Updated: Nov 16, 2021
I see this thread popping up all the time on various childcare pages, it usually comes about when someone mentions hand and foot print art.... what learning process is there in this activity for the child when its mainly adult led and the children have very little say in the project?
Well you see, I was sat thinking about this the other night whist I sat snuggled up under a cosy blanket with a cup of hot chocolate watching my darling other half attempt to build some Swedish furniture.... yes you guessed right... a good old trusty kallax unit!
Now as i sat there from my cosy distance watching him huff and puff trying to determine the instructions and what goes where ( I wont tell you how many time this unit went up and down again before it was fully finished!) I was thinking to myself. how do children learn the skills to follow directions, look at instructions and make an object that looks similar to the one that they saw fully built in the shops. Where do they learn to have patience, that things wont always go right the first time and the resilience to try again despite several failures?
From these so called "captivities of course" yes if you put a picture of an object in front of a child as an example of what they are making, and give them some templates.... none of this work is their own, they had no say in its design or even over the choice of the activity. They will try their hardest to copy what they have been given in the example. Where is the merit in this activity some might say... but i say, the children are learning a process that art creativity doesn't always have to be original, they are learning patience, improving fine motor skills and hand eye coordination. They are learning about shapes and spatial awareness. They are also learning to love their work... does it look like the example picture? Most probably not the snowman's eyes are almost under his belly... however the children don't see that comparison they see that they have tried their hardest to copy a pattern, they see success even when others may point out failure. They have enjoyed the process of what they have been doing, the end result... the are not bothered about making comparisons to the perfect example... they just love their creations!
Is there a space for free flow creativity where the children have a blank canvas.... absolutely, but is there also a place for activities that teach the children to follow instructions and create things that they haven't designed... definitely!
My argument is that there is no argument really over the validity of this type of activity. like anything as long as you are using this type of activity as part of a broader range of your curriculum then it should not be a case of either or..... All of these activities have merit and learning opportunities, All of these activities should be presented to the children.