Monday, July 26, 2010

Process Art

If you are the parent of a toddler, you *must* acquire a copy of the book First Art: Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twos. The idea behind this book is that children of this age group learn more from the process of working with various media as opposed to focusing on a finished product. Here's an excerpt from page 10 of the book, under a section labeled "It's the Process, Not the Product."

     Toddlers and twos explore art as a learning experience or an experiment, discovering what is stimulating and interesting.  They are more interested in doing art rather than making a finished product. During the process, toddlers and twos discover their own independence, as well as the mystery of combinations, the joy of exploration, the delight of creating, and the frustration of challenges--all important pieces in the puzzle of learning.  Whatever the finished product--whether it is a bright, sticky glob or a gallery-worthy masterpiece--to a toddler or two-year-old, it is only the result of "doing art," not the reason for doing art.

This book has been thumbed through so much and stained so thoroughly in our home (as a result of mixing paint, of course!); it is an extremely well-loved piece of our library.  It has also become the basis of a regular play date that Kim and I host at my house about every month or so. We are both members of a local attachment parenting group and extend an open invitation to all the parents of toddlers and twos each month to participate in these play dates. They have each been HUGE successes!

We held another one of these events last week, and I'd like to post some pictures I snapped while the kids were engaged. This particular play date consisted of three processes from the book: sit-down dance painting, squeeze painting, and working with playclay.

the result of "sit-down dance painting," which actually became marching painting, handpainting, and stand-up dance painting

Ella was *very* focused on the squeeze painting...she kept returning it to it over and over again

J.J. especially loved poking at the playclay...the little piles were covered in his fingerprints by the end

Having the play dates at my house makes it difficult for a lot of the members to come.  After all, we do live about 30 minutes from anyone else in the group! My house does, however, have many advantages, including a massive private yard that invites children to run around bare-bottomed and chickens that loved to be held and pet!

this was Adele's first time visiting our house, so it was all new to her! she is looking at a silkie named Minerva that we are chicken-sitting for a friend

We also have a large brick patio in the backyard, so the sidewalk chalk is available during every play date. Ella never pays any attention to the chalk when we're home alone, but she really gets excited about it when she sees other children drawing.

such a funny little pose 

the art girls

a bit of mama art

Just in case I wasn't clear before, I highly recommend this book! It is completely worth the ten buck investment if for nothing besides the huge selection of paint recipes. Even though it is a bit of work to plan and set up these play dates, I find them so rewarding and pleasurable. The kids always leave happy (and messy), and the mamas always leave with smiles and a promise to make the trek again the next month.


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