Monday, September 21, 2015

Art Invitations--encouraging kids to use the easel

When I first put out the easel (it frequently takes "breaks" in the upstairs closet when we're not using it as much), it gets lots of use from little artists.  As the weeks pass, though, the kids don't notice it as much and don't gravitate toward it.  One method I often use to encourage easel drawing (remember--it is SO GOOD for fine and gross motor development as well as art skills) is by offering an "invitation."  

This means that I set up something that invites the artist in....makes it irresistible for them not to draw!  Here is my first invitation.  My 7 year old is beginning to read, so she could read the simple directions I wrote.  She erased my words and wrote "My name is Quinn," and decorated that person all up!!  
I often prepare invitations to be ready for my kids to create art while I am preparing dinner.  Typically my invitations are simple and take 2 minutes or less of my time to prepare, and my kids spend a loooong time drawing.  Remember that any new experiences takes 5-7 times to become familiar, so the first several times you put out an invitation, your kids may not respond to it.  If they don't, gently call their attention to it, sit down and draw yourself, modeling what to do and speaking aloud what you are doing.  "I think I'll start with her hair.  I want her to have long, curly red hair, so I will use the chalk to draw spirals that look like curls.  Maybe a purple hairbow would be nice.  Now she needs clothes....I think I will do a purple skirt to match her bow.  And boots!  I can draw clouds and raindrops in the sky since she is wearing rainboots."  As your children observe you, they will begin to learn the process for drawing on the chalkboard, and over time they will internalize this and be ready to create their own art!  

My 4 year old son doesn't love drawing....but lately he has discovered that he can draw rainbows all by himself.  For an invitation for him I drew the first red arch of a rainbow and left the other colors out on the tray of the easel.  He made his rainbow, then erased it before I could snap a photo, then he spent a good 20 minutes drawing happily away in chalk!

I'll try to remember to catch snapshots of other easel invitations I offer for my kiddos to share in this space.  

Do you have an easel?  If not, this also works with a large piece of paper taped to the wall....or even flat paper on a table, though writing on a vertical surface strengthens arms in a way horizontal writing does not, so try to provide easel-like experiences for your little artists!