After a few weeks of talking about different learning areas, we finally come to an area that most parents appreciate—the Art Area. Parents love to have artwork from their children. The trick with the Art Area is to help the parents to understand that this, like the other areas, is an area for learning. The first place where this may arise is when the parent doesn’t understand the child’s art work. (“What is it?”, “Why did you let him make the sky green?”) It is our job to teach the parent that our focus in early education is on the process, not the product. Therefore, the product may not be exactly what the parent was expecting. But, in the process, their child may have learned:
- Fine motor skills
- Hand/eye coordination
Ideally, your Art Area will be located near a window to allow for natural lighting. The flooring should be a hard surface, not carpeting. If this is not possible, plastic mats can help save your carpet. It also should be located as near to a sink as possible to allow for easier cleanup and less tracking of mess through your classroom.
As for materials, again, we are looking for open-ended activities which provide for creative expression. We’re not after 25 Christmas cards that each look just like a model provided by the teacher, or an insect made from a craft kit. Your art materials should reflect your philosophy. Some suggestions are (keeping in mind that age-appropriateness is very important in the Art Area):
- A variety of paper—large and small, colored and white, construction paper, newsprint, finger paint paper, cardboard, lined and unlined
- A variety of materials for drawing and writing—pencils, crayons, markers
- Scissors and hole punches
- Glue and tape
- Collage materials
- Paint brushes and sponges
- A variety of paints—tempera, watercolor, finger paint
- Modeling/sensory materials—playdough, shaving cream, cookie cutters, rolling pins, plastic knives
- Seasonal materials—used greeting cards, natural materials—acorns, pine cones, leaves, etc.
- Recycled materials—plastic cups, bottles, etc.
Your Art Area should also include appropriate tables and chairs, easels, and drying racks or somewhere that the art projects can be protected while they dry. Keep in mind, too, that your Art Area can easily be extended outdoors as well.
Next week, we’ll move on to manipulatives.