Creative and Imaginative Ideas for Children (page 4)
The ideas in this article provide children the opportunity for a variety of experiences and imaginative expression through three-dimensional art. Each child’s own creative effort must be accepted regardless of how meager a product may appear. Your role is primarily that of encourager, facilitator, and resource.
An Imaginary Lump of Clay
To help get your children’s attention, before starting this activity, read one of the books listed in the Children’s Literature and Three-Dimensional Art box.
1.Read a story about clay to your children.
2.Talk to your children about what it might feel like to be clay. Discussion can center on how clay feels, what you can do with clay, what makes clay get hard and dry, and what happens when you add water to clay. Encourage your children to add their own ideas and comments about the properties and uses of clay.
3.Tell your children that they are going to pretend to be little lumps of clay and to imagine that they can roll themselves into a big ball. The following script is a guide to this process:
You are all wet, lumpy balls of clay. Imagine what shape you would like to become, and then move your bodies in ways that help you make yourself into your own special shape. When you have created just the shape you want, try to be real still for just a few minutes so you can pretend to let your clay start to dry and get a little harder. Now, look around the room at all the shapes we have. In just a minute it will be time to be lumps of clay again. Pretend that someone is pouring imaginary water on you so that you will become nice and soft again.
4.Follow up the activity with conversations about what it felt like to pretend to be clay. Were there any shapes that could have had names? Was it hard to be still long enough to dry? If the “shapes” could have been placed somewhere in the room for others to see, where would they like to have been placed?
For this activity, you and your children will need a variety of objects for making impressions in soft, malleable clay. Some objects you will want to collect include
- old keys of different sizes and shapes
- toothbrushes, combs, clothespins, and objects from nature, such as pinecones, shells, rocks, and sticks
- blocks of different shapes, forks and spoons, and other “found” objects that the children think hold possibilities for making clay impressions
Encourage your children to select different objects and experiment with what happens when they press the object into the clay. Have a variety of objects available for the children to create designs of their choice in their own lump of clay. Point out to your children that they can change the shape of their clay to fit their ideas of different ways of making impressions.
Fabric and Fiber
Fabric is an excellent material for children to see, touch, and handle. It comes in many colors and textures and can be glued, stitched, woven, or unwoven as children create designs or patterns. Burlap, as a loosely woven fabric, is especially suited to the skills of young children.
Weaving is basically a method of interlacing strands of yarn, strips of cloth, thread, paper, or other material to combine them into a whole texture, fabric, or design. Although six- and seven-year-olds can understand and manipulate the over-and-under, back-and-forth technique involved in weaving, most four- and five-year-old children lack the dexterity, eye-hand coordination, and patience to complete a weaving project.
Unweaving is the opposite of weaving. Beginning with a whole, separate materials are removed to create a design. It is a simple activity that requires minimal fine-motor control, and it is rewarding because children are taking something apart rather than having to put something together in a predetermined pattern. Because there is no loom to fill, weavers can stop when the design seems complete or when they get tired.
Older children and adults can reweave the fabric with different-colored threads or strands of yarn to create new color combinations, textures, and patterns.
You will need the following materials for this activity:
- precut burlap squares (approximately 12 inches by 12 inches) in a variety of colors
- ordinary classroom scissors
1.Show children how they can use a toothpick to lift a thread from the burlap. Demonstrate how threads can be pulled from the burlap by catching a thread from the frayed edge of the cloth.
2.Encourage children to create random or patterned designs by unweaving, fraying, raveling, or reweaving the fabric with different colors.
3.Use white, clear-drying glue to secure the designs once the process is completed. If the edges of the burlap have been frayed, rub a thin layer of glue along the edge where the fraying begins. If the edges are not frayed, apply glue to the burlap where fraying could occur as a result of handling.
Boxes and Cartons
Three-dimensional art provides children with many ways to discover form and shape, texture and pattern. “Box sculpture” is a wonderful process for allowing children to combine different sizes and shapes to create interesting and imaginative three-dimensional art forms.
You will need the following materials for making box sculptures:
- Find boxes of many shapes, sizes, and types ranging from small matchboxes to the large boxes used for shipping refrigerators and other large appliances. Other cardboard forms that you and your children can collect include cereal boxes, salt boxes, tissue boxes, mailing tubes, paper towel tubes, and other containers you might find around your school or at the grocery store.
- An assortment of materials that can be used to accent shape and design include recyclable packaging pieces, string, toothpicks, pipe cleaners, spools, and small pieces of scrap lumber and wooden sticks or dowels.
- You will also need glue, a roll of masking tape for each child, and paint and brushes, in case they decide to add color to their sculpture.
Box sculpture can be a group activity in which children share ideas and interpretations about construction, or it can be an individual activity in which children develop a sculpture on their own. The process gives each child, as artist, an opportunity to manipulate, design, and construct interesting and imaginative shapes and structures. For this reason, directions should consist of an “invitation” to sculpt rather than step-by-step instructions of how to create the sculpture. When the sculpture is complete, children can paint it and embellish it with accent materials. Tempera will not adhere to waxed surfaces such as milk cartons, so add a little liquid glue to the paint before painting these surfaces.
I doubt there are many among us who do not already know how much young children love to play with sand. Sand casting is based on the same principles involved in making mud pies, sand castles, and frog houses; it simply takes the process one step further. Sand casting is most suitable for children ages seven and older. Younger children will be content just playing in the sand, adding water, and making mud!
Sand casting is the process of capturing a design that has been sculpted in wet sand into a permanent plaster-of-paris work of art. The pleasure of making a sand casting comes from playing in the sand before the actual cast is poured. Although the adult in the room is in charge of mixing the plaster and pouring it into the mold, your children can spend as much time as they want making designs in the sand, changing the design, and adding all the objects they need to make their design into something that they would like to have cast into a sculpture. The “designing in the sand” period of time is the best part of this activity, and thus should be allotted the most time. Once the mold has been cast, the process is over.
You will need the following materials for sand casting:
- clean sand
- a container of water for each child
- a small box for each child (small shoe boxes are ideal)
- dry plaster of paris
- objects to make impressions or to leave in the design
- throwaway containers for mixing the plaster of paris
- paper towels and newspaper for cleanup
If your school is located on a plot of land that offers a yard filled with sand, you and your children could take containers and scoops outside to collect your own sand for the activity. For most children, collecting the sand is almost as much fun as using sticks to make designs in their molds.
1.Fill the small box slightly over half full with sand. Moisten the sand with water until the sand will hold a shape when pressed with an object.
2.Designs can be scooped out of the sand to form a concave depression or objects can be pressed into the sand to create designs. Little fingers are excellent at poking round holes to make personal finger art! Shells, pebbles, and other objects can be added to enhance the design.
3.You or another adult should mix the plaster of paris with water until it is thoroughly wet. Stir the plaster mixture until it begins to thicken to the consistency of white liquid glue. Pour the plaster mixture gently into the shoe box sand mold or use a cup to dip the plaster mixture into the mold. Pour slowly so that the plaster mixture does not splash or break the design in the sand.
4.Immediately begin cleaning up objects and buckets after pouring plaster over the sand. Empty the buckets onto newspaper or outside. The plaster-of-paris mixture will harden very quickly. Never clean plaster buckets at the sink. The plaster will harden and clog drains.
5.When the plaster of paris has hardened, usually after about an hour, carefully lift the sand-cast sculpture from the mold. Wash off excess sand in a plastic tub filled with water or with an outside water hose.
Give your children the material, and then give them the nicest gift of all—the freedom to make choices about how to use it. Given the opportunity, they will make the choices that are important to them, they will have fun playing in the sand, they will find ways of entering the process, and they will create!
All of these ideas emphasize that children need time to imagine and create. Another aspect of understanding the importance of time is our own personal involvement in more complex, adult-oriented, three-dimensional art endeavors. Such experiences are important, because they may reveal an awareness of how timing allows us to become knowledgeable of how certain art materials work; an awareness of our own approach and process; and an awareness of how we create an environment in which we take risks and extend ourselves into uncharted waters. Each of these time-related concepts (knowledge, awareness, and environment) is illustrated in the following art form that arrived in Japan from China many centuries ago: the Zen garden.
© ______ 2006, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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