Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Using Questions to Promote Process Based Art

The most common question we ask children about their artwork is, “What is it?”  We ask this with the best of intentions, but this simple question can have a negative influence on children’s creativity.
This question focuses on the product of the child’s creative efforts.  But a more important goal in art activities with young children is for them to develop knowledge about the process.
What happens when I mix this color with that one?  What happens when I move my arm this way?  How can I make this item stick to this item?  How can I express what I’m feeling?  Do I like how this looks right now, or do I want to keep working on it?  These are all questions swirling in children’s minds when they have the freedom to create what they want during art activity.  These are more interesting and productive questions than, “What is it?”
Here are some questions you can use to promote discussion about children’s artwork:
What can you tell me about your picture?
How did you make it look like that?
What else could you use?
Why did you… use this brush?  glue that there? draw this item bigger than that one?  choose that color?
What did you like best about making this?
How did you get the idea for this?
What title would you like to give this work?
What were you thinking about while you painted this?
How did you feel while you made this?
Practice using questions like this until it comes as naturally as, “What is it?” used to for you.  Try printing the questions and keeping them in your pocket, or posting them near the art center for teachers to see.
Written by Janet Robison, Early Childhood Specialist with Child Care Aware® of Central Missouri

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