Happy Artsy Thursday, friends! This week, during our celebration of NAEYC’s Week of the Young Child, we have explored the importance of various concepts in early childhood: music, nutrition, fitness, and working/building together. Today (or any day) is a great day to “think, problem solve, create” with your little learner by making art.
Merriam-Webster defines “the arts” as “painting, sculpture, music, theater, literature, etc., considered as a group of activities done by people with skill and imagination.”* Pre-school-aged children are phenomenal artists as they continuously build on their skill sets and employ their imagination in expression of their understanding of the world around them.
NAECY explains that “[c]hildren develop creativity, social skills and fine motor skills with open-ended art projects where they can make choices, use their imaginations, and create with their hands.”** While it is developmentally inappropriate to expect young children to perfectly color within the lines or remember choreography, art produced by little learners can range from crayon scribbles on construction paper (or your walls!), to banging on pots and pans, to dancing around when they hear an up-beat tune. It is important for caregivers to remember that skill sets necessary to complete “product-based art experiences” (i.e. following instructions to create a defined end-state) must be developed over time. Instead, little learners excel when presented with "open-ended" or "process-based art experiences" which allow them to use materials, as well as their own skill sets and imagination—at their own pace—to create unique works.*** Process-based art experiences provide the opportunity for caregivers and little learners to enjoy the process of creating without the frustration of trying to fix mistakes or achieve a certain outcome.
Now, let’s take a look at how the Zumbini® program provides little learners and their caregivers an incredible outlet through which they can engage in a process-based art experience.
As Zumbini® Instructors, we take great care in providing class structure and developing choreography and lyrics that specifically target various aspects your little learner’s development. This way, caregivers and students need only to enjoy familiarizing themselves with materials outside of class and show up to have fun! Because kinesthetic, audio, visual, and reading/writing learners each process information differently, we do not expect or require children to sit and “pay attention” throughout a class meeting. We allow them to make choices with regard to their method of participation, selection of class materials, interactions, etc. Furthermore, during improvisational songs, children are encouraged and empowered to make choices by using their creativity to add to the lyrics. Consequently, this can be a huge self-esteem boost (social development!) as little learners are delighted to hear the entire class sing their words.
A typical Zumbini® class provides for both structured and free movement and music opportunities. While structured dancing and instrument play offer examples of developmentally appropriate movement and instrumentation through repetition and continuity—key concepts in early learning—caregivers and little learners are welcome to use their imaginations, without judegment. We Instructors also incite creativity in ways such as asking students to show us how various animals might play an instrument (social development through “show and tell” as well as fine motor work!). Free movement and music opportunities are just that, times during class in which participants are encouraged to use their imagination in self-expression (cue preschoolers kangaroo-hopping around the room or two toddlers “high fiving” each other with finger cymbals to make music).
Create with Hands
There are plenty of opportunities to create with hands throughout a Zumbini® class. We use our hands to make music by drumming, clapping, or shaking instruments (fine motor!). We use our hands for finger play or to create visuals by pointing to or touching body parts as we sing. We use our hands to dance with scarves, a beautiful and magical sight for any little learner (creativity and problem solving!). We also use our hands and arms to blow kisses and share hugs with caregivers and our friends in Zumbini® class (bonding, social development!).
Outside of Class...
While the energy of a live Zumbini® class is so much fun, the Zumbini®-inspired creating isn't isolated in the class environment. Take home materials (access to class music and Zumbini® Time TV show, story/song book, and plush toy) allow students to sing, dance, play, and learn wherever they are. Families can make up their own dances to the music or follow along with Zumbini® Time choreography. The story/song book exposes children to beautiful illustrations and provides caregivers with suggested activities to promote learning and development at home. If you're like us, and absolutely love this program, you are probably prone to breaking into Zumbini® songs without warning—typically improvising new verses as you go (#zumbinilife). And, you may even notice evidence of Zumbini® art in other aspects of your life. (See photo below: When exploring "colors and shapes" outside with my little learner turned into building a fairy house because "fairies are there in the garden!" Zumbini® for the win!)
Have fun creating memories and beautiful works with your little learner today! Join us tomorrow for Family Friday!
*Merriam-Webster, "the arts":https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/the%20arts
**NAECY, WOYC Overview: https://www.naeyc.org/events/woyc/overview
***Bongiorno, Laurel: https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/tyc/feb2014/process-art-experiences