How to Talk to Kids About Art
I wanted to close this traveling exhibit week with some tips I used during my Traveling Exhibit to talk to kids about art.
Imagine this scenario:
Day 1 of exhibit. Art teacher is very excited. Lots of people making comments about traveling display. This what I hear:
“Those are pretty”….. “What beautiful artwork” …. “These are so neat!”
My little art teacher heart shatters and soars at the same time. Why? Well, you see, I am so excited because people are actually TALKING about artwork. I am so deflated because people are using the most basic and un-expressive words to talk about this artwork! I mean, “pretty”? (that came from my school principal..shhhhh..don’t tell.) Cringe. But can I blame them? It is up to me as the art teacher to educate, to advocate and to teach the students and parents how to talk about artwork and facilitate conversations about artwork. And in their defense, the exhibits are beautiful, but they are a whole lot more.
I immediately set to work.
First, I dug in and did some research. Of course, the resources from Teacher’s Discovery were very helpful starting points. I also called upon this is handy little book I own. It’s called “How to Talk to Children About Art” and I use it as a pocket guide when I am starting a new lesson to hopefully add something interesting to the conversation I have with students. I thought it may have just the information I was looking for to facilitate Van Gogh.
The book gave me some very helpful tips:
- Use the Elements and Principles of Design as a starting point (what shapes, lines, colors, textures, etc do you see?)
- Make sure your questions are age appropriate and adjust your questioning appropriately.
- Connect it to the student’s life and interests
- Ask students about emotions they feel when looking at the art and how it makes them feel
- Link to Literature: What story does this painting tell?
I also made this poster:
I encouraged students to use dollar words or million dollar phrases instead of penny words when they talk about artwork. They really latched onto this concept and the responses I got were beyond my expectations. I had this poster hanging next to the traveling display all week.
How do you facilitate conversations with students when looking at and talking about artwork?