Twin Parks Montessori - Largest Accredited Montessori Program in Manhattan

Kathy’s Insights

Insights on the Montessori method and Early Childhood Education from Dr. Kathy Roemer

Artist Studies with Young Children

Posted on by

One of the many projects Twin Parks Montessori teachers work on with students is studies of a variety of artists. Modern artists are especially fun because children can imitate techniques without trying to be representational or realistic. For instance, Matisse-like projects can be accomplished by creating a collage of colored paper. Jackson Pollock –like

Pineapple still life watercolor paintings

Pineapple still life watercolor paintings

projects are created by a group of students using very large paper or vinyl on the floor and splatter painting various colors onto it. Wassily Kandinsky’s style can be demonstrated with markers and blocks with circles. Picasso is fun to re-create by cutting up and rearranging a self-portrait.

Recently, one of our teachers was hanging a pineapple field in her classroom. Each section was a watercolor still life paintings made by 3-5-year-old students. This project was part of a thorough study of the artist, Georgia O’Keeffe.

In 1939, the Dole Company paid O’Keeffe to travel to Hawaii. Her assignment was to paint two pictures from her travels. O’Keefe painted Pineapple Bud in oil on canvas.

Georgia O'Keefe's Pineapple Bud

Georgia O’Keefe’s Pineapple Bud

Lei's made of straws and various paper

Lei’s made of straws and various paper

Students in the class learned about O’Keefe’s life and the different subjects she painted. In honor of her trip to Hawaii, the class made leis, and a field of poppies using coffee filters.

On the classroom shelves are a variety of art activities the students can choose to work with. Each activity had a medium that O’Keeffe used in her various art:  pastels, watercolors, and drawing instruments. Each activity is arranged attractively on a tray with all of the materials a student would need to complete the art project.

What is the purpose of teaching young children about art and artists? Artists are role models for children and help develop creativity. Looking at art helps children to think deeply and that skill translates to other studies like math, science and social studies.

IMG_4913Visual Thinking Strategies  is a method initiated by teacher-facilitated discussions of art images and is documented to have benefits for teachers as well as students. After a group of students views a work of art, the visual thinking method leader asks three questions of young students:

• What’s going on in this picture?

• What do you see that makes you say that?

• What more can we find?

Deep thinking skills transfer from lesson to lesson and expose students to the oral and written language and visual literacy. It also facilitates collaborative interactions among peers.

Artist studies are not limited to visual artists. Musicians are excellent examples to study and help develop auditory skills. Listening carefully helps students to learn to discriminate nuances of tone, scale, instrument variations, and notes. Various genres of music and beats are very interesting to children. Some examples of music to listen to with children are:

  • Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saen,
  • Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev, and
  • Four Seasons by Vivaldi.

These are excellent examples of music that tells a story. The voices of instruments in all of these selections are easily distinguishable from one another. What a fun, family activity to do while driving in the car or on a rainy afternoon!

Hawaiian Song from Twin Parks on Vimeo.

Leave a comment

Come When I Call You

Posted on by

Over the past couple of weeks, I have had conversations with several adults about how important being outdoors was to them during their childhood. When I was a child, during the summer, the instructions my mother gave to my 4 siblings and I was “go outside and play, I will call you when lunch is ready,” or “come in when it gets dark”. I realize that it was a different time when neighbors looked out for one another’s children, and it was the suburbs equipped with fields of grass and backyards. However, we also went camping in tents, dug in the dirt, climbed rocks and played in the mud. These are some of my fondest memories and the source of some of my childhood roots of adult happiness.

Children are natural explorers. Given a few basic boundary rules, they will use their senses to explore and learning will come. Spring is a gift to our olfactory sense. The flowers on the trees and on the ground make us pause to smell the fragrant aromas. Their riot of colors is also striking – especially against the background of thick green grass. Children notice everything new – from buds on branches to the insects crawling on the ground. Children love to poke around and look under leaves and rocks.

Richard Louv, the author of national bestseller, Last Child in the Woods, has a new book titled, Vitamin N 500 ways to Enrich the Health & Happiness of Your Family & Community. Richard is also the co-founder of the Children & Nature Network, an organization helping build the international movement to connect people and communities to the natural world.

“The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.” – Richard Louv

During the next couple of weeks, the weather will be perfect to go to the trees and explore. Children love impromptu picnics and rendezvous outdoors. Adults need time outdoors also. When was the last time you laid in the grass looking up at the patterns clouds make or the shapes of leaves overhead? Do you know where the Hallett Nature Sanctuary is inside Central Park? It is a four-acre peninsula, mostly closed to the public since the 1930’s. It was created as a sanctuary for migrating birds. It is now open on a limited basis. What are you waiting for?

Leave a comment
Kathy’s Insights