I’m excited to host Erin Buhr from Bambini Travel today. She is here with an awesome guest post about how to introduce abstract art to toddlers and preschoolers with a fun art activity inspired by artist Wassily Kandinsky. Thanks so much, Erin! Everyone be sure to check out her blog for lots more fun and inspiring ideas for early childhood education.
We do a lot of art as part of our preschool homeschool. My twins have been painting since they were about 10 months old, and creative invitations are a part of our daily life. Art offers children a wonderful way to view the world and express themselves.
More recently we have been looking at specific artists and this was our first official foray into abstract art.
Looking at Abstract Art with Preschoolers
According to the Tate, abstract art is “artworks that do not attempt a recognizable reality but instead use shapes, colours, forms, and textures to achieve their effect.”
I love looking at abstract art with young children for many reasons:
- Abstract art takes the pressure of the need to make a picture of something. Abstract art is more about the shapes and colors and the feelings it expresses, not about the accurate portrayal of a subject.
- Abstract art also encourages discussion about colors, shapes, and lines which are concepts young children are learning.
- Abstract art is interpreted different by everyone who sees it. The language, conversations, and ideas expressed are rich and interesting.
- Abstract art is something young children can make.
Before we dove into our art activity, we looked at some abstract art. I used my tablet for this so we could all gather around and look. I researched names and works beforehand that I wanted to share with them. We looked at art by Jackson Pollock, Joan Mitchell, Paul Jenkins, and Wassily Kandinsky. We settled on Kandinsky and Geometric Abstraction as our favorite.
Geometric Abstraction is a form of abstract art based on the use of geometric forms.
The geometric abstraction seemed the most interesting to my three year olds. They are interested in shapes right now, and Kandinsky uses a lot of interesting shapes and lines in his artwork that appealed to them.
Abstract Art Activity: Abstract Collaborative Art Invitations
We enjoy the social aspect of big art projects and spent much of January doing various collaborative projects. We did two different invitations to create based on the two pieces of art they chose. The set up and materials however were similar.
Tape a large piece of paper to a surface – table, floor, or wall.
Use a black sharpie to draw shapes and lines. Older children could help with this process using rulers and containers or stencils to trace. I prepared this for my three year olds.
For the invitation based on Composition 8, I drew a variety of shapes and lines on the paper.
For the invitation based on Circles, I drew boxes across the paper and a circle in one square.
I kept the tablet on hand so they could refer back to it if they wanted. You could also print out versions of the paintings you like.
Provide various art materials. We used markers for the first project and oil pastels for the second. Paint or colored pencils would also be fun to try.
There are no rules or guidelines for creating with this invitation. They joined me in coloring the different shapes. We talked while we worked and I modeled some ideas for them with my drawing and my language. Some of the things said included;
- “I’m making little circles inside this big circle.”
- “I’m making this long line bright yellow.”
- “Hmm.… think I might make half of this shape orange and half of it blue.”
- “I’m noticing that in the painting this shape has a pattern. I wonder if we could do that.”
They helped collect and put the art materials back on the shelf.
The pictures are proudly displayed on our art wall.
- Fine motor and pre-literacy skills while working on gripping writing materials.
- Social skills as they negotiated how to share the space.
- Technology skills when they practiced using the tablet to look at different pieces of art.
- Language skills as they described what they saw in the artwork and discussed with each other their process and ideas.
- Math concepts as they practiced identifying and forming shapes.
Erin Buhr blogs at Bambini Travel. She writes about family travel, children’s books, and activities for children ages 0-5. She is an early childhood educator, travel enthusiast, and mama to twin three year olds.
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