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Relate your learning to practice
Have a go at Louisa’s planning process and prepare an art experience for children in your own setting. You can try Louisa’s coloured plastics provocation, choose from the list of ideas below, or make up your own idea.
- Once you have selected a key material and a key concept, brainstorm a list of resources to set up in your own centre (make sure they are things you actually have to hand or can procure). Remember that these will help connect the material you’re planning to use to the concept you intend to explore. Louisa had various types of coloured plastic, but also tools such as pegs to hold the plastic, because she wanted the children to be able to hold the plastic upright to catch the light. Don’t be afraid to plan to include objects that are quite different to your focus material if you think that these things will help children to explore the concept. For example, you might include old frames from an op shop for children to stretch various kinds of string and ribbon across. Also include on your list the tools that you think would help children to explore the material and concepts you’ve chosen. Consider which will you offer straight away and which will you hold back to the side for a little while.
- Make a list of the actions and techniques that can be performed on those materials. For example, tearing or cutting paper, slicing clay with wire, stringing metal washers onto wire, and so on.
- Generate a list of vocabulary you can use with children while they are exploring. Making such a list now will help you to use richer language in the moment with children.
- Using all the ideas you have developed so far as well as the lists of materials and potential actions, vocabulary and artistic techniques children might use, create a set of three or four play prompts to be used at the beginning of and during the experience, and (for older children as appropriate) three or four reflective questions that you might ask children about the things they make or do. You might like to revisit Louisa’s video for ideas. Note that for infants and toddlers, just listing actions and vocabulary will be plenty, as you will want to have a more unobtrusive presence in their exploration, focusing instead on responding to their cues.
- Set up and explore this provocation in your early childhood setting with children. Experiment with the layout and positioning of resources, remembering that it is often best to keep the set up simple at first and to keep some resources aside to extend play when appropriate.
- Join children at play and observe what occurs. Remember that you too will learn about the properties of these materials if you get involved. Allow time to observe children’s interests and layer in your play prompts, reflective questions and modelling of techniques when it is meaningful. Take photos, videos and make notes of children’s comments and conversations. You might like to document these.
You can write notes and upload content in the boxes below.
What were the outcomes of this art experience for children, and what impact did the combination of materials and their positioning have on children’s learning? How might you follow up on this experience? Share your experiences with your colleagues:
The important points to take away from this part are:
- Teaching strategies may focus on aspects of the visual arts such as positioning the visual arts as an important tool for thinking, extending skills with a particular media, and collaborative art-making.
- Many highly intentional teaching strategies may be used to help teachers stimulate and promote children’s learning and thinking as they work with a range of visual arts materials and techniques.
Read academic Linda Knight’s account of collaborative drawing with her toddler.
If you have a webinar subscription with The Education Hub, you can watch this webinar with Dr Louisa Penfold in which she talks through some of her planning processes. Alternatively read the short insight article based on the webinar. You can also find out more about Louisa and her work on her website Art Play Children Learning.