By Dr Gai Lindsay (Lecturer, The Early Years, UOW, Australia)
During this time of COVID-19 restrictions and physical distancing the importance of the arts in people’s lives has been highly evident. We have listened to music and watched movies. We have danced, sung and played music on balconies and in driveways.
Personally, I have done a free online course (thanks Este McLeod – see my time lapse play with her techniques below), completed weekly visual journal reflections, explored collaborative whiteboard drawing with early childhood arts colleagues from around the world during our weekly quarantine Zoom parties and set up a UNESCO international art week collaborative Coffee Splat and Drawing challenge with my colleagues – LINK here for an example.
Social media platforms are full of posts where friends and colleagues share the art making and crafting immersion that have not only filled in time as we have spent days, weeks and months in our homes; but have filled our hearts, hands and minds with occupations that are nurturing for our well-being. Museums, galleries, schools, teachers and countless organisations have posted resources and arts-centred experiences to do at home.
Visual arts at home:
The arts also support children to make sense of this time of pandemic – shut-down and physical distancing. I recently shared some thoughts about the importance of the arts (and particularly visual arts) for children and families with Leanne Gibbs from Early Start at UOW.
This is an encouragement for those of us who already believed that visual and graphic languages, mark-making and play with materials and processes should be central to human thriving and exercised a human birthright in both educational and social contexts.
Yearning for the arts
Each time I have researched the visual arts beliefs, knowledge and confidence of early childhood educators and engaged in professional training more broadly, the participants commonly express a deep yearning for art-making processes. This is often coupled with regret that throughout their own childhoods (and into adulthood), opportunities to learn to speak the languages of the visual arts and to play with visual arts materials were not adequately nurtured or exercised. Too many people reach adulthood announcing that they are not artistic or creative.
And yet, I believe this time of COVID-19 has fueled a wonderful re-newed realisation that the arts matter very very much in our lives. Time to make art is something we must reclaim. The yearning to make and to create and to express ourselves in visible and tangible ways is very real and we must feed it and express ourselves beyond the constrained, narrow and rushed parameters that had hijacked authentic lives and educational contexts before the pandemic.
And if the arts do matter in our lives (and they do whether we realise it or not), we must not deny ourselves or deny children opportunities to express their full humanity through the arts. The following videos are great resources about why the arts are important for both life and education across our lifespan.
The remainder of the blog shares some of the best resources I have come across recently. May such experiences within the pandemic be something we cling on to even as life speeds up again!
Articles and downloadable resources: Some of my sentiments are echoed in this call for holistic, arts centred curriculum beyond the pandemic. LINK TO THE NZ HERALD ARTICLE HERE. This blog post shares some great reflection on the atelier as place of research for children and families during COVID-19 – LINK HERE.
Good friend and colleague, Pete Morehouse developed a downloadable resource about creativity at home. LINK HERE
Developed by Nature Play SA (South Australia), with funding support from Department of Human Services, the free downloadable booklet “Family, Nature & Covid-19” offers more than 80 pages of rich ideas about nurturing well being during COVID-19 and many many wonderful practical ideas and inspirations. DOWNLOAD HERE.
Resource about why arts are more important at this time than ever before
Resources for home learning experiences and provocations from Reggio Children
A rich selection of thoughtful and open-ended resources for arts-based learning and inquiry have been developed in English, Italian and Arabic. LINK HERE and HERE for some fabulous online activities and downloadable resources and inspiring videos like this one.
Time to learn to draw
- Ari Chand wrote a great piece in THE CONVERSATION – “Great time to try: learning to draw.”
- Adobe share a range of resources and inspirations in their article about making art through virtual art lessons.
- Particularly check out some lovely videos showing collaborative artmaking and drawing in the Draw with Drew (and Rosie) series.
Outdoor Arts Inspirations
Roberta Pucci writes a wonderful blog with a never-ending source of wonderful arts-inspired /nature-inspired provocations and projects.
OR….If you are stuck inside and want an artful outlook this site shares great art ideas for windows – Link here.
Or…If you are stuck inside but want to go to museums around the world…
- UOW Early Start Discovery Space – Discovery at home with videos, activity ideas and expert insights.
- National Museum of Australia – at home arts.
- LOTS of virtual Gallery & Museum Tours
- Children’s Museums at Home – links to lots of programs in the US.
A suite of ideas
There are lots of ideas online (almost too many when you go searching!)…but not all of them are child-centred and open ended (see my other blog posts for more about the types of arts experiences that enrich children’s visual arts learning experience).
- There are some great open-ended ideas on Ms. R’s art lessons for preschool.
- I particularly liked this box construction video.
- Cadwell Collaborative share at home arts ideas and links HERE.
- Tinkerlab resources also share ideas for pre-schoolers.
- Early Art UK have been sharing creative care packages throughout COVID-19 Pandemic – well worth a look! Here is the first one to get you started and you can subscribe!
- Although targeting children in school and high school, ABC education’s visual arts resources are worth looking at to gain inspiration and potentially adapt for younger children.
- Similarly, the Tasmanian Art Teachers Association (TATA) have a range of links and resources available HERE.
- I also like the ideas presented by Paul Carney. Great for your own up-skilling and building your own awareness of arts techniques and processes. (Scroll to the bottom for video links and free downloadable resources).
I hope this blog and links are useful for you and that you continue to centralise the visual arts in your homes and educational settings.