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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 GreatSchools.org readers

04/11/2007:
"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."
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