Creative beginnings for tiny tots

Archive for the ‘Art and Nature’ Category

The Forest

This fairly obscure children’s book has been a favorite of mine for several years…

the forest book cover

The Forest, by Claire Nivola, is a delicately illustrated tale of a mouse who leaves the comfort and safety of his home to conquer his lifelong fear of the forest, only to discover that the forest he feared for so long was in reality a place of beauty and peaceful repose.

the forest double page spread

Although I love this book, I rarely use it in my classes, as the language and the message are fairly sophisticated for my younger toddler groups, and the detailed illustrations, while lovely, may be lost on a group of 1.5 to 2.5 year olds. However, today I went out on a limb (sorry for the unintentional pun), and decided to share this book with my slightly older mixed age group, comprised of 2.5 – 4.5 year olds (plus one 6 year old). They were fully engaged, which was a good launching point for the art project I had planned.

First, let me backtrack a bit. Several months ago, I had the good fortune to participate in an art workshop led by a phenomenal local artist, Ronni Jolles, who has introduced an innovative art form called paper paintings. I think her work is stunning, and I was very excited to attend her workshop to learn a bit about this technique.

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Trees in the Woods by Ronni Jolles

And here is a picture of my attempt (left) and another participant’s (right).
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Now, look at this illustration from The Forest, and I think you will see where this is headed.

the forest page

All it took was a small leap of faith to believe that this paper painting technique could be adapted and introduced to my eager preschoolers. To be honest, the process required a little more structure than I am accustomed to imposing, but within that structure there was enough freedom that I can still comfortably say the focus was on the process, and that each child ultimately expressed themselves in their own unique way.

What do you think of our venture into the forest?

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The Art of Springtime

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April hath put a spirit of youth in everything. (Sonnet XCVIII)”
― William Shakespeare

Nature is often the backdrop and the inspiration for what we do at ART IN HAND. The emergence of spring always fills me with feelings of exuberant awe and wonder coupled with a calm reassurance that the joy her warmth and beauty brings each year can always be relied upon.

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Young children respond similarly to the cues of spring, and these projects celebrating the signs of birth, rejuvenation, and the delicate beauty of nature’s creations are among my favorites.

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Our students, ages 1.5 – 4, had fun collecting soft things to build cozy nests (and squeezing and pouring their own glue in the process). Then they experimented with feathers as tools for painting on various surfaces, creating delicate brush strokes quite different from those created with a standard paintbrush.

For more artful inspiration from nature and ideas for more springtime art explorations with your kids, I invite you to read my article originally published in Washington Parent Magazine in April 2008.

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