Thursday, June 30, 2011

Only One Color at a Time

Young at Art: Teaching Toddlers Self-Expression, Problem-Solving Skills, and an Appreciation for Art


A friend called me on the phone a couple of years ago excited about a new art book she had just found.  I loved the review she gave it and picked it up myself.  Since my art ability and understanding is incredibly poor, I was excited to drink up the knowledge. 

As an elementary art teacher, Susan Striker has a wealth of knowledge in teaching children how to love art.  In her book Young at Art: Teaching Toddlers Self-Expression, Problem-Solving Skills, and an Appreciation for Art, she makes art education basic enough for all parents and educators. 

While working on the 2 Year Curriculum, my mind traveled back to one idea that I have never forgotten.
More than one color detracts from concentration on the activity and can cause frustration as the colors merge and turn muddy.  Each time the child stops using one color to switch to another the continuity of the activity is interrupted and learning is minimized.  Offering several colors serves only the pleasure of the viewing adult; it is not required by the child, who will be enchanted with the activity even if one color is available.  Purchase a one-quart jar of bright-color paint and offer it alone each time you present the activity.  Talk about the name of the color.  Point out that color each time you see it in the environment.  Continue to do so until the jar is empty.  The repetition may seem very boring to you as an adult, but children learn from repetition.  Just as they will listen to the same song or story over and over until you think you will lose your mind, so too will they paint with one color on plain white paper for what seems like an eternity, always making vastly different pictures.  I believe that a simplification of materials presented helps the child focus his or her attention on the task at hand.  Pablo Picasso's "blue period" lasted for several years.

Crayola gave you a container of different colors so just give the child the container.  Right?  As you just read, Striker says no. 

Such a basic point but yet something I never thought through.

In the 2 Year Curriculum, the child is introduced to nine colors.  Each color is introduced singly and then slowly combined with other colors.  Since the goal is to provide the child with time to work with the specific color(s) and improve fine motor skills, keep the objective simple and stick only with the color(s) of the week. 

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