Why Art is Important
Working with art materials offers children opportunities to experiment with color, shape, design, and texture. Using art materials such as paint, clay, markers, crayons, cornstarch, and collage materials, children express their individual ideas and feelings. For young children, the process of creating is what’s most important, not what they actually create. Coloring books, patterns, and pre-cut models are inappropriate for preschool or kindergarten classroom. These materials leave little room for imagination, experimentation, individuality, or discovery. They not only hold back creativity but can have a negative effect on a child’s self-esteem if the child is unable to follow the model. Some teachers defend using coloring books or cutting out pre-drawn patterns believing that such activities are good for developing fine motor skills. However, there are many other more developmentally appropriate ways for children to develop these skills in art and allow them to be creative and individualistic, such as by cutting out their own designs or learning to use glue, tape, a stapler, or a hole punch.
Stages in Painting and Drawing
Stage I: Scribbling and Making Marks
At this stage, children go through sensory exploration. They use crayons, pencils, or paintbrushes to make random marks and scribbles.
Stage II: Making Shapes, Outlines, Designs, and Symbols that Have Personal Meaning
Through continued drawing and painting, children begin to make patterns to create designs in their scribbling. A circle with lines in it may be mommy’s face. Being able to create is more important than making something recognizable to adults.
Stage III: Pictorial Art that is Becoming Recognizable to Others
At this stage, children want to create something. They don’t plan their picture, but once they start to draw or paint, makes them think of something.
Stage IV: Realistic Art
By the age of 4 and 5, most of the children are interested in doing art that looks real. They like drawing the important people in their lives.
Primary Colors - red, yellow, and blue
Secondary Colors – purple, orange, and green
Convergent Thinking (close-ended thinking) - focuses on right answer, yes or no answer. For example, “What color is your apple?”
Divergent Thinking (open-ended thinking) – stresses the need to produce many ideas and responses. For example, “What can you tell me about your apple?” By using divergent questions and open-ended activities, the teacher allows children to think in different ways instead of trying to figure out the “correct” answer.