Tara, a parent of three children, pulls out the “scrap box” when her kids say, “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do!” .The scrap box is a container filled with simple and inexpensive materials like pieces of cardboard, rubber bands, scraps of paper, paper clips, cotton balls, etc. Tara challenges her children to create “junk sculptures” that solve a problem in an original way: “Using only the materials in the box, build the tallest, most interesting or most beautiful structure that is also able to stand securely on its own.” Tara says, “My children love these kinds of challenges, and each of them creates a very different solution to the same problem. It’s fun to point out to them that everyone is ‘right’ in their own way. And they are never bored with this creative activity!”

She also helps them understand that feeling frustrated is okay. “The right amount of frustration can force someone to think more creatively and reach for a new way of solving a problem. It’s fun to see a child move from being stuck and wanting to give up to feeling excited about trying out a new idea.” The art activities like drawing, painting, craft, sculpturing etc teach children that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer.3

Creative thinking and reasoning have been identified and highlighted as an essential twenty-first-century skill by many business, education, community and government leaders. As our children grow and develop, introducing them to the idea that the arts involve creative problem solving will teach them how to manage frustration, uncertainty and ambiguity with innovative ideas and solutions. Through the arts, our children can learn how to express their unique identities, while simultaneously developing habits of mind that will help them succeed anywhere, from the playground to the workplace.

Developmental Benefits of Art:

Inventiveness: When kids are encouraged to express themselves and take risks in creating art, they develop a sense of innovation that will be important in their adult lives. The kind of people society needs to make it move forward are thinking, inventive people who seek new ways and improvements, not people who can only follow directions. Art is a way to encourage the process and the experience of thinking and making things better!

Improved Academic Performance: Studies show that there is a correlation between art and other achievement. A research states that young people who participate regularly in the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math and science fair or to win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate.

Decision Making: Art education strengthens problem solving and critical thinking skills. The experience of making decisions and choices in the course of creating art carries over into other parts of life. “If they are exploring and thinking and experimenting and trying new ideas, then creativity has a chance to blossom,”

Visual Learning: Drawing, sculpting with clay and threading beads on a string all develop visual-spatial skills, which are more important than ever. Even toddlers know how to operate a smart phone or tablet, which means that even before they can read, kids are taking in visual information. This information consists of cues that we get from pictures or three-dimensional objects from digital media, books and television.6

Motor Skills: Many of the motions involved in making art, such as holding a paintbrush or scribbling with a crayon, are essential to the growth of fine motor skills in young children.

Language Development: For very young children, making art or just talking about it provides opportunities to learn words for colors, shapes and actions, students can use descriptive words to discuss their own creations.
The arts celebrate multiple perspectives. One of the large lessons kids can learn from practicing the arts is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world!

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Thinking and making things better!

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