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Drawing Attention

Providence Children's Museum Logo-colorBy Mary Scott Hackman,
Early Childhood Program Developer

As an early childhood educator, I sometimes wonder if I give children enough time to draw.  After all, it seems to follow that for children without a completely developed language system (true for most children under five), that encouraging drawing could provide them with not only an outlet of creative expression but also a way to develop symbols for communicating their thoughts, to make the invisible visible.  And adults could learn more about the child and the way he or she thinks, just by asking about their drawings.girl-drawing

In the anthology “Artist to Artist,” 23 major illustrators describe how and when they first took up drawing.  Most started when they were very small and describe drawing as a need, a passion.  Leo Lionni, who wrote and illustrated “Swimmy” and “Frederick,” notes that he becomes whatever he draws, and it becomes a part of him.  Alice Provensen encourages those who do not claim an artistic eye or hand, saying, “If young people spent as much time drawing as they do learning to form the complicated letters of the alphabet such as Q or F or G, they would all make good pictures and maybe even never need to draw a straight line.”

Years ago, I invited an entomologist to do a science workshop for schoolteachers.  She brought in a rotting log and placed it in the middle of the table.  With some drama (and heft), she lifted a hammer and broke the log open.  Insects of all sizes and shapes poured out.  Teachers gasped.  Then she invited them to draw what they saw.  Teachers grabbed magnifying glasses and peered at the insects, noticing little details of their eyes, their wings and the stripes on their bodies.  In short, they became curious about the bugs, took an interest in these creatures that had formerly caused anxiety and commotion.  Like the illustrator who became what he drew, I wondered if the teachers now felt a more intimate relationship with the bugs.

This spring, Providence Children’s Museum encourages visitors to take a closer look at the world around them and participate in the creative process.  In March and April, see a traveling exhibit of “Illustrator Quilts” — each square of which represents the work of a famous children’s book artist — and join programs that have a strong link to illustrators’ work.  On March 1, try out “seussational” activities at Dr. Seuss’s birthday bash.  Learn about printmaking and collage techniques in Illustrators Workshops on March 14 and April 5.  And children have opportunities for artistic expression following presentations by singer/storyteller Maria Sangiolo on April 16 and Wingmasters on April 21.

You and your children won’t want to miss this unique style of programming at the Children’s Museum.  Come play, come learn — come draw!

Visit www.childrenmuseum.org for a complete calendar of events.

News and Notes from Providence Childrens Museum: Occasional posts about things to do with our kids – from places to go, things to make, ideas to think about, and ways to explore.
Providence Childrens Museum – 100 South Street, Providence, RI. 401-273-5437 (KIDS)

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