“Little hands and big hearts can do wonderful things.”
Watching children learn as they play is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. Helping them along their journey is part of the fun for everyone. Children learn creativity, confidence, problem solving, perseverance, focus, dedication, collaboration and accountability through art.
From the time a child is born, they have learned about this mysterious world by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing and hearing. Sensory play also contributes in crucial ways to brain development. Think of it as ‘food for the brain’. Stimulating the senses sends signals to children’s brains that help to strengthen neural pathways important for all types of learning.
Children learn through doing. Children learn through sensory like water and paint.
Art is an important part of a child’s world. Not only is art a way for children to express themselves, but it also helps them develop their fine-motor skills. Learning how to mix two colors to create another color is magic to them. As adults, we are product driven and often overlook the small things. Whereas, children are working to develop themselves and so the process is more important than the final product.
What children learn: When art is approached as a process, not a project, the child learns that he/she is limited only by his/her imagination. As everyday objects are transformed into things such as imaginary bugs, sculptures or books, the child discovers that a world of play can be created. Using materials in an art project reinforces and expands on the information a child has already learned in other contexts. Fine-motor skills are developed through art activities. Small-muscle control is needed in order to manipulate clay, cut with scissors, paint with a brush, and color with markers or crayons. Creating these “masterpieces” builds a child’s self-esteem. The finished product, on display on the refrigerator, validates a child’s sense of worth. This provides another opportunity for a child to say “I can do it!”
What children learn: Puzzles develop a child’s abstract thinking ability as they must be able to see a space and visualize what belongs in that space. Fine-motor coordination is developed when fitting the pieces into place. Success can be enjoyed by all children by having puzzles for varied skill levels.
Fine-motor control is developed by playing with a variety of toys such as Legos, Bristle Blocks, Play-Doh, Peg-Boards, large beads to thread, and stacking and nesting materials.
What children learn: These manipulative toys help develop a child’s fine-motor skills, which is a precursor to being able to write. These toys are also often used in “making-believe”.