5 CREATIVE ARTS ACTIVITIES FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

5 Creative Arts Activities For Early Childhood Education

Why do we teach art in Early Childhood Education? Unlike writing and math, art classes do not have an objective application in the child’s life – neither parents nor teachers expect them to become artists as adults. Still, painting, drawing, and manual work are a relevant part of the children’s curriculum, which is highlighted as one of the areas of knowledge in the National Curricular Framework.

The question is not rhetorical, nor an easy way to start the text. It is necessary to be clear about the purpose of teaching something, because it is this objective that will help the teacher to draw up his lesson plan. Why do you teach art to your class of 3, 4, 5 years?

It is common for artistic activities to be used with preparation for writing: the focus is not the art itself, but the fine motor skills, the dexterity of the fingers so that, later, the child can create letters and numbers. Do your arts activities have that goal? Think well: are children instructed to copy, draw straight lines, follow dotted lines, paint within lines of a drawing already prepared in advance, copy ready-made models? These exercises are useful for them to be literate – but they are not educating them in the arts.

When your class learns to reproduce ready-made images, it understands the message that there is a right and wrong in the creative process, that there are good or bad works of art according to a short list of rules. No one learns, however, what different techniques are possible, the interpretation of events or feelings in images, the exploration of creativity or the various spaces in which art can manifest itself.

Knowing cultural environments such as museums, theaters and galleries is important for the repertoire of both the teacher and the children (photo: Ecology of Education)
Knowing cultural environments such as museums, theaters and galleries is important for the repertoire of both the teacher and the children (photo: Ecology of Education)

Does this mean that children should get loose to play with paint without any guidance? Neither do we – but we’re getting closer. Without the teacher as a guide, it is very likely that the class will only reproduce what they already see in other sources: television, toys or advertising. It is necessary that they have the possibility to create what they want, but always stimulated to know new perspectives and new materials, always finding new forms of expression.

This is the goal of teaching art to children: developing self-knowledge, critical sense, sensitivity and creativity, skills that will be valuable throughout adult life.

For this, the teacher must invest in his own formation; After all, it is the teacher’s view that will influence the view of the class. It is important to interact with cultural spaces such as museums, galleries, theaters, cinemas and squares to find new contents and select what is interesting for each age group. Just as Nature or Mathematical planning is thought linearly, with activities articulated among themselves, the Arts plan should also consider the gradual development of children and introduce new challenges with intentionality.

To get inspired, check out 5 creative ideas for making art in Early Childhood Education.

Exploring textures 

Depending on the age of the children, new textures can be added to make the activity more interesting (photo: Casa Marias)
Depending on the age of the children, new textures can be added to make the activity more interesting (photo: Casa Marias)

Activities with textures are ideal for children up to 3 years old, when learning is very related to touch. Just be careful with the younger classes, so they do not put harmful materials in the mouth (for this age group, one tip is to use homemade, non-toxic ink that does not cause problems if it is ingested).

Even with older children, the game still arouses interest, just offer more options of textures to be handled. Some possibilities are:

  • Papers of various types: crepe, paperboard, handkerchief, cellophane,
  • Fabrics: suede, leather and even scraps of old clothes or towels,
  • Clippings from magazines and newspapers,
  • More or less rough sanding,
  • Sawdust, grass, miscellaneous leaves, straw,
  • Remains of pencil or wax chalk pointed.

The teacher can, for example, allow children to explore textures in the classroom or on the playground, and then reproduce the most interesting in their artworks. Encourage curiosity and discovery with questions and guidance – show them how, for example, moving a hand across a surface and closing your eyes to feel. Also stimulate the appropriate vocabulary: smooth, rough, soft, dry, moist, etc.

Self-portrait

The children will draw in a transparency on the photo itself: they can contour the face, decorate or change their images as they wish (photo: Meri Cherry)
The children will draw in a transparency on the photo itself: they can contour the face, decorate or change their images as they wish (photo: Meri Cherry)

Although it gives some work, this is a wonderful activity to stimulate self-knowledge. Children need to bring a printed photo of themselves in advance – and the teacher needs to provide transparencies, which they will draw on.

After that, there is no secret: use masking tape to glue the photo and transparency to the table and make paint materials available. Gouache paint, colored glue, marking pens and glitter are some options that can be used for children to make their own self-portrait.

When the paintings dry up, another fun idea for the exhibit is to use empty toy boxes (or any other plastic front box) as a frame, with the original photo inside the box and the paint on the front. See the example below:

Various stamps 

Another alternative to explore the environment and experiment with artistic methods is to look for materials to make stamps and painting utensils:

  • Plastic cutlery,
  • Rolls of toilet paper,
  • Buttons,
  • Bottle caps,
  • Stoppers,
  • Sponges for kitchen, bath, steel wool (Bombril),
  • Cotton,
  • Plastic bubble.
Corkscrews, bottle caps or cotton balls are some of the options for making stamps (photo: No Time for Flashcards)
Corkscrews, bottle caps or cotton balls are some of the options for making stamps (photo: No Time for Flashcards)
Remember to put the paint in a wide container so that the children can immerse the objects (photo: No Time for Flashcards)
Remember to put the paint in a wide container so that the children can immerse the objects (photo: No Time for Flashcards)

Again, we emphasize: beware of small objects that can be swallowed by children!

Extend a large sheet of crafting paper or white cardboard onto the floor and pour the colored inks into shallow plastic dishes, bowls or basins where the class can dive the objects. So, let me try each of them.

A very rich dynamic is to suggest abstract themes: how would they paint such feelings as joy, anger, or fear? How would you paint what you are feeling today? How would you paint the feeling of flying or diving?

Older children, around the age of 6 or 7, may be reluctant to work with such open ideas if they do not have this kind of experience often – the smaller ones, on the other hand, often embrace the proposal without question. If this happens, frize that there is no right or wrong and that they can paint as they feel. Avoid comments like “how beautiful” and choose to ask what is being represented.

Outdoor painting

The wet chalk gives a more vibrant color to the painting (photo: Happy Hooligans)
The wet chalk gives a more vibrant color to the painting (photo: Happy Hooligans)

Is there a curb or wall that can be used in your school? Take the children to illustrate them – in addition to trying to paint in a different position, in another texture, they also have the opportunity to expose a job to the other classes. It is an opportunity to talk about the most varied forms of art exhibition, from an entire decorated ceiling like the Sistine Chapel to the graffiti walls of the city.

Chalk chalk is perfect for this activity, and the effect is even better by wetting the chalk tip before drawing. The teacher can take small pots (such as yoghurt or ice for example) with water to help with painting: by placing the chalk there for one or two minutes, it absorbs water, creating more vibrant colors and a softer touch .


A little tip that can help you a lot!

Developing these activities can provide incredible moments with children, you can not fail to record the speeches, behaviors and moments of interaction between the little ones! Do this with annotations, photos and even videos! I know it can do a great job but it is at this point that you are mistaken, use Eduqa.me to record those moments!

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Negative spaces 

The teacher can choose various activities to work on the idea of negative spaces – when you paint around the image you want to represent. For children up to 3 years old, it is advisable to start with proposals that require less motor coordination, such as painting around the hand or hand of a colleague. See the result below:

Coloring around the hand itself is a simpler version of the activity for younger children (photo: Fun-a-Day)
Coloring around the hand itself is a simpler version of the activity for younger children (photo: Fun-a-Day)

After the concept is clearer, it’s time for experimentation! One idea is to use masking tape to create negative-space drawings: children can spread paint around an object or animal (a house, a sun, a dog created with ribbon), or divide the page into geometric shapes and Colorize each area a different color.

They can still be invited to look for other materials for their artwork: pressed leaves and flowers work well for this activity.

Some drawings made with adhesive tape (photo: Red Ted Art)
Some drawings made with adhesive tape (photo: Red Ted Art)