‘What Big Eyes You’ve Got’: An Early Years Art Education Project

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 creatively.

From June 12th to the 16th an exhibition showcasing the project will be on show in Áras Na Mac Léinn, NUI Galway, and will feature some of the children’s creations, as well as photos documenting their experience.

The “What Big Eyes You’ve Got…” project is an exciting programme for early years and their parents that focuses on the creative exploration of the five senses: taste, smell, touch, sound, and sight, and like all of my projects, was developed to enliven children’s disposition for wonderment, excitement, curiosity, and perseverance. I designed and developed the programme for Scoil Chroí Íosa with the aim of engaging the children in an immersive, child-centred, art-rich learning environment that would aid their early learning and development, and complements the school’s Aistear and Síolta Frameworks.

Scoil Chroí Íosa are committed to delivering a rich creative arts programme and aim to provide the children in the school with an education that is rich in creative thinking, learning and activity. It was a pleasure to work with the staff and children there. They provide a holistic approach to education and give each child an opportunity to express themselves creatively through a range of arts activities and programmes.

The “What Big Eyes You’ve Got…” weekly workshops involved a range of interesting indoor and outdoor arts experiences, many of which took place in the school’s unique garden classroom. Students were encouraged to actively explore their world, gain individuality by working independently, and also develop a sense of team work through group projects. Central to my approach is educating parents, teachers and the community about the importance of creativity in our lives and the lives of our children.

I work to remove the fear and feelings of inadequacy that many adults have around creativity, and so this programme also worked to encourage and empower parents and teachers to engage in creative play and art with the young children on a daily basis, and illustrated how doing this can add to wellbeing.

A Sailing We Will Go: Parent & Toddler Workshop

Using the museum’s waterside location and sea science and maritime exhibitions as inspiration, join artist Jane Hayes for a series of three creative, hands-on workshops, during which parent and toddler will undertake an inspirational sea journey.

These creative workshops for the under 4s focus on artistic exploration through sensory activities and creative play.

Galway City Museum, Spanish Parade, Galway

Saturday 4 February, 11am 11.50am

Saturday 4 March, 11am 11.50am

Additional Date TBC

Age 1 – 4

For further information, or to make a booking, please contact the Museun on (091) 532460 or museum@galwaycity.ie

Wake Up Spring: Creative Explorations for Early Years with Artist Jane Hayes

Sunday, January 29th, 2017   Ages: 1-6 years

Join me for a fun artistic journey through Winter and Spring, to celebrate Small Size Day 2017. Children and their grown ups are invited to enjoy a creative hands-on workshop, followed by immersive storytelling.

Wake Up Spring: Creative Explorations for Early Years with me, Artist Jane Hayes

An immersive, child-centred, sensory experience, which encourages parents to engage in creative play and art with their young children. Beginning in a Winter wonderland, children and grown-ups, together will help create a gradual transformation as they encourage Spring to wake up in this specially created space.

This workshop, led by artist Jane Hayes, will enliven your children’s disposition for wonderment, excitement, curiosity and perseverance, and promises to be an exciting, art-rich, hands-on experience, using unusual materials with lots of help from the Baboró team. Duration: 50 mins

Followed by: Hibernation and Awakening: Storytelling with Phillida Eves

Times: 9.30am, 11.30am, 2.00pm & 4.00pm  Total duration: 90 mins approximately
Venue: O’Donoghue Centre for Drama & Theatre Practice, NUI Galway (near Bailey Allen Hall)
Tickets: €8 per person (€30 for a family of 4)  Please ring Town Hall Theatre on 091 569777 to book.

Capacity: 20 children plus parents (each child must be accompanied by an adult)

About Small Size Days

‘Small Size Days’ are presented by (Artistic International Association) Small Size, and are a part of the wider activity of the ‘Small Size, performing arts for early years’ project. Baboró is a member of this project since 2009 and is the only Irish partner in this 16-country, 18 partner project. ‘Small Size , performing arts for early years’ is supported by the European Commission’s Creative Europe project, which supports artistic productions for children aged 0 to 6, and the cultural rights of young children to access the Creative

Follow My Voyage….Baboró Early Year Arts Mentorship 2016: Part III

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

Early Years Art Childrens Development Fine Motor SkillsThe 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 Early Years Art Childrens Development Gross 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.

Follow My Voyage….Baboró Early Year Arts Mentorship 2016: Part II

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”.

early-years-art-jane-hayes-2She 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.

Now, 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.

 

 

 

Follow My Voyage….Baboró Early Year Arts Mentorship 2016: Part I

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”.

Izzy Reddan at the Baboró 2015 festival opening in Galway
Photo by Marina Levitina

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…….