Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Toddler Art (or the Art of Getting Messy)

Here is Little One doing what he does best, making a beautiful mess!
Look at the joy on his face! Toddlers NEED the freedom to create and experiment with art materials. At this point of course it is the doing that is the focus for toddlers, not the product.

Toddlers are in need of a place where being messy is accepted and beginning efforts are valued. Individuality is celebrated in the Montessori classroom! Not everyone's art will be the same because each of us is an artist in our very own way.

In the Nest we create something every day. I believe, this is an important attribute of our program. Being an artist myself, I do prioritize artistic expression but as an educator, I feel I am following the needs of the two year old child. These terrific twos are hands-on learners! Getting messy is part of the process of learning about their world. If it's getting wet exploring water in the sensory table or getting wet washing a table, either way toddlers are going to get wet. And why not? Certainly at home it is not always possible for us to accommodate this hands-on learning style but in a classroom prepared for this age children, I feel it should happen daily.

That's not to say a toddler should be bringing home papers every day because as I mentioned above, the process is where the learning happens and so far I have yet to meet a two year old who is strongly attached to what they created. Each day I write on a wipe board by the door to our classroom. I write a brief summary of what we did in the Nest that day. I write this so that parents have some conversation starters for the car ride home.

Some examples....
Today in the Nest we...
explored heavy and light, dry and wet and loud and quiet
sang the "Wheels on the Bus"
played in the snow
read many stories
used musical instruments with sign-language "Stop" and "Go"

The parents then can make up questions they can ask, for ex:

"Jennifer mentioned you finger painted today, what colors did you choose?"

"Did you practice pouring with water today? Was the water cold or warm?"

"You used glue sticks today? Wow, glue sticks are sticky, what did you stick with them?"

"How do you say STOP in sign-language?"

Your children may remember the process of finger painting ("it felt cold and was slippery") or what colors they chose ("I used blue and green")and maybe even what they created ("I painted a frog!"). And with some prompting they may even tell you. But showing you is not a necessary part of their learning.

We all like having something to send the Grandparents or to hang on the refrigerator, but I propose we try and produce less stuff to bring home and more experiences to share about with others. I am attempting to do this in my classroom more and more. Sharing photos helps bridge the gap for parents.

Photos that show the children using materials such as snow, sand, water, rice, bird seed, corn starch, play dough, clay and paints.

Photos that show the learning: the development of fine motor skills through the use of tools such as rolling pins, scrub brushes, small pitchers and sponges, brushes, glue sticks and maybe even safety scissors.

As well as examples of the children building skills such as concentration, coordination, independence and order.
Showing the children we value their art work by displaying it in the classroom is also a nice way to celebrate each child. And of course some of them WILL go home with the children!
Bottom line: Provide many opportunities for your children and enjoy the process of getting messy! They are only two once!
Happy artistic exploration!
related posts: Creative Preschooler


village mama said...

Great post - and yes, I vote for producing less and experiencing more, though, my heart tears each and e-v-e-r-y time I put the kids' excess in the recycling.

olesearoibu said...

that tube is really wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! can i steal it::))::))::))::))::))::)) just to share the idea.
that's really ingenious!!!!!!!!!!! i love it. you know what i made; a microphone, for my 2 year old baby to recite, and he is so excited. by the way i am from moldova and following your blog regularily, congratulations!!!!!!!!!!

Green Mamma said...

We are doing our best to explore our materials and make a mess too. Actually I just got finished reading Beal's The Art of Teaching Art to Children, which is geared for children 5 and up, but what I took away from this book was the value of getting our artists acquainted with the mediums, and then of course, the ideas will come.

Oh, and I love the tube idea and the marbles rolling in the paint (that is what is shown, yes?). I have been wanting to try this one with Annabelle (age 2).

The Hille's said...

Love your blog! Art teacher at a Montessori Charter in the Florida Keys

lisa keegan said...

Just discovered this blog - really interesting. I am a contributing artist for the blog www.kiddingabout.com, there is a recent article on a similar subject called "Blue trees, a green sun and plenty of scribbles!" - basically about letting toddlers paint the colors they see or want to see. All comments welcome!


Ms. Stephanie said...

It is so refreshing to find you!

Thank you so much for your blog!

Where in the World?


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