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.

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

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Phonics Fun – The Letter B

I started alphabet lessons with K when he was about 2.5 years old and created his first alphabet lapbook/file folder. At the start of each alphabet lesson, I will use a word wall.
Letter B Word WallYoung children are very visual learners and are affected by what they see. Seeing words on the wall helps them become excited about words and understand that words are important and can be used over and over again. The word wall helps them learn the names of letters, letter-sound relationships and the list of words and things beginning with that letter. It provides the reference support for the child when he/she goes through the elements in alphabet lapbook and the activities related to that letter through the week. The wordwall for Letter B can be downloaded here.
We read books that featured things starting with the Letter B, sang songs and nursery rhymes, went through the Letter B lapbook together and did many kinesthetic activities
 
Here’s what we did for our Letter B Lapbook and activities -
1. Letter B Lapbook :
- Big and Little bus sorting + pockets to store the cards
- Baa Baa Black sheep sequence cards
2. Matching and Numeration with Number Dot cards and Counting bears counters (you can substitute the counting bear counters with edible gummy bears, buttons or craft pom pom balls). The Number Dot cards can be downloaded here. 
3. Sorted buttons by colours / sizes using a muffin tray (you can use use plastic bowls or containers to store the buttons). 
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4. Played the balloon game. The rule of the game was to make sure that the balloon does not touch the ground and we had to make the sound of b when we touched the balloon. This progressed to shouting out the B words that he has learnt.
5. Made a Binoculars by taping two pieces of recycle toilet paper tubes together
6. Created buildings with wooden blocks.
7. Played a game of marble ball roll, with added goal posts (for added challenge) made from lego bricks
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8. Played basketball and football
9. Made cinnamon buns together
These activities were completed in one week and managed within one to two 15-30 minutes sessions per day. We had so much fun learning the Letter B and I hope you and your child will enjoy the activities as much as we did.
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Learning to Read – Alphabet Lessons

Alphabets
One of the ways to get your child started on learning how to read is to learn to recognise the alphabets. Apart from knowing the form of each letter, children need to learn and use the Alphabetic Principle, i.e., system of letters associated with a series of sounds, to acquire phonemic awareness.
Phonics instruction is an essential ingredient in early reading instruction. The majority of English words are phonetically regular, thus teaching the most common sound-spelling relationship is extremely useful for readers. When children are able to learn the relationships between letter and sounds, most of them will be able to successfully decode words and English words become accessible to them in print.
So when should you introduce alphabets to your child? From 2 years old to 4 years old, language is developing very quickly. Thus it is the best time to provide children with experiences that are relate to the development of phonics and literacy. 
Alphabet lessons at home should not be just based on the child’s age, but on the readiness of each child. Each child differs in their rate of progress, some 3 year olds will be able to work happily on phonic activities while some others will prefer to work on kinesthetic activities and craft. Some 3 year olds will immediately show that they understand the idea of the sound, while some others will not. It is important that the parent offers a hands-on experience that a young child will enjoy, with no pressure and no failure.
Alphabet activties
The best method of introducing the alphabet or teaching reading is that it is delivered through a pressure-free, enjoyable multi-sensory experience; incorporating visual, auditory and kinesthetic elements. There is no need to introduce sounds in an alphabetical order, start with easily recognisable sounds that begin familiar words related to interesting objects and concepts.
View this video to learn the individual letter sounds for all the alphabet :
For more alphabet phonic practice, drop by these interactive sites online:
- Starfall: Click on letters and hear the sounds and words beginning with the letter
- Chicken Coop : Practice Phoneme matching
- Sounds Fun : Click on the alphabet for the right sounds
 
And here are some of my alphabet lessons introducing alphabets to my son, K :
- Letter F
- Letter M
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