Art with children – enjoy the journey

I think I’m about finished taking notes from Rapunzel’s Supermarket. (I think Ursula Kolbe’s book on working with art and children is really good, by the way…). A few more pearls from Kolbe:

Depending on their interests and what else is happening around them, children can extend their explorations much further. There are many paths they can follow. The important thing for adults is to be fellow explorers. Be prepared for the unexpected. Don’t feel that you have to arrive at a specific point – enjoy the journey.” (p.112)

Kolbe’s “points to keep in mind:

  • Whether topics arise from children’s conversations and discoveries, or whether you choose them, they must be significant to children. Find out what they already know about a topic.
  • It’s often a good idea to begin with drawing before offering other materials. This allows children to channel their thoughts in an uninterrupted flow from mind to paper. When their minds teem with images, experienced image-makers are often bursting to represent their ideas. They may want to make five or six drawings one after the other. Others may take longer to begin and prefer to see what others do first (a sensible way of learning).
  • Don’t expect all children to be simultaneously interested in the same topic or the same aspects of a topic.
  • Help children share their expertise in pairs or trios. This can be a good way to develop a spirit of collaboration. Give them time to develop and exchange ideas about a topic over days, weeks, or even months.
  • Collect reference material and resources for children to choose from: picture books, encyclopedias, photographs, postcards, plastic models and found objects.
  • As work progresses, encourage children to recall and reflect on what they’ve discovered so far. Let them discuss photographs of their experiences.
  • The key to knowing how to extend children’s thinking lies in several sources: your observations and interpretations of their experiences, records of their conversations and photographs, as well as the images they themselves create. Questions that arise are vital because they spark investigation. How do you draw wiggly tails? What’s under trees? Questions are central to creative work.” (p.112)

A Note on Gift-giving

This is for you! You often hear these words from children as they thrust into your hand something they’ve made or found. Some linger long enough to watch your reaction, others scuttle away immediately, comforted or reassured perhaps with the sense of having left you with a little bit of themselves. It seems to support their bond with you. For a gift is a gift of the self, not simply an object.
Transforming something into a gift makes it special, a treasure. To my mind this invites a different way of seeing, or maybe even a chance to see the object properly for the first time.” (p.14)

Ref: (italics in original, emphases in blue bold mine) Ursula Kolbe (2007) Rapunzel’s Supermarket: All about young children and their art. Second Edn. Pippinot Press: Byron Bay, NSW.

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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