When it comes to preschool art, think outside the lines and far beyond the finger paint!
Art may seem like a basic preschool staple, but it is much more. In fact, art is often the first vehicle that truly invites children to view life differently. Through art, children enter a world of beauty, color and diversity.
This July, the Art Studio thematic study brings art to life. Children build critical preschool thinking skills as they examine famous masterpieces. As children see, think and wonder about art, they also investigate new ways to communicate their own feelings and ideas. They create sculptures, drawings, paintings and collages. Children explore the basic principles of art: line, shape, color, texture, space and structure. They have opportunities to create and use art as a language of self expression.
- Visual Thinking Strategies
- Art techniques such as print-making, painting, sculpting, stenciling, cubism, pointillism, mixing colors
- How to use many pieces to create a whole
- How to appreciate art made by others (famous artists and friends)
- How to encourage peers in the creation process
- How to plan, find supplies, make choices and express ideas through art
Friedrich Froebel established the first kindergarten in 1840 under the principle that children have unique needs and capabilities that can be expressed through creative play. He believed that art supports a young child’s “full and all-sided development” (Froebel, 1826). By creating art during the Art Studio theme, a child builds:
- independence and self-confidence when deciding what materials to use (Schirrmacher, 1998; Seefeldt, 1993).
- self-esteem by expressing feelings and thoughts (Klein, 1991; Sautter, 1994).
- cognitive skills when deciding what to create, what materials to use, how to manipulate the materials and how to evaluate a creation.
As children get older, their art evolves from a sensory exploration to a symbolic representation of an idea. Drawing and painting allow children to symbolize what they know, find interesting or beautiful. Art helps children express themselves particularly when their vocabulary, written or verbal, may be limited (de la Roche, 1996). As they create, young children develop control of large and small muscles (Koster, 1997). A variety of tools and materials help children increase eye-hand coordination (Koster, 1997). As children decide how to make parts fit together into a whole and where to place objects, they develop the skills needed for forming letters and spacing words in future writing practices.
Throughout the Experience Curriculum Art Studio thematic study, children also explore many famous artists and their masterpieces. We utilize these famous paintings to provide children with another way of seeing and thinking about the concepts they are learning. Through art, they investigate nature, animals, the body, feelings and even objects that fill their surrounding environment. By studying paintings, children begin to make the connection “between reality and art—someone’s interpretation of reality” (Dighe, Calomiris, & Van Zutphen, 1998, p. 5).
Visual-thinking strategies are part of an inquiry-based teaching method developed at Harvard’s Project Zero to support deeper critical-thinking skills. Children see art, describe what they think about it and then investigate their ideas or wonders. We help teachers integrate and practice this thinking routine throughout the Art Studio thematic study. Children are encouraged to see famous paintings by such artists as Monet, van Gogh and Picasso, and then think about what is happening in the picture. Then, they wonder and express their own ideas by practicing art techniques such as stamping, collaging, pointillism, weaving, printmaking and sculpting.
To assist teachers and students in talking about their art:
The Art Studio introduces a foundational understanding of the basic elements in art. These elements provide a vocabulary for teachers and children to better talk about their artistic processes and works of art. Because art experiences are infused through all Experience Curriculum themes, the Art Studio offers teachers and children a visual learning toolset that can be used and applied throughout the year.
The Art Studio curriculum by Experience Curriculum invites children to see the world through new lenses and become an artist of curiosity.
What are the Elements and Principles of the Visual Arts?
- Line: thick, thin, wavy, straight, soft, hard, vertical, horizontal, diagonal, jagged, parallel
- Shape: geometric, organic, rectangle, square, circle, round, curvy, fluid, symmetrical, spiral
- Color: primary, secondary, complementary, warm, cool, light, dark
- Texture: rough, smooth, bumpy, fuzzy, prickly
- Space: two-dimensional, three-dimensional, foreground, background, overlap
- Structure: proportion, balance, contrast, repetition
Which Famous Artists and Masterpieces Are Introduced in The Art Studio?
- Leonardo da Vinci
- Mona Lisa
- Sistine Chapel Ceiling
- Johannes Vermeer
- Girl with a Pearl Earring
- Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies
- Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte
- Wassily Kandinsky
- Concentric Circles
- Vincent van Gogh
- Starry Night
- Bedroom in Arles
De la Roche, E. (1996). Snowflakes: Developing meaningful art experiences for young children. Young Children, 51(2), 82-83.
Dighe, J., Calomiris, Z., & Van Zutphen, C. (1998). Nurturing the language of art in children. YoungChildren, 53(1), 4-9.
Froebel, F. (1974).The education of man (W.N. Hailmann, Trans.). Clifton, NJ: A.M. Kelley. (Original work published 1826.)
Klein, B. (1991). The hidden dimensions of art. In J.D. Quisenberry, E.A. Eddowes, & S.L. Robinson (Eds.). Readings from childhood education (pp. 84-89). Wheaton, MD: Association of Childhood Education International.
Koster, J.B. (1997).Growing artists: Teaching art to young children. Albany, NY: Delmar.
Sautter, R.C. (1994). An arts education reform strategy. Phi Delta Kappan, 75(6), 433-440.