United South End Settlements’ Children’s Art Centre conducts a Vacation Arts Program for children ages 4.5 –12 years. The program focuses on full-day arts exploration and instruction during February, April, and Summer vacation weeks. Youth explore a variety of visual art projects while participating in additional weekly enrichment activities such as dance, yoga, and theater arts. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the activities we did during the February Vacation Arts Program.
There are many art mediums through which children can learn to express themselves. An often over-looked one is sewing. Learning to control string and yarn and how to creatively use it to express themselves can be a rewarding experience. Besides creating something both beautiful and useful, sewing and stringing can also be useful pursuits for young children to develop important skills. Before children can master the art of writing they must first learn to control their small finger muscles. Sewing or stringing can also help young children develop important eye-hand coordination skills. Planning and deciding to create something balanced or free formed are all pursuits that help children learn to solve problems and develop thinking skills. Freely experimenting and observing results teach children cause and effect that support the ability to make choices and solve problems. As children, gradually develop their sewing and stringing skills, so will they be developing their knowledge of patterning, one-to-one correspondence, and counting and symmetry, all of which are important math skills!
Treasure Bag Theater
Students learn to exercise oral language, sequencing, imagination, and divergent thinking skills as they work together to tell a story using everyday objects. This activity presents a method of descriptive storytelling that can be adapted to many different subject areas. Use a basket, bag, or box filled with several open ended props. Some ideas for props include:
– A large button – An interesting seashell – A pinecone – A shiny piece of “treasure” – A bracelet or ring – A piece of rock or coral – A feather – A small toy car – An old key
Working together the class told a story inspired by these props. The large button works well as a starting point. Ask students to describe the object. Ask, “What does it look like? How is it used?” Place the object on the scarf in the middle of the circle. There is no right or wrong way to tell this story!
When it is time, include another prop from your basket into the story. Towards the end, ask students to recount the details and tell the story back to you from beginning to end.
Visit from the Boston Conservatory
Students from Music Education Program at the Boston Conservatory working spent time with our students teaching them fun songs and introducing them to the various components of a drum. Ask your child to sing about “Aiken Drum” which is a popular Scottish folk song….and his feet were made of lollipops, lollipops, lollipops…It will soon be stuck in your head too!
Art journals for kids are beneficial to developing children’s confidence and fine motor skills! Art journals are an important learning tool that can help nurture ownership of learning, motivation and development of creative thinking skills in children. Art journals are a place for exploration, collection and reflection that help to encourage children to become more actively involved with their own learning experiences – to enjoy a sense of control, decision making, and revelation, and to realize that through working in a Art journals, their book takes on a very real and tangible personality – that “personality” is actually is actually theirs! This realization can be a very empowering experience. We start each morning with a fun prompt to wake up our minds, this week we asked:
– Imagine you are a bug crawling on the ceiling of your room, draw what you see from above!
– You are walking home from school and you find a mysterious glowing box, when you open it inside is a pair of ordinary looking goggles. But when you put them on you now have x-ray vision! Draw the inside of your body with your new x-ray vision. Feel free to use “artistic license”, instead of bones and muscles, do you have robot-like gears or are you secretly made of candy?
– Looking at an object, practice your observational skills. Be careful to only draw what you see. Sometimes our minds trick us to draw what we know. Pay close attention to the shapes and dark and light areas. Objects are not made of outlines, but contrasting values.
Try to come up with your own prompts to continue the fun at home!