Project Showcase at NUI Galway: This Spring I embarked on an exciting journey with the children of Junior, Senior and First Class in Scoil Chroí Íosa Primary School, Galway, to help them explore their senses… More
During my mentorship with the Baboró International Children’s Festival, I really began to appreciate the functional benefits of early years art, as well as the poetic that I discussed in my last article. Early years art is an exceptional way to aid children’s development, and helps them to strengthen key skills along their developmental journey.
Gross motor skills
Get them moving….gross motor skills involve arms, legs, feet, and the entire body. Art projects that require young artists to stretch and move while creating are fantastic for developing this skill set. The large movements required for painting or drawing on a large surface such as on the floor or on the wall build coordination and strength.
Fine motor skills
The smaller movements of fingers, hands, and wrists required to use a scissors, work with clay, peel and stick stickers, or draw on small surfaces develop fine motor dexterity and control.
Developmental milestones around age 3 usually include drawing a circle and beginning to use safety scissors. Many preschool programmes emphasize the use of scissors because it develops the dexterity children will later need for writing.
Visual motor skills
Hand eye coordination or visual motor skill is the ability of the eyes to guide the hands in movements. This will go on to be very important when it comes to learning how to write for example. So many elements of the art making process encourage improvements in the area of visual motor skills, such as cutting, threading, tracing and making patterns, and for the very young simple pouring and filling activities are a wonderful start.
Language and cognitive skills
Making art and talking through the process is an excellent opportunity to learn new words and apply meaning, especially when it comes to colours, shapes and actions. Take a simple activity such as crumpling up paper and calling it a “ball.”, children as young as 1 year old can learn in this way through making and repetition.
Oral motor skills
Little kids need to strengthen and develop important lips, tongue, and jaw muscles, which effect their progress with feeding and speech. Fun activities that involve blowing bubbles, or blowing paint are exceptional for improving oral motor skills, and great fun too!
Social and communication skills
Art is often about problem-solving and through art children can experience a healthy
sense of pride in their accomplishments. Making decisions about how to hold a paint brush, which color to use or how to thread a bead are important lessons that strengthen confidence and emotional maturity.
Working in a group on a art project involves important lessons on sharing, developing empathy for others, self regulation and taking instruction, all of which contribute to a positive learning environment.
According to UNESCO, “the encouragement of creativity from an early age is one of the best guarantees of growth in a healthy environment of self-esteem and mutual respect – critical ingredients for building a culture of peace.”
Follow me on Instagram for coverage of my experiences with the children and early years art.
If you sat down to make art with your children could you stop yourself from asking; “so, what is it”? Would you fight the understandable urge to apply the “rules”? Could you let go and just for a moment …. suspend your disbelief?
As my mentor this week, Orla Kelly from Early Childhood Creativity said to me;
“Early years art is about focusing on the poetic, and young children naturally understand the poetic”.
She gave the beautiful example of her young godson who on seeing a Chinese lantern floating in the sky for the first time asked what it was. The name Chinese lantern meant nothing to him, where as the explanation that it transported the wishes of people was something that made perfect sense in his world.
From working with all the amazing groups this week at the Baboró International Ats Festival For Children it’s even clearer to me that when permitted, children have no problem suspending their disbelief. If they are given permission and the appropriate environment imagination and creativity knows no bounds. As artists it is our responsibility to bring children through the world with poetics, and even more importantly it seems, to help adults to “unlearn” the rules and rediscover the poetic too.
Deirdre Rodgers from Recreate Ireland, who is also my mentor this week points out that children make meaning through exploration, but unfortunately this exploration is often hampered by the systems and structures within society.
“Life has taken over and things are becoming more structured, even play is structured these days.”
In the ‘Creative Lab’ at NUI Galway this week, we provide the environment and support so that children, and indeed adults know its OK to let your imagination go wild, to colour outside the lines, or even get rid of the lines altogether! You don’t need special materials, to “know about art”, or even to be of a certain age to be creative. Art is, and must be for everyone, even from the early years.
Parents, artists and educators: join me for a behind-the-scenes journey through early years art, as we discover together the importance of the creative development of the very young…
Are you familiar with the magic of Baboró? Ireland’s flagship international performing arts festival dedicated to children; Baboró is now in its 20th year, and leads the way in “inspiring children to engage with the world through their experience of the creative arts”.
Through its annual festival, Baboró aims to ensure that all children in Ireland enjoy equal access to quality cultural and creative arts experiences. It does this by presenting an inspiring and deeply engaging programme of multi-disciplinary works for children. The week long festival, held in Galway in the West of Ireland includes theatre, puppetry, dance, music and visual art, as well as creative engagement opportunities for children.
As an artist and arts educator myself I was particularly interested in the programme’s industry events and professional development opportunities. I was naturally honored when I was selected for this year’s Baboró Early Years Arts Mentorship under the guidance of the exceptionally talented and progressive artists Deirdre Rogers (Artistic Cordinator at Recreate Ireland) and Órla Kelly (Director of Early Childhood Creativity). Having recently returned to Ireland and committed to developing my practice in Galway, I know that I will benefit greatly from this exciting experience.
Focusing on early years visual arts (0 to 6 years) myself and two other mentees will form part of the team that will take young learners on a voyage of discovery in the Creative Lab at NUI Galway, a place to invent, design, explore, build and create using a wealth of unusual materials. We will also be getting out and about and bringing our Lab to a city crèche and the pediatric unit in Galway University Hospital. In addition, we will work along side Orla and Deirdre as they present adult sessions exploring the use of the creative arts to support early learning and development.
Whether you are a parent, artist or educator I believe that you too can benefit from my experience. That is why as part of my menteeship I will be documenting my experiences and sharing key elements of my learning in a series of articles, which I will be posting here on my blog. In the meanwhile, whet your creative appetite, and check out Baboro’s incredible programme of events, and follow me on Instagram for fly-on-the-wall coverage of our experiences with the children and adult audiences all this week.
Let the journey begin…….
Specialising in working with junior and 1st class children, I take young students and their parents on an exciting creative journey that aids the child’s early learning and development, through creative sensory explorations, and activities that complement the School’s Aistear Framework.
Through interesting indoor and outdoor arts experiences we actively explore, work independently and take on exciting group art projects, where language development and addressing equality and diversity are key.
My schools programmes facilitate parental engagement where possible, encouraging and empowering parents to regularly engage in, and value creative play and art with their young children.
To discuss the possibility of a bespoke programme or workshop for your school contact me.
No man is an island as the saying goes, and it’s so important for kids to learn how to work as a team from an early age. Sports can be an excellent way for children to develop as a team-player, but so can art!
Whether it’s at home for a play date, in the classroom, or if you dare; at a birthday party getting kids to work together on a group masterpiece is so rewarding….and not just for them, for you too!
- Encourages teamwork
- Develops patience
- Develops respect
- Fosters peer learning
- Stimulates critical thinking
- Encourages problem solving
- Develops oral communication
- Helps accept constructive criticism
- Promotes leadership skills
- Resembles the reality of everyday life
- Think BIG, work on a large scale: A huge piece of paper taped to the wall to create a landscape. A big piece of fabric or canvas taped to the floor for a Jackson Pollock style painting project
- A single finished piece, not a joining together of smaller individual work: This calls for true team work. Encourages appreciation and enjoyment of process over product
- Low on instructions big on creativity: Group projects are not the time for step by steps. This is time for creative freedom
- A theme v a thing: Projects need to open enough to cater for variety in age and ability. It’s more effective if kids are allowed to really run with this one rather than setting to many limits – it’s amazing what they come up with!
HOW…..TEACHER’S TOP TIPS:
- Have space, even work outside
- Be organised, with supplies and cleaning gear ready in advance
- Careful delegation: If kids are young you will need to step in to help with who does what, or who works where
- Be ready to referee and encourage; fair play, patience and respect
- Let them have fun!
The photos feature in this article, are of a giant canvas we prepared
in our “I ❤ Cooking” English through art Summer camp in Madrid. The kids had a blast, and the work was stunning!
Using pencil, the kids worked together to draw food and cooking related things on a huge piece of material that was taped to the floor. Then using fabric paint we painted the items and added lots of abstract splashes and marks. Finally, we went back over the original drawings with black permanent marker.
In this article I encourage working on a single work, but the beauty of this one was that in the end we were able to cut the material into strips so that the children could bring them home for beautiful table runners.
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So you’re a great parent who wants to encourage creativity at home, or a new teacher who doesn’t know where to begin…..let’s talk essential craft supplies for kids. I’m an artist and teacher and am here to tell you exactly what you do and don’t need….and stop you from breaking the bank!
Below you’ll find a excellent list that is genuinely based on my own personal experience and preferences from working with children. You can also download & print my super smart Kids Art and Craft Supply Checklist to help you get on track right now!
* The asterisked items are my “can’t live withouts”!
- Pencils *
- Colouring pencils *
- Paint markers such as Uni-posca Paint Markers
- Regular colouring markers
- Rubbers/ erasers *
- Toppers/ sharpeners *
Cutting & Sticking
- Kids scissors *
- Sellotape/ sticky tape
- Masking tape
- Paper glue stick, like my all-time favourite Pritt Stick *
- PVA glue
- Multi-use glue
- Paint brushes *
- Liquid watercolour
- Tempera/ poster paint *
- Acrylic paint
- Clean yogurt cartons for paint pots *
- Old glass jars for water
- Old plates for pallets
Paper & Card
- White printer paper *
- Coloured paper/ construction paper
- Coloured card *
- Old magazines
- Old cardboard
- Toilet roll inserts
- Wool *
- Coloured felt sheets *
- Coloured foam sheets
- Needles & thread
- Googly eyes
Print my Kids Art and Craft Supply Checklist PDF now to help you get organised
Jane’s Top Tips
- Rubbers/ erasers: Although they are essential, I try to encourage kids to embrace their mistakes.
- Rulers: I discourage kids from worrying about straight lines but sometimes rulers are very useful.
- Paint brushes: Round-head, medium thickness paint brushes, with a pointed tip cover a multitude.
- Paint markers – such as Uni-posca Paint Markers : These cost more than regular markers but are so versatile. They work on so many surfaces, and produce strong, vibrant colours even on a coloured background – I wish they had these when I was a kid!
- Crayons: Crayons are my go-to option for younger kids, but they are also fantastic for special projects such as water resist technique. White crayons are a must!
- Multi-use glue: Adult supervision is need with this as it is toxic, and very strong, but an excellent option for fabric, felt, plastic and wood.
- Acrylic paint: Although it is not on my essentials list acrylic is my favourite paint because the colours are so strong, vibrant and smooth. But it is not easy to wash from clothes, are is more expensive than the other more kid-friendly options.
- A3 paper & card: I always buy A3 paper and card because if you need smaller you simply cut it to size.
Jane’s ultimate Top 3 MUST HAVE items for unlimited creativity…..
- Coloured card
- Paint markers – Uni-posca Paint Markers
- Paper glue stick, like my all-time favorite Pritt Stick
What are your personal favourites when it comes to kids supplies? I’d love to see which of mine are and are not on your list. Please leave me a comment below!
A cool toy, party prop, or super fun sport’s fan accessory – this megaphone is a BIG hit with little super stars! It’s so easy to make, and is an inexpensive way to add colour and fun to a DIY party . Know a sports fan? Why not combine it my Giant Foam Hands DIY for something extra to cheer about!
WHAT YOU NEED
- 1 piece of A3 coloured card
- 1 sheet of coloured tissue paper
- Paper glue, like my all time favorite Pritt Stick
- Curve the card into a cone shape, leaving a gap at the smaller end, big enough to get the stapler inside
- Secure the shape by stapling it in as many places as possible
- Using the scissors, trim the excess card at both ends and along the side to create an even cone shape
- Now to make a tissue paper fringe, cut a strip of tissue long enough to wrap around the large end of the cone, and about 10cm wide
- Fold the strip of tissue a number of times, then using the scissors cut from the open edge (not the folded edge) into the center of the paper at even intervals
- Apply glue around the outside of the large end of the card cone
- Unfold the tissue paper, and stick the uncut side the edge to the glued card, leave the fringe to hang over the edge.
- For a fuller look, make a second(or more) fringe and stick it on top of the previous one
- Now give us a big shout out from your super fun megaphone!
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