Let Them Create!

Let Them Create!
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

Cultivating creativity and artistic expression by eliminating cookie cutter craft projects and encouraging one of a kind masterpieces has always been a classroom goal of mine. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for pre-prepped projects and memorable crafts, but art has been missing from our teaching world for far too long! So how do we teach creativity?

For starters, never assume that children have been exposed to art (i.e. using the “proper” amount of glue, paint, how to use scissors, etc…). This is a learning process where the adult/teacher will have to instruct and oversee for awhile. BUT never fear, kids catch on fast! ALSO, they are watching YOU! Be the example by diving in and creating with them. DON’T freak out if it gets a little messy (because it will). Smocks were made for a reason.

5 Benefits of art:

  1. Art is therapeutic- not only for the artist, but to the one observing the art. Some of the most peaceful moments in my classroom happen around the art center.
  2. Preschoolers learn by doing. In ECE oriented classes we see the benefits of play. Basic concepts are attained and retained in and through every classroom center- from using blocks, to the sensory bin, to the dramatic play…etc. The art table provides a creative outlet while exposing students to math, science, language, communication…and so on.
  3. It is the PROCESS, not the PRODUCT. Through the process of doing, children discover concepts on their own (color mixing, measuring, language, patterns, shapes, following directions, etc…)
  4. Children gain more confidence/independence. They begin the year with an intimidation around the art table, to freely moving around and creating independently by the end of the year.
  5. It involves Left and Right Brain incorporation
  • Left Brain

  • Right Brain

  • Handwriting

  • Language

  • Reading

  • Phonics

  • Locating details/facts

  • Following directions

  • Listening

  • Math

  • Spatial relationships

  • Shapes/patterns

  • Color sensitivity

  • Singing/music/dance

  • Creativity

  • Feelings/emotions

  • Visualization

  • Art

“Art education and artistic processing help children understand their world. When children look at art, they learn to make meaning of symbols that communicate ideas, experiences, and feelings that can be shared. Of course art is fun, but it is also mentally engaging. The art of young children may not resemble anything in the real world. With older children, art begins to approximate reality more closely. Young children, art, and creativity are very compatible. Young children can be noisy, active, and messy. Art too can be noisy, active, and messy. Art can also be quiet and meticulous like a child who sits motionless while small fingers try to glue together pieces of paper, yarn, and ribbon. Art allows children to experiment and explore, to see what they can create. Their creative self-expression enhances their self-esteem.”

Robert Schirrmacher author of Art and Creative Development for Young Children 5th edition


Facilitating an art friendly classroom:

  • Don’t be afraid to try new things.
  • Be willing to learn along with your students.
  • Remember to use positive words of praise and encouragement!
  • Get physical! Use those gross motor skills and use the entire body to create.
  • Take it outside (especially for those messier projects).
  • Incorporate art ALL DAY!

Writing Center:

*Tape (electrical/painters/masking/duct) *Scissors *Glue *Chalk
*Staplers *Compass *Protractor *Markers
*Crayons *Colored pencils *Hole punch *Rulers
*Highlighters *Stencils *Stickers *Stamps

Materials to use- a few ideas (think outside of the box):

*Please keep children with sensitivity to sensory in mind! Not everyone will enjoy finger painting and they deserve more than just a simple paint brush as their alternative.

*Tweezers *Spray bottles *Toy cars
*Clothes pins *Rollers *Toy animals
*Hair brushes *Yarn *Toy snakes
*Combs *Pipe cleaner *Toy bugs/spiders
*Hair picks *Marbles *Fly swatters
*Loofah *Money *Kitchen utensils
*Tooth brushes *Cotton balls *Straws
*Eye droppers *Shoes *Bubble wrap
*Artificial plants *Feathers *Paper towel rolls
*Ribbon spools *Cupcake pans for mixing *Kleenex boxes- multiple shapes

Art Ideas Throughout the Year (Seasons/Holidays/Curriculum)

September-November (Fall)

*Self/Family concepts- hair/toothbrush, combs, picks *Pumpkin portraits
*Food- kitchen utensils, vegetables OR plastic food *Turkey/owl- tracks, feathers
*Leaves- prints, collage *Circles *Squares
*Rectangles *Yellow *Orange
*Brown

December-February (Winter)

*Ice painting (popsicle style or with salt, ice and paint) *Pine needles
*Travel- track painting with shoes, cars, animals, plastic people *Twigs/bare branches
*Mittens *Hot chocolate painting *Money painting (pitcher/box)
*Ovals *Triangles *Hearts
*Red *Blue *Purple

March-May (Spring)

*Weather- storms, rain, rainbows *Palm branches *Plastic egg splatter
*Empty tombs (paper mache) *Paint-N-Fold *Plants/Flowers- plant prints
*Fly swatters (outside) *”Worm” tracks (yarn/noodles) *Mommy inspired- dish towels
*Music- guitar strum (rubber bands, boxes/meat trays & paint) *Diamonds
*Octagons *Green *Pastel

June-August (Summer)

*Western day-” target practice” spray bottles or squirt guns
*Water balloon painting *Flip flop prints
*Dad inspired- hat painting, golf balls *Fireworks
*Paint with actual popsicles

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