Thursday, May 12, 2016

Preschool Art, Meet Preschool Science

When I read The Artful Parent's post about observational drawing for kids, something clicked. It is exactly the intersection of preschool art meeting preschool science. Observational drawing and science both have "seeing" as the core practice.  In fact, what the Artful Parent wrote about observational drawing could have easily been an excerpt found in a 200 year old science book:

"When we look at something with the intent of drawing it, we tend to look more carefully than usual. We see, truly see, the shapes, the patterns, the perspective, the colors, the shadows, the contours, and how all of the details interact."
Looking carefully at shapes, patterns is just what scientists (and mathematicians) do. In fact, John James Audubon is a perfect example of how observational drawing is more than something to do to satisfy a creative urge. He used his drawings as data for learning about birds. So too can preschoolers use observational art to learn science.

If you choose something developmentally appropriate then they might surprise you. For example, how would your preschooler draw an orange? an apple? a banana? Drawing circles and curves are hard for young children but not too hard. If your child needs something easier than have them try to draw some grass. Choosing colors and making shapes, I think, is right up a playful, independent STEAM learner's alley.

The only itch that needs scratching here is the question: What about all the advocacy around process art? Well, I think that observational art can be and should be process art. Just because the product might look different and hold different meaning than something more abstract, doesn't mean that the process of creating it is less valuable. Just think, the process of looking at something, choosing a color, exploring how to make shapes or textures in the art, is a powerful freedom.

In the past, I has asserted that preschool art meets preschool science in choosing and experimenting with different materials. Observational drawing is a different but complimentary bent on how preschool art meets preschool science. And it is one I'm excited to learn about alongside my kids!

Strawberry by Anna, age 4 years

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