Thursday, January 10, 2013

ABCs of Arts Integration: P - T, Part 4

We're now up to Part 4 of the ABCs of Arts Integration. 

The letter P is such a favorite when it comes to Arts Integration. Puppets, props and paint..... poetry and percussion. They all add up to the polka-dots of punctuation that make participation a pleasure. PLAY, PLAY, PLAY!!! A sense of playfulness is the bedrock of everything that we want to design when it comes to an Arts program for children. We want the inherent playfulness of the child to mix with the materials available to create something unique, something inspiring with the possibility of being transcendent. 
Don't ya just LUV LUV LUV a bucket of paint -- all organized and ready to begin? 

One of the best words to associate with the letter Q for Arts Integration is the word "questions." My mentor Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld is famous for asking "what else?" 

Once an activity is underway, the best way to support creativity and exploration is to ask questions. "What else?" What else can you do with those pipe cleaners? What else can you add to your painting? What else does your poem need? How can you create a book report in a dynamic manner? 

I wrote and recorded an entire song about: questions. "Questions when I'm curious and want to know some more." Young children are filled with questions of their world. One of the biggest supports we can give them is to listen first to their curiosities and then provide direction to the resources and materials to explore the quest for answers. What child doesn't go through the dinosaur phase? Trips to the museum and library fill in those answers. Then get out the material and continue to explore in every possible dimension. 

The bulletin board below was created by collecting individual kindergarten responses to my first picture book, "You're Wonderful." Their individual creative energy is captured, celebrated and explodes as the collaborative effort goes on display in the classroom.

photo of: Kindergarten Bulletin Board Group Collaboration in Preparation of Author-Illustrator School Visit with Debbie Clement

Quilting supports a unique dynamic and interplay between patterns, shape and math with an exploration of culture and history mixed in at the same time. 


My favorite part of creating original songs for children is the interplay between the rhymes I build in the lyrics and their rhythm as I sculpt the melody. Keeping the two in mind from the very beginning makes all of the difference in the world. 

Some of my favorite feedback from teachers, parents and librarians is when they say, "we REALLY sing your songs. I think its the repetition that you incorporate that makes it so inviting." 

I once heard it said that the perfect number of repetitions is the number four. When you stop and think about your presentation of a 'new song' -- it is exactly that: NEW! Then the second time through, a few of your brightest kiddos know where you're heading. The third time more of your group is with you and by the fourth time, most of your group can join the fun. I like to have four verses with the chorus repeated after each one. That way even in the first singing the chorus is familiar by the first singing. 

My biggest piece of advice for folks designing a 'circle-time' that includes singing? Develop a ritual. Start with the same come-to-the-rug invitation song. Begin with a couple of selections that are completely familiar, everyone's relaxed and participating. Then add something new and different (remember: NOVELTY) and then conclude with the 'same-old' sign-off/concluding song. Bookends with the familiar, sandwiched with something new.

photo of: Collage of Reggio Emilia Photographs taken during field trip visiting Italian Early Childhood Centers
REGGIO EMILIA, ITALY field trip of exploration
When it comes to Arts Integration, does anyone do it as well as its done in Reggio? Did you know that during my latest European tour to 4 of our Army bases in Germany + Italy, I was able to segway for a day into Reggio Emilia? Yes. I was able to perform for the Italian children, but more importantly I was able to tour two different programs and take tons of pictures. I have 18 articles here on my blog based on that single day. By all means dig around in the 'Reggio' label to take a look at what I was able to see. 

My favorite part of the Reggio approach to the Arts is the documentation of all that is being integrated. The children build with blocks. The block sculptures are photographed and the photos become the basis for the writing and drawing that transpires from the initial building project. Stories can then be launched and structures created to extend the work for another layer. 


Integrating the arts into your curriculum is such an optimal way to create a social situation, cultivating a culture in your classroom that honors contribution. Singing is just a simple variation on story-telling and vice versa. Story telling is just a song in search of a melody. Incorporating sign language into your stories and songs stretches everyone, building a bridge between cultures and capabilities. 

Whether your finished 'product' is a sculpture, a symphony or a sonnet -- it all begins at the beginning of building a foundation of Arts appreciation. Those initial lullabies and finger paintings are the basis for all of the explorations that follow. Then its just a matter of time and opportunity for the child to find their own SPUNK -- their own style! 

I've heard Dr. Pam Schiller speak from her platform about the significance of TRUST when working with children. She states that "TRUST is job one." It makes sense to borrow her observation and apply it to the art world as well. 

Creating art is a very personal process. Children need to know that their work and effort will be valued and appreciated. They must trust first. This is especially important when introducing 'new' experiences. 

In my world of working with a variety of children with numerous needs, this building of trust is critical. Making adaptations for a child with sensory integration issues will help establish that sense of trust and open the window of opportunity just a tad bit further. For some children their Arts experience is their therapy, their medicine, their communication, their voice.  

Here are the links to the other articles in my series. 

Part 1: ABCs of Arts Integration, Letters A-E
Part 2: ABCs of Arts Integration, Letters F-J
Part 3: ABCs of Arts Integration, Letters K-O 

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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