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Using Art to Teach Children About Themselves and the World

by Paul Belz
May/June 2011
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Article Link: http://exchangepress.com/article/using-art-to-teach-children-about-themselves-and-the-world/5019934/

Art education is essential!

Teachers know about the joyful discoveries children make when they create animal masks, draw with a handful of crayons, use spices mixed with glue to paint a self-portrait, or compare their colorful fingerprints. Art activities fit beautifully with early childhood education’s emphasis on social, emotional, cognitive, and physical learning experiences. They help children focus on their emotions and sense impressions and to broaden their awareness to include people and natural communities. Thoughtful teachers can find many ways to adapt fun, inexpensive art
activities to their children’s needs.

Mary Ann Kohl’s Preschool Art: It’s the Process Not the Product (1994) urges teachers to use art for discoveries, rather than a means for producing decorative work. Kohl writes,

“Children ‘do’ art for the experience, the exploration, the experimentation. In the process they discover their world. . . . Sometimes the process is simply feeling slippery paint on the fingers, other times it is the mystery of colors blending, or the surprise of seeing a realistic picture emerge when blobs were randomly placed.”

Teachers can deepen children’s experiences by asking questions such as “How did the paint feel?” and “What colors did you use?”. Jill Englebright Fox and Stacy Berry (1998) concentrate ...

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