Monday, October 21, 2013

This post is not Pin-worthy

 I'm sure there are other posts on this topic somewhere; at least I hope there are. I can't be the only one tired of all the cutesy stuff on Pinterest when it comes to children's art. Don't get me wrong; I can easily spend an hour Pinning, commenting, and following rabbit (Pin?) trails. There are a lot of great ideas out there. But when I see post after post about giving worksheets to preschoolers, letting them color something and then cutting it up, or devoting an entire week to crafts, I cringe every time.
See, I don't know much about art but I do know it's about expression. Think about it for a second: "art." What comes to mind? Art galleries? Freedom? Putting a bunch of pegs into holes? Hopefully you didn't think of that last one but if you did, it might be time to take a trip to the art gallery.
Imagine if you worked hard on a lesson plan and your boss came by and said, "Good job! Now let's make it into a bunny." "But I don't want it to be a bunny'" you say. "It's supposed to be a lesson plan and I don't even like bunnies." "Too bad," your boss says. "We're doing bunnies this week and I'm turning all the lesson plans into bunnies." Would you want to try again? I'm guessing you wouldn't. But that's what happens every time you change a child's art, even a little. You're telling them that all their hard work wasn't good enough. Making crafts tells the children that when it comes to art, there's a right way and a wrong way and they all need to conform like good little automotons so they can grow up and be uncreative.
Of course I use crafts a few times a week with a purpose. I want the children to focus on specific skills. "Here are some materials. Here's what an owl looks like. If we put our hand inside like this, it looks like a puppet. If we put the eyes here, doesn't this look like a mouth? How else can we make it look like an owl? You don't like owls? Then what do you want to make? " Or I'll focus on sequencing to make a book in a small group. Or we'll talk about making shapes as they match them on a paper and discover they make an animal. I used to use coloring sheets rarely until a little girl came in and did nothing but make little scribble marks all over her paper. If you picture the hand movements of someone coloring inside the lines, you know what I mean. By the time she left my room, she was making purposeful and elaborate pictures. We do messy splatterboxes.  We make experiments that don't work. And we love every minute of it.
I promised a few posts back that I would share the kids' apple trees. I never did it because they weren't "cute." They don't all look the same and some of them were cut all the way through. But you know what? Here they are. Beautiful for what they are: a representation of exploration and expression and learning.

And when I'm done with this post, I'm Pinning them.

We were learning about apple trees. I took a bag and demonstrated that if they used scissors to cut the top and opened it up, the children could make trees.  I gave them scissors, apple shapes, leaf shapes, and crayons. One of the comments was, "I'm putting my apples down here because they fell off the tree."

On the left is a child's spiderweb. They were interested in spiders, so I gave them string and glue and told them they could make spiderwebs. On the right is the same child's free art on the easel.  I asked him what it was and he said, "I don't know." Which is just fine with me. 


Post a Comment