Simple ways to get kids started with art

simpleartpicmo

The following is a guest post written by Faigie Kobre of Eduart 4 Kids.

Before I was married, I was an early childhood teacher.

I used to dream about all the wonderful art projects that I was going to do with my own children.

Then I got married and had kids. Six of them.

And I wasn’t like all of you super homeschool moms, who manage to do everything with your children that all moms do, PLUS teach them at the same time.

So I never really ended up doing half of the art stuff I wanted to do with them.

At one point, however, I did decide that I wanted to teach them to draw. I bought the book Drawing with Children by Mona Brooks and got really excited about teaching them.

I think I gave them one lesson.

Then it sat on my shelf for YEARS. It was so intimidating – so much small print and so many sheets I needed to create on my own.

I just didn’t have the motivation to go through the whole book. I was also not an artist.

But I love art and kids and I strongly believe in the benefits of good kids art.

horse

I recently I saw a quote from Picasso: “Every child is born an artist. Problems begin once we start to grow up.”

I really, truly believe that.

A few years ago, I remembered my Mona Brooks book gathering dust on my bookshelf. I decided it was time to test out my beliefs and try to teach art.

As an incentive to actually go through the book, I cobbled together a small art class with a few neighbors’ kids to try to teach them how to draw.

As I taught this small group of children, I was literally one step ahead of them. I would read the chapter and then do the exercises with them.

Lo and behold! They really did come up with some very impressive drawings.

painting landscapes

Through all of these endeavors I discovered that you really can teach kids art even if you aren’t an artist. You do need certain qualities to teach art though, that I do possess. (And you may also!)

  • I love kids
  • I love art
  • I am not a perfectionist
  • I am not a clean freak (much to my older children’s chagrin)
  • In learning how to teach drawing I also had to get past certain stereotypes I had about art

For example: I thought if it was copying, it wasn’t real art, while in actuality copying is the root of all art. Most artists do not draw and paint from imagination.

I also had a problem with the concept of actually teaching kids to draw, because my training as an early childhood educator taught me that kids should not be taught art … it should all come naturally. Drawing, however, is a learned skill. (For most.)

I have learned and been learning through my classes and my blog Eduart 4 Kids that anyone, with proper motivation, can teach kids some basic art concepts and beginning drawing.

You do need to be aware that as non-artists, we can only go so far with our instruction. Once the children reach a certain point, they will need to be sent to real art classes or utilize the myriad learning opportunities there are online.

lion

But as a basic foundation I would begin with four skills:

Lines and shapes

Children need to learn to see lines and shapes in life and pictures.Play games finding lines and shapes in objects and in pictures.

Copying

Not as in copycat crafts, but as in copying patterns and shapes. This is an important skill that hones perceptual skills and motor skills among many others.

Observational drawing

Once they are aware of basic shapes and lines, give your children black sharpies and simple objects like vases and flowers and let them draw what they see. Then give them watercolors to paint the pictures. They go beautifully together.

Simple perspective

Overlapping and horizon lines are simple concepts that can be taught with collage and painting.

For horizon lines, find landscape pictures to show them how skies are not a strip of blue across the top, but can be a large part of the picture and the horizon line is where sky meets ground.

I hope this post inspires you to teach your children these wonderful art concepts, even if you can’t draw a straight line.

And watch out, you may just start to learn to draw yourself!

What are some simple ways you’ve found to teach art in your home?

About Faigie Kobre

Faigie Kobre is the owner of Edu Art 4 Kids, an art website for parents and teachers teaching the best kinds of art for kids' development. She teaches parents and teachers how to do crafts and art with kids even if they are not creative. You can learn why so many people feel they are not creative with her free report The REAL reason most people can't draw a straight line PLUS 5 tips to ensure that your child will .

Comments

  1. Charlotte Quevedo says:

    My daughter is 3 and certainly far from.behind in other areas but she only attempts to copy something accurately a small percentage of the time and the rest looks like scribble. I was drawing from an early age so I assumed if I just kept drawing and painting with her it would come to her naturally and she would gradually make more accurate pictures. Is this something to worry about yet? She took an open art class. There is some improvement but little. She loves scribble.

  2. At 3 years old I would definitely not worry. I actually think you should be giving her many process only art activities at this point. Even though Mona Brooks in her book Drawing with Children says she has taught children as young as 4 or 5, I wouldn’t even start to give them things to copy until maybe age 5.
    If you put pressure on her, she will fill stifled and will not produce.
    Even though I have come to understand that most children can’t draw without instruction that should come after they have LOTS of experience with coloring, painting, clay work and generally getting to learn about the various art media without any expectations.

  3. I have become passionate about art since having kids and homeschooling. It is such an important way for littles to express themselves and learn not only artistic techniques but also a foundation for other subjects. And I’ve never been an artist! My 5 year old has officially surpassed my abilities and my 4 year old isn’t far behind!
    We keep tons of art supplies accessible to the kids all the time for lots of open ended projects. We also check out books about different artists and techniques from the library for inspiration.
    We’ve tried observational drawings and sometimes it goes well, but other times my little perfectionists get way too frustrated that it doesn’t look the way they want.

  4. What awesome tips!! My husband is the artist in the family so I usually look to him for art related lessons. Even I can do these. Sweet!!
    Katie | The Surly Housewife’s latest post: This Moment

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