I have posted a number of resources for art and the preschool age.
Preschoolers are forming their habits of thinking. Good art instruction has them thinking and responding to questions about themselves and their own experiences. This is much better than tracing, better than asking them to copy, better than coloring books, better than showing them how to draw something, and so on. I NEVER show them how I do something. I never show examples before they work. I motivate them by asking them questions. I actively affirm what they do that comes out of their own experiences. When I put a title on their name on their work, I ask them where they think it would look good to put a title or a name. I want them to learn to think about the design and composition of their work. Lowenfeld called this kind of questioning Making Passive Knowledge Active. Others call it accretion. Other teachers teach them to copy, trace, and follow structured directions. I want to teach them to think and be more expressive and take pride in their own ideas and wo
rk. It works to get a huge amount of self-learning.
A typical schematic self-portrait at age 5.
The child who made this self-portrait called THINKING learned to think creatively. He and his sister Bonnie are both leading biological scientists today. They were never given coloring books as children, but they always had lots of art materials including pottery clay to experiment with whenever they got the urge.
David tells me that the post docs working in his MIT lab are very smart about science, but they really need to able to think more imaginatively. When they get an experimental result that is unexpected they have trouble imagining the possible reason. Bonnie says her grad students at Rice University often fail to imagine that their results are leading to a new discovery. They assume that they must have made a mistake so they do the experiment again without telling her. Bonnie says they are wasting time with this when they should be imagining other reasons for unexpected results and experimenting to figure out what is really happening. David says that rather than telling them what he thinks, he asks them what they think is happening. New science discoveries come from being able to imagine what might be happening when they get unexpected results. They often get upset with his use of questions instead of answers, but he feels they need to develop their creativity and imaginativ
e thinking more than they need to know more about existing science.
I believe that these habits of thinking are forming in the pre-school mind. At the pre-school age, all kids are natural scientists and experimenters and they are all natural artists. They use their art materials to see help themselves remember, think, feel, imagine, and know. They are learning about their world, about themselves, and by doing this they are learning to think imaginatively, think realistically, to feel, and to express. The root of the word EDUCATION means to draw out.
Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art Emeritus
Goshen College, 1700 South Main, Goshen IN 46526
studio phone: 574-533-0171
"Art is me when I am myself." ... a kindergarten girl when asked, "What is art?"
"You can't never know how to do it before you never did it before." ... a kindergarten boy working with clay for the first time.
>Provide multi-sensory experiences.... Provide some movement/dance and
>song. I will expand upon these later, but wanted to remind you to CLIP
>THE DIGEST when you post. Do not post an entire digest when you post
>to Getty list. You just posted my address four time for the archives
>(as well as everyone else's addresses who posted). Also change the
>subject line to something that relates to your message.
>It might be easier for you (digest users) to start a new thread? Here
>is the Getty posting address:
>Now for everyone else.... Corinne's post below....
>On 11/1/07, Corinne Commoss-Abercrombie wrote:
>> Does anyone have suggestions for an art teacher visiting a pre-k for 40
>> minutes each week? These are integrated pre-schools and must follow
>> standards. 10-12 children are in each group. One has very low abilities. Can
>> anyone help?
>To unsubscribe go to