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How Art Promotes Development
                             The Art Area is a place filled with materials that children can enjoy on a
                             purely sensory level. Here children can create and represent their ideas in a
                             visual form. On a table or the floor, at an easel or a workbench, children
                             draw, paint, knead, cut, glue, and make things of their own choosing.
                             Sometimes they simply explore the materials and enjoy the process. At
                             other times they create designs or make something that represents a real
                             object, place, or living thing. Creative art is another language children use
                             to express what they know and what they feel. The Art Area is a studio for
                             children’s development and learning.

                             Social/emotional development. Art is a natural vehicle for children to
                             express their feelings. Children reflect their thoughts and emotions through
                             their choices of color, texture, and media. For example, when happy or
                             excited, a child might use bright colors. When sad or upset, a child may
                             choose darker tones. Children also express their originality and
                             individuality in their art. Who says the pumpkins they paint have to be
                             orange? A child may prefer having a purple one simply because it will
                             stand out better in a patch.

                             Physical development. As children tear paper for a collage or use scissors to
                             cut, they refine small muscle movements. Making lines and shapes with
                             markers and crayons or hitting a nail on the head with a hammer are
                             activities that help children develop the fine motor control they need for
                             writing. Art is all about fine motor skills.

                             Cognitive development. Children draw, paint, and sculpt what they know. As
                             they translate their ideas and feelings into art, they use thinking skills to
                             plan, organize, select media, and represent their impressions. When
                             children draw, paint, and make collages, they experiment with color, line,
                             shape, and size. Using paints, fabrics, and woodworking tools they make
                             choices, try out ideas, plan, and experiment. They learn about cause and
                             effect when they mix colors. Through trial and error, they learn how to
                             balance a mobile and weave yarn.

                             Language development. Children often talk about what they are doing and
                             respond to questions about their creations as they engage in art. Teachers
                             can write down what children say about their artwork as a permanent
                             record of the experience. Art also fosters vocabulary development as
                             children learn and use related technical vocabulary: sculpture, palette, and
                             clamp, to name just a few terms.

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Chapter 9: Art

The Teacher’s Role
                 Art materials, like blocks, have the potential for stimulating a broad range
                 of creative endeavors. Teachers who understand the value and potential of
                 art materials take an interest in children’s pleasure as they apply paint to
                 paper, glue wood scraps together, and pound a lump of clay. They
                 appreciate that for preschool children, what they make is often less
                 important than the creative process itself. And they know that art is a
                 vehicle for children to express what they know and what they feel.

                 In addition to encouraging children to create with art materials, teachers
                 can help children learn to appreciate art. As children observe their
                 creations, the art of their peers, and the art of recognized painters and
                 sculptors in their community and in museums, they develop an aesthetic
                 sense. Fine art can both inspire and please them.

                 The teacher’s role in The Creative Curriculum is based on this holistic view
                 of art. Our philosophy has been influenced by the Reggio Emilia approach
                 to art. Reggio teachers—like Creative Curriculum teachers—value children
                 as both creators and “meaning makers.” You play a vital role in making
                 art a joyful learning experience.

336                                                                  The Creative Curriculum for Preschool
    Observing and        Your first step in using the Art Area to promote children’s learning is to
    Responding to        observe what children do so you can determine how best to respond to
                         each child. We suggest that you begin this task by observing where each
Individual Children      child is developmentally. Children go through distinct stages that will give
                         you clues to how they are developing and the skills they have mastered.

                         Stages in Painting and Drawing
                         The development of drawing and painting skills are very much like
                         writing. Children need to scribble before they learn to write letters
                         or draw realistically.

                         Stage I: Scribbling and Making Marks
                         In this first stage, children manipulate different media and enjoy the effect
                         they have. They use crayons, pencils, or paintbrushes to make marks.
                         Because their fine motor control and eye-hand coordination are still
                         developing, they go through a long period of experimenting. The random
                         marks and scribbles they make are a form of sensory exploration.

                         Stage II: Making Shapes, Outlines, Designs, and Symbols that Have Personal Meaning
                                                  In the second stage children become purposeful in
                                                  their scribbling. Through continued drawing and
                                                  painting, they begin to make patterns, to repeat
                                                  patterns, and to create designs in their scribblings.
                                                  A circle with lines in it may be Mommy’s face, or
                                                  actually represent Mommy’s entire essence.

                                                  While adults may not recognize these patterns as
                                                  being anything specific, they indicate an attempt to
                                                  organize the children’s world. At this stage, being
                                                  able to create is more important than making
                                                  something recognizable to adults.

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Chapter 9: Art

                 Stage III: Pictorial Art that Is Becoming Recognizable to Others
                 Once children gain mastery of crayons, markers, and paintbrushes, they
                 want to create something. Though they don’t always plan their pictures
                 beforehand, what shows up on the paper once they start to draw or paint
                 makes them think of something.

                 With experience, older preschoolers will begin to plan in advance what
                 they will draw or paint. The self-portrait is a typical favorite subject.
                 Children may experiment with size, proportion, and placement on the
                 paper. Many children will focus their drawing around a large circular head
                 and tiny stick-like arms and legs.

                 Another benchmark of this developmental stage is “X-ray” art—depicting
                 interiors and exteriors all at the same time. You might see a child’s drawing
                 of a firetruck that shows both the outside of the vehicle and the passengers
                 and hose inside.

                                                                 Stage IV: Realistic Art
                                                                 By the time they are 4 and 5,
                                                                 most children are interested in
                                                                 doing art that looks real. As
                                                                 much as we want to avoid
                                                                 stereotypes, many boys like
                                                                 making drawings of superheroes,
                                                                 transportation vehicles, and war-
                                                                 like scenes. Girls frequently are
                                                                 interested in drawing people,
                                                                 rainbows, and floral vistas. Both
                                                                 boys and girls seem to like
                                                                 drawing the important people in
                                                                 their lives.

338                                                                          The Creative Curriculum for Preschool
                           Stages in Using Other Art Materials
                           Although the stages children go through in other media aren’t as clear-cut
                           as the stages in drawing and painting, children’s use of these media is
                           nonetheless developmental. They move from a stage of exploration
                           (functional play) to one of experimentation (constructive play).

                           Initially, children familiarize themselves with the medium: What does clay
                           feel like? How do you hammer nails? What makes the collage items stick?
Increasing skills enable   How does a loom work? Children like to use all of their senses to learn about
children to become ever    a particular medium before they begin to use it purposefully. Gradually, as
more creative and          they become familiar with the new medium, they experiment with it. They
purposeful in their art.
                           roll clay into worms. They pound roofing nails into a tree stump. They
                           paste pictures on cardboard to see how they look when glued to a surface.

                           With experience, children’s experiments become purposeful and more
                           skilled. Eventually, they are able to turn clay into an animal, make a
                           sculpture out of wood, make a balanced design in a collage, and weave
                           scraps of ribbons on a loom. Increasing skills enable children to become
                           ever more creative and purposeful in their art.

                           Responding to Each Child
                           From your observations of children using the Art Area, you can plan
                           experiences that will further children’s growth. As you carefully observe
                           a child in action, reflect on what you have seen and heard, so that your
                           response will help the child develop and refine skills. Think about
                           whether a child

                                  • is able to effectively hold and use a scissors, paintbrush,
                                    crayons, chalk, and other art materials

                                  • comes up with her own ideas or looks to others
Observe carefully to                for inspiration
learn how a child uses
                                  • represents her ideas and feelings in different art forms
art materials.
                                  • is able to describe what he likes about his own
                                    and others’ art

                                  • takes risks in creating art that looks different

                                  • enjoys using art to illustrate stories and to make books

                           Based on your observations, you can determine each child’s developmental
                           strengths and challenges. Use the Developmental Continuum to guide your
                           reflections and responses. The chart that follows gives examples of how
                           this might work.

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