Creative art activities can help children in all areas of development. Child care providers should plan creative activities with the child’s overall development in mind. Here are some ways that art activities can support young children's development.
When child care providers offer art activities, they are supporting children's large and small muscle development, as well as their eye-hand coordination. Using crayons, markers, and paintbrushes helps children practice the fine motor control they will need for writing later on.
When children work together in the art area, they learn to share, to interact with others, to be responsible for cleanup, and to put materials away. These are positive and important changes for social learning.
Young children can learn the names of colors and shapes through creative art activities. They find out what happens when they mix two primary colors together and get a secondary color. Sending older children outside to carefully examine a tree, feel its bark, and study the shape and color of its leaves, and then asking them to draw or paint trees helps them develop observational skills needed for science.
Through creative art, children may be able to represent experiences that they cannot verbalize. They may draw pictures out of proportion, exaggerating things that are important to them. When we value children’s creativity, we help them feel valued as people, raising their self-esteem.
Children’s active imaginations can take form through art. For example, Gene wonders what will happen if he uses three paintbrushes at one time. He asks his teacher to help him tie a rubber band around three paintbrushes. Through active experimentation, he invents a new way to paint. Although tying three paintbrushes together may not be earthshaking, Gene is learning skills that could help him invent something new, like a car that runs on solar power or a cure for cancer, when he grows up.
To learn more about children's art, check out our other articles on Art in Child Care, or visit the eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care database of Hands-on Activities for Child Care for specific activity ideas you can use in your child care program.
For more information, take a look at the following eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care articles: