by Andrea Mulder-Slater
When I first graduated from art school, I worked as an educational assistant at a public art gallery. In addition to making papier-mache with 6-year olds on Saturday mornings, I drove to multiple elementary schools with a mug of coffee in my hands, and a box of art supplies in my car.
On any given weekday, I could be found teaching 5th graders how to paint landscapes, showing 4th graders how to make masks, and walking 3rd graders through the construction of clay mobiles.
During those caffeine-fueled years, I stood in awe of my supervisor. Her name was Judith and she was the most skilled art educator I have ever met. Jude had a warm smile and an infectious laugh, and she could command the attention of any classroom, no matter how rowdy the students.
Children absolutely adored her.
One of the most wonderful ways she would transition into an art activity was to have the kids join her in a conversation. With a boatload of enthusiasm, she would invite them to go on an adventure. A discussion would ensue as Jude would explain to the students that they were in charge of their own travel plans.
First, they would decide how they would be traveling. Would it be by bus, train, plane, pigeon, or magic carpet? Giggles would erupt. Then, she would ask them to think about where their journey would take them (outer space, under the sea, the pizza shop?). Finally, she would inquire as to who they might meet when they arrived at their destination (a friend, a werewolf, a robot?).
By the time all was said and done, the kids couldn’t wait to dig out their supplies and start creating. It was a hit every, single, time.
I’ve always loved open-ended art activities like this because it proves how just a few simple suggestions can pave the way for so much individual creativity.
In fact, I called on my experiences with Jude when writing What Can I Draw Today? Daily Drawing Prompts for Young Artists, an “alternative” drawing book for 8 to 12-year-olds.
This book is filled with 100 creative nudges and lots of spaces – left intentionally blank – designed to spark imagination, build artistic skills, and help kids develop their own one-of-a-kind way of drawing.
You can order your copy today at Amazon.
To find the Drawing Adventure lesson, visit HERE.