The Arts employ all of our senses.
The young child is a creative child with the ability to appreciate and participate in the creative arts.Through the arts children develop the ability to observe, express, and draw conclusions across disciplines and embrace a lifelong love and appreciation for the arts. The creative arts are a basic human need.
The arts have stood alone for a very long time as subjects isolated into packets of instruction. The arts should be integrated into most areas of the curriculum to produce a well-rounded creative person. It is important to encourage creative expression and nurture the creative talents of children.
Music is a form of storytelling. It is a natural active thing and part of the soul of humanity. Music comes from the heart of life. Singing exercises the lungs, increases breath control, aids speech development and sound and volume control, and increases vocabulary. Teach a second language through song! Music is mathematical. It’s stories. Tune in to the rhythm of our heart! Make music a part of every day.
Explore rhythm with young children with simple claps. Then add clap/patch (clap thighs) and then clap/patch/snap(snap fingers.) A drum is important in the classroom. The drumbeat sets the rhythm to the music and the children follow. Children like to take turns doing this. Be creative. There are many things you can do with a simple drum
Musical instruments can be bought or made. My first rhythm sticks I made of bamboo. I recommend about eight inch, but you can make them thin or fat, long or short.
Shakers can be from gourds you plant to seashells tied together, or salt boxes with beans or rice or pebbles inside for different sounds. I stay away from plastic anything. Explore and create. You might create shakers filled with different things for children to identify or match sounds together.
Octave bells are used to develop ear training and pitch. I use them to see if they can tell me which is high or low or they can put them in order of pitch and we can also make simple music with them.
Sound games are fun for children. I had a musical bingo game of different instruments sounds and a recording of animal sounds. Children need to develop their sense of hearing. Vocal sound games strengthen the vocal anatomy (animal sounds, laughter, sirens.)
Create a sound machine. Each child chooses a sound and their movements then they gather to each other to make a moving machine. It’s fun. One of my classes did this as entry into the theater where they were performing. It was great!
Control of the breath comes from singing and through breathing exercises. Singing enhances vocal ability and strengthens the lungs. It is important to chose music and exercises that strengthen the vocal anatomy (tongue, lips, throat muscles.)
Visual arts – to draw is to look, to look is to see, to see is to have vision, to have vision is to understand, to understand is to know, to know is to become, and to become is to live.
Nature will inspire children’s drawings. Let them create from natural materials and not pom-poms and artificial junk. There are so many fun natural materials to use and most will cost you nothing.
Not only do children need experiences of visual creation, they need to be exposed to fine art. Take them to the art gallery or an art show or invite artists to your class.
It’s important for young children to simply explore the line – straight lines, spirals, and curves. Experiment with dark and light, black and white.
Children need to explore the basic elements of the visual arts: line, shape, color, space, form, texture, and value.
When it comes to color sorting, you can make color gradient boxes using paint strips from the paint store. Large watercolor blocks are easy for children to use painting and always safe.
Have a weaving wall inside or outside the classroom. There are many areas of the visual arts: sculpture, jewelry making, carving (I remember carving a bird from a piece of soap), painting, collage, drawing, coloring, printing, stamping, dying, sewing, weaving, paper making, pottery, photography, and graphic design to name a few. Explore the visual arts with students. Learn by playing!
Enjoy creative experiences, talk about art, create art and go on art adventures. Help children develop an awareness of art in books and in every day life. Create a classroom gallery.
Theatre – Children are natural actors. Allow children to act out in circle time, explore expression and tone with their voices, play theatre games, and pantomime.
Children must be given the opportunity to speak and be heard. Listen and respond to children. Let them tell a story or recite a poem they know. Very young children usually start out doing little finger plays when they are young. Children are still trying to master language so it is good to let them talk and even take turns telling a story, maybe even create a puppet show!
For the very young child reading to them at home is one of the best language learning exercises I know and also stimulates the imagination.
Be imaginative in exploring gestures, posture, movements and body language, vocal tone and variations, facial expressions, and the way we walk.
There are many theatre games for older children like changing hats, building a character, fact or fiction, famous people, invisible shapes, news broadcast, etc. A class of eight and nine year olds in Charleston presented a play in French for Piccolo Spoleto one year. The school also had a summer arts program that included performances
Movement is required for a young child to develop balance, coordination, strength and even rhythm. Perception and motor development go hand in hand. A dancer’s body channels and radiates the music through balanced precise movement! Have children do movement to their songs. Practice yoga exercises 15 minutes a day. Leave time for outside play. Some playgrounds are designed to enhance their perceptual and motor development and encourage exploration. Others are filled with metal bars and swings that become basketball courts and football fields.
Outdoor in nature is where children like and need to be. Ask yourself if what you are doing is something you can do outside and start going outside more. You may find it harder at first because children get so excited about going outside, but with a little time they will calm down and develop more self-control. You will find that things will begin to flow and soon go much better outside and inside the classroom.
Another great fun exercise is dancing. You can introduce culture and language through dance and it is so much fun!
Writing and Language Arts – The very young child focuses on the sounds and rhythm of language to learn speech and then read and write. They can learn to rhyme words very early and enjoy making silly rhymes.
When the child is able to write, keeping a journal is a useful tool. The diary is a type of personal journal. Students can keep a journal of dreams, experiments, thoughts, progress of a plant growing or a journal of their poetry and stories.
Some students like to experiment with ways of writing. Once a child learns to write, they may play and explore writing in different ways such as printing, cursive, writing in a mirror image, writing in code, or invisible writing. They may explore different tools to write with such as pencils, pen and ink, bamboo pens, feather pens, etc. Give them the materials, explain their use, and let them explore and create!