How to Avoid Mistakes When Teaching Art to Kids

Today, I was a guest blogger on Harrington Harmonies. I have written a post about common mistakes in teaching art to kids. It is accompanied by arTree digital magazine give-away so if you are interested, click here to enter it (it ends 2/24/2014).

Here is the post:

How to Avoid Mistakes in Teaching Art | Harrington Harmonies

The basics?

Don’t copy the masters but use them as your inspiration.

Mistakes When Teaching  Art- Don't copy artisits, use learning about the m teach a skill. {Artree guest post and giveaway} | Harrington Harmonies't  

Don’t help your kids too much, let them make their mistakes on their own!

Be ok with making a mess and not always creating the best masterpiece possible

Be careful how you praise their work!

And most importantly: have fun!

Visit Harrington Harmonies to read more about it and to win the give-away!

Plains Indians in Art

After-school, art program at Woodside elementary has started. We are going to travel all around the world, visit all seven continents and create some cool art (while we listen to traditional music).

north_america

First week was about North America. And since we didn’t have to travel anywhere to get there, we have gone back in time – to the time of Plains Indians. We have learned about pictograms and told our stories on “buffalo hides” (or the next best thing – paper bags). Kids were very excited and their stories ranged from epic battles, funny episodes to love stories and poetry.

Here they are, at least some of them.

complex

(This story was about a day in a life of one brave warrior-girl.)

love

(This love story was created by a 10-year-old boy. It tells about a boy and a girl who brought peace to their village through love.)

Is Art Education Worth it?

We all know art education is missing at our schools. But just how important is it? According to this study it can make a big impact on many lives. Just check it out for yourself:

  • Students who are involved in the arts are 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
  • Low-income students who are highly engaged in the arts are more than twice as likely to graduate collage.
  •  Students who take four years of art/music classes average almost 100 points better on their SAT.

There are many reasons why we should keep arts in our schools – but the truth is that there is not enough money for that. There are more pressing needs and problems teachers and principals have to deal with – before they get to the PTAs, art docent programs and art supplies.

But I believe that the art does not have to suffer and the art docents can get a little help. I know what a hassle it can be to look through the materials you get from a district, not knowing what to teach, why and how… it is overwhelming and boring. But it does to have to be. It is art.

magazine1

That’s why I have decided to try and help. I am working on an art curriculum for elementary school kids that they could follow with their teachers, parents or by themselves. It will be an online, weekly “magazine” and it will be inexpensive. Once purchased through PTAs (or just parents) it will be available to ALL kids at the school for the whole year. Stay tuned if you are interested in learning more… I hope to make this available for September.

Easter Eggs-travaganza, day 5: The Naked Egg

egg_without_shell

So, technically it is not an art project but it is a fun science experiment… how does an egg look like without the shell? The raw egg I mean… like a gooey bouncy…  try it for yourself. You need couple of raw eggs (they can break easily once you start exploring them, so making more is a good idea). You put them in a jar with a lid and pour vinegar over them. The just let them stand 2-3 days… drain the vinegar, Raise them with cold water and let the exploration begin.

Art Education in the 21st Century

imagination

I attended the ScienceNow talk about art education last week and got a chance to listen to some interesting questions and answers.

Dr. Daniel J. Levitin talked about the importance of structured art education (that is currently missing on so many schools) – and that benefits of these programs (with engagement-by-doing) are seen with as little as 10 minutes a day. He talked about importance of playing music in building character, teaching turn taking and paying attention to what others are doing… and about a study which showed that people who read a lot of fiction had much stronger empathy than others.

For me, the most important question was – How can arts education help teach creativity and other important life lessons for a 21st century America?

When I was going to school we had to memorize a lot of useless information. Sure, it helped us to exercise our brains but I do not remember almost any of the dates and formulas I was memorizing 15 years ago… on the other hand, the creative work that I did – researched and presented, I remember very vividly. Which is not surprising – but it makes this point even more important.

Daniel Levitin said: what we need to teach our children now is (a) how to evaluate information to be sure it is accurate; (b) how to think logically; (c) how to think creatively – the most difficult problems facing the world such as global warming and peacekeeping, require creative solutions.

My question is – how can we nurture creativity – if kids do not really see it around them? There are many benefits of teaching art in schools… and they seem to be getting more and more important in the Internet age. We should strive for a balance between creativity and logical thinking… after all, even Einstein said: “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Isn’t THAT something we should want for us and our kids?

Spring into Spring

easte

Spring is beginning in a couple of days and we are less than two weeks away from Easter. How did this happen? Well, at any rate… it is high time to start planning the EGG-citing art projects for this month that bring some spring into your homes… I put together a lot of great projects and egg-decorating ideas (that I tried or have on my try-this-year-for-sure list) and I hope you’re going to enjoy them as much as we do. Click here to see them all.

Bunch of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (for preschoolers)

van_gogh_sunflowers

Vincent van Gogh painted over 800 paintings in less than 10 years. He was so passionate that sometimes, he did not sleep for couple of days just to finish a painting. Other times, he did not eat much because he spent all of his money on art supplies. He put a lot of himself and his feelings into his work – making it very personal and intense.

Show kids his beautiful Sunflower paining and then give them each an orange/yellow circle. Explain the difference between short/long brushstrokes:

brishstrokes

Then show them the parts of the flowers and discuss them (seeds/petals… their shape). After the kids spent some time exploring the flowers, let them use brown  short strokes (for the middle – seeds) and long yellow strokes (for the petals). Let each kid create one sunflower and put them all in a big vase, along with some green tissue paper. Done.

Do the Arts Make Us Smarter?

smarter

Tomorrow (3/14/13) at 3 p.m. EDT, there is a live chat at ScienceMag.org with researchers who study the relationship between arts and intelligence – Daniel Levitin ( professor of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience) and Keith Oatley (professor of Cognitive Psychology). You can join the discussion here.

I will definitely check in and will share the highlight with you, if you do not have time to join yourself.

Van Gogh’s Sunflower: collage version for preschoolers

Create a simple, collaborative project with the kids – inspired by Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.

Let each child create one petal of the flower: by gluing the different yellow/orange pieces of paper, fabric and foam onto it. Then put all of them together to make one big sunflower (or several smaller ones) for a class decoration.

You can even glue real sunflower seeds into the middle. It’s a great fine-motor skill exercise and you can use the time to explain the different parts of the flower to the kids.

sunflower