Discovering Art Through Educational Toys And Play

Art is one of the best ways for children to express themselves. Here’s some great artistic play-related ideas from Kiddit.

Think that teaching children about art is a recent practice? Think again!

A Cambridge University conference on the archaeology of childhood recently revealed that kids were expressing themselves artistically as far back as Neolithic times. A cave in the Dordogne showed that these early children were creating zig-zags and spirals with their fingers – and that most were between the ages of 2 and 7.

In fact, throughout history, art has always been prized for its ability to cultivate self-expression. For kids, it’s not only great fun to get messy and creative, but it’s also a great way to explore, experiment, invent and collaborate.

Art On The Curriculum

Art has always been recognized for its ability to foster creativity and fire the imagination. However, what is not quite so widely acknowledged is the fact that it can also develop critical thinking, cognition and active learning.

In the light of this, it seems a shame that the curriculum in the US is shifting away from creative subjects like art, and is focusing more heavily on math and the sciences instead. Art isn’t being recognized as the academic subject, but is instead being relegated to the role of ‘enrichment activity’, which belittles the educational benefits that the subject offers.

In fact, even The US Secretary of Education recently acknowledged that ‘arts teaching and learning can increase a student’s cognitive and social development.’ In short, if our ancient ancestors and our modern government alike consider it important to educate their young about artistic expression, shouldn’t we too?

The Benefits Of Teaching Art To Children

  • Visual learning – Every form of art, from sculpting with dough to painting on canvas, develops visual-spatial skills. This enables children to learn how to interpret and interact with the world around them, and how to understand visual information.
  • Creativity – Art is about expression, but it’s also about risk-taking. Children innovate and experiment as they practice art, with results that are sometimes wonderful, sometimes not. They’re using their inventive prowess to develop a sense of where their creative minds can take them.
  • Independence – Art is all about making decisions. Should that area be yellow or blue? Should a line be added here, or a circle? A report conducted by Americans for the Arts claimed that art helps to develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills. This ability to act independently and make reasoned decisions is a skill that can be transferred into other areas of life.
  • Motor skills – Handling a paintbrush, pen or clay is the perfect way for children to develop fine motor skills. They’ll be practicing how to draw a circle, how to cut things out with scissors, how to fold, glue, paste, shape and much more. This in turn helps develop the dexterity required for writing.
  • Emotional skills – Art is not only pleasurable for the child, but can help them express their emotions more succinctly. This is especially beneficial in cases where the child may struggle to articulate verbally – for example, autistic children.
  • Cognitive ability – When looking at a canvas, a child needs to use their cognitive powers to understand it. They’ll not only be examining artistic techniques, but also trying to unlock the ‘narrative’ of a painting, using advanced cognitive skills to determine the sub-text of the art. In their own artistic practices, they’ll be exploring how to use different materials to convey different things to their audience. They’ll experiment with placement, the effect of color, and ways to represent the world around them.

Discovering Art Through Toys And Play

Of course, art in itself is a fun subject to learn. What could be more entertaining for a child than slapping paint on to paper or molding with messy clay? However, there are of course many more ways you can get your child thinking about art while having a great time. Here’s some of Kiddit’s favorite artistic ideas.

  • Paint like Pollock – The UK’s Liverpool Tate Gallery recently ran an event for children, encouraging them to ‘paint like Pollock’. This is a great idea to continue at home. Firstly, show your child some photos of Jackson Pollock’s work. Ask them what they think about it – do they like it? If so, why? Then, gather a variety of different materials – sponges, brushes, vegetables…feel free to be as creative as you like. Let your child experiment with dribbling, squashing and slamming paint on to a piece of paper, to create a ‘Pollock’ of their own.
  • Make a collage – Again, use a famous artist as a starting point (Braque and Picasso both used collage in their work). Ask your child to identify what pieces have been stuck on to the canvas. Then, work together to gather some things you could use to stick on your own piece of art. The options are almost limitless – from leaves, small pebbles, dried pasta and rice, to newspaper and magazines!
  • Work like an artist – Explain to your child how artists often use models or objects as inspiration for their work. Set up an ‘artist’s studio’, complete with easel and of course, an item to draw, then work with your child to experiment with different ways of painting from sight. If your child is old enough, ask them to have a go at different styles, such as Expressionist, Impressionist and Pop Art!

Educational Art Toys At Kiddit

There are, of course, almost endless ways in which you can explore art with your child; which is what makes the subject so wonderful. By giving them the freedom to explore artistically, you’ll not only be helping to develop some excellent skills for them to use in later life, but you’ll be helping them to master the art of self-expression, which is a powerful gift indeed.

If you’d like some inspiration, check out Kiddit’s range of arts and crafts toys today!

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