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7 Unique Ways to Encourage Art, Observation and Imagination in Children

In the past few months, I have observed Pari progressing from drawing and painting big, generic and repetative to doodling with details, painting in small areas, using LOTS of colours and often using her artwork to come back and narrate a story.

Besides the fact that she's at that stage (5+) where the motor skills are improving significantly as she's exploring varied skills; there are a few other things that, I think, must have encouraged her to pay attention to details and to draw upon her vivid imagination to create her own style.

In this post, I am sharing some of the things I do to create an artful environment for Pari and expose her to creative learning opportunities.

1. Impact of Visual elements in story books:

These days, she keenly observes the illustrations from her story books. Almost all her books that we choose mutually are extremely rich visually besides the richness of their content. Whether they are the Eric Carle books, the Grolier "I Wonder Why" books or the series of books by Om Kidz publishing house such as "Ganesha", 101 Buddha Stories, "Hanuman". Or the recently purchased – "God's Dream".

When reading books, I try also to talk about the details in the illustrations by asking her questions about the pictures per se. Like – "Look at the shine in the eyes of the child in this picture" or, "See how they have painted this rainbow with hand-prints" or, "What does this picture remind you of?" or, "Look at the colour combination the artist has used in this Sea Horse".

2. Learning from Photography:

I have not hesitatd to give my camera to Pari to click at any given opportunity. I have often received indirect flak about being a little too liberal with her. But then, as a mother, I know what I can trust her with and what I need to be careful about. Not stopping her from fiddling around with the camera has paid off in volumes!

She started off with my point and shoot and now can handle even my Canon DSLR without any blur. 

She not only takes clear and steady pictures, but also has learnt the elements of composition, details, light, angle etc. And, it has influenced her outlook towards art and painting.

3. Learning from older kids:

In the past few months, Pari has been doing her art activities with her older friend – Sama. They play or create either together or independently – in the same space. I think, it is helping them both as they are picking from each other, offering cues to each other or just plain and simple – enjoying the collaboration.

While some may feel that it's not a good idea to mix kids of different age groups together (I thought so too at some point in time) but, I am observing and learning from experience that it is actually a good idea to have a mixed-age group of kids playing and doing activities together. I remember reading one post at Teacher Tom that said how a multi-age classroom can help.

4. Watching adults doing art real-time:

While I never interfere when Pari is doing her own art, I at times, sit down in a different corner to do my own doodling, painting or DIY. It's primarily from my urge to create my own art time and connect with myself. But, indirectly, it inspires and excites Pari to see that Mamma, too, loves drawing and painting and is enjoying so much.

She thinks, because I am creating time exclusively for art, it sure must be a very important thing. She cannot help notice the details in my art and feels motivated to be good at it.

5. Encouraging 'Small Art':

While big art is tough, small can be as difficult – particularly for kids who find it challenging to fill small spaces. Designing on the back of business cards, filing up stenciled sketches, doing mehendi/henna designs on palms, drawing within or around confined shapes (circles, squares, triangles, heart) – these are just some of the ways I offer to Pari for her to learn drawing, painting and filling small areas with details. 

Doodling with tube-based puffy paint on a CD can be a great practice for small art. And, a beautiful art display for home… :)

Small cardboard circles can be use to paint or doodle on. These circles can be used to make a collage. Pari made a necklace here.

6. Visiting art galleries and museums – real and virtual: 

A giant kaleidoscope displaying artwork made by children – at the National Gandhi Museum in New Delhi, India

Whenever we get a chance, we try visiting an art gallery, exhibition or museum with Pari. No matter what the subject or theme is, the big, colourful displays leave an imprint on her mind. Also, bringing back a catalogue or a book from the exhibition helps. She often wants to sit down with the catalogue to go through what she has already seen on big canvases. 

Besides, together, we browse through some virtual art museums like The Google Art project. I cannot begin to tell you what a genius of a project this is – put together by Google. It offers a 360 degree interactive tour of museums around the world. The most amazing aspect is that you can zoom into each artwork and look at the minutest details of the work, which, you might miss even when you are seeing it up, close and personal – in real life. Awe inspiring stuff!

7. A lens in her pocket: 

A magnifying lens, I have figured, can be a child's best toy to explore, learn, play. When we go to a garden or on a nature walk, Pari never forgets to carry her lens in a pouch or pocket. From the fascinating details of veins in leaves to the identity of sand grains and from seeing a bug up and close to pretend-playing a detective – a magnifying lens can take observing skills to another level.

What are the ways you use to encourage your child's imagination and observation skills and love for art in general? I would love to know…

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Laura@art4littlehands July 20, 2011, 1:12 pm

    another wonderful post. Love all the ideas. I am especially going to start commenting on artwork in books we read. Why haven’t I don’t that before?

    I think displaying your child’s art shows them that they are capable of doing awesome work and framing that work really makes it stand out and look so good. I like to put their art on the fridge, but really a frame on the wall shows much more how you value the work they do.

    • Rashmie Jaaju July 21, 2011, 8:50 am

      You’re bang on – about displaying kids’ artwork in their rooms and around the house.
      I try to create as much space as possible to display all that Pari does rather than filing them away…
      We use the regrigerator, doors, corner tables….! A lot of of options really. About framing them – yes, you’re absolutely right. It goes on to show how much we value what they do. I have figured a clever way to reuse old frames to display the kidoo’s work. Won’t get into lengthy details here. Why don’t I write up a post about this… :))
      Thank you, again, Laura for being here. You’re ever so encouraging :)

  • JoAnn Jordan July 20, 2011, 1:22 pm

    Beautifully said. Exposure on many levels and allowing exploration in many mediums is important. My teenage daughter still remembers trips to art galleries in her stroller. She created yard art with her dad which still hangs on our fence.

    • Rashmie Jaaju July 21, 2011, 8:53 am

      So glad to hear from you and learn from your experience about how those visits to art galleries are still on your daughter’s mind.
      How amazing. This shows that the visual medium is so powerful in learning and reinforcing. And hands-on learning stays with them for ever.
      That yard art must be such a cherished memory for your family… :)

  • Srishti July 20, 2011, 5:44 pm

    What a post!!! Each and every idea is so easily implementable and must be very effective. I think when Sarah will be 4+, I will start referring to this blog as a day to day guide :)…but even now when Sarah is just 10 months, these thoughts provoke a different kind of thought process within me to do things differently and try out various things with her. Latest is that after so many efforts in past, yesterday I took a book again and tried to show her some pictures and narrate some story and to my surprise, yesterday she showed some interest in the book rather than eating it in one go…

    • Rashmie Jaaju July 21, 2011, 8:56 am

      How wonderful to know that our naughty little Sarah who can’t help nibbling on anything that comes her way, is showing interest in books.
      This excites me to approach her next time with some wacky storytelling. And, I think I have an idea. Seeing how much she enjoyed hers and my dance duet the other day, I’m going to do a dance-based story telling with her! Hehe, Sarah, here comes the bua..!

  • maggy, red ted art July 20, 2011, 6:03 pm

    Oh this is a wonderful post and I agree with you on all levels! When kids are exposed in so many ways, I do believe the majority will want to have a go!

    Thank you for such an inspirational post and for linking to Kids Get Crafty!


    • Rashmie Jaaju July 21, 2011, 8:58 am

      Thank you so very much for stopping by to share your thoughts. Every time, until now, I somehow missed linking up to ‘Kids get Crafty’. But, so glad I was able to link up this time and have come back with some awesome ideas from the collection over there. :)

  • City Sights for Kids July 21, 2011, 3:28 am

    I love the ideas you present in this post – especially the magnifying lens and using unique objects for art such as the CD!

    • Rashmie Jaaju July 21, 2011, 9:03 am

      @City Sights for kids – I am so glad you liked the ideas. Thank you for stopping by to comment. Nice to ‘meet’ you :)

  • param July 21, 2011, 8:05 am

    Each of the seven unique ideas listed above are great. Visual medium, Photography, learning from older kids,watching adults doing art n craft ,visiting art galleries and doing small art n craft projects out of these we have covered some ideas thanks to pari and your blog:) remaining, we shall explore soon..At my end, me and kids have fun creating original stories out of our imagination…One of us kick starts a story and stops midway and the next person has to start off from where the first one has stopped, each one has to shape the same story as per their imagination and viola a new story gets created:)Apart from this we playact stories, which help kids remember the story without much effort, also modulating voices as per the characters creates a fun element while play acting.

    • Rashmie Jaaju July 21, 2011, 9:08 am

      Dear Param,
      These are some wonderful ideas that you have shared that can take story-telling to another level.
      Story-telling in different ways is such a time-tested and interesting way to learn, explore, and give wings to the creative mind.
      In fact, it’s an art with so many dimensions to learning. Voice modulation! Yes, absolutely. Elements of dramatics in it!

  • Stacy @ {share&remember.blogspot.com} July 21, 2011, 12:50 pm

    Great post, beautiful art too! I need to have my group try painting on CD’s. Haven’t done that yet.

    • Rashmie Jaaju July 22, 2011, 6:10 am

      Hi Stacy,
      Glad to ‘meet’ you and thank you for stopping by to comment.
      Painting on CDs is fun. Moreover, it feels great to convert a junk into art to display.
      My daughter had made one for her baby cousin and the little one plays with it without fail…!

  • Ashu July 21, 2011, 5:53 pm

    Great post Rashmie and I loving it!!.And really so informative for encourage craft loving kids towards r art. After reading ur blog I know what more I can do with khwaish while reading story books at bed time….
    Surely would go through virtual art gallery. …even sometime I see budding photography lover in Khwaish.
    I would like to share…we usually explore and experiment from nature’s lab to our projects.

    • Rashmie Jaaju July 22, 2011, 6:14 am

      Drawing their attention to the illustrations when reading storybooks is so much fun and meaningful too. It helps them develop a keen eye for details..
      How wonderful that Khwaish is showing interest in photography. It may be worthwhile to get her an inexpensive point and shoot camera or better still – one of those unbreakable, kiddo cameras by VTech or Fisher Price. We had bought Pari a Vtech camera when she was 2.

  • Natalie July 27, 2011, 2:25 am

    I really loved this post and all the ideas in it. My daughter is mostly drawing in words, so to speak, but I should do more to encourage her creativity in other media as well. Pari’s art is so bright and beautiful!

    • Rashmie Jaaju July 28, 2011, 4:45 am

      I love all the things you do with your daughter. I read your posts often and can see how much you support her inquisitive and curious mind.
      You’re doing great to encourage her creative side :)

  • jeanne July 28, 2011, 11:03 pm

    Wow! I am so glad I found your blog! Lovely lovely post today and I look forward to reading more :)

    • Rashmie Jaaju August 3, 2011, 5:39 am

      Dear Jeanne,
      So glad to ‘meet’ you :) I follow you on Twitter and yesterday subscribed to your blog. You have an inspiring blog yourself :)
      Thank you for stopping by to connect.

  • JDaniel4's Mom June 8, 2012, 1:36 am

    What an amazing post! I love all the wonderful ways you create ways to create and use children’s imagination.

  • OneMommy June 12, 2012, 12:23 am

    I never thought of bringing art down in size for my little ones – but you’re right! It would really help some of their hand-eye coordination to do art on business cards or other small paper.

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