What is Art for Early Literacy

Art for Early Literacy is the name of my public library program designed for preschool children, ages 0 – 5. The program teaches early literacy fundamentals using art as its primary focus. The Art for Early Literacy program is designed to impart early literacy skills, introduce children to art concepts and give children of multiple age an interest levels a chance to explore at their own pace. This weekly program is quite popular and regularly draws a crowd of 30 – 60 children and caregivers.

Key components of my program:

  • A short story time encouraging children and caregivers to come together as a group.
  • Stations that allow me to scale up or down depending on the number of participants and are appropriate for children between the ages of 0 and 5.
  • Non-objective art activities that allow children to explore materials and techniques and learn through trial and error.
  • An environment that encourages children to collaborate, share and explore at their own interest and ability level.
  • Art stations that provide a feeling of continuity while allowing children a variety of explorations as materials are rotated.

The program is designed as a short story-time, approximately fifteen minutes long, followed by an open exploration of our multiple art stations to round out the rest of the hour. My mini-storytime is designed to be appropriate for multiple age groups. We discuss our letter of the week, read two books, sing a few songs, work on a flannel activity or finger play and practice spelling a few words. Storytime is where I introduce new art concepts. It is also where I review the rules for art class and explain the structure of the program to new participants. At the end of story time, I make sure that every family has a ticket which will tell them their starting art station. Then I demonstrate our featured art project and let the children loose to make art.

Currently I provide six to eight different activities which are roughly divided into five stations. At arrival, families are given tickets that indicate their initial station. It is the parents’ job to interest their children in the initial activity. When the child is ready to move on, the parent then looks for an open spot at another station and moves the child in the appropriate direction. I have found that the tickets prevent the attendees from bunching up around the featured art station. The five station categories are: featured project, scribbles, play-dough, needlework and manipulatives.

The featured art project rotates every week. This is also the only project that they get to take home. The rest of the stations feature materials that are changed biweekly or monthly. This allows children the chance to gain mastery and revisit skills. However after a few weeks, we change the way children are interacting with the material so they can expand their horizons and look at the materials in a new light. For more information on my stations, I invite you to read my blog posts: storytimes, featured art project, scribble station, playdough, sewing, manipulatives.

Five minutes before the scheduled end of the program, I sing a “clean-up” song and everyone helps put the materials away and clean up the mess. I have been told that clean-up-time is a favorite among many of the children and they certainly are enthusiastic helpers.

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