When young children are first introduced to art-related materials(such as paint, brushes, paper, markers, clay, blocks, yarn, or household objects), they naturally like to explore the materials to see what they feel like and what can be done with them.
After a period of squeezing, smelling, shaking, tasting, pound-ing, stretching, and mixing the materials, young children will begin using them to make drawings and models. Sometimestheir creations represent familiar things — family members and friends, pets, favorite toys, their house or apartment building,or things they have seen on trips.
Sometimes young children make things that we don’t recognize as any-thing specific, such as a paper covered with all one color. Both kinds of creations show they are developing as artists. As they develop, children begin to add detailsto their pictures, models, and buildings.
A child’s first effort at drawing a fire truck may be just aseries of irregular circles that stand for wheelsand windows, but later drawings may includea ladder, a coiled-up hose, and a flashing light.
Every child’s creation is one of a kind, a reflectionof that child’s unique experience with people, things, and situations.You can support your children’s development as artists by continuing to show an interest in their art activities and by trying some of the following suggestions:
.... Roll up your sleeves and get messy with your children. Try playing the way they play. For example, if they form scoops of play dough “ice cream,” followtheir example and form some scoops of your own. Similarly, if your children put the scoops in a bowl and ask you what“flavor” of ice cream you’d like, follow their lead and ask for a dish of “pepper-mint and chocolate.” .
....As your children play, describe what they are doing or what they have done. For example, if they are painting with red and yellow paint, you might say “Look what happened when you put the yellow paint on top of the red! You’ve got a new color! ”This shows your children that you are genuinely interested in what they are doing and encourages them to continue with their play.
......When you’re at the bookstore or library, choose books with different types of illus-trations. Today’s children’s books offer awide variety of beautiful illustrations andphotographs, ranging from bright and bold colors to pastels and watercolors.
....Talk about and compare the different typesof pictures in the books you and yourchildren read together. If they showan interest, introduce an art experiencethat is similar to a book’s illustration. For example, after reading a book illustrated with collages (an artistic design of materi-als and objects pasted over a surface),you may want to provide your children with scraps of paper and glue so they can make collages of their own. Display your children’s paintings and mod-els in a frequently used part of your home,such as on the refrigerator or bulletinboard, or as a kitchen table centerpiece.
.....Finally, consider framing some of yourchildren’s favorite paintings or drawings and hanging them on a wall for your whole family’s enjoyment. By accepting your children’s creations, no matter how simple or plain, you will be encouraging their participation in art activities and their appreciation of the work of others.