Art the Montessori Way
Montessori Educator, Christina Clemer, shares five tips on how to enjoy art the Montessori way… i.e. letting go of Pinterest and embrace the mess!
Art is an important part of the Montessori classroom, but it looks a little different than art in traditional schools. It is much more focused on the creative process than a cute result.
This can sometimes be disappointing to parents – who doesn’t love an adorable holiday craft? But if you’d like to encourage your child’s creative expression, give these Montessori tips a try!
#1 Let your child lead
For Montessori tots, there isn’t a separate art teacher or designated art time. A child may choose to work on art at any time, just like math or language. Things like clay work, painting, collage, and drawing are often available on the shelf.
To try this at home, display some art supplies that your child knows how to use where he can reach them any time.
#2 Encourage Independence
Like everything else in a Montessori classroom, the art shelf is prepared so the child can complete the entire process himself. This includes gathering the materials, creating his masterpiece, and cleaning up.
As long as the child is being appropriate (i.e., not painting the walls or mashing clay into the carpet), it’s important not to interfere with his process, even if he’s making a mess. Messes are great chances for children to learn the process of cleaning up.
Whenever you get new art supplies, show your child how to clean up when he’s done – for example, how to wash the paintbrushes, hang his picture to dry, and rinse his water cup. Let him know that cleaning up is part of art work.
#3 Focus on process over product
You will not hear a Montessori teacher telling a child that his art work is beautiful. This is because we want to encourage children to create art for themselves, rather than making things to please us.
Instead, when a child shows us his art work, we comment on his process and ask him questions. If a little boy brings me a picture of his family, I might say: “You concentrated for a long time on that picture. Would you like to tell me about it?” This keeps the emphasis on his own judgement of his work, rather than mine.
#4 Offer inspiration, not direction
In Montessori art, there is generally no “end result” the child is aiming for. He is not asked to paint an apple in fall and a butterfly in spring, he is simply left to find inspiration around him and paint what he wishes.
Giving a child a specific example to work from, like a cute picture of a snowman, can be discouraging if he doesn’t feel like his is as good. It also takes away a chance for him to use his creativity.
Montessori classrooms often offer artistic inspiration, rather than specific direction on what a child’s art should look like. This inspiration might include prints of famous paintings in the art area or reading a book about a certain type of art.
#5 Try it at home
If you want to inspire your child to own his creative process, these are some great open-ended art materials to try:
Having an easel helps designate a specific art area so that you don’t find art supplies all over the house. This option from Hape is great because it has a paper roll up top and a tray for the paints, helping kids to stay organized.
Available in two themes – sail boat and rainbow – these custom name mats from Dough Parlour are a great way for kids to have a sensory experience while getting creative! It also helps teach little makers how to spell their names and introduces letter formation.
Alternatively, you could provide something like the Let Them Play Dough Kit, which does wonders for developing fine motor skills!
Kids love these unique crayons from Crayon Rocks because they’re fun to hold, line up, stack and of course – color with!
Consisting of 16 medium color crayons, a water brush, finger sponge for stencils, a wipe-clean cloth, reversible panel, how-to book and ute tote bag made from burlap, the Kitpas Little Artists Kit is great set for budding artists!
One of the elements I like is that everything has a place and can be packed away. This will encourage independence and responsibility.
While you may not love it in your house, kids love paints in their hands! I love these options from Kid Made Modern because they’re washable and formulated to be kid-safe!
Packed full of paints, pipe cleaners, brushes, beads, googly eyes and more, these sets from Kid Made Modern are the open ended craft supplies you’ve been looking for!
- Want more craft ideas? Visit The Tot Craft Corner & Learn About Sensory Play with Dough!
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