Monday, February 4, 2013

Drawing and Painting - a learnable skill

Drawing and painting are like riding a bike or swimming - they can be scary and uncomfortable at first, but with practice most anyone can master these skills.  I often hear people say, "I can't draw", "I'm just not artistic", or "I can hardly draw a stick man".  But I believe that these are skills that can be learned with practice.  Like riding a bike and swimming they are easier learned younger.  I wonder if this isn't because when we're younger we're used to trying and failing and trying again.  As we get older we tend to take less risks and stay with the comfortable and familiar.  There are many ways that drawing and painting can fit into our curriculum.  We can draw our own pictures for our Century Book, copy great works of art by artists we are studying or use pictures as narration.  Of course our nature notebooks are a wonderful place to practice drawing skills.  Drawing is a perfect example of "practice makes perfect".   I include drawing at least once a week with our nature notebooks.  One of our daughters likes to bring her sketch journal to story time and draw while I read aloud.  She is getting very good.  We take books out from the library on drawing and they try different ideas they learn from the books.  

I enjoyed art classes in public high school but I wasn't particularly skilled.  I started painting as a hobby after I had several children.  One of my first paintings was a copy of a Duck Stamp painting I found in a magazine originally done by someone else.  My copy still hangs on the wall at my parents' house.  I think their affirmation and encouragement were a big reason I kept on painting.  Five or six years ago a friend's daughter took a watercolor class through community ed. then took the time to share some of what she had learned with my daughters and me.  I was hooked.  I got my Dad interested, too and we started painting together about once a week. The children would often gather around the table with us and paint, too. I took books from the library and read a couple a year and tried the projects and ideas I read about. Dad died of cancer over a year ago and I miss him terribly - but I have all those memories of painting together and pictures we each painted on my walls.  

One thing I've noticed is that drawing has forced me to slow down and look more carefully - to really see.  I often find myself looking at something in nature and asking myself what shape it is or what color it really is - what color is the shadow part?  These observations skills are wonderful for children.  If you and your children feel uncomfortable drawing and painting I want to encourage you to try and try again.  I believe drawing is a learnable skill, one that is well worth the effort and time spent.

We've been playing lots of math games lately.  I recently ordered Family Math and have been enjoying some of the simple ideas in it.  Today we're going to be working Tangram puzzles.  I found a good printable one at the following link:  Tangram puzzle I'm printing ours on cardstock. If you look up Google Images - Tangram patterns or use this link: Tangram patterns there are lots of patterns to choose from for things to put together with your tangram shapes.

We've also been working on our multiplication with two different games.  One is a dice game - we shake two, multiply them then take that number of MathUSee rods.  They can only have one rod besides tens or hundreds so they have to add and trade in.  The second game uses a set of 12 dot dominoes.  As they place the matching domino they have to multiply the two sides (six dot dominoes would also work).

At the end of the school day I have also been letting them play 15 minutes of math games online.  We've been using games.

One Small Candle by Thomas J. Fleming

We just finished One Small Candle by Thomas J. Fleming as a read aloud.  It is the story of the Pilgrims' first year in America.  Well written with lots of wonderful details and insights.  I highly recommend this book.  I plan to look for other titles by Thomas Fleming.