After folding rice paper into pie-shaped wedges, the children paint designs on one side, then turn the wedges over and paint the mirror image. When the paper is unfolded, intricate patterns are revealed. For ages 9 to 13. Plan 1 session.
What children know about art, grown artists are at pains to recapture. This is the joy of teaching art to children. It is also the great challenge. This website is for any adult — teachers, parents — looking for step-by-step guidance in how to instruct and develop, without overwhelming or dampening, the artist inside every child.
You will find art projects here that I have put together over a long career of teaching art to children from ages 3 to 13. Each lesson plan is self-contained with all the information needed to complete the project: the target age; the key concepts to be learned; the materials needed; helpful notes to avoid pitfalls; and some anticipated conversations you may have with your young artists as they are working. Before you begin, here are four foundational principles for any adult teaching art to children:
1) Instruct but do not do. Discuss a child's work. Demonstrate techniques. Share ideas. But do not touch the work itself.
2) Never start with a pre-cut shape. Never trace. Start from scratch. A child's circle will be more interesting than your own.
3) Quality materials and an organized, inviting workspaceare an essential backdrop for creative chaos. Invest in good supplies and take time to set up.
4) Look. Look at the greats; no child is too young for art history. Look at the world; learning to make art is learning to see and find pleasure in details.
Art education should begin young. Inhibition is the adversary, and it often creeps in by around seventh grade. Have fun with these projects and celebrate beautiful works with pride.
I have taught art for over twenty-five years in public, private, and Montessori schools, both in the United States and Hong Kong. I have a degree in art education and my teaching experience spans pre-school children through eighth-grade. Please feel free to contact me at JulieNVoigt [at] gmail.com.
All the artworks in the photographs were done by children from the Elementary Workshop Montessori School. Scroll over the pictures to see their titles and the ages of the artists. Click on the pictures to see a larger version. Credit for the photography goes to Madeline Polss, Leo Matkins, Bill Deering, and Carson Zullinger.
I owe a great deal of gratitude to Lillian Shah, a long time director of the Elementary Workshop, for helping to make this project come to be. During my years of teaching, she was a tireless collaborator and remains a passionate supporter of art for children.
I also thank my daughter Emily and my husband Henry for their encouragement, editing, and help in setting up my blog.