Sunday, December 7, 2014

Continuum from 'Craftivity' to Authentic Art: Child Created Giraffe Paintings

Continuum from 'Craftivity' to Authentic Art: Child Created Giraffe Paintings at RainbowsWithinReach

Welcome. Or Welcome Back. This is the continuation of my ongoing encouragement for teachers to ensure that "CREATIVITY" is a basic right of children. Last week I compared the "Authentic Art" of children in response to Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar to more teacher-driven 'craft-project' type responses. Today I have all new examples of children's authentic art plus I am including the feedback to last week's article. We all learn from each other. 

Debbie Clement, author of "Tall Giraffe" with decorated classroom door

My second picture book is entitled "Tall Giraffe" and so as I make my school visits across the country, I see a LOT of giraffes and giraffe project variations created in anticipation of my arrival. I've gathered up several of the variations to help articulate the continuum that I see from 'craftivity' at one end of the scale all the way to "Authentic Art" at the other. 

In the week since my article last Sunday, I have heard many voices across cyber-town in response to my thoughts and examples. To bring us all back to square one, I started with the 'chilling' reminder of the March-of-the-Penguins bulletin board -- where ALL SIXTEEN PROJECTS ARE EXACTLY THE SAME. This is an extreme. This example is at the EXTREME of look-alike, top-down, teacher directed. Interchangeable. 

Listen in to the voices from FB, Instagram and my email inbox and their thoughts, frustrations + insight. 

"Thank you, thank you, thank you! Loved this article! 'The march of the Stepford Penguins'.... OMG I thought I'd wet my pants!" ~~ Nancy Gaumer

"It makes me sad when I see 20 art projects that look exactly the same. I do craft stuff  but I encourage individuality, creativity and let them go wild. It's the process that counts NOT the product." ~~ preschoolfun

"Wonderful post! Being a second year teacher.... I am still trying to find that balance. Last year I did way too much product art. I am learning the process is way more important! It also requires less prep for me and the kids really do get more excited about their work.... so true! :) Thanks for posting." ~~ teach2reach

"Not all parents love the craftivity. As a teacher and a parent of a pre-schooler, I am so frustrated with the lack of creativity allowed in many classrooms. I will share this with the director of my son's school and hope to see some change. ~~ Andrea Peck

Continuum from 'Craftivity' to Authentic Art: Child Created Giraffe Paintings at RainbowsWithinReach

"I am currently doing an action research. Main question: why are teachers not allowing children to express their originality in art.... and I was thrilled to read this.... I need teachers to participate in my survey. Please PM me and I will send you the questions if you wish to take part. Thank you." ~~ Na Kumar 

"Ahhhhhh. Love. Love. Drives me bonkers to see teacher art. Let the kids express themselves. Who cares that it does not look right or like everyone else's. Parents do Not want to always see my talent when it comes to art. At a center I worked at last year we had a Wee Arts program come in once a week..... more than once I witnessed the "teacher" erasing what a child had put on the paper and then 'helping' them make it right. I was disgusted and sad." (insert sad faced emoticon.)" ~~Bev Mackey 

"Thanks for this amazing article. It's nice to know I am not alone. It's the process, not the result, that counts. We are here to foster children's creativity and nurture their individuality. Not to create robots." ~~ Dana Lu

Continuum from 'Craftivity' to Authentic Art: Child Created Giraffe Paintings at RainbowsWithinReach

"Thank you!!!! I would so much rather nurture creativity than have something "cute." xoxo ~~ adventuresinkindergarten

"THANK YOU! At this age it is the process that matters not the product! I want them to explore, learn how to use different materials and realize art is subjective."  ~~ TeresaTeaches

Continuum from 'Craftivity' to Authentic Art: Child Created Giraffe Paintings at RainbowsWithinReach

"This is so true! I've taught Kindergarten for almost thirty years; I do agree with some balance, but authentic really shows a child their own work is valued! Process over project is essential for our youngest kiddos! ~~ Deb Haffner

I think creativity is a process that can be both open-ended and simply designed with a product or craft in mind -- as long as the child can use the materials in his/her own ways... My favorite preschool teacher showed me a perfect example of this when she taught my 3 year old daughter's class how to make paper chains for their Christmas trees (not exactly diversity, but good for eye-hand coordination.) She began apologizing that my child did not make the intended craft, then showed me how SHE creatively used the materials. Her result was a beautiful, multi-level star made by piling the strips on top of each other in a wonderful stack. We both laughed at her determination to do her own thing. I was so grateful that the teacher did nothing but praise her efforts -- even if they weren't what she was expecting.... THAT is the balance. ~~ Lynn Manfredi

Continuum from 'Craftivity' to Authentic Art: Child Created Giraffe Paintings at RainbowsWithinReach

"We are all about children's authentic art at Head Start. Love it! The children value what they've done, and it doesn't have to look like someone else's, and shouldn't! Each is unique because each child is unique!" ~~ Jan Windham

"Thank you for this article. I will keep it in mind as I present activities to my toddler as he grows. Do you have any suggestions for very young children (16 months)? I am encouraging scribbling with crayons and have had him try finger painting. I don't mind a mess." 

"Thank you! thank you! and thank you!!!! From the beginning of my career with pre-k I have always been an advocate of original, creative, authentic art. I will always believe in it and refuse anything else. No child is the same, therefore their artwork should not look the same." ~~ Emily Moss  

Continuum from 'Craftivity' to Authentic Art: Child Created Giraffe Paintings at RainbowsWithinReach

"Great perspective! I saw 'craftivity' in action at one preschool I checked out-- the teacher hovered over the kids, directing every glue dot and squiggle. It was sad, and frustrating for the kids. Long live authentic little artists!!!!!" ~~ Mickie Farris 

"I've just sent my 3 year old to playgroup with her decorated bauble printout. I didn't realize that it was obviously a parent's activity, judging by the lack colour coordination, precisely glittered patterns and intricate sequin work. I would guess she is the only one who did it on her own."  

Continuum from 'Craftivity' to Authentic Art: Child Created Giraffe Paintings at RainbowsWithinReach

I would like to give you some examples of giraffe 'projects' that have more direction/plans/specifics from the teacher. While this finished work that follows has a greater similarity to one another than our AUTHENTIC giraffe paintings above, they are no where in the same category as our interchangeable {Stepford} penguins at the out set of this conversation. I know that you will see the difference immediately. 

photo of: giraffe crafts, paper plate craft for zoo animals, preschool jungle crafts, easy crafts for zoo theme

Now on to the voices "in defense of" Craftivity and the learning that takes place with those style of projects. 

Painted Giraffe Project: Heads made from traced foot shape

"Authentic artwork vs. 'crativities' are two completely different things. We teach and there is so much that can also be taught (math, dexterity, sorting, shapes, following directions, language, fine and gross motor skills) through art experiences." ~~Tanya Sariken

"I am partial to the creative, kid directed art myself. However as a PK/K teacher, craftivites can be great tools for practicing following directions, doing things in order, etc, both have a place in my classroom." ~~ jessicanteach

Giraffes painted by young children, added detail for manes via RainbowsWithinReach

"There's a place for both. Children like to make the craftivities because they feel successful at making something, but they need to be able to use their imaginations too. As a parent I don't really care to save the photocopied type things but the things my children create are treasures, recognizable or not." ~~ Debra Whittaker

"Tall Giraffe" Torn Paper Construction in Kindergarten via RainbowsWithinReach

"I like both. I think with Authentic art, students can actually be more creative and we can build the confidence in themselves, and I often see second guessing and frustration at times when they try to do a Craftivity. But they love to try both!" ~~ Ginger Breaux 

Kindergarten Bulletin Board for Giraffes in the Jungle

"I agree that both are good and have a place in the classroom. I do more crafts at the beginning of the year to work on cutting skills and following directions, then more open ended art later. I think knowing that crafts are different than "art" and doing both with purpose are important." ~~ teacherlaura 

Tall Giraffe Bulletin Board for zoo unit or jungle theme (Kindergarten Artwork)
Traced shoe for head, traced arm for neck: 'formulaic,'  but EACH child's is UNIQUE + personal

"I have a child that is a perfectionist.... so crativities are great for her because she feels like its good enough. I have another child who could care less what it looks like but is excited to be making something. I can see the benefits of both." ~~andtheyallfalldown11

"Love them both." ~~pragmaticmom

G is for Giraffe, Art Projects from Preschool to 1st grade focused on Giraffe Theme


As usual. The time has escaped faster than the creation + completion of this article. It is not exactly finished. I am missing several response/feedback/insight/opinions and I will continue to add to this follow up over the next day or two. 

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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