Does the idea of taking your child to a museum sound daunting? Is the local art mecca too far away, or not too keen on pint-sized patrons? Create your own museum! Not only will your child get a chance to look at some pretty amazing art, you can teach some important concepts about shapes in the bargain.
If you’ve got a kindergartener, it’s likely that he can already recognize the basic shapes. But can he identify them by their attributes? Does he know that a triangle has three sides, or that a square is a square (not a rectangle) because it has four sides that are all the same length? Getting comfortable with the shapes and their attributes is a founding concept for understanding more abstract geometry later on. Here’s a fun way to sneak in some geometry, in an artistic way.
What You Need:
- A computer
- Water colors
- Black permanent marker
What You Do:
- Prepare Ahead of Time. You’ll need to do a little research before you invite your child to the “museum”. Take a trip to the library, or look a few artists up online. Whichever method you choose, print out some color copies of their work, or purchase a few posters or art postcards. Unsure which artists to choose? Kandinsky, Miro, and Calder all exhibit excellent use of shapes in their art. Once you have your pictures, find a blank wall and hang them up exhibit style, (at a kindergarten appropriate height!) Then issue an invitation to visit the museum.
- Celebrate Museum Day. Tour your child through your museum. As you look at the pictures, ask questions like, “What shapes do you notice in the art?” Let her use her finger to outline circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, maybe even a hexagon or two. Talk about what makes a triangle a triangle, and what makes a square a square, as opposed to a rectangle. Point out some shapes that she may be unfamiliar with, like ovals, or octagons, being sure to give her some visual clues to make memory easier, like the fact that eggs are the shape of ovals, and stop signs are the shape of octagons. You can hop online for some more information about the artists, or more examples of their work.
- Make Your Child the Artist. After your field trip, give your child the chance to make some art of her own. First, have her describe the attributes of a shape. As she describes it, draw it for her on construction paper, using a thick black permanent marker. Create at least three shapes. Then give your child a set of watercolors and set her to work. The thin paint will look beautiful against the contrast of the bold black shapes. The end result? A beautiful piece of art for your refrigerator and a deeper understanding of geometric shapes.
Gina Dal Fuoco has been an elementary school teacher in California for over 12 years, and has also taught English as a foreign language in Italy. Gina is the mother of a toddler and a kindergartener.