Monday, July 20, 2009

There Are Artists Among Us

Many children have artistic talent that can be developed, celebrated, and used to teach other skills. Certainly, we should foster artistic ability in any child and if it happens also to be a passionate interest, we are fortunate indeed. We have a skill to build so many other skills upon! We can use the talent and interest in drawing to teach language skills, emotional regulation skills, reading skills, writing skills, social skills, flexible thinking skills--the list is limited only by the teachers imagination. For example, think of all the descriptive words and phrases that one could use to describe Abby's drawing:

  • Curly hair.
  • Long hair.
  • Long curly hair.
  • Long curly brown hair.
  • A crown on long curly brown hair.
  • Happy.
  • Happy girl in a blue dress.
  • Happy girl with long curly brown hair in a blue dress.
  • Cool shoes!
  • This happy girl, with long curly brown hair, and a crown, has a blue dress and matching blue shoes.
Now, suppose that everyone in Abby's family, cousins, uncles, grandma and grandpa all wrote a story about Abby's beautiful girl in a blue dress. She would learn fascinating things about the different ways that different people think by reading these stories.  She would be motivated to read these stories that others made up about her mysterious and beautiful girl in a blue dress. Abby could hold a family contest to see who would write the best story. Abby could vote and give an award for the funniest, scariest, weirdest, longest, and overall best story--helping her learn to analyze and consider the merit of each story that others wrote. One person's story might include a dragon, perhaps. Another person's story might be about the blue girl in a fashion magazine. The third person might talk about how the beautiful girl in a blue dress stopped smiling because her beautiful shoes made her feet hurt. This competition could help Abby understand that what is in her head when she draws is not the same thing that is in everyone other people's head when they see her picture. Abby could then write the True Story of the Girl in the Blue Dress. She would learn writing skills as we all do by having an audience in mind and an audience that is real. Everyone in Abby's family, and now you and I dear reader, would want to read Abby's story and know the truth.

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