Are the children getting tired of going over tracing, cutting paper, or coloring for their art? Are you? In my class, we try to have the students do at least 3 art projects per week that are related to our monthly theme. This can seem like a crazy amount…when could we possibly have time for this, while teaching the children each day?
My class is for two and three year old children, who tend to sleep from about 12:30pm-2:30pm every day. We have these two hours to ensure that we all go on breaks, all cleaning is done and that any art activity is prepared. Because of the relatively small amount of time that we actually have to plan activities, we love quick and easy crafts that also relate to our unit of the month!
As I am sure you know, Pinterest has a ton of great ideas to choose from. Here are how a few of the crafts that we tried went:
For the cat project, I decided to make drawing the cat shape easy since I am definitely not the world’s best artist. I traced a circular container for both the stomach and the head then drew the ears, tail, and rectangular limbs. After the cat shape was done, the rest was easy! To ensure that everything was the same size, I simply traced the first one of each of the white areas and gave the correct number to each child. While not shown in the image, I allowed the children to choose between a brown and a black cat. I also allowed them the freedom to choose where to place each item. Some children needed more help than others; however, each child enjoyed being able to have control over their own art work. They enjoyed putting the glue on all by themselves. They loved being able to place their pieces where ever they wanted.
As you can see from the turtle project, they did not turn out quite as good as what the Pinterest picture may have looked like. This is expected! It can be so easy to try to micromanage and control every aspect of an art activity to make it look good for the parents and other teachers. However, it is important that you really allow the children to have fun! For this project we simply handed them a glue stick with a paper plate, four legs, a head, a tail, tissue paper, and two white eyes and gave them full control over where everything went. Some of them tried to put a pile of tissue paper on about 2 inches thick, while others only wanted to put on a few pieces. It was a perfect balance.
After an art project is completed, the children always seem so proud! We place the art on the wall so that they can see it everyday and take pride in their own work. Complimenting a child’s artwork and hanging it up at their level is so important for a child’s confidence. At two or three years old, one may not believe that children can feel pride over their work. This is very incorrect. When the children’s parents pick them up hours after the activity, most children are able to point out their own art out of the 10 or more other children’s artwork, even without names. When they point to their art, they are happy and excited to show their mother or father what they accomplished!
While art is definitely fun for many children, there is certainly a social and emotional component. As previously mentioned, art is so important for a child to gain confidence. However, it also builds the foundation of understanding that one can express themselves in so many different ways. When the children are working on these projects, really listen to all the conversation taking place. Many times, they will actually draw or say what they are feeling. I had one child tell me that a snake that he made feels “normal” and he drew a straight line for its mouth. This was a great opportunity to open up a discussion into what he was feeling and why…it turns out he was feeling “normal” because he was a little sad that his mom was not there yet!