A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n Learning Partners
Let's Do Art!
The visual arts (drawing, painting, printmaking, photography) enrich our lives and help children express their emotions. For preschoolers, doing artwork helps them get ready to read and write by developing visual and motor skills. Doing artwork gives older children the opportunity to get away from a desk and use different learning styles to explore beyond words and numbers.
Here are some things you can do at home:
- Keep simple art supplies around the house: scrap paper for drawing, old boxes to cut up for a cardboard "canvas" when using thicker paints or making posters, or pieces of cloth to do pasted up designs or patchwork. Limit pictures to 2 or 3 colors to save materials and to teach children about mixing colors and the different intensities of color (light and dark).
- Let your child express himself. A picture doesn't have to look like something you can recognize.
- Have your child talk about the picture to describe what it is supposed to be. This helps develop language skills.
- Encourage your child to make patterns of repeated colors and shapes. This helps develop an understanding of math.
- Have your child practice different techniques: drawing with lines, shaping figures and designs with blocks of color, using contrasts of light against dark.
- Have your child make connections between artwork and other subjects. Look at, and talk about, book illustrations when you are reading together.
- Check art books out of the library and look at famous paintings. Talk about what is in the picture and how the artist painted it, (did he use thick paint with bold strokes or did she use light colors with dots of paint?).
- Display your child's art in your home.
Fingerpainting for young children (pre-K--1st grade)
- Use fingerpaint or make your own by mixing soap flakes in a bowl with a small amount of water. Beat the mixture with a fork and add powdered tempera paint or food coloring.
- Spread out newspapers or a large piece of plastic on a table or on the floor.
- Tape a big piece of paper on top.
- Cover your child's clothes with a large old shirt or apron.
- Have your child put the paint on the paper with her fingers.
- Let your child express himself. Some children will use large, wide strokes, others will focus on small spaces.
for beginning artists (K--5th grade)
Some artists create art from old junk, things they have found on the beach or even at dumps.
- Go on a treasure hunt outside to find things that could be used in a collage, a picture where shapes and colors are pasted on a piece of paper or cardboard: sticks and leaves, flowers to be pressed, feathers, berries to be crushed to use as paint, pebbles, shells, pieces of blunt-edged metal.
- Go on a treasure hunt inside to find other things such as scraps of paper, buttons, pieces of cloth, ribbon.
- Look for some heavy cardboard or wood to use as a backing.
- Have your child lay out the materials in a design on the backing. Have your child move things around until the design is what she wants.
- Using a heavy duty glue, have your child glue the items on the backing.
for more advanced artists (3rd--6th grade)
- Make a list of family safety tips. They might include: wash your hands before meals, walk don't run, always buckle your seat belt, wear your bicycle helmet, sit in your seat on the school bus, make sure the water isn't too hot when you get in the shower.
- Design a poster with one or more tips on it.
- Think about what will catch a person's eye. Decide what lettering to use (type style), what colors to use, what pictures you want to have (graphics and illustrations), where you will put the lettering and pictures (lay-out) on the page.
- Do a draft of the poster by drawing sketches and experimenting with lettering. Cut the sketches and letters out and move them around on a piece of paper to get the effect you want.
- Draw, paint, or paste-up the final poster.
Resources: Information for this "Learning Partner" was taken from "Helping Your Child Get Ready for School" and Outstanding Practices in the Arts. For more information, please contact the National Library of Education, 555 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20208, telephone 1-800-424-1616. Other materials from the Family Involvement Partnership for Learning--for families, schools, employers, and community groups--can be obtained by calling 1-800-USA-LEARN.
U.S. Department of Education
Richard W. Riley
Office of Educational Research and Improvement
Sharon P. Robinson
National Institute on Student Achievement, Curriculum, and Assessment
National Institute on the Education of At-Risk Students
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