I’m a motivator of authentic artwork. The kids and I do printables and follow directions some of the time, but mostly, I allow them to create. Why?
Am I often out of paper, ink, or both?
Am I reluctant to drag the printer from downstairs up to our computer in the kitchen?
Am I a believer in authentic artwork?
The first two are most likely, but the last idea is true too.
When Za was in preschool, I once arrived to pick her up early. The kids were asleep and I started a chat with the assistant teacher. She was “fixing” the bees the kids had made. I couldn’t figure out exactly why this bothered me. The kids were two years old, and I doubted any of them would specifically remember the bee looking a tad different.
I didn’t like it though and I never “fix” my kids’ stuff. I believe there is benefit for students following directions and using fine motor skills. Those beliefs are reflected in other education websites – a nice balance. (One reason I follow No Time for Flash Cards is because Allison shows her kids doing real projects, in their pajamas and all. It’s childhood; it’s real).
Allowing kids freedom with creativity has always seemed the avenue for us. We cut and glue and never know exactly what the final product will look like. So when my two-year-old wants to paint a Christmas tree, I don’t immediately print one off:
I feel like saying, “lets make a tree” is different than, “lets paint this tree.” The thing is, I felt like I was slacking off. Should I always print an activity? Should I always create a “process” craft?
I thought of my kids’ authentic artwork and my “go-to” websites when I read this blog post, “Children’s Authentic Art vs. Classroom Craftivities.” After reading this, I know why years ago, it bothered me that Za’s bumble bee was not completely hers.
A few takeaway points that resonated with me:
* Redoing or structuring young children’s creativity sends the message that their creativity is wrong. That is counterproductive to what teachers and parents want.
* The artwork created by students shows their interpretation of a story or event. For instance, I asked C.J. if she wanted to add ornaments to her tree. (I was going to suggest dots of paint). She shook her head “no.” She liked her tree and later as she sat at the base of the tree, I saw why. She is short and mostly sees green. She did recreate her tree, from her viewpoint.
* Children can be frustrated by the situation! I wouldn’t want my crafts fixed either – especially if I were proud of them!
With the same thought, I gave Za a piece of white paper after we read Snowmen at Christmas. She created the above picture, with colorful vests on each piece of the snowman, and lots of snow. The snow is blue, she said, because the sky is sometimes “on” the snow and has dashes of yellow because we have a dog.
I was happy to see the discussion over on Rainbows Within Reach about authentic art. Forcing my kids into crafts with predetermined outcomes never seemed right to me. This article gave words to my feelings.