the complete guide to educational arts and crafts projects for kids

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Microsoft Word - The Complete Guide to Educational Arts and Crafts Projects for Kids.datBuilding your Childs Creativity and Self Esteem thru
Art Projects
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Table of Contents Why art 3 How kids grow 6 How to apply developmental ideas 10 Applying developmental ideas to art 11 Crafts and art- what’s the difference? 13 Ages and stages of children 15 The adult’s role 18 Projects and categories 20 Materials 22 Process-only art products 23 Decoupage 25 Mosaics 27 Paper mache 28 Process-only art activities 30-39 Pointers on projects 40 Rosh Hashana 41 Sukkot/ Simchat Torah 43 Halloween 47 Thanksgiving 50 Hanukkah 53 Xmas 55 Kwanzaa 59 New Years 61 Mardi gras 63 Valentine’s Day 65 Tu B’shvat 67 Purim 69 Passover 73 Easter 75 Yom Ha’atzmaut 77 St. Patrick’s Day 78 Mother’s Day 80 Shavuot 82 Father’s Day 84 July 4th 86 Fall 88 Winter 91 Spring 93 Summer 95 Thinking up your own projects 97
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Welcome to the definitive parents guide to building your child’s self esteem and creativity through art.
As you may already know this book is not the typical compilation of crafts
activities that you do with your children.
If you are reading this I can safely assume that you are a parent, a teacher or an adult involved with young children. Not only that but you are interested in presenting art activities to the children in a way that does not stifle them but encourages growth.
And you are ready to use art as a conduit towards growth.
Why do your give your children art?
Is it because it lets you spend time together with them? Is it because they love to cut and paste and glue? Is it because you need to keep them busy as it helps them with boredom? Is it because you think it’s good for them? How about all of the above? If you said yes! Than you’re right. Art is good for them, (if done correctly it can help them grow and gain special skills that will give them an edge in life.) Art does keep kids busy and not bored and is certainly is a great way to spend quality time together.
So how is it that art can impart skills besides for the often quoted fine motor coordination
As we all know it is always best to teach children at the level they are at. To
get down to their vantage point. I’m not talking about dumbing things down or teaching calculus or bio to young children in a more elementary fashion because we know that no matter how clear we make it, they are not anywhere near ready to learn any of that stuff.
There is a famous book called “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” as I’m sure you are well familiar. It teaches us the concept that men and women are different species from each other and therefore act and think differently.
I would like to suggest an additional premise, that children are from Saturn (or any other planet) because when children get to us here on Earth its really like they are coming from a different planet.
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Our job (if we choose to accept it) is to teach them how we do things on this planet.
Some things they learn naturally like walking, and talking. Others they
have to be taught like how to use utensils and how to be potty trained.
Problems start however, when we expect our children to know what we know before they are ready for it and how to behave before they can really behave and what is and isn’t acceptable.
There was a recent study that came out expressing shock at how many
parents had absolutely no idea of what to expect from their children at very young ages. This is probably because we are judging our children against our adult measure and don’t realize that they can only learn things they are ready for.
Really good educators of children know and understand that children develop differently than adults and have expectations that match the children’s development.
But all of us need to understand how children develop so that the educational activities they are given will fit with their level.
A number of years ago I read a marketing book about the wildly popular children’s TV show “Blues Clues”
The book described from a marketing perspective what went into the success of the show. The show had a group of child development experts employed. Before anything they did on the show, any event or activity it was analyzed by these experts with a fine tooth comb to see if it was appropriate for their audience.
They did many test runs using small children as focus groups to see how they would react to each episode.
They crept into the small children’s minds and created shows that were ideally suited to them. And it showed in its wild popularity.
Very often shows, books and activities are not done with the children’s developmental stages in mind and the concepts often sail over the children’s heads. I’m sure you’ve seen many such books or T.V. shows that may have a lot of color and excitement but boy do they miss the point.
I remember my children’s favorite book “Goodnight Moon” that I had to read to them every night at bedtime. A friend of mine complained to me once that that book was the only one her child wanted every night. The mother was bored.
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Her child however, needed that wonderful classic children’s book for its simplicity, repetition and plain understanding of what children this age need. The author understood exactly who she was writing for. That’s why it was such a success and continues to be so 50 years after its publication. Every really successful preschool teacher, director, author or children’s television show producer knows that they must understand how children develop before giving the children what they need. (If they want it to really resonate with their audience of young children)
Before diving into art itself I have laid out a bit of a bit of background theory to help you understand where your child is coming. This will help you understand them better and help you understand why certain art works for the benefit of their development and others don’t.
Even though the information is a bit theoretical stick with it, it’s brief and will give you important insight and understanding.
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A Bit of Background Theory
In order to understand how our minds work and those of our children, we need to go to the expert researchers of child development. Psychologists have studied the human mind and child development psychologists studied specifically how children develop.
I have therefore included a very short synopsis of the findings of two very well known child psychologists who helped us shed light on the mysterious workings of the minds our children.
The first one we will discuss was the well known psychologist named Jean Piaget. His field of study was more precisely, how children come to know. (not facts they gain from textbooks, but life knowledge)
While working in his lab over the years, he became intensely interested in how children actually think. He noticed the difference between answers given by younger children and those given by their older peers, and realized that it was not because the younger children were any less intelligent, but because they thought differently than the older ones.
Piaget set about performing numerous experiments with young children to learn how they come to acquire their store of information and the stages they go through to acquire it.
From his testing, Piaget identified the following four stages in children’s cognitive (intellectual) development and the period of life in which each will normally occur:
1. Sensory motor stage - Infancy
2. Pre-operational stage - Toddler and Early Childhood
3. Concrete operational - Elementary and Early Adolescence
4. Formal operational state - Adolescence and Adulthood
Through thousands of experiments and studies, Piaget discovered that children learn best by actually doing and working out problems on their own, actually working through solutions. And he learned that is mainly through concrete experiences that they will develop to the next level.
By spoon feeding the children they will learn only facts not how to discover solutions on their own.
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We know from Piaget how important sensory experiences are and how much better children can integrate knowledge and book learning when they have concrete examples to tie into the theoretical.
I can actually bring you a real live example from my own experience.
“I was never good in math in school and it followed me into adulthood. When I was in graduate school I was taking a class called Math for teachers. We were using manipulatives to learn how to teach kids fractions and we were adding and subtracting the fractions. As I played around with the stuff all of a sudden things that I had struggled with so many years before suddenly became clear because I had the concrete materials right in front of me to manipulate.”(How sad when teachers don’t realize what children need to learn better)
So from Piaget we know….children learn through sensory experiences and handling many objects.
Another significant figure in the area of children’s development was Erik Erickson. He was a well known psychologist who discovered the eight stages of social and emotional development of man starting with infants.
According to Erickson the socialization process consists of eight stages of man. His eight stages were formulated through wide ranging experience in psychotherapy. Each stage is regarded by Erickson as a “psychosocial crisis” that demands resolutions before the next stage can be satisfactorily negotiated. Just as a building cannot stand on shaky foundation so to the child must learn to mange each crisis before being able to mange the next one.
The 8 stages of man:
1. Trust vs. Mistrust (Infancy) (birth t-18 months)
Erickson also referred to infancy as the Oral Sensory Stage (as anyone might who watches a baby put everything in her mouth) where the major emphasis is on the mother's positive and loving care for the child, with a big emphasis on visual contact and touch
If we pass successfully through this period of life, we will learn to trust that life is basically okay and have basic confidence in the future. If we fail to experience trust and are constantly frustrated because our needs are not met, we may end up with a deep-seated feeling of worthlessness and a mistrust of the world in general
Incidentally, many studies of suicides and suicide attempts point to the importance of the early years in developing the basic belief that the world is trustworthy and that every individual has a right to be here. Not surprisingly, the most significant relationship is with the maternal parent, or whoever is our most significant and constant caregiver.
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2. Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt (Ages 18 mo-3)
During this stage we learn to master skills for ourselves. Not only do we learn to walk, talk and feed ourselves, we are learning finer motor development as well as the much appreciated toilet training. Here we have the opportunity to build self-esteem and autonomy as we gain more control over our bodies and acquire new skills, learning right from wrong. And one of our skills during the "Terrible Two's" is our ability to use the powerful word "NO!" It may be pain for parents, but it develops important skills of the will.
It is also during this stage, however, that we can be very vulnerable. If we're shamed in the process of toilet training or in learning other important skills, we may feel great shame and doubt of our capabilities and suffer low self-esteem as a result.
The most significant relationships are with parents.
3. Initiative vs. Guilt (Ages 3-5)
During this period we experience a desire to copy the adults around us and take initiative in creating play situations. We make up stories with Barbie's and Ken's, toy phones and miniature cars, playing out roles in a trial universe, experimenting with the blueprint for what we believe it means to be an adult. We also begin to use that wonderful word for exploring the world—"WHY?"
The most significant relationship is with the basic family. But outsider educators have a great impact in encouraging initiative
4. Industry vs. Inferiority (6-12)
During this stage, often called the Latency, we are capable of learning, creating and accomplishing numerous new skills and knowledge, thus developing a sense of industry. This is also a very social stage of development and if we experience unresolved feelings of inadequacy and inferiority among our peers, we can have serious problems in terms of competence and self-esteem.
As the world expands a bit, our most significant relationship is with the school and neighborhood. Parents are no longer the complete authorities they once were, although they are still important.
5. Identity vs. Role Confusion (12-18)
Up to this stage, according to Erickson, development mostly depends upon what is done to us. From here on out, development depends primarily upon what we do. And while adolescence is a stage at which we are neither a child nor an adult, life is definitely getting more complex as we attempt to find our own identity, struggle with social interactions, and grapple with moral issues
Our task is to discover who we are as individuals separate from our family of origin and as members of a wider society. Unfortunately for those around us, in this process many of us go into a period of withdrawing from responsibilities, which Erickson called a "moratorium." And if we are unsuccessful in navigating this stage, we will experience role confusion and upheaval
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.A significant task for us is to establish a philosophy of life and in this process we tend to think in terms of ideals, which are conflict free, rather than reality, which is not. The problem is that we don't have much experience and find it easy to substitute ideals for experience. However, we can also develop strong devotion to friends and causes. It is no surprise that our most significant relationships are with peer groups.
(The next three are adult stages)
6. Intimacy vs. Isolation
7. Generativity vs. Stagnation
8. Ego Integrity vs. Despair
Of course many of the stages are not exact and a five year old can still be struggling with issues of a 3 yr old. Since children learn new skills at every age and stage, and have different needs at every age, they therefore struggle anew at each stage with different conflicts.
However, a child whose needs have been adequately met sees the world as a safe place feels a sense of trust and is ready to deal with his next stage of development in a functional manner.
When children are allowed to grow, create and learn according to their developmental age, they gain a healthy sense of self - worth, which leads them to feel that they can succeed in any endeavor they may set out to do.
From the findings of both Piaget, and Erickson we learn that some crucial points regarding children’s learning and developmental needs to be developed at a young age.
We can determine that there are certain very important skills we need our children to develop in order to be successful in school and in life. Skills in life need to be developed at the right time. And the time to develop the skills we will be talking about is in the preschool and early elementary years. If we miss this time, it’s extremely difficult to develop the proper skills at a later time.
For example: A child that is often given a lot of criticism will feel really poorly about herself and it will take much longer to accept herself in later years. It’s like hardening clay. When it’s soft and malleable you can form what you want with it and it will dry the way you formed it. Once dry, however, it is much, much harder to redo.
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How to apply the ideas of Piaget and Erickson:
From the finding of Erickson and Piaget there are five main categories that we have deduced children need to work on.
1-A good self esteem – A good self esteem is vital for children. It is what makes them feel that they can succeed at anything they set out to learn or accomplish.
2-Critical thinking skills - The older a child becomes, the more s/he is called upon to use critical thinking skills in school (especially in areas like math).
3-Initiative- As children grow, they need to learn to make all types of choices. This requires the confidence and the experience of knowing that they are capable of making the right choices and that if their choices are not right, they can always correct them. This gives them the initiative to make many choices.
4-A sense of independence - Without allowing children to do whatever they want, children need to gain autonomy to help them become responsible human beings, which will invariably help them succeed throughout their school years. (and life) without being tied to an adults apron strings.
5-Creativity – Creativity is a very crucial skill for kids to develop especially in today’s day and age where creativity is at a premium. I read a book recently that quoted a study that said even prestigious medical schools are giving art classes to hone their student’s powers of observation.
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How to Apply these Concepts to Art:
Now that we are more knowledgeable of what skills children need to develop than hopefully we can analyze all of the activities they do to see if they fit these criteria.
So we can determine that the components needed in a good art project are to:
1. Help the children develop a good self esteem. 2. Allow them to think and solve problems. 3. Let them grow wise as they make choices by taking initiative. 4. Allow them to develop a sense of autonomy and independence. 5. And give them room for their creativity to blossom.
By doing art in a developmentally appropriate manner in what I call Educational Art the children will incorporate all of the above skills.
However traditional arts and crafts are not Educational Art, can undermine all of the above and it is important to know why.
What’s wrong with traditional arts and crafts?
Think about it for a minute. Aren’t most traditional arts and crafts projects…. copycat projects? Cute little ideas….straight from the adult’s imaginations that encourages children to follow exact directions and in general to be little robots?
They are….
1. Not age - appropriate. 2. Conceived of by adults 3. Projects that all look exactly alike. 4. Copies of an adult model
Take any one of the number of projects that your child has brought home from school, or you have seen on the internet, or is sold in prepackaged form in any art store or stuff that you remember yourself doing…..and you will notice.
o Either there is a picture to copy o Or a model that is supposed to look like the finished project o There is no way for your child to have conceived of this idea on her own o There is no initiative as there are no choices (except maybe what color crayon to
use) o No thinking skills o No problem solving o Certainly no creativity
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ARTS & CRAFTS though the activity of choice for many, many preschool classrooms and home environments…