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Inspire the Artist in Your Fourth-Grader

How you can help at home: Here are some easy ways you can encourage the artist in your fourth-grader.

By Nancy Roucher, Consulting Educator

Take advantage of your fourth-grader's spontaneity by encouraging him to explore ideas and experiment with the arts.

Encourage Observational Skills

  • Give your child a yard of string and use it to make a circle in the grass. Then ask her to list everything she sees.
  • Ask her to draw her hand. She can trace around it, but the challenge is to put in all the details.

Expand Skills by Exploring Visual Elements

  • Give your child a simple object to make a contour line drawing using a soft lead pencil. He should look intently at the object and paper, and draw very slowly.
  • Examine texture by doing texture rubbings with newsprint and crayons. Ask him to duplicate textures such as shiny, rough, light, dark and patterned.
  • Invite him to cut out different geometric shapes and create a balanced design that is asymmetrical.

Inspire Him to Draw New Subjects

Often students get into a habit of only drawing one thing, for example cars, dinosaurs or dolls. Here are a few ideas for motivation:

  • Use clay to create animals, people and other objects that would be in a zoo.
  • Cut vegetables into different sizes to use with tempera paint for printmaking.
  • Experiment with tints and shades to create a watercolor landscape inspired by Claude Monet.
  • Use magazine pictures, torn or cut shapes, fabric and a variety of papers to make collages.
  • Keep a visual journal in a sketchbook. Ask your child to select one or two sketches to expand into a finished piece.

Encourage Music

  • Encourage singing, but be careful that your child doesn't strain his voice.
  • Music skills build on each other and each year your child will learn more. If he has a recorder, remind him to press his fingers down for a full sound.
  • Experiment with sound by recording everyday noises and playing them back for someone to guess what they are.

Try These Dance and Drama Activities

  • Do mirroring exercises, facing each other. You initiate the movement and she imitates you as a "reflection." Take turns being leader.
  • Expand on your child's natural movements by making a game out of walking, running, hopping, gliding, leaping and jumping.
  • Use a story as an inspiration or movement and creative drama. Ask your child to move like a character in the story. How does the character walk? How does the character talk? Improvise some dialogue in different "scenes" in the story. Join in - have fun together!

Nancy Roucher is an arts education consultant from Sarasota, Florida. For 12 years she served as co-director of the Florida Institute for Art Education, a statewide project to help individual school districts implement comprehensive arts education. She consults with schools, museums and arts councils, and has developed a variety of curricular and program materials for arts education.

Comments from readers

"I am very appreciative of the articles about arts in the schools. My school has weekly visual and performing arts classes in Pre-K through 5th grade. Kindergarteners have dance, music, drama and art once per week at no cost to parents. Glenview Elementary School, in Oakland, CA is committed to the arts."