Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Art

Art is one of my favorite areas in the Montessori curriculum. I grew up in a home environment that was rich in art. I also attended Montessori school from preschool through the sixth grade, where art was a key part of so much of what we did. I love to share it with my kids.

How do you implement art into the Montessori classroom? Start with calendars and posters displayed around the classroom environment. Hang them at the children's eye level, so that they can more easily view them. Rotate them throughout the year instead of hanging them all at once. Be sure to include a variety of artists and styles in your collection. Let children experience them on their own.

Cut apart calendars. Mount and laminate the smaller pictures from the back of the calendar. Do the same for the larger calendar pages. Divide the cards up into groups of 5 or 6 so that it is manageable. Now you have a big-to-little matching activity.

Use the Child-Size Masterpieces series by Aline D. Wolf. Her matching and sorting sets teach children to recognize different works of art, as well as their genres and the artists. You can also use bingo games or make your own dominoes out of stickers.

Put out books for the children to independently look at. One of my favorite series for the children to use is the  Mini Masters series of board books. Each one features real paintings by famous artists, all accompanied by a fun rhyme.

The Touch the Art series of board books also includes famous works of art covering all genres. They add something to make the book more interactive. For example, in the picture of Van Gogh's bedroom, the child can "make" the bed by pulling over a piece of cloth. The Mona Lisa has actual hair that the child can comb. They learn to recognize the famous works as they read these again and again.

With the older children in Extended Day, I also like to read to them the Getting to Know the Artist series. Sometimes these are a little long, so I may have to pick and choose which information I share. Again, these include real pictures of the paintings. The children can also learn more about each artist.

And finally, you need a well-stocked shelf of art supplies. Remember, the whole point is process and not product. Children need to learn how to properly use the different material to make their own creations. Avoid doing crafts. These are product-driven, where everyone is expected to make the same thing. Even if you are trying to copy what someone else has done, you still need to be able to properly use the materials!

Let the kids get messy while also teaching them how to keep their materials contained. Cleaning up the mess falls into practical life. They need to help with the clean-up, so don't do it for them. It will be tempting!

Find ways to implement art into other areas of the classroom. Do a sketch of the growth of the seeds you planted. Draw your own maps of the school and classroom. Recreate the sensorial materials. The possiblities are endless.

For more information on how to set up an art area in a Montessori classroom, please read my article Essential Materials for the Montessori Art Area.


  1. Thanks for the ideas! One of the big things I was told was not to let my kids color in coloring books, or anything that has a pre-drawn picture. I'm not going to lie--I've let them. However, I've encouraged them to color it anyway they like, and the results are fun. My son has been begging me to go to the Fine Arts Center here, after having gotten to go there on a field trip, and there's an artist who uses abstract items to make art with, stuff that is colorful and appeals to kids, like wrappers and such. I'm hoping to take the kids this month. I love that they enjoy all forms of art.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  2. I still think there is room for creativity in coloring books. I was the kid who needed the box of 64 crayons (and was disappointed that the box of 96 wasn't that many different colors). I did color layering and shading within the coloring pages. I also practiced drawing by tracing over them.