3 Great Ways to Explore Art in Your Early Years Setting
Laura England sorts out her shelves, plays with light and shadow, and sings the praises of long-term projects…
Everything in its right place
I find that art supplies are one of the most difficult resources to organise within the early years classroom. Will children just throw the beads everywhere? Will they start squirting the paints all over the floor? Will they waste all the coloured card? These are all questions I get asked regularly, and yes, every now and then a child will do these things – but the majority use them purposefully; they respect the resources and take care of them.
We have organised our art shelves into colours, and although most of my colleagues were initially dubious, it’s the best thing we have ever done. The children are respectful of this area, selecting the colours they need and putting everything back in its rightful place. Some of the children do think its funny to place something on the wrong shelf to see if I notice, though!
Let there be light
I was extremely excited to finally get my hands on an overhead projector, found in a store room in our local church! The children enjoy creating transient art on it, using shadow puppets and exploring how they can change the light using different resources.
One of the most exciting enhancements we made was to add a lace tablecloth over the projector, creating an intricate pattern across the whole wall. We stuck large sheets of paper to the wall, so that the children could mark make by drawing around the shadows. Once they had spent most of the day taking it in turns to draw different bits, we added paints and the children coloured in their drawings.
This got all the children mark making and building up their fine and gross motor skills, employed when making marks vertically. Next time, we are going to draw around the children’s shadows so that they can colour themselves in.
I have spoken previously about art in my classroom and the importance of children engaging in long-term projects. Instead of providing an activity once, provide it as part of the continuous provision to allow children to revisit it. As adults, we don’t often complete a project in one go – attempting to do so would take away the element of relaxation or enjoyment. Long-term art projects are great for engaging children in mindfulness, giving them opportunities to revisit projects that allow them freedom to explore and express themselves.
Recently, we explored weaving, and this is an ongoing project for many of the children. It’s great for building fine motor development, in addition to giving children the freedom to combine materials and try out different techniques. We keep all of our looms and wool in the art area, and children can independently access this and continue their weave.
Have you read…
Call Me Gorgeous! by Giles and Alexandra Milton
I love this book – each page introduces us to a new, beautifully illustrated feature that the creature in the book possesses. At the end, the creature is an amalgamation of many different animals and its name… ‘Gorgeous’. A celebration of the beauty in diversity and difference.
Laura England is preschool leader at Blythe Bridge Day Nursery. Follow @littlemiss_ey.