Monday, September 6, 2010

An Introduction to Ankle-Biter Art!

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." - Pablo Picasso

HOORAY for my first post for Ankle-Biter Art!!!  Here’s a little bit about me...
I have always been a creative and crafty chick and I love anything that has to do with art.  I’m happiest when I’m creating something and I LOVE to get messy in the process.  I’m about to turn 30 this year and there are a lot of exciting things happening.  I’m an artistic dabbler...I haven’t met an art medium that I didn’t fall in love with...BUT primarily, I’m a jewelry designer.  I was fortunate to go to a high-school where they offered silversmith classes and that’s where I met the art of my life.  I learned how to wield a torch and to bend, saw and solder metal as well as set stones.  It is now my job to create jewelry and I have finally given myself permission to call myself an artist.  My Etsy Store will be up and running soon, so please stop by sometime in the future and have a look!  

Before I became a full time artist most of my jobs were in the childcare field.  I graduated with a Bachelors in Psychology (where my studies were focused on early childhood development) and I also minored in Studio Art.  I worked in social services for awhile where I did developmental assessments for low income children (ages 5 months to 6 years old) and their child care facilities.     
Prior to all of that, I taught pre-school for 7 seven years and art was a HUGE part of our curriculum.  I had also been a nanny (for three years) and all in all, I’ve pretty much babysat for almost 20 years.  One thing I know for certain...I KNOW KIDS.  :-)

I believe that art is an ESSENTIAL learning tool in early childhood development.  Not only does it stimulate their brain, but it helps develop and fine-tune their motor skills, communication and creativity.  It builds confidence and it’s FUN!  One thing that is imperative to me, when working with children, is that the art project is not about the end result.  It’s about the process not the product.  If you follow this blog, you’ll be reading that A LOT.  All the learning and joy takes place in the act of creating and making art.  The exploration and the getting messy is all a part of it too and the children are so proud of what THEY have made...even if the artwork is a big gluey wet mess with nothing identifiable to us “grown-ups.”  I’m not going to name name’s here, but I’ve worked with some teachers who insist on telling the children what to add and what to do or not to do...and even WORSE...they re-arrange and fix the kids artwork themselves!  Oh my skin would crawl and fists would ball....and I’d have to bite my tongue.  I don’t believe parents want the teacher’s artwork hanging on their fridge.  They want what their child has created with their tiny two hands.
When I was teaching, I would introduce the project du jour at circle time.  I’d show them all of the supplies that we’d be using and I’d give them ideas on how to use them by making a little version of my own.  Afterward, I would have them give me suggestions of other ways they could do this project.  It was an opportunity to get them involved in a creative dialog and for them to be assured that none of their ideas were "wrong" so that self-esteem or lack of confidence was a non-issue.  This was also helpful in getting their minds thinking creatively....and then they were off to make whatever their hearts desired and I was just there to give encouragement and praise and to clean up the mess.

My goal for this blog is to help you find fun arts and craft projects so that you can help your children learn and grow and have fun with them at the same time.  Now I’m off to dig in my old lesson plan books for art projects to share.
In the meantime, have fun and get messy!  - Jenna

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