Art and sensory activities are just a few of the fun ways children can express their artistic and creative abilities. Most children love to participate in arts and crafts, and there are numerous options available to you as a childcare professional to help provide these wonderful opportunities to the children in your care. Below are some helpful questions and answers regarding exploring art in the classroom.
Question: I have limited time available to work with art and sensory activities, what would you recommend when some of the art activities seem very time consuming?
Answer: As with most things in education it is important to know your group. We have a fantastic resource website with many lesson plan ideas and directions that you can access at the following links:
You will also see that you can search for lesson plans by theme or topic as well.
I would urge you to try to consider art as a mixture of many different types of lessons and not just a standard procedure with a pretty end product. While these activities do have benefits you may be missing out on valuable learning experiences for your group. Consider sensory activities, open-ended art, and material explorations when planning your art lessons. Give parents “out of the box” ideas about tools and materials to use while creating art. New experiences support positive brain development and you can help to foster those activity ideas.
Question: Why are toddlers so interested in art activities?
Answer: Toddlers love many activities but art seems particularly satisfying because it is a sensory exploration. Toddlers enjoy using their 5 senses in everything that they do and art typically provides multiple means of sensory exploration.
Question: In some cultures, using food for art could be seen as wasting food. How would I respond to someone who brings this up?
Answer: You bring up a very valid point in cultural differences between teachers and children. It is important to value and understand cultural differences in every interaction that you have. You may prefer to ask questions as a response to the child’s inquiry. Questions such as “what do you think about using this material for art?” or something similar. In addition to this you may offer an alternative material if you notice that it makes yourself or children uncomfortable or confused.
Overall, it is crucial to respect all cultures in each and every activity. Do what you can to learn as much as possible about other cultures and respect them in your program planning.
Question: How do I manage art activities that seem to take some children longer to work on than others?
Answer: If you know that art will take longer than expected you can adjust your activities or timeframe to fit this. This is a simple solution that you can try to implement. Another option, which may be more developmentally appropriate depending upon the age group that you work with is to include process oriented art as part of a center or free choice exploration. Provide the materials, both conventional and nonconventional in the art center area and allow children to explore them in any way they choose. How you organize and transition from centers is completely up to you, but this gives children a more expressive experience with art and doesn’t require that certain tasks be done in a certain time slot.
If you do choose to add art as a center, you can still include the more product oriented art activities but maybe prompt adult assistance from an assistant teacher or adult volunteer to keep things running smoothly.
Question: How can I provide art activities for infants and toddlers that are not so messy?
Answer: You’re right, it is messy but it is absolutely worth it as I’m sure you would agree. My first piece of advice is to embrace the mess. Communicate to parents that art can be messy and they should feel free to send their children in play clothes or something similar. My next suggestion is to utilize volunteers or assistance teachers when doing art activities. Another adult in the vicinity can help to prevent messes and aid in clean up. Last, but not least, I recommend trying art with small groups of children as opposed to the whole group. This will be a more manageable mess to attend to throughout the activity.
As with all things when working with infants and toddlers, be sure to exercise caution in your materials. Make sure not to provide items that are hazardous or irritating in any way.
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