Sam Gillam, Abacus Sliding, 1977
Art Exploration

Layers of Resist

Young artists will explore negative space by layering paper to resist paint and create a pattern. This activity will support children in discovering how to create shapes through resist. 

Ideas for the Art Center:

  • Add pre-cut paper shapes in various sizes.
  • Painters tape
  • Rollers with ink or paint
  • Paper

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Ink pad and stamps laid out for artmaking
Art Exploration

Building Stamps

Using everyday materials, young artists will build their own stamps and explore the power of repetition in creating a pattern. 

Materials for the art center:

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Artist Melanie Yazzie
Lesson Spark

Collecting Things

As seen in her interview, artist Melanie Yazzie is never at a loss for ideas because she collects objects and images for a wall of inspiration in her studio.

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Hopi Eagle Dancer, Dan Namingha, 1995
Creative Practice

Sorting Box

Support children in building connections through looking closely and sharing their thoughts on the relationships between art objects and everyday materials. 

This routine will encourage children to relate their personal knowledge of a concrete object with a more abstract image. Students will explore how artists make choices when creating as they investigate different colors, textures, and shapes.

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Road to Santa Fe, Theodore Van Soelen, 1948
Creative Practice

Shrinking Story

By engaging their imaginations, students will notice details and think critically about their five senses as they “shrink” to fit inside any artwork. 

Invite students to close their eyes and, using their imaginations, “shrink” their bodies down to the size of a butterfly. Without actually moving, prompt students to use their imaginations to “jump” or “fly” into the painting and land on something or someone represented in the artwork.

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Tête et Oiseau (Head and Bird), Joan Miró, 1967
Art Exploration

Building with Natural Found Objects

This self-directed exploration supports children’s experimentation with forms, structures, and materials, as they build and balance found objects from nature. 
  • Collect or invite students to collect natural materials (twigs, rocks, pinecones, leaves, etc.) and place them in a basket that you will add to an art area. Provide additional nature pieces to offer a variety of items for children’s exploration.
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Blanket Story, Marie Watt, 2013, blankets and tags
Lesson Spark

Our Objects, Our Stories

Objects, like blankets, are important in telling the stories of our lives.  

“The blankets in this piece were given with the heirloom-like intent of passing on stories, remembrances, and teachings” -Marie Watt

How can you encourage students to share their stories related to an object or idea?

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Mandarin Duck Rank Badge, Artist not known, China late 1700s-early 1800s, Qing dynasty
Creative Practice

Zoom In!

This quick activity done regularly with a variety of objects promotes active observation and children's participation in the world around them.

During circle time or another daily routine, pass out a detailed image of an artwork.

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If, Richard Patterson, 1999, oil paint
Art Exploration

Drip Drop Paint

Children discover what happens when paint drips over a 3-D form. Pouring one color at a time, children see the effect of layering colors.

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American Grasslands: Prairie, Pasture, Crop and Lawn, Karen Kitchel, 1997, oil paint
Lesson Spark

A Walk in Nature

Karen Kitchel's creative process required close looking and attention to detail. Recreate this experience with your students to give them tools for close looking. 

Karen Kitchel used a close up lens to capture over 112 images of nature (the DAM has 20). She then meticulously painted each of those images.

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Children and adult standing around looking closely at the blue glass vase ( in the center
Creative Practice

Let's Look!

This routine can be done daily or weekly and takes about 5-10 minutes. It will encourage children to practice conversation, questioning, and close looking.

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