What if my child does not want to participate in activities like other children, and prefers to wander around instead?
Don't worry, it is okay and normal if your child is not engaged in an activity right away. Based on my experience and observation, there are several reasons how come some children are not as engaged in an activity as others:
As an educator, I believe the best we can do is to encourage a child to participate, if that does not work, then I do not suggest forcing a child to do the activity (art or fitness or listen to a story). A child who is not participating or engaged in an activity like the rest of the group does not mean he or she is not paying attention. While other children are painting or dancing, the child may be observing and /listening and/ exploring the environment. One day out of the blue, your child will surprise you by walking over to the art table, and picking up a paint brush to paint!
New Setting and Making Friends
It is important that your child has a positive experience in class, and wants to return on a regular basis. It is okay if your child wanders the room to explore the environment, especially if there are toys in the room. Children are curious and like to familiarize themselves with their surroundings. When a child feels comfortable in a setting, he /she will gradually participate in an activity or sit with the group. If the child only chooses to sit with the group during snack time, that is a an accomplishment on its own. Snack time is a great way for kids to socialize. If your child meets a friend who loves art, then your child may wish to join art class next time.
TIP: Your child may feel overwhelmed in large groups . If you feel this is the case, I would suggest joining a smaller group or plan a playgroup at the comfort of your own home.
If your child is not engaged in activities like other children. Try doing a puzzle or a quiet activity with your child in the same room until the class transitions to another activity. Mom and Tot offers various activities throughout the hour. Your child will most likely participate in one activity (story time, free play, jungle gym) or be engaged as an observer. Allow your child to explore the environment as long as he/she is not disrupting the group. If your child likes being in the room but not participating yet, this is a good sign.
TIP: If your child prefers to observe from a distance, allow your child to do so without asking or convincing him/her to join the group on the floor. For example, if a group of children is sitting on the floor listening to a story, and your child is standing a few feet away engaged in the story, this means your child is participating.
He/she will join the group on the floor when ready. The educator will know when is a good time to ask your child to take a seat or draw them in closer.
From my experience, some children may show interest in an activity the following season. With time and patience, you will be surprised!
How to keep kids engaged or are you running out of ideas?
A great way to get inspired is to look at your children's book collection. I find this is one of the best ways to plan a theme based activity.
I have chosen "One little Penguin and his Friends" because it has been one of the children's all time favorite. This interactive book will keep children entertained by pushing and turning tabs on each page. How they love to discover a little surprise on each page.
STEP 1 - Story time
Read and count the animals or subject on each page.
STEP 2 - Movement
Review the book backwards page by page and ask kids if they can remember what animals are on each page. Imitate the movements of each animal.
STEP 3 - ART
1. Begin with drawing and coloring an animal from the book.
2. Make a collage by cutting out the penguins body, wings, feet, and facial features for children to glue together. Put the animals aside when done.
3. Paint the background on a sheet of paper. I used water color paper.
4. Use liquid glue to attach animals to painted background. It is okay if paint is still wet.
5. Use glitter glue to add some shine.
GETTING INTO A STICKY SITUATION IS GOOD!
Sensory activities provide children an avenue for learning. Happyimagination guides young children to enjoy the process of art making.
Young children learn best when given the opportunity to explore materials at their own pace and fashion (with guidance and supervision of course). It is not easy to explain the purpose of using glue to toddlers (age 18months - 2 1/2 years). Learning how to use a glue stick or glitter glue is an activity on its own. A simple task of gluing something onto a piece of paper may seem simple, however this 2-step instruction for toddlers (1. rub glue onto paper, and 2. stick object onto paper) requires practice and assistance . Allow children to touch the glue and to feel the sticky texture on their fingers. Some children choose to remove or pull out the glued objects from their art work. Toddlers are curious and learn through exploring various materials. The process of exploring glue help toddlers associate the "sticky feeling" to stickers as well (I'll save that for another post). Eventually children will understand the concept of glue.
Toddlers enjoy the sensory experience of rubbing glue onto paper or onto any surface for the matter. The smooth gooey texture allows children to move their hands and arms freely in various directions. The more muscle control children develop in their little hands (especially the thumbs and index fingers), will aid in grasping and holding a paint brush, coloring with crayons, peeling stickers, and stamping. Children vary in developmental skills at different ages. As you know, children will surprise you everyday with the little things that they do. Enjoy every moment of it!
TIP: Have toddlers use color glue sticks so the applied glue is visible.
Thanks for reading my experiences and thoughts about working with children. Please let me know if you have any questions.
It is easy to collect and find paper towel rolls and plastic/glass bottles at home. Don't forget about those unused discs sitting in your desk or canvas tote bags stashed in your kitchen shelf. Last year's summer camp held at King George Park, children learned how to create stunning masterpieces using recyclable materials! happyimagination is happy to share 4 easy DIY crafts for you and your family.
It is affordable and minimal supplies is required.
TIP: For mess free projects use markers or sharpies, decorative tape, and stickers instead of paint.
UNDERWATWER CD CREATURES. Greet and impress guests with masterpieces hung by the entrance.
Materials: CD's, scissors, sturdy paper, glue or double sided tape, paint or markers.
1. Place CD over paper and draw an outline of an animal (or person, house, ...).
2. Color or paint the animal before cutting.
3. Cut. Glue on disc, and decorate!
Tip: Color and paint before cutting. This will prevent paper from curling.
BOTTLES OF FUN . Decorate your coffee table with groovy looking vases filled with fresh flowers.
Materials: bottles, primer, paint, markers or sharpies.
1. Prime bottles and let dry. Use leftover primer found in your garage.
2. Paint and make designs and patterns. Wavy lines, circles, dots...
Tip: Fill plastic bottles with some pebbles to add weight.
ROLLS OF ART. Fill the mantle with abstract sculptures. Materials: paper towel rolls, markers or paint, decorative tape and stickers.
1. Cut rolls to size.
2. Create a design or pattern.
3. Attach pieces together using tape.
Tip: Cut the edges in a special shape such as zig zags and curvy lines.
PERSONALIZE TOTE BAGS. Ready to shop!
Materials: Tote bags (new or from a store), fabric paint and oil pastels, paper towel rolls, stencils, pencil with eraser tops.
There are 3 ways you can paint onto tote bags. More ideas.
1. Dip paper towel roll into a tray of paint and print. If it starts to get soggy, use the opposite side. For those who like details, use a pencil eraser top or other fun objects to print.
2. Use stencils to trace images (alphabets, animals...)
3. Free painting.
Let dry. Place tea towel over painted areas and iron over for a few minutes to set paint. Paint will be permanent and you can throw it into the wash.
Tip: If you prefer a mess free project, use paper towel rolls to print.
After reading this article on how children enter school with lack of fine motor skills to write, I wanted to share my view in supporting how art can contribute greatly to learning how to write.
According to my experience as an art teacher, I believe starting art at a young age (such as toddlers) and participating in art classes on a consistent basis has a positive impact in learning how to write.
I plan specific activities catered to different age groups or individuals starting as young as 18 months. There is a purpose why I select certain art materials and how materials are used and applied. For example, my group of 2 year olds decorated a collage of a tree using buttons, glitter glue, and stickers to represent ornaments. When you look at the final product, some people say it's cute and see buttons glued onto a tree. There is more to it then meets the eye. The assigned exercises were squeezing glitter glue tubes, picking up buttons, and peeling stickers. If you could only see the process of how children manipulate the materials with effort and concentration. Toddlers were focused on squeezing glitter glue tubes using both hands, patiently peeling stickers and sticking them onto their art, and picking up buttons, accidentally dropping theme and trying again.
Did you know that all of these tasks require using thumb and index fingers? Strengthening the thumb and index fingers help with developing muscular control.
Just food for thought. What are your thoughts?