the texture words used: fuzzy, bumpy, furry, scaly, woolly, scratchy, and sticky (our favorite). This book uses the colors yellow, brown, gray, green, white, blue, and pink.

Scholastic's Eyelike Series- Colors: The rainbow of the natural world: I've saved the best for last. This book focuses on colors in the natural world and the photos are unbelievably vibrant. This is not a board book or even cardstock, although there are Baby Eyelike board books now, too. It is more similar to a heavy catalog page, so it's really not meant for Little Scribblers to use on their own, but we've been looking at it together since my little one was probably 6 months old. The one drawback for me is the rhythm of the writing, but that's probably just my preference. There are 32 full color spreads that give multiple examples of real world things that are yellow, red, green, brown, tan, blue, orange, purple, transparent, translucent, iridescent, pink, gray, black, white, black and white (yes, another category), two-tone, and multicolor. The labels are high level vocabulary (you won't find flower, but you will find daffodil, poppy, iris, pansy, and edelweiss), and give you even more choices of words to use when talking about the pictures. Many of the pages name different hues of the colors, as well. This has been a favorite and an inspiration for me when I began to develop Little Scribblers Art Club. We will definitely be looking for others (shapes & patterns, opposites, numbers, and letters) in the series soon!



I'm not a huge proponent of connecting everything from literature to art, but art time has definitely given us time to solidify the concept of color we'd been reading about while practicing other beneficial skills. As I said before, reading about and talking about colors is a major part of this teaching thing, but I guess I would say that it just isn't complete until you have experienced it, too (no matter what the "it" is in that sentence). Throughout our first year of art together, once I got up the nerve to plunge in, I focused on one color at a time. I didn't realize until later that I was naturally using Montessori's principle of isolation. By using just one color as a focus, it simplifies the conceptual input for the child. Try it yourself; different hues of the same color set up ahead of time for your Little Scribbler to use. An easy way to develop color concept!

For those do-it-yourselfers out there, check out our Pinterest page for color themed art appropriate for this stage of development to enhance your child's experience with colors. And of course, I'd like to plug our upcoming release of a color-focused year-long art club subscription for toddlers, twos, and children with special needs, but I'd also like to encourage the use of color books and art time no matter what!


I have definitely found other color books that I would add to a wishlist! What books have you used to teach a Little Scribbler about color?


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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Background Color and Stickers = Art Scenes

One of my first art "projects" with my then-15-month-old was inspired by a sheet of fish stickers my mom happened to pick up for us from the local dollar store. I knew my little one could manage the stickers because we already had a sticker collection started, but I had only recently picked up a set of washable crayons and thick colored pencils with which to experiment (see my recommendations for crayons and pencils here). 

I know this is a new parent thing, but it amazed me that I could put the crayons and colored pencils into her hand and she would start scribbling almost innately...or at least not long after exploring them with her mouth. At this point her attention only lasted about five minutes tops (and sometimes as little as five seconds!!). But scribble she did; lightly in the early days and very minimally.

Since her scribbling was so minimal at first, it took us more than a month of tiny little art "sessions" to fill a paper to the extent you see here. Since I wanted the final product to be an aquarium, I picked out all the blue hues of crayons and the blue colored pencil for her to use while scribbling, making it a more guided art experience than others. Eventually, she added the stickers over her "water" background. My addition was just to draw bubbles and add the electrical tape that I thought would give it a good 10-gallon tank look.



So there it is: mostly done by a one-year-old. A child who scribbles can do art! And no, it doesn't all have to look like something we adults recognize, but it's pretty cool that it can! This became one of my big inspirations for starting Little Scribblers Art Club in the first place. And this one piece inspired me to do other scenes focusing on other colors...

  • the ocean (many variations)
  • dirt/mud/soil
  • a leafy garden
  • a pumpkin patch
  • the beach
  • the night sky
  • a grassy field






Some color, some stickers or stamps, maybe a little embellishment by an adult, and you're set! Have you stumbled upon an Art Scene of your own while doing art with your Little Scribbler? What did you create together?

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Crayons, Colored Pencils, or Markers? What should come first?

I was a little uncertain about giving my one-year-old art supplies. Yes, we'd been to the local community center's art classes for babies. Yes, I read the labels and knew everything was non-toxic. Yes, I knew how to use the Heimlich. But the community center staff was responsible for cleaning up, and now I was giving my child (the one prone to dropping things off the side of her high chair over and over again just to test and see if gravity was still working) markers and paint...seemingly inches from my beige-colored carpet. And while everything was marked non-toxic, almost everything going into this child's mouth before now had been organic if possible...and I knew that the very next place that marker or fingerpainted hand was headed was for her mouth. I haven't seen an organic Crayola line of products--yet. ;) And, yes, a small part of me even feared for her safety with so many labels about choking hazards and cautions read in baby books. Yeah, I admit it, I'm a worrier.

We started small. Crayons and colored pencils preceded markers and fingerpaint...and that experience actually led to a discovery I should have known from my early childhood education. What follows are the experiences myself and other "testers" had with products included in our art kits for 12-24 month toddlers (or older children in the same developmental place with fine and gross motor skills). Admittedly, I did not go out and buy every product on the market in order to test them against other brands (and no, I have no affiliation with Crayola...at least, not yet :) ), I simply present our own experiences here:

Crayons: Crayola Large Washable Crayons

These are rated for 4 years and up. I'm not sure why there's such a big difference in age range recommendation for these versus the triangular crayons. We chose the 16 count so that we could explore more colors and a few different shades of the basics. The crayons are designed to wash off of walls with warm water and a sponge (a high selling point for me). The large diameter is great for beginning scribblers who hold it in their fists and the larger tip covers larger spaces faster. This is not for detail work, which is great, because Little Scribblers are just starting to figure out those gross motor skills still. Because much of our work was done at her high chair tray, we had no problem with the crayons rolling, but when we moved to the table, we tried out the triangle crayons.

Crayons: Crayola Washable Triangluar Crayons


Rated for 24 mos. and up. The 16 count boxes include: 2 shades of red, 1 pink, 3 orange, 1 yellow, 2 green, 2 blue, 2 purple, 1 brown, 1 black, 1 white, and 0 shades of grey. ;) The anti-roll is definitely a bonus feature of this set: no more chasing crayons across tables or floors when art time moves away from the high chair. Another benefit: they promote correct writing grip (also called the tripod grip) that Little Scribblers begin to develop as they get close to 24 months. We wanted to compare them to the Melissa & Doug product that is similar, but I could find no absolute information about the washability of the product and the colors were more limited. A significant drawback here: I had to take one box back to the store right from the start because all of the tips were broken off and one parent in the test group had similar issues with breakability during art time. The Crayola web site has similar complaints, so some of that may be production, and some of it may be how Little Scribblers use crayons at first...not as intended. For now, we will be using these crayons because they are such a benefit as grip is changing from a fistful to a tripod grip naturally throughout this stage of development.

*A note on crayons: there is a big difference between the washability of those marked as "washable" and those that aren't. We have definitely seen the difference when we used a set that was not marked washable that was given to us as a gift. As Little Scribblers get closer to three years of age, their scribbling is more intentional and stays on the paper put in front of them more often than not. Save crayons that are not washable for later in the development of intentional scribbling.

Colored Pencils: Crayola Write Start Colored Pencils


There is no age recommendation on the box, but Crayola's web site sets it at 6+ years. The one drawback is that they are not necessarily washable, but I love them for toddlers anyway. They are extra-thick, making them pretty durable. Maybe it's my imagination, but the tips also seem to be thicker, too. They haven't broken off in over two years of use and (unlike the crayons) have only sustained minimal tooth damage because the "soft" coloring area is really a pretty small target for incoming teeth. I loved using these when tired of the "Not in your mouth!" battle. The pencils are also hexagonally shaped, so they are easy to hold in a fist or with a more traditional grip, and they share the anti-roll benefit of the triangular crayons. For me, sustainability is important for wood and paper products and according to the packaging these are made from reforested wood and don't use rain forest woods or endangered species. The design on the outside is pretty simple (bare wood with a figure in a certain color) and reinforces color concepts by connecting it to an item typically of that color such as a red apple or green frog.

So why no markers or paint here? Well, those just go in a messier category in the first place, but here's the discovery (or maybe recollection from my preservice teacher training): offering a crayon or a colored pencil instead of a marker helps to develop the finger, hand, and arm muscles needed later for writing. Technically, they are developing pre-writing skills when they have to push down on the paper to create color. So give your kiddo an extra-strong crayon or colored pencil and build some muscles while creating beauty!






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Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Unexpected Art Process of a Little Scribbler

I set up the invitation. The crayons are laid out. The paper is blank and beautiful, waiting for the "creator" to come along and add beauty. Everything is taped down--frustration free. Clean-up supplies are close at hand. All this, and my own Little Scribbler comes along and sits at the foot of the art space I created, peeling crayons into a pile...for something like 20 minutes! I should've known: Little Scribblers enjoy destruction just as much as they love construction, right? 



My Facebook friends had some great captions for this: "That's my girl! Free thinker, sees things without restriction, who needs a label?" and "High concept art. It represents her desire to shed societal expectations and embrace change." :) And one said simply, "Thank you for allowing her creative expression." It's amazing sometimes: the difference between what we expect will happen during art time and what actually does happen.

Little Scribblers’ art is many times more about the process and learning to manipulate new art mediums than about the final product. You will find that to be a common thread in blogs about art at this stage of development: process over product. Encourage the process even if it includes exploration and end results you didn’t intend—piles of stickers all in one place on the paper; pulling the legs off of the animal you just created together (how were they to know it was an animal leg...looked like something to grab and yank); papers crumpled or colored all the way through with a marker; stamping that started on the paper, went on to the table, and eventually onto the legs; or maybe just 15 minutes of putting crayons in a cup and taking them out again (as my Little Scribbler did at our first paid toddler art class).




So what's so great about the process? We learn through observation (with all of our senses), predicting what will happen, and having that prediction come true, or not...either way it's a discovery. There are so many opportunities during the art process to see cause and effect, come across a problem and find a way to solve it, discover something new, and generally practice the fine and gross motor skills needed for the future. I'm absolutely positive those are not the only benefits. One mother in my test group has been doing art right alongside her almost-two-year-old. Not only do they get to enjoy this time together, but a busy working mama has discovered a new way to de-stress for herself.

The list above is full of actual happenings for myself or mothers working with Little Scribblers in my test group of 12-24 month toddlers. Little Scribblers are not just toddlers, though. Preschoolers are still developing their fine motor skills, as are children with special needs. What kinds of expectations have you had with your own Little Scribblers and what were the actual results of art time?
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