Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cornmeal Tracing... (Days 4 & 5)

If you have ever attended one of our annual art shows, than you know that I LOVE children's artwork.

In fact, just recently while on vacation I noticed some art pieces hanging in the hotel's corridor and I caught myself saying aloud... "my kids can do that". 

Ok, so here's the deal.

Growing up I never considered myself a "good" artist.  In fact, if you asked me about art, I would have given you the negative answer...  "No, I'm not an artist.  I can't draw.  I'm not very artistic".  I now realize that the main problem I've had is getting the ellaborate ideas in my head to translate onto paper.  I hadn't learned how to master the art of getting the physical product to match the creative process which was taking place in my mind. 

Well, in college I took a child development class that CHANGED MY LIFE, as I learned the difference between process and product oriented art.  I was taught that children should always be given opportunities to create process oriented art because the process (the true experience) is where the creatvity is showcased.  Why couldn't I figure this out before?  After all, Life is a PROCESS, isn't it?


I fell in love with the concept of process oriented art, also known as open-ended art because...

- it celebrates the process of creating rather than the end product
- there is no "right" or "wrong" way to create
- it does not have to "look like something" else
- every creative expression is different
- the artist is the only one who has to like it

And so...

it was with this discovery that I found my creative niche!

I began to embrace my artistic side and learned to showcase my creativity  through photography, scrapbooking, singing, songwriting and storytelling. If you ask me today, my answer will be a positive "Yes, I love art and the creative process.  Art is one of my passions". 

Even though it may have taken me a while to admit that I am an artist, I am now trying to help others find their inner artist as well.

Florence Cane states it best in her book "The Artist in Each of Us"... "what we need to be taught is not art, but to believe in ourselves, our imagination, our senses, and our hands".

So with that said, here's what we did with our cornmeal on days 4 & 5...

Activity #4- Cornmeal and Colored Sand Art


 
What I did:  Mixed cornmeal together with colored sand and put it into a repurposed egg carton (Visual and Performing Arts).

What they did:  Used q-tips to make unique designs with glue onto their papers.  Every child's looked different, and several children made more than one.  They seemed to enjoy the creative process, and didn't stop until it was time for lunch!


I see moreIt was sooo interesting because I noticed that my school age children (who were out for the summer) kept making comments like "ooh, I messed up" or, "I need a new paper so that I can start over".  My younger children (preschoolers and toddlers) never blinked.  They literally kept their eyes focused and just enjoyed the...what was that word again? Oh yeah, the process of creating.  LIGHT BULB MOMENT HERE!  Something happens to us as we grow older.  We lose the ability to have fun just for the sake of having fun.  We are too focused on a "finished product".  Hmmm?  What is that?  Could it be... standardized testing, the grading system, and the expectations we place on them? 

Lesson Learned:  I mentioned to one of the parents that this is the kind of hands-on projects that makes their child's day.  I have found that when I bring out activities like this and let the children have large blocks of uninterupted free time, they will stay focused on certain details for HOURS!  This is why I love the creative process.  This is why I love art.  This is what I love about that child development class I took all those years age.  I learned that even though we are all together, there is a place within us where we can be content at the same time!

Helpful Tip:  Recycle, reuse, and repurpose when possible.  Also, using less expensive items such as cornmeal to "stretch" other expensive materials like colored sand, is a cost effective solution when working with young children.  Toddlers and Preschoolers and have a way of using "too much" of the materials they are working with, but this is part of their process.  Be supportive and give them opportunities to use the materials without limit.  You may be surprised at how long this holds their attention!  

Activity #5- Cornmeal Tracing




What I did:   Spread a thin layer of cornmeal onto a tray and let them at it!  (Language and Literacy, Visual and Performing Arts).

What they did:  They began tracing with their fingers until one of the older children asked for q-tips.

I see moreSince school was out, my 7 year olds were working right along side my 2 & 3 year olds, and it was very interesting to see the difference in their stages of scribble.  Rhoda Kellog has described it best in her work with the "20 basic scribbles".  I noticed 3 major stages of art during this activity: Scribbler Stage, Schematic Stage, and the Realistic Stage.  I LOVE when the children teach me!



Helpful Tip: Keep the rules simple and consistent.  Each person must wash their hands before and after the activity, be sure to "clean" or sift through the cornmeal after using, and store it in a sealed container.  These tips allowed us to use our same cornmeal for over a month!

Week 2 Activities Coming Soon...  



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