I spoke today with my WHUMC MOPS group about The Artful Child. This is a topic near and dear to my heart. Having been an art teacher, a preschool teacher, and now a Mom, I enjoy watching art develop with the child. I am going to share over the next few posts, the notes that I used for the talk. This is a general overview of the early stages of art development.
“We are creatures identified with what we do with our hands.”
~Frank Wilson, professor of neurology at Stanford University. Last child in the Woods.
“The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.” ~Maria Montessori
Art is a Language.
Key Points for Art in Early Childhood
- Art in early childhood is about the discovery of the environment. What the child is thinking, feeling, perceiving- his reactions to the environment that are important.
- PROCESS NOT PRODUCT!
- Art is a primary experience. A primary experience is defined as contact of the body with the environment- you come to the experience. Secondary experience is when experience comes to you- aka watching TV, being told.
- Random Scribbling (Manipulative Stage)
- Controlled Scribbling- will see shapes and lines (Manipulative Stage)
- Names Scribbling- names objects drawn even if unrecognizable, unplanned (Manipulative Stage-Symbolic Stage)
- Begins to represent objects and people, with space, size and color irrelevant, intentional (Symbolic Stage- Design Stage)
- Moves towards more realistic representation (Design Stage- Representational Stage)
The transition between stages is not cut and dry. Children will progress, regress, and sometimes be in two stages, especially in the earlier stages. Each child moves through each stage at different rates.
Manipulative Stage (often called the Scribble phase) (ages 2-4)
- Exercising control over environment
- Interaction of child and materials
- About kinesthetic reward
- Broad rhythmic action (not till older will art become localized to hand, arm and shoulder)- why the easel is so important for drawing at this age.
- Exploring, experimenting and manipulation with materials- any material!
Viktor Lowenfeld writes in Creative and Mental Growth, “This naming of scribbling is of the highest significance, for it is an indication that the child’s thinking has changed. Before this stage he was satisfied with the motions themselves, but now he has connected his motions to the world around him. He has changed from a kinesthetic thinking in terms of motions to an imaginative thinking in terms of pictures.”
Symbolic Stage (ages 4-7)
- Assigning meaning to drawn shape- the shape becomes a symbol- abstract concepts that thoughts can be represented by symbols
- Representational attempts related to self, will see the mandala used to represent person, combines shapes and forms, tells stories.
- Marks are no longer associated with body movement.
- Not concerned with what things really look like- space, size, color irrelevant.
Example of Manipulative Stage
In parenthesis you will find the age my son was when he drew the picture- each child moves through each stage at different rates and in general the manipulative stage is from ages 2-4.
Early marks on paper
(around 14 months)
Big circles and lots of action/motion
(around 18 month- Drawn on a flat surface, standing up, moving around table.)
Begins to talk and describe marks and motions.
(around 24 months- this is rain and snow- a scheme he came up with on his own!)
Begins to talk and describe marks and motions with many marks being made deliberately.
(around 24 months- the black blocks of color are trains)
(around 27 months- This is trains on the track, there is a lion, and a person with toes!)
[…] For awhile he stalled on making art but then he started to pick up the markers again. He drew a person in September but then we hadn’t seen much of that since. (See his art progression here.) […]