Do Art with your Child – Tips and Giveaways!

The last time I was exposed to any form of art training was in Secondary School. With a teacher teaching art to a class of 30+ other classmates, there was hardly any art techniques that I could learn effectively. All I recalled from my past art learning was that I detested doing Still Art.

So when K turned 2 years old, I was determined to expose him to as many art experiences during home-learning.

Open-ended art were the first experiences in art that got him to try. There were no set ways to create something, these art experiences were just focused on new art mediums that supported his self-expression. Having an empty canvas and tools to create anything he wanted, was rather engaging for a child below 4 years old.

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Nonetheless, open-ended art experiences can get rather haphazard and it often ends up to be just an exploration of art materials for the child.

It is good to provide opportunities to explore art materials and tools, but when a child approaches 3-5 years old, parents need to start thinking about how they can seamlessly expand ideas to foster the child’s mental development through open-ended art experiences.

Here are some methods I have used to maximize learning during open-ended art experiences;

1. Ask open-ended questions and prompts, “Tell me about what  you have drawn?”

2. Make objective observations about the process to the picture, “I like how you have used yellow for the tree and how it blends into the green color,” instead of “I like your picture.”

3. Encourage the integration of language and writing, by encouraging a dictation of the child’s story behind the art creation. Often children will have their own stories and will want to expand on their art piece as ideas start to develop further.

4. Write a verbatim of the child’s explanation of his creation, either behind the art piece or a separate piece of paper. Eventually the child will be encouraged to model this behavior and want to start writing their own stories and creations.

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Here’s how I managed to incorporate language into an Open-ended Art experience with K when he was 5 years old.

There are many advantages to open-ended art experiences, as it can give the child opportunities to expand basic concepts, use problem solving skills and language expression. It also fosters mental development, as he expresses his feelings, thoughts and ideas that he wants to communicate. The child will strengthen his ability to observe, imagine and create with open-ended art experiences.

 

How about Structured art experiences?

Some art educators frown upon structured art lessons for children below 7, as they feel that structured art stifles a child creativity. But I think that children can be exposed to both structured art and open-ended art experiences from 4 years old onwards.

Structured art is more product oriented, as it is useful to cement the ideas learnt from the process, may even come in the form of doing craft that is related to a theme that the child is learning. Or a set process for the child to learn a particular art technique.

I did not have any proper form of art training before doing structured art with K, but learning from books like Maryann F. Kohl, Mona Brookes, doing read-alouds with K using the Katie series of books were pivotal to encourage art appreciation and instrumental to introduce Open-ended and Structure-Art experiences during Home-learning sessions.

Here’s an example of a Structured Art Home-Learning experience I had with my son, that incorporated an open-ended outcome.

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Effective Art Home-Learning experiences will give children the opportunity to connect to other curriculum areas, while focusing on creative thinking and problem solving. Modelling technique are necessary to guide and empower the child through the creative process, as most children might be overwhelmed by a new concept or new art materials and not know where or how to begin.

Remember to focus on the process and not the final product!

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Have you tried art experiences at home with your child? And what are your favorite mediums (craft, paint, color pencils, pastels etc)?

 

Giveaways for Catch-Fortywinks readers! 

To help readers of this blog guide your children along on their Art Home-Learning experiences, I will be giving away 4 sets of art-learning books.

All you need to do is to answer the above question, leave your children/s age in the comment, and I will be doing a random pick for 4 winners. Don’t forget to leave your email address when filling up the details of the comment form, so that I can drop you an email if you have won any of these books.

Giveaway closes 31st July 2014.

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For other Home-Learning tips and ideas, view article links from this page

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Why should parents care about the Maker Movement?

With the Rainbow Loom trend taking off locally, and hearing that some mums are organizing Rainbow Loom parties for their kids, it is a good indication that Singaporeans are warming up to the idea that ‘I can actually make stuff!’

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Yes, there is more to life than our National Library banning books, lack of places in Primary school and the focus on our children’s academic achievements .

And why should parents care about the Maker Movement?

If you have noticed in the last 10 years, having aspirations like doctors, lawyers or even bankers just will not cut it anymore. Besides we can’t have too many of these.  We need more than just people who can save lives, fight for rights, or invest money for the well-to-do.

People who can invent, create, modify, hack, tinker, craft or just simply make, is more creative and productive than a group of people who refuse to make anything but plenty of noise.

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This is not a new idea, since artists have been doing it for thousands of years. But with technology and the internet, this movement have been transformed into a community activity.

 

What is the Maker Movement About?

The fundamental motivations of the Maker Movement stems from human needs of being creative and purposeful.

To be fully human is to reflect God’s creative, spiritual, communicative, relational, moral and purposeful capacities. But don’t confuse being created in God’s image to being God.

We are creative, even though many of us don’t think so.

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If we never get to expose our children to their creative and purposeful capacities, how much of their potential is being unrealized?

 

How does a parent introduce the Maker Movement at home?

Instead of running out to buy the next construction building toy (i.e., Lego), play dough set, download Minecraft on your mobile phones, buy an expensive 3D printer or buy the Rainbow Loom, if you haven’t got one yet.

The Maker Culture can span from traditional art and crafts, cooking to technology (e.g., building robots with LED lights or designing a new avatar).  Introducing the Maker Movement is a better alternative to the iPads and game consoles that so many children are obsessed with these days.

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Many of the home-based Maker projects are all about embellishing, decorating and seeking the beauty in life, or simply, just creating something made with love. Find projects that your child can personalize and make with pride.

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You really don’t need schools to introduce this to your child. However, if the local government recognize this trend, there could be more opportunities of hands-on learning for our children in school.

In the meantime, look to the internet and Pinterest for plenty of project ideas.

One word of caution though, the internet has a tendency to keep you mesmerized by the amazing number of things that you can create and DIY. So be careful not to be flooded with lots of information, and lose track of the focus to translate this information to something productive.

So just go and make something!

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So what’s my latest craft obsession? Connect with me on Pinterest.

To explore the Making Culture on a public arena, you can check out the Singapore’s Mini Maker Faire at the end of this month.

** This is not a sponsored post. I personally advocate the Maker culture at home with my child, as I see the benefits and the purposeful-ness of being able to make your own things and express your creativity.

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Truth in Love

I like controversies.

In fact, I think controversies are healthy challenges for a parent to have to deal with. When bringing up children, societal beliefs and practices throw plenty of curve balls at a parent, so the challenge is to conform or to question?

Controversies are also very useful to me as an individual. As it serves to question my convictions and make me ask questions, “Society is claiming this, my friends also believe in what society says. But what exactly do I believe in?”

Beliefs in a society have become a variable these days. One moment, psychology or health experts can say that a conclusion is drawn after extensive research, but a few years later, the conclusion is different after new findings are discovered.

To further complicate things, there are mindsets. The common thought these days is like this, ‘Nothing is really true of false, it is depended on the point of view that you look at them. Even if you believe in your truth, it will be rude to say that the opposite is a lie. You need to be tolerant of others’ point of view.’
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I agree with the tolerance bit, except that the disagreement still exists, which explains why there is a need for tolerance.

The definition of tolerance is ‘the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behavior that one dislikes or disagrees with.’ I can tolerate the existence of things that I do not agree with, but it doesn’t mean that I have to agree with it, or not express my disagreement.

Society tells us that it is not smart to make unpopular statements, or to say things that will seem to discriminate a group of people, especially if they are friends or relatives, who have differing opinions from you do. Make too many statements and it will look like you hate, or it is fear that motivates your comments.

We should also not interfere in others’ in their freedom of expression to love. If you point out that the pride of life and lust of the flesh is a problem, then you are being too judgmental and self-righteous. Who made you a judge anyhow, especially since you have your own problems too. We are not to protest against changing societal mindsets, if not, be considered a bigot.

Is Sincerity and Love Enough?

Society will be so much better, if only, there was more sincerity and love.

Let’s put it this way, quoting the words of Charles Spurgeon; ‘If a person traveling North, was really sincere that he was going South, will his sincerity bring him to the destination he wanted to go? Or if a man starved himself, while he sincerely believed himself to be feasting, how long would it take him to get fat?’

You might see that these things are contrary to the laws of nature in the first place. Likewise, many things in nature are fixed, who are we as mere man to want to change nature’s laws to suit our lust and fancies? Love and sincerity in believing a lie, will not change the lie into truth.

Like what I always tell K, every choice and decision we make have a consequence. If we are honest and sincere in keeping the road towards ruin, the natural end of the road will be eternal destruction.
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As for love. Love means telling the truth even when it hurts.

It’s always easier to keep our mouth shut and not risk rejection or confrontations. But I believe in this saying, ‘sometimes the most loving thing a person can do is to wound a friend with the truth’.

As a parent, there will be no short of opportunities to meet controversies in the face and examine what does truth means to us.

Truth cannot be relative for a parent. Societal beliefs and practices are too wavering and fickle for parents to depend on as the final authority. Who will pay the price of the fickle-minded society, whose counsel for parents and their children, may not be for their ultimate good? So what truth are you convicted by?

Our children will pay the price of our choice.

Truth will be tested by time, and it will endure plenty of oppositions. If you are a Christian parent like me, who holds by the truth and the Word of God, how willing are you able to share your stance, despite much disapprovals? Especially when society is adamant to change natural laws according to their fancies and lust.

Do you fear men approvals or do you fear God? If fearing men is more important, then it is probably time to ask if you were truly convicted by your faith in God in the first place.

Ultimately, the truth will prevail and I have made my choice as a parent and as a Christian. LoveandTruthquote3

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