In the Montessori context, the child of the first plane is not taught art as a subject. As in all the areas of the classroom, we offer the sensorial explorer the materials for his own personal experience. From these materials and Exercises, the child will have different sensorial stimulations with various points of focus. From these, the child can learn the art of his own culture, compare it to the art of other cultures, and can be provided with the materials to create his own art.
As the directress, we want to provide experiences for the child to bring him into contact with each of the areas of art. The elements of art are line, shape, form, color, and texture. These elements can be found everywhere and are specifically found in the sensorial materials. (See Experiences of the Elements of Art Chart) The elements of art are experienced everywhere in daily life. There are however, special ties and activities when we focus on them in the classroom. (See Chart) Children need to experience the different media we can use in art and we will provide the possibility of these experiences in the classroom.
Materials for art experiences are assembled and set up in the same way you would do for any Exercises in Practical Life. It is advisable to have a separate shelf for the art materials, preferably next to the Practical Life area. This is not only because they are set up and presented in the same way but for clean up, you will need the material in Practical Life.
It is important not to have too many art Exercises at a given time. The most basic art media will be constant and other opportunities should be rotated. From time to time, you can also offer special projects and these will have to be thought through carefully. The child needs to be able to choose whether or not to do it. You must never interrupt a child who is doing work.
Some basic art Exercises you will want to present in your classroom:
- Drawing and coloring: The use of crayons, colored pencils, chalk, pastels, and charcoal may be used. Encourage the child to decorate their paper work such as decorating their mathematical papers, or in decorating their language booklets.
- Painting: Such as finger painting on a tabletop. Have the child use their fingers to paint directly on a tabletop. Then you place a piece of paper onto the paint and lift to reveal the painting. Then they are able to clean the table once they are done. Tempera paint should be used for easel work.
- Printing: This can be done into pieces of soap and with nature by using fruits and vegetables.
- Rubbing: This is nice work to do with leaves or any non-even surface.
- Paper Work: Work such as folding paper, tearing paper, cutting paper, paper for collage, and paper for weaving.
- Modeling: Natural clay allows the child to touch something that is real, and a history lesson can fit easily into this work.
- Fabric: Sowing, fancy stitchery, weaving, allows the child to make his own fabrics.
- Collage: You will have to decide what kind of materials you will use. For example, you can use different pastas, different little items and knick-knacks.
- Designing: This may be done during the child’s work with collage as well as with work done with the Metal Insets.
- Boarders and Illuminations: Boarders may be shown from different books and can use these boarders to decorate their own paper work.
In a mature Montessori class, art will most certainly be used correctly. But in a developing class, there may be misuse of the art media. Children who have not yet deeply connected to the work may be tempted to take the art material and misuse it. As a directress, you must watch for this. However, art may be the place where the child first comes to concentrate. Because all children love to draw and color, they may be drawn to concentration and might put in great efforts in their personal art. It is important that once you have presented the media to the child, he must be left to express as he wished with the media. This way, it becomes a true creative outlet for the child.
It is also important to keep in mind that it is highly recommended to not send artwork home with the children. This will then turn into the child feeling that he must routinely produce a piece of artwork and will no longer participate in art for his own pleasure. Another point to keep in mind is to never discuss the specifics of an art piece with the child. You may have the child tell you what he drew but never guess or make assumptions of what the child has drawn.
Art must also be accessible to the child. Artwork in the classroom must be at the child’s eyesight and must be pieces of art relevant to the culture. There must be art showing the different forms of art such as painting, weaving, and carved art. These can be changed and rotated from time to time to keep the children’s interest. Because the child is beginning his primary adaptation, art from his home culture must be given first. Then art from other cultures should be presented to the child.
It is important to plan some lessons for art. These are lessons that can be given to the whole class for to an individual. These lessons will be language lessons such as stories, discussions, and teaching of names. You will also need to collect and make materials for these presentations such as classified cards.
Creative writing can also be attached to art. The child can draw his own pictures to a piece of writing or draw and then write about the drawing. You will want to incorporate different art books and books on art in the book corner for the children to look at and read. For the older child, you can point the child in the direction of research. For example, “Monet seemed to like to paint ponds. Can you find out why he likes to paint ponds?”
Art is an avenue for self-expression and communication. These are also the functions of language. In this way, art can be seen as another language. In the work of the great artists of any society, art serves as a record of the values, events and trends, problems, concerns and why of life of a society of people. As the child moves to the study of other cultures, he can learn a lot about the history from the culture’s art. Art is also very related to history surrounding events. For example, 100 years ago, a child was viewed as a small adult and this can be seen in the art of that time. Children can also tell us a lot about themselves through their art. We can see emotions, interests, and sometimes a child’s personal struggles. It is a clue as to who this child is. The purpose is not to analyze the child, but to get to know the child.
Above all, be sure to give art to the child so it can awaken a creative path. Give the child the experiences, which can be absorbed. Teach the child about the great artwork of his homeland and of the world. It is an area in which all of us can find great activity, and which satisfies all of us.