Combine Art, Manners, Kids for Magic – #7 Magic for Preschool – Kindergarten

If you need a formula for magic, combine art, manners, kids and imagination. This month, people who work with kids are sharing  their wishes for programs like preschool and kindergarten. Both moms, Nicolle and Catherine, wanted more hands-on activities and Nicolle had a suggestion. Not just play dough, how about a clay station?play with clay

The word clay reminded me of a friend Terri Hardin, a Disney sculptor. In her book, she writes she was “Constantly creating and always in motion….” Doesn’t that sound like kids too? Always on the go with minds thinking and bodies making. Even when kids are taking things apart, they are still creating.

Terri also wrote about why clay was so appealing to her. We live in a 3-d world. Sculpting is creating in 3-d while drawing is trying to squeeze three dimensions onto a 2-d paper. There are other differences too. While both use imaginations, clay is far more sensory for hands than paper, paints, and crayons. Kids can really dig their hands into clay. No wonder a clay station is a wish for children’s care programs and school.


In an e-mail from Terri she is sharing her latest project, a show for kids that combines art, manners, kids, and imagination in both 2-d and 3-d. Some 2 dimensional characters, Dabbler and Bump, explore manners along with the host Mifren who “will draw, sculpt, paint and glue, do origami and pumpkin sculpt, carve ice, or do just about anything, to show kids all the different ways they can express themselves besides just talking.” Using a magic art easel, they travel into the 3-d world of out-going teen Buddy. Here is a link to the KickStarter campaign now until there is a website:


Often on this blog, I’ve written about the critical importance of social skills for children’s development. The goal of the show is something we all want, “If we teach appropriate behavior and social tolerance during these years, we can create a safer social and school environment.” This is surely something we all want. Isn’t it wonderful to have a wish that can come true?


Draw and Color Holiday Fun

How about some draw and color holiday fun for kids? Set out some crayons or paints and plenty of paper. There are coloring books for grownups now to relieve stress and tension, so you may want to join kids at the table or on the floor and color too. Sometimes, tables and floors need some extra paper or plastic so they don’t accidentally get colored too.

holiday art fun
photo courtesy of MFair

Holiday time comes with lots of ideas for things to draw and color, some easier for younger kids and some more challenging for older ones. Lines are easier to draw than circles, which take a great deal of muscle control. Toddlers may want to cover a page with lots of different colored lines and scribbles. Use stiff paper, fold it in half and it becomes a card to send in the mail or give to someone special.

holiday art funCandles are fairly easy shapes to draw with two straight lines and some bright colors to be the flame. People are basically lines and circles and they can be doing so many different things, like a little holiday shopping. One person is also talking in this picture. Pictures are another way to represent what’s happening in their world.

Christmas children's artWhen children draw or paint, hands aren’t the only things that are busy. So are brains. Not only do kids need to control the small muscles in their hands, wrists, and arms, they also have to coordinate the picture in their mind with what’s happening on the paper. They concentrate on what they are doing, pay attention to some things like how much pressure to put on the brush or crayon and ignore other things, such as the background sounds of traffic.

Children’s art will not always be something. Kids simply like to create, to try different actions. We can invite kids to talk about what they are doing by saying, “Tell me about this.” By drawing them into a conversation, we give them a chance to express themselves in words as well as pictures. Giving kids the opportunity to play with colors and paper is a way for them to communicate their feelings and thoughts during a busy, eventful time. Could this draw and color holiday fun be your child’s play-of-the-day?

Art Fun: Digital Art for Kids

To Screen or Not to Screen? That is the Question… for Discussion

Next week is Screen-Free week, so it’s timely to talk about digital art for kids. There are some definite advantages and some substantial disadvantages. I am not an expert in digital technology. Rather, this is my viewpoint as a kindergarten teacher and parent. This discussion will, hopefully, give you some points to consider.

digital art for kidsThe AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics, recommends no screen exposure for kids under 2 years of age, and only 1-2 hours per day for those older. Is art part of those couple of hours? There are hundreds of apps and programs for kids to use for digital art, varying from easy enough for young toddlers to more complicated ones for older kids.

digital art for kidsSome of the benefits include being able to engage with colors, lines, shapes, and patterns in a visually impactful way. There is no doubt it is exciting to see results right away on a screen. When the images move and change on a screen, it’s even more capturing. Digital art can also stimulate imagination and improve small muscle coordination.

What about the drawbacks? Children learn through their senses and digital art lacks the sensory stimulation of crayons, brushes, paint, markers, chalk, scissors, glue, play dough and other materials.

digital art for kidsKids do not get to use their skin to feel textures like rough, smooth, bumpy, slippery, or pokey. Hands do not get the same range of energy and motion with a device. There’s no squeezing, pinching, tugging, gently smoothing, or just barely touching. That’s only the senses of seeing and touching. Human voices are far richer in terms of expression than recorded ones and there’s no smell or taste with a screen.

digital art for kidsSome children will like the immediacy and animation when using electronic devices. The young girl who colored this picture of oil pastels using oil pastels says she does digital art but prefers the pastels. For contrast, even the drawing of the crayons is closer to the real item than a more accurate digital image.

As with anything, we need to consider what is reasonable. Yes, we can include digital art for kids but only as one part of all the different kinds of art play. What’s your point of view?