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Creating with Little Creators

“Saved by the Bell” fans might remember the Date Auction episode where Lisa Turtle, in an attempt to seem “smart” says “What is Art? Are we Art? Is Art Art?”

While this provokes fond memories of childhood, it also rings so true. Whether you’re a creative mind or not, you can find appreciation for art in anything.

As we embark on this new year, it’s a wonderful time to surround ourselves with beautiful creations and we don’t have to limit these to paint on a canvas, but we can find art in a well put – together outfit or the sleek lines of a car and even the shape of a new found rock. Our children are drawn to a variety of art that oftentimes we don’t fully understand. You might see my middle son, Liam, dressed in some crazy combination of shimmering shorts and a sweater or Santa emoji pants and a Halloween tee. Is this art? I believe it is, because it’s an expression of himself and that ultimately is what art should be.

There are many ways to cultivate an appreciation of the arts in our children. One of my favorite ways to explore is with books! Beautiful illustrations can bring the stories to life and give them inspiration for their own projects. In my personal homeschooling journey this year, we have focused on one specific book each week and it serves as the inspiration behind each subject lesson including art. We explore ways the illustrator uses lines to create motion or contrasting colors to evoke sadness. Sometimes, we simply discuss these things, but most of the time we recreate illustrations or copy techniques. The results of our creations are not as important as the creating. I never anticipate a literal copy, but focus on the work they put into the project.

Developing a plan, gathering supplies and using the tools given are very important growth opportunities. You may be frustrated if their process doesn’t match your own process, but that’s the beauty of artistic expression. If you lay out supplies for a project, one child might literally spend 90% of their time doing something like sharpening colored pencils. Then, they will scribble something on a page and say “I’m finished!” Your first instinct might be to criticize the effort, but in fact the freedom to manipulate different materials in an organic and unstructured way allows for exploration and experimentation. These artistic endeavors and self – directed explorations are not only fun, but educational as well.

On January 14th, CECPTA will be hosting our first Maker’s Space at Mary Heads Carter Park. This will be an awesome opportunity for you and your littles to explore various forms of art. I have also chosen to incorporate a majority of recycled materials to emphasize that we can create wonderful artwork from the trash and treasures we have at home.

The first station will be painting on canned vegetable flats! We will use these recycled flats from a food pantry that just happen to be the perfect shape for an 8 x 10 canvas.

Next, we will use some homemade model magic to create sculptures. There are dozens of recipes online for homemade modeling dough. Here’s a handful I found from the “Be a Fun Mum” blog.

These are easy to make (so easy the kids should help!), they are cheap and surprisingly they hold up to the store bought versions. Just lay out balls of modeling dough and they can form and mold to create whatever their heart desires.

One of my personal favorites is jewelry making. Sometimes we forget that fashion is a way to express ourselves on a daily basis. While a good portion of the time my fashion expresses my need for comfort and the least amount of effort, this is one of the first forms of art children can recognize. By using various pasta shapes, some colored with a simple mix of alcohol and food coloring, pony beads and pipe cleaners, little fingers will create jewelry masterpieces!

Photography is one of the early artforms children will use. Have you ever looked at your phone’s album after your toddler has snatched it unbeknownst to you? Look at this masterpiece I found! We will have a photo booth set up to give them a chance to practice taking and posing for pictures.

For those who have an interest in engineering (any lego lovers out there?), there will be an architectural building station. With an inspiration wall and different recycled boxes and containers they can build an Eiffel Tower replica or the Golden Gate Bridge!

At last, we will dabble in the musical arts by crafting paper plate tambourines. This is a tangible way for them to begin exploring musical sounds and beats. These also happen to be important skills needed for early literacy.

While the opportunity to create art is especially fun and plays an important part in appreciation, another opportunity is just a short walk away. In the early days of quarantine, when we were desperate for fresh air and beauty, I took my crew to downtown Carrollton for an art walk. Oh my, did we discover all forms of art. In our jaunt we viewed four large murals and several sculptures. Don’t forget the old town architecture of the shops, the theater and the silos, plus, the mix of newly built architecture. We wrapped it all up with some window shopping to look at the fashion. Of course, there was a ton of photography and Pandora provided the soundtrack to guide us. I encourage you to go on your own art walk soon.

Whether you are providing direct lessons and professional supplies, digging in recycling to see what you can reuse, or taking a trip to the Dallas Museum of Art or Downtown Carrollton, I hope you can encourage your littles to create and seek out beautiful things to view and hear. In addition to helping them develop important skills, giving your child a creative outlet can help relieve stress and work through things happening in their lives. By encouraging artistic expression, you can help facilitate learning on all levels for the rest of their lives.

About the Author

Kammie Powell is the Education Social Chair and has been a Board Member for 5 years and member for 7 years. She is part of the green and orange alumni playgroup. She is wife to William and mom to Coretta 7, Liam 5 and Everson 1. She enjoys feeding people, listening to podcasts and audiobooks and singing in a praise band.

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