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Artistic Activities

Many different artistic activities take place at Starbright. The artistic activities are not just the visual arts, but also include music, drama, movement, and the so-called more “traditional” domestic arts. The visual arts include wet-wash watercolor painting, beeswax modeling, coloring and drawing (the fine arts), and a multitude of crafts from simple gluing and playdough to papermaking and ceramics.

Domestic art includes bread baking, general baking, cooking (including soup making) and handwork, such as sewing, fingerknitting, and embroidery. Music is found not only in the daily circle but throughout the day during transitions, while preparing for and cleaning up from activities, and as the teachers gently sing reminders to the children. The children play instruments, usually rhythm, inside and in the play yard, and adult musicians visit the school bringing a multitude of different instruments to play and share with the children.

Artistic activities work at many different levels for the developing child. The child not only develops a specific skill when exploring the medium, but develops necessary physical, emotional, social and cognitive skills as well.

The young child explores decision making and problem solving as well as the creative process while developing control over the medium. The child’s fine motor skills are involved, especially hand and finger coordination and the strengthening of the large arm muscles, leading into later writing and thus reading skills. Artistic activities develop creative thinking skills in children. For example, mixing blue and yellow paint together creates green; by mixing colors, children learn to create new colors.

Wet wash watercolor painting is a excellent example of how artistic activities in the classroom work on the child in a three-fold way. It is an exploration of the medium and an adventure in color creation that involves discovering the energetic or emotional quality of color and becomes an emotional expression for the child. Most important, it is an expression of the child’s inner being and a reflection of her inner resources.

Bread baking is another excellent example of a complex artistic activity for the young child, one with many levels of development that come into play during the process. Baking develops numerous cognitive skills as well as fine and gross motor skills: as the child measures, pours, stirs, and kneads, large and small muscles are used. The measurement of ingredients teaches mathematical concepts. Baking also creates building blocks for later advanced scientific lab work. When we bake, we follow a recipe and we learn that when we mix certain ingredients together a new product is created. In high school chemistry, we must follow a recipe when we perform experiments and we learn that combining different materials together forms a new product. Children also learn cooperative skills as they take turns measuring and mixing. Children develop a sense of competence when they eat the bread that they have made.

Songs, stories, finger plays and circle games expose the children to rich language, develop listening skills, and help children recognize sounds in words and rhyming schemes in verses, all of which lay the basis for the understanding of phonics. Oral listening skills build language competence in grammar, memory, attention, and visualization. These are important skills in developing literacy. Oral storytelling and oral history provide an opportunity to tap the richness of cultural traditions outside the mainstream. Additionally, circle games and finger plays develop fine and gross motor skills.

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